The Development of Participatory Competencies in Virtual Worlds

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The Development of Participatory Competencies in Virtual Worlds

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Unlike many games that provide quests with goals and tasks for players to accomplish alone or in collaboration, virtual worlds offer different activities and locations for players to choose from, engage in, and become competent in. Thus participation in virtual worlds that, like games often feature thousands of players, are more structured around player-generated content. The idea of participatory competencies thus provides a comprehensive framework to situate different practices creative, critical, social, ethical and technical that constitute players generative efforts in joining in and contributing to virtual worlds. In our case we were interested in how tweens in an after-school club negotiated participation in two very different virtual communities:, a virtual