Culture, Learning, and Participation
Edited By Anne Burke and Jackie Marsh
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Digital Play Structures
SARA M. GRIMES
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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