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Children’s Virtual Play Worlds

Culture, Learning, and Participation


Edited By Anne Burke and Jackie Marsh

As children’s digital lives become more relevant to schools and educators, the question of play and learning is being revisited in new and interesting ways. Children’s Virtual Play Worlds: Culture, Learning, and Participation provides a more reasoned account of children’s play engagements in virtual worlds through a number of scholarly perspectives, exploring key concerns and issues which have come to the forefront. The global nature of the research in this edited volume embraces many different areas of study from school based research, sociology, cultural studies, psychology, to contract law showing how children’s play and learning in virtual spaces has great potential and possibilities.
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10. Digital play structures: Examining the terms of use (and play) found in children’s commercial virtual worlds


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Digital Play Structures

Examining the Terms of Use (and Play) Found in Children’s Commercial Virtual Worlds



The rise and spread of children’s virtual worlds is an exciting development for children’s digital culture. In addition to providing new opportunities for children to interact socially, engage in peer play, and collaborate creatively, virtual worlds represent an important new type of public forum wherein children are actively encouraged to engage in participatory culture. Research on children’s virtual worlds and studies of children using virtual worlds (for these two things are not necessarily the same thing) have found children using these spaces for social networking, multiplayer gaming, emergent play, and producing user-generated content (Crowe & Bradford, 2006; Fields & Kafai,2007; Marsh & Hallet, 2008; Kafai, Fields, & Cook, 2010). While oftentimes critical of the missed opportunities (for learning, civic engagement, etc.) and heavy commercial emphasis found in many virtual worlds for children (Black, 2010; Carrington & Hodgetts, 2010; Marsh, 2010; Pybus, 2007), work in this area highlights the agency, creativity, and ingenuity children bring to their virtual world experiences. From virtual paper-doll sites like Stardoll to massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs) like Fusion Fall, children have become key players in the virtual worlds’ phenomenon, in every sense of the term.1

While acknowledging that children’s experiences, uses, and appropriations of virtual worlds are of foremost importance, this chapter seeks to further...

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