Title

Navigating Life as an Avatar: The Shifting Identities-in-Practice of a Girl Player in a Tween Virtual World

Document Type

Article

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Constructing Identity in a Digital World

Editor

C.C Ching, & B. Foley

Publication Date

2012

First Page

222

Last Page

250

Abstract

In this chapter we study how one girl learned to participate in what was for her a new setting of play – a virtual world called Whyville.net with an emphasis on science education, populated by over a million young people ages eight to sixteen. Girls in particular have become prominent players in virtual worlds, a trend counter to many early observations that documented the absence of girls and women in gaming and technology at large (e.g., Cassell & Jenkins, 1998). The study of virtual worlds as play spaces then allows us to continue a conversation about gender and gaming to understand better “which games [girls] play, why and with whom, and whether they take advantage of in-game opportunities to generate, not just consume game experiences” (Kafai, Heeter, Denner, & Sun, 2008, p. xviii). Further, because Whyville is a new social world for kids who participate, it provides a unique opportunity to study identity construction, or how participants on Whyville shape and are shaped as certain sorts of people through interaction with others (Gee, 2000/2001).

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