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TJ Nissen is the sole proprietor of NirvanaOnline and Network Nirvana as a whole. He serves as the director and lead designer behind the majority of its content.

Ever since high school, he's had a passion for STEM-based learning, and in college, he utilized the resources of the UNI John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center to make his dream a reality in the form of NirvanaOnline. Now, we've made a business model around the vision of a substantive and educational game. Kids enjoy playing without realizing that they're learning STEM-based topics while they interact and engage with the game!


Before every NirvanaOnline Minecraft Program is a workshop. During this workshop, players are given a behind-the-scenes peek at the code of NirvanaOnline. A Network Nirvana developer will step participants through the thought process behind some of the mechanics seen in NirvanaOnline and delve deep into how participants can try out writing some of this code for themselves.

Participants are encouraged to ask questions, even selecting their own favorite parts of NirvanaOnline to be dissected live so kids can learn what makes a game 'tick'. Some popular topics include Loot Tables, programming logic, boss battle programming, and puzzle mechanic design. Players see new mechanics in NirvanaOnline, and then return to the workshop next month to learn how the code works to make it all happen!

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Our content in NirvanaOnline is infused with all kinds of fun STEM-based connections and lessons. Players traverse levels inside of large hadron colliders, radio telescopes, nuclear reactors, and more! Players explore and traverse these levels while learning about the deeper meanings behind what they represent, and how their real-world counterparts function.

Educators, librarians, and even the Network Nirvana representative will challenge participants with questions regarding how they think certain mechanics might be coded, given the information they've learned during the workshop. Players are rewarded for using their knowledge in-game and outside the game with various in-game rewards.


Inclusion is the name of the game. In NirvanaOnline, players can engage with a variety of game worlds representing a plethora of cultures and backgrounds. We pick from a menagerie of ideas when developing a new game world in hopes that individuals who play our games and attend our workshops will feel represented and at home.

Some of the many themes and cultures explored in NirvanaOnline include: feudal Japan, the American old west, modern-day Ukraine, an African Safari, 1970s Americana, the Australian Outback, the Mayan civilization, rural America, an underwater city, and even Area 51! No matter what type of content players like to play, we have something that will be sure to educate, engage, and entertain everyone!

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