anatomy gamer

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The Anatomy of a Gamer: 

The Anatomy of a Gamer Kurt D. Squire Constance A. Steinkuehler University of Wisconsin–Madison




Zork 1977


Pac Man 1980


Super Mario Bros. 1985


Tetris 1985


Mortal Kombat 1992


1972 1977 1980 1985 1990 1993




Quake 2. c. 1997


Ultima Online 1997


Railroad Tycoon 1998


Railroad Tycoon 1998


Deus Ex 2000


Frequency 2001


Final Fantasy X 2001


The Sims 2000


Civilization III 2001

Abstract Rhythm Games (Rez): 

Abstract Rhythm Games (Rez) Rez 2001

Adventure Games (Syberia): 

Adventure Games (Syberia) Syberia 2002


Full Spectrum Warrior 2004


Lineage II 2004


Star Wars Galaxies 2003


Star Wars Galaxies 2003

Videogames are a push technology: 

Videogames are a push technology Dmitri Williams (2004)

Which Videogames?: 

Massively Multiplayer Online Games Which Videogames? First Person Shooter Simulation Games Survival Horror Adventure Games Puzzle Games Real Time Strategy Sports Games God Games Role Playing Abstract / Rhythm Games Arcade Games


MMOG Industry What are MMOGs? What activities constitute MMOGaming? Literacy practices Joint Problem Solving Learning Emergent Themes Outline

MMOG Industry: 

2003 U.S. Industry Profit Numbers  Gaming Industry $10.0 billion Hollywood box office movies $ 9.5 billion Music industry $14.3 billion Home video rentals $19.0 billion MMOG Industry √

MMOG Industry : 

2003 U.S. Industry Profit Numbers Gaming Industry $10.0 billion Online Games (2003) $ 1.9 billion Online Games (2009) $ 9.8 billion Hollywood box office movies $ 9.5 billion Music industry $14.3 billion Home video rentals $19.0 billion MMOG Industry Virtual worlds are significant: Larger populations than some major real cities  Larger economies than some major real countries Substantial time investment Diversity of those who play 

What are MMOGs?: 

What are MMOGs? Highly graphical 2- or 3-D videogames Online social interaction Persistent virtual worlds  Real-time, perpetually accessible Loosely structured by open-ended (fantasy) narratives, but… Players free to do as they please “Escapist fantasy” yet emergent “social realism” (Kolbert, 2001)

What activities constitute MMOGaming?: 

What activities constitute MMOGaming? Literacy Practices Joint Problem Solving Learning

The Literacy Scare: 

The Literacy Scare

MMOGs Literacy Practices: 

MMOGs Literacy Practices

“For the most part I enjoy finding my own information, it feels somehow rewarding because the majority of the information I come by is from interactive online communities, like fansites and forums…” ~Liadon, 22Oct04: 

“For the most part I enjoy finding my own information, it feels somehow rewarding because the majority of the information I come by is from interactive online communities, like fansites and forums…” ~Liadon, 22Oct04

Official Fandom: 

Official Fandom

MMOG Fan Fiction: 

MMOG Fan Fiction

MMOG Fan Websites: 

MMOG Fan Websites

MMOG Fan Websites: 

MMOG Fan Websites  Unofficial Fandom

LoA website - entry: 

LoA website - entry

LoA website - ranks: 

LoA website - ranks

LoA website - members: 

LoA website - members

LoA website - ss: 

LoA website - ss

LoA website - stories: 

LoA website - stories

LoA website - email: 

LoA website - email 

LoA website - forums: 

LoA website - forums 

MMOGs Literacy Practices: 

MMOGs Literacy Practices

‘Orally Delivered’ Narratives: 

‘Orally Delivered’ Narratives Official Game Narrative

‘Orally Delivered’ Narrative: 

‘Orally Delivered’ Narrative Liadon you know hwo the fairies originally came into Liadon Being, right? Adeleide nohow? Liadon Oooh, story time! Liadon once, back when the world was young and the Liadon gods roamed teh world as mortals, einhasad Liadon was in the foreset Liadon and decided to create the race of elves Liadon none of the other creatures wanted to help Liadon because they did not know it was einhasad in Liadon her mortal form Adeleide oh! Liadon But 4 exceptionally kind creatures did give Liadon Their assistance Liadon that is anothe rstory entirely, but one was Liadon The humble butterfly Liadon She did not have much to offer, but spared Liadon some dust from her wings to allow einhasad Liadon to make the elves Liadon as a reward, those butterflies who assisted Liadon were given the gift of immortality and made Liadon fairies Liadon The fairy queen was the original butterfly Adeleide how did u know all that? Liadon Im' smart :p Liadon Every elf knows that. Liadon Seriously, though. the mother tree told me Prefacing activity Punchline Context Goal & Conflict Resolution

MMOGs Literacy Practices: 

MMOGs Literacy Practices


MMOG Text Talk

MMOGs Literacy Practices: 

MMOGs Literacy Practices

Joint Problem Solving: 

Joint Problem Solving Several different forms but share common features: Students work in groups or teams Students are responsible not only for their own learning but for one another’s learning as well Group goals & individual accountability are crucial! Gives students opportunity to practice skills Performance Results Compared to traditional instruction, collaborative learning wins out 61% of time Equal benefits to students of all ability levels Students express greater liking for their peers in general as a result Increases students’ self esteem & self-concept S i e g e T i m e !


multiple multimedia, multimodality ‘attentional spaces’ (Lemke)

Collaborative Problem Solving: 

Collaborative Problem Solving Artifacting strategy.

Within comm.of practice: 

Within comm.of practice Within / across emergent communities of practice (Lave & Wenger, 1991)

Socially & materially distributed cognition: 

Socially & materially distributed cognition Distributed social & material cognition.

