Online Technologies Lab

Online Technologies Lab

“We are all now connected by the Internet, like neurons in a giant brain.”
– Stephen Hawking


The Online Technologies Lab (OTL) is a community and social psychology lab with collaborators from the University of Southern Indiana, DePaul University, and the University of Illinois Chicago. We are interested in the ways humans interact through and with technology. Our lab utilizes an assets-based community psychology framework that emphasizes the voices of the particular communities studied. Recently, the members of the Online Technologies Lab have turned their attention to the fighting game community (FGC), an understudied gaming community whose members communicate via both on- and offline methods. We launched an online survey several months ago and are now analyzing the data, which is both quantitative and qualitative in nature. We have also conducted a follow up study featuring interviews from tournament attendees.

OTLOnline Technologies Lab also shortens to OTL, which not accidentally resembles an emoticon that, like orz, represents “kneeling on the ground in defeat,” as defined by Know Your Meme. We have a particular, sometimes self-defeating sense of humor, and try not to take ourselves too seriously. Online Technologies Lab, then, represents what we study, while OTL represents what it is like to be in the lab in a rather tongue-in-cheek way.

We have a lot of fun.

Online Technologies Lab Members

Christopher B. Keys, PhD

Dr. Keys is a Professor Emeritus and former Psychology Department Chair at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and DePaul University. His research focuses on organizational approaches to community psychology, organizational empowerment and the positive community psychology of disability. A Fellow of the Society for Community Research and Action (SCRA) and the American Psychological Association, Chris has served as President of SCRA and as Chair of the Council of Community Psychology Program Directors and of the Council of Training Directors. He was honored with the Distinguished Contribution to Theory and Research in Community Psychology Award from SCRA in 2008. In addition to his work on methods and competencies in teaching community psychology, Chris is interested in understanding the nature of community in online and hybrid gaming communities and is continuing his research on disabilities and community psychology.

Crystal N. Steltenpohl, MA

Crystal earned her MA from Southern Illinois University Carbondale in applied psychology in 2013. She is currently a PhD candidate in community psychology at DePaul University. Her main research interest revolves around how humans interact with and through technology. She started playing video games on Atari 2600, PC, and Super Nintendo and grew up primarily on Nintendo handhelds. She’s since expanded her collection and now owns a PS4, Xbox 360, Wii U, 3Ds, and a pretty sweet computer with dual monitors. Her favorite franchise is The Legend of Zelda and favorite game from that franchise is Link’s Awakening. She’s also a fan of  Ace Attorney, Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Elder Scrolls, Final Fantasy, and Pokemon. She plays Final Fantasy XIV more than what is probably healthy. Her work with DieHard GameFAN and awesome friends have introduced her to quite a few games outside of where she might normally look to find them.

Ahmed AlSamaani

Ahmed is an undergraduate student in psychology with a concentration on community at DePaul University. Being a computer geek himself and having a history as ‘hardcore’ World of Warcraft player, he is interested in understanding the nature of online communities, especially online gaming communities and how such communities evolve over time.

Kelly Collins

Kelly is a graduate student in the Community Psychology program at DePaul University. She received her B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Women’s and Gender Studies from Michigan State University. Her research focuses on violence against women and homelessness. She is interested in community engagement and improving systems and policy through multidisciplinary collaboration. In the Online Technologies Lab, Kelly is particularly interested in understanding sense of community among fighting game community members.

Jordan Reed, MA

Jordan is a (kind of) humble, quiet, unextraordinary person from a humble, quiet, unextraordinary town. He was born from simple people. He was satisfied with this until he learned about people who had much less than he did, and people who had much more than most of us. Jordan then got curious about right and wrong. He has never figured that out, but can’t let it go, so he’s been chasing the idea of resolution in an unjust world with his head in the clouds. Jordan is now where one naturally arrives when chasing an abstract idea: grad school. He has finally looked down from the clouds and realized he strayed pretty far from that simple, unextraordinary town and is now lost and confused. He’s told himself he ought to get a job or contribute in some tangible way to society, and focus on something he enjoys, because he has been unable to perverse his pleasure centers far enough to derive satisfaction from the false promises of abstract ideals. However, for the most part he won’t let go of the lost confusion and get things done, and would rather double down on denial and invest in frivolous sources of escape. Jordan earned his BA from Wichita State University in psychology and sociology in 2014 and his MA in community psychology from DePaul University in 2017. He has decided to dedicate his life to Hearthstone and remains on the lab as a consultant on the Blizzard gaming community.

Join the Online Technologies LabOnline Technologies Lab

Are you interested in being in the Online Technologies Lab? Please read below for more information:

Student Duties:

  • Interview transcription
  • Assist with data management (including coding) and data analysis
  • Provide support for projects by organizing materials
  • Lab readings
  • Opportunities to assist with literature reviews, manuscript writing, and conference presentations
  • Other research tasks


  • Preferable to commit to at least one full academic year in the lab (3 quarters or 2 semesters)
  • Interest in qualitative and/or quantitative research
  • Highly motivated, reliable and independent worker
  • Experience with gaming community nice but not required

Time Commitment:

  • Weekly lab meetings when possible, or if necessary, one-on-one meetings with lab manager
  • DePaul University
    • 2-credit independent study (PSY 399, upper level psychology elective) = 4 hours a week
    • 4-credit independent study (PSY 399, upper level psychology elective) or JYEL (PSY 397) = 8 hours a week
  • University of Southern Indiana
    • 3 credit individual study (PSY 499) = 5 hours a week
  • Volunteer position = flexible

If you are interested in joining our lab, please use the contact form and include a 1-2 paragraph description of your experiences and why you are interested in joining our lab.

If you have any questions or if you would like more information about the lab, please use the contact form.