Peter Christiansen is a game developer and researcher with a PhD in communication. He has been working in game development since 2005, specializing in educational games. He began working as a Flash Developer and has since worked with various technologies, including Flixel, OpenFL, Haxe, C#, and Unity 3D.

ASPIRE Star Life Cycle

Game Designer / Animator / Programmer

This was a set of lessons to teach middle school and high school students about stellar evolution and astronomy. It was created for ASPIRE, the outreach program for the Utah High-Energy Astrophysics Institute.

  • Created Art and Animation
  • Wrote accompanying science curriculum
  • Designed Games and Interactive Activities
  • Programmed games in ActionScript 3

ASPIRE Star Life Cycle Lessons

Adventure Time: The Quest for the Two Chests

Solo Project

This was my entry for the Adventure Time Game Jam in 2012. The game jam was a collaboration between Fantastic Arcade, Cartoon Network, and Pendleton Ward, the show’s creator.

  • Solo project. Created with Flixel and ActionScript 3
  • Short Zelda-like game created in 48 hours.
  • Called a “Must Play” by Wired

Open-Source Software

In addition to game projects, I’ve also contributed to a few free and open-source software projects, such as Flixel, the game development library stared by Adam Saltsman, and HaxeFlixel, the cross-platform Haxe library that succeeded Flixel after the end of Flash support.

ASPIRE Simple Machines

Game Designer / Artist / Animator

This was a redesign of an old set of games from ASPIRE, the outreach program for the Utah High-Energy Astrophysics Institute. They were created in Flash to replace the originals, which were created in Java 1.0.

  • Redesigned ASPIRE mascots Pic and Harry
  • Created Art and Animation
  • Performed some additional programming in ActionScript 3

ASPIRE Simple Machines Lessons

Payment Due

Solo Project

Payment Due was project in the style of old Sierra and LucasArts adventure games like Day of the Tentacle and King’s Quest. It was a student project created for Dr. Cassandra Van Buren’s courses in Interactive Narrative.

  • Created in Macromedia Director 2004
  • Programmed using Lingo scripting language


Game Designer / Lead Programmer

Bloop was created for Global Game Jam 2013 with J. Peter Jones and Trent Baird. Bloop is a Lovecraftian horror game where you command a miniature submarine deep beneath the pacific ocean. The game was based on my initial story pitch.

  • Designed game
  • Programmed using Flixel and ActionScript 3
  • Wrote game dialogue


Solo Project

This was my entry for the Gamemaking Frenzy 2013 game jam. The goal of the jam was for all participants to create a game with no human characters, so I created a 2D action adventure game set on a decaying space station populated by robots and alien creatures.

  • Programmed using Flixel and ActionScript 3

Blockade Runner

Solo Project

This was a student project for the Entertainment Arts and Engineering program. The entire game was coded from scratch, including custom physics, collision detection, and enemy AI.

  • Programmed in Adobe Flex with ActionScript 3
  • Custom Physics System
  • Custom Collision Detection
  • Music by Michelle MacArt

ASPIRE Early Elementary Math

Game Designer / Artist / Animator

This was a cancelled project working with representatives from the Utah State Office of Education and local school districts to create math games to support the Common Core math curriculum.

  • Worked with Stakeholders in State Office of Education
  • Designed five Math Games
  • Created Art and Animation

Play the Past

Writer / Editor

As a games researcher, I’ve been a part of Play the Past, a collaborative project dedicated to thoughtfully exploring and discussing the intersection of cultural heritage and videogames.

Example Articles:

Disentangling Science and Technology | Play the Past
Link | PDF

Dwarf NORAD | Play the Past
Link | PDF

Excavating Code | Play the Past
Link | PDF

You can read more Play the Past here.

Robotronics Safety Circle

Game Design / Lead Programmer

These were a series of educational games created for the cancelled Safety Circle project by Robotronics. Although the games never received their final graphics, many of the games were fully playable before the project was indefinitely postponed in 2008.

  • Created in Flash with ActionScript 1

Containment Breach

Solo Project

This was a game I created at the 2011 GEEX game jam. The game was created in 24 hours and was also my first attempt at using Flixel.

  • Programmed with Flixel and ActionScript 3

Sandwich Commando

Solo Project

This was a student project created as part of the Arts and Technology program at the University of Utah. The game was inspired by a coworker who asked if I could make the guns in my games shoot anything…like sandwiches.

  • Created in Flash with ActionScript 1

Book Chapters

As part of my academic work, I’ve also contributed a number of chapters to books on videogames and game development.

Game Mods: Design Theory and Criticism

Between a Mod and a Hard Place
in Game Mods:  Design Theory and Criticism
Edited by Eric Champion

This chapter explores the history of videogame modding and how the social and legal struggles that modders faced has shaped the current modding scene.  Modders today find themselves in precarious situations in relationship to intellectual property laws, licensing agreements and game development studios.  They often find themselves in one-sided arrangements, with large studios and publishers benefiting at their expense. 

Players, Modders, and Hackers
in Understanding Minecraft: Essays on Play, Community and Possibilities
Edited by Nate Garrelts

This chapter examines the nature of the Minecraft modding community and how the creative aspects of the game itself help to transform players into modders by encouraging them to investigate its world, tinker with it, and ultimately take that world apart to see how it works.  It looks at a number of specific Minecraft mods including Skyblock, Minecraft Hunger Games, and Tekkit, while also giving a broad overview of the technical aspects involved in creating a mod and the broader cultural significance of Minecraft modding within the context of videogame history.

100 Greatest Video Game Franchises

Captain Blood | Cave Story | Chex Quest
in 100 Greatest Video Game Franchises
Edited by Robert Mejia, Jamie Banks, and Aubrie Adams

These three chapters look at three important, but often overlooked games that highlight the diversity that exists within videogame development.  L’Arche du Captain Blood, released in North America as Captain Blood, is an innovative game about communicating with aliens that typified the unique games created by French Developers in the 1980s.  Cave Story was one of the first and most successful independent games of the early 2000s, making use of digital distribution to succeed as freeware.  Finally, Chex Quest, an advergame distributed in cereal boxes and created by a professional team of Doom modders, reached more players than many triple-A games while never technically selling a single copy.

The ASPIRE Program: Using Game-Based Learning to Reach Massive Audiences
in Cases on the Societal Effects of Persuasive Games
Edited by Dana Ruggiero

This chapter describes the approach used by the ASPIRE program to create educational games to teach children about math and physics. It also discusses the history of the ASPIRE program and how its approach to game-based learning has changed over 15 years in order to accommodate shifts in organizational structure, the spread of new digital technologies, and the changing role of the Internet in society.

Even More Writing…

If you made it this far, you must really like (or at least have a considerable tolerance for) academic writing on videogame development. Here’s a few other pieces I’ve written over the years.

Designing ethical systems for videogames | Foundations of Digital Games (Link)
Thanatogaming: Death, Videogames, and the Biopolitical State | DiGRA (Link)
Presence and Heuristic Cues: Cognitive Approaches to Persuasion in Games | DiGRA (Link)
Can’t See the Science for the Trees: Representations of Science in Videogames | Foundations of Digital Games (Link)
Breaking out of the industry: The independent games movement as resistance to hegemonic videogame discourse (Link)