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Good Video Games and Good Learning

Collected Essays on Video Games, Learning and Literacy

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James Paul Gee

This book discusses a broad range of topics concerning video games, learning and literacy. These include the ways games can marry pleasure, learning and mastery through the sense of ownership, agency and control players enjoy when gaming, as well as controversial issues surrounding games. The book explores relationships between values, identity, content and learning, and focuses on how to understand and explain many young people’s differential experiences of learning in gaming and schooling respectively.

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Chapter 8: Affinity Spaces: From Age of Mythology to Today’s Schools

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ƒ Chapter 8 Affinity spaces From Age of Mythology to today’s schools IntrOduCtIOn: FrOM GrOups tO spACes A wide body of research, applied to schools and workplaces, has used the notion of a “community of practice” (Lave 1996; Lave and Wenger 1991; Rogoff 1990; Wenger 1998). In this chapter I consider an alternative notion. This alternative focuses on the idea of a space in which people interact, rather than on membership in a com- munity. I want to consider this alternative because I believe that what I will call “affinity spaces” are particularly important contemporary social configurations with implications for the future of schools and schooling. The notion of a “community of practice” has been a fruitful one, and there are certainly many cases where the term is apt (see Wenger, McDermott, and Snyder 2002 for a clear demarcation of what is and what is not a community of practice). However, it has given rise to several problems, some of which are: a. The idea of “community” can carry connotations of “belongingness” and close- knit personal ties among people which do not necessarily always fit classrooms, workplaces, or other sites where the notion of a community of practice has been used. As an anonymous reviewer of an earlier version of this chapter pointed out, the notion of “community” tends to project a warm sense of peaceful relations among members, which we know is often not the case in schools or workplaces, and “does not only miss the reality of schools and...

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