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Commercial VWs for childrenPersistent space that offers a range ofenvironments that are navigable through mapsCustomisable avatarHome for avatarGames which earn in-world currency,generally played individuallyFree chat and safe-chat serversModeratorsInformation for parents on websiteLink to ofﬂine world toys and related texts
Lauwaert (2009:12) suggests thatthe ‘geography of play is the sumof core and peripheral play practicesand consists of both physical anddigital elements, of tactile andnon-tactile components,of objectsand connections’.
*Primary school serving a primarily white, working-class community in an area of socio-economic deprivation*175 aged 5-11 children completed an online survey using Google Docs*26 children interviewed (aged 5 - 11)*Three 11-year-old children filmed at home using ʻClub Penguinʼ (CP) over a period of one month,(8 hours, 48 minutes and 55 seconds of CP activity analysed). These 3 children and their parentsinterviewed.*Analysis undertaken of the literacy practices relating to CP that are conducted in online spaces external tothe virtual world.
Playgrounds studyAHRC funded study ‘Playground Games andRhymes in a New Media Age’, conducted by theUniversities of London, East London and Shefﬁeld.180 children at Monteney primary Schoolcompleted an online survey of media use.Children drew maps of their online and ofﬂinefriendships.11 children, 5 boys and 6 girls, interviewed aboutthese maps.
Key ﬁndingsIn 2008 52% of children used virtualworlds on a regular basis. Most popularwas Club Penguin, then Barbie GirlsIn 2010, 90% of children used virtualworlds. Most popular was MoshiMonsters, then Club Penguin.49% of these 5-11 year olds had usedFacebook, one of the attractions beingthe virtual world, Farmville
I like you tube & bebo because I get to tark to my friends. Isometimes go on club peniguin and play the games with myfriends!!!!!!!!!!!! (Girl, aged 8)you can talk to people, you can excplore and you can have funwith friends. (Girl, aged 9)I like reading the books. I like playing with other penguins. I likedressing my penguin up as a pirate. (Girl, aged 8)
Playing football (Boy, aged 5)Becayuse you get to make your own penguin and its cool (Boy, aged 7)Playing minnigames, taklking to people (Boy, aged 8)Meeting my class mates and like to do up my room and chat to people playgames meeting people around the world (Boy, aged 10)
i can kill other peopal (Boy, aged 10)I can chat to people and you can do a virtual kill (Boy, aged 10)About that you can talk to other people and fight people and KILL THEM!!!!!!!(Boy, aged 11)I like explouring around and war games (Boy, aged 9)U can dow things u cart dow in the real world eg j ump out of buildings and DIE!!!(Boy, aged 11)
Whochildren play with•Children played with siblings, relatives andclassmates, often in pre-arranged sessionsSally’s father said, “I always find it funnythen, you know when they’re going on thesame thing. One’s sat in there, one’s sat inthere…all in the same room - I can’t stand it.Then they’re shouting, “Suzy do this, Sallydo this”.
John (11): I look at a name and if it sound weird or notright, I always press no, but thatʼs only occasionallybecause I have only got one friend. If the name is not anormal name, or sounds weird to me, I donʼt normallypress it.Jackie: And what do you mean, a normal name?John: If itʼs like, a funny name, or like, I donʼt know,their real name, or like coolgirl or something like that,I would normally press yes, but if it is somethingweird...
Jackie: When you say you like the look of somebody,what are you looking for exactly?Sally (11): Looking for their clothes, hair and their poshhouses, but it doesnʼt really matter because Iʼve got a lotof plain friends. So heʼs just got little hats and stuff[pointing to an avatar of a user who does not have paidmembership], so most people donʼt click on him becauseheʼs plain. Just because heʼs plain and got a fancybackground, they just wonʼt click on him because theydonʼt really….think, ʻOh heʼs not rich...I wonʼt go andsee him, so Iʼll just leave him outʼ. I just click on anybody.
Emily (11): Yeah. Some people like try and show off aboutdoing like crimes sometimes.Interviewer: And say what?Emily: Like, “Oh I’ve nicked a car today” or summat.Interviewer: So what do you say?Emily: I just...you can add them as your friend but I don’t, Ijust have friends who I already know as friends.
TrustInterviewer: So, your penguin, I’m interested in how youthink about your penguin. Do you think about it as a sortof toy, as about it being you - is it you, is it a doll, how doyou think about that penguin?John (11): Well like most websites that I go on, there’s aversion.....like penguin, there’s things that you can makeout of it. I think it’s like representing you. Because if youdress up as someone completely different or somethingcompletely different you can’t really trust anyone really.