Negotiation of Meaning: 

Negotiation of Meaning Negotiation of strategy & roles.

MMOGs Literacy Practices: 

MMOGs Literacy Practices

MMMOG Learning: Apprenticeship: 

MMMOG Learning: Apprenticeship All higher cognitive processes develop out of social interaction (Vygotsky) Through joint activities with more mature members of society, learners come to master activities & think in ways that have meaning in their culture EXAMPLE: Apprenticeship of JellyBean Who: Myrondonia level 25 / JellyBean level 10 What: Elven practice of hunting for mithril When: JellyBean cries for help against orcs Where: Elven Dungeon w/ orcs & zombies




Joint Participation . . . .


. . . . . .

Apprenticeship of JellyBean: 

Apprenticeship of JellyBean Enculturation into Practice Joint participation in meaningful activity Mutually understood & valued goal Models successful performance Focus attention on key aspects Gradually hands control over to learner Opportunities for practice & situated feedback Enculturation into ‘Kind of Elf like Us’ Socializing learner into way of understanding the world tied to particular values Display oneself as ”people like us” X

What does this mean?: 

What does this mean? Ban them wherever we can! Let’s turn everything into games We’re all out of jobs! We should design better ones! Let’s try to understand this a little better first


Themes Distributed Intelligence Consumers  producers Official texts appropriated into fandom Disruptions of power (access, control) Multiple multimedia, multimodality ‘attentional spaces’ (Lemke) Fuzzy boundaries between RL || VL Internet as both tool & place Meaning tied to identities in communities Equity issues / digital divide

Games as a social “push”: 

Games as a social “push” Indigenous to digital age Quintessential example of new media Increasingly transmedia Enculturating force for youth Recruits, even requires literacies Kids grow up media “makers” Sites of social disruptions Legal (Who owns my character?) Economic (Is game income taxable?)

The Digital Disconnect: 

The Digital Disconnect Kids online more than parents 78% of children 12 – 17 go online. “Personally meaningful” learning Virtual reference library. Virtual tutor and study shortcut. Virtual study group Virtual guidance counselor Key Finding: We have not yet recognized—much less responded to—the new ways use the Internet. Pew Internet Project, 2003

Emergent information spaces: 

Emergent information spaces Access to social affiliations International Open Source Information Collective intelligence Redistributing Power

t y v m !: 

t y v m !


presentation stops here


third space & issue of ‘addiction’

3rd space: 

3rd space MMOGs are social spaces. Third spaces (Bruckman & Resnick, 1995). Neither work nor home.

But more compelling: 

But more compelling And they are quite compelling.

Because MMOGs function as spaces of possibility…: 

Because MMOGs function as spaces of possibility… Liadon when it gets close to time i'll step down [as general] and Liadon give you a few recommendations... but I AM Liadon comgin back when I can Liadon Probably won't still want to be the general tho Adeleide yea ull be v busy Liadon Tha'ts not it Liadon peopel make time for what is important Liadon it would just be kinda weird, since fantasy Liadon games are for doing things we can't in real Liadon life... and if I"m in the military irl, it would Liadon be really odd ot come home and keep at it ingame conversation, 28March04

and retribalization in a ‘winner take all’ society …: 

and retribalization in a ‘winner take all’ society … Sometimes I pause and think to myself why we do what we do online. After all, sometimes this starts to feel like another job even though it's just a game. … I think that it's because we are making so much progress. And in the end, if we can … maybe leave some kind of legacy... that perhaps years down the road there will be another generation of gamers. And maybe they will say, do you remember that pledge? Did you actually meet Princess Adeleide, or General Liadon? Maybe when you get down to it, this is just another goal of life – to achieve immortality by being remembered in some way. In the end I think everyone has to ask themselves that basic question. Did I make an impact on someone's life? Positive or negative? Will I be remembered for it? ~ IM conversation, 3 May 2002

And maybe even as meritocracies at times.: 

And maybe even as meritocracies at times. LadySin Im nothing of a leader in RL Adeleide bah LadySin well unless pple get to know me LadySin then I take over LadySin but from a distance I look like a simple silly person LadySin Im short, small LadySin Im not loud or talk much LadySin im shy Adeleide well, what made u different here than in RL? LadySin I think physical prescence LadySin I dont see people, people dont see me LadySin I dont have to worry about how I look or if my hair or clothes are ok LadySin it sounds shallow but thats what it is

Critique of society: 

Critique of society Perhaps these spaces are simply more compelling than “real”spaces.

Critique of school: 

Critique of school Such as school.


Rethink And perhaps they ought to make us critique our society. Corporate U.S. Flag  AdBusters


Rethink Instead of gamers themselves.


research project

Overview of Research Project: 

Theoretical perspective Cognition as (inter)action in the social & material world (cf. Hutchins, Lave, Vygotsky) “big D” Discourse theory (Gee,1999)  Goals To understand the culture/cognition of MMOGs To inform public: parents, teachers, designers Site: Lineage I (& now Lineage II) Ancillary work on other games (SWG, EverQuest) Method: Virtual Cognitive Ethnography Overview of Research Project

Virtual Cognitive Ethnography: 

Primary Data Sources Participant Observations (video/audio data) Ethnographic Fieldnotes Individual Case Studies Interviews with Informants Collection of Community Documents Fieldwork To Date Princess Adeleide, LegendsOfAden Blood Pledge 25 months fieldwork, average 10-50 hrs/week 12 formal interviews 40+ hrs informal interviews . Virtual Cognitive Ethnography


(hyperlinked slides)


Woodcock (2004)


Woodcock (2004)


Woodcock (2004) 

Diversity of MMOGamers : 

Diversity of MMOGamers Dmitri Williams (2004) 


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