Stealing from Grandma or Generating Knowledge: Contestations and Effects of Cheats in a Tween Virtual World

Document Type

Conference Paper

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Situated Play: Proceedings of the Digital Games Research Association (DIGRA)


Akira Baba

Publication Date


First Page


Last Page



Much research has described the various practices of gaining access and participation in multi-user game communities. Cheat websites that are a prominent part of the game culture and industry have been debated because of their illegitimate nature but received little attention in terms of their educational value. In this paper we analyze the cheat sites created by players for a tween virtual world called, which encourages youth ages 8-16 to participate in a range of social activities and play casual science games. Analysis of a sample of 257 cheat sites resulted in typologies for both the cheats and sites in terms of quality and quantity of science content. In addition we followed a particularly active cheat site over the course of eight months and investigated formal discussions of the Whyville community concerning cheating. Implications of these findings as cultural artifacts of the game community and as guides for designing informal online learning activities are discussed.

This document is currently not available here.