Genres of playFantasy play Games with rules‘Rough and tumble’ play Socio-dramatic play
Purpose Example Reading newspaper to ﬁnd out about events/ tips etc.;Literacy for accessing or reading catalogues; using environmental print to navigate thedisplaying information virtual world; reading game instructions; reading clues on quests Communicating to other penguins via chat/ safe chat; usingLiteracy for constructing and emoticons to express emotions to other users; sendingmaintaining relationships postcards; using Club Penguin to instant message others Literacy integral to play - fantasy play, socio-dramatic play;Literacy for pleasure or self- reading poems, jokes and stories in the newspaper andexpression submitting copy to it; reading books in the library; language play; searching for Club Penguin machinima on YouTubeLiteracy for accessing or Communicating to two or more other penguins via chat/ safedisplaying information chat; using chat in group ritual playLiteracy for identity Choosing avatars’ clothes and artefacts; choosing emoticonsconstruction and performance and phrases to express identityLiteracy for establishing and Literacy in ritualised play; CoPsmaintaining social networks
The interaction order (Goffman, 1983)Frames (principles of structureunderpinning social situations) operateacross online/ ofﬂineLiteracy utilised in the construction/maintenance of the interaction orderLiteracy is used to render transactionsin virtual worlds as ‘predictable,reliable, and legible’ (Misztal,2001:313)
Online/ ofﬂine145 children completed maps of online/ ofﬂinefriendships Class 3 Ofﬂine Online M (B) B (G) D (G) T (B) W (B) L (G) K (B) L (G) M (B) L (G) A (G) 68% had N (G) M (G) online J (B) C (G) A (B)friends in A (G) A (B) J (B) J (B)their class A (G) B (B) J (B) C (G) B (B) M (B) E (G) J (G) A (G)
Interviewer: Did you ever ask him?James (7): Yeah but he said still no. When I asked himover and over he said, “No, no, no”.Interviewer: And did you feel upset or sad about that?James: No I didn’t thought I was missing owt.
Interviewer:! So did you choose children to play with in the playground that you played with online, or not?Carl (7):! No ‘cos....I played with James, I didn’t play with him online.Interviewer:! Oh right OK. So why didn’t you play with him online, James?Carl:! Because he didn’t have an account.Interviewer:! Oh right OK, he didn’t have an account. And did it make any difference to how you felt about him playing in the playground?Carl:! No.Interviewer:! No, OK. And do you think he felt any different?Carl:! No, ‘cos we played a lot in the playground.
Mary (10):Well usually the people online I usually....the people that are online Iusually just play with them, and then if I go out and play in the yard I kind ofjust play with all my friends and people like if they’re not playing with anyoneelse and then go and talk to them and see what’s the matter.Interviewer:!So you don’t seek out people that you play with online?Mary:!Erm...no.Interviewer:!Does it make any difference do you think in the playground or playwith Moshi Monsters “I’ll play with her today” or do you not think about it or....?Mary:!No, I don’t usually think about it, I just like go to school and see who’sthere and play with them.
Interviewer:! So how do you think you can tell the children who might break the rules then?Carl (7):! Because erm....if like they shout out and they thump people in faces sometimes.....Interviewer:! In the playground?Carl:!Yeah. And if they’re going to say something like “I don’t like you”, and like Kyle when I’ve gone to his house,my nan-nan lives next door to him and I go to her house every night, Kyle swears when we go round to play football,and that’s why I didn’t ask him to my accounts.Interviewer:! Oh right OK, because he might get you into trouble.Carl:!Yeah.Interviewer:! And get you banned.Carl:!Yeah. Because if they’re banned we can never add that account on to Moshi Monsters ever again.Interviewer:! Oh gosh. And did Kyle ever ask to be your friend on the internet?Carl:!Mmm, about 5 times.Interviewer:! And what did you say to him?Carl:!I said, “Sorry, I don’t want to get banned from it”.
Interviewer: So how do you decide who you aregoing to play with on the internet and who you’renot?Allie (8): Because it’s like....I go up to them andtalk and see if they’re nice or not, and then if I go onthe internet and play with them I know they’re notgoing to like mess around with my stuff on it.
Online-ofﬂine playChildren owned artefacts and games related toClub Penguin e.g. Nintendo game, cards, key ring.Children played games based on virtual worlds inthe playground e.g a version of tag in which theperson caught became a penguin.
ConclusionOnline and ofﬂine worlds closely related forchildrenEngagement in virtual worlds engenders a range ofplay and literacy activitiesWe need to build on these experiences indeveloping a critical digital literacy curriculum inclassrooms