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Children’s Virtual Play Worlds

Culture, Learning, and Participation

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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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1. Introduction: The Changing Landscapes of Children’s Play Worlds

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c h a p t e r o n e Introduction The Changing Landscapes of Children’s Play Worlds Anne Burke and Jackie Marsh Play has consistently been a key focus of study for researchers interested in chil- dren’s cultural worlds (Corsaro, 1997; Singer & Singer, 2005; Sutton-Smith, 1997). In the midst of fast-paced social, economic, and technological changes, however, we need to continue to make a concerted effort to understand how play is evolving (Willet, Richards, Marsh, Burn, & Bishop, in press). Questions pertaining to chil- dren’s physical, developmental, emotional, and social growth are emerging from their participation in virtual play worlds (e.g., Kafia, 2010; Marsh, 2010; Subrah- manyam, 2009). Moreover, as schools begin to become more receptive to finding space for children’s out-of-school technological literacy practices, the question of the relationship between play and learning is being revisited in new and interest- ing ways (Merchant, Gillen, Marsh, & Davies, 2012). Issues surrounding play in young children’s virtual worlds is assuming an important part of such discussions; the aim of this book is to make a contribution to this emergent body of work, drawing on a range of empirical studies in the area conducted in recent years. There is now a strong body of work that demonstrates how many young children are immersed in the landscape of digital technologies from a young age. Children in contemporary societies are surrounded by a range of digital media including computers, handheld and console video game players, and other interactive mobile devices such as cell phones,...

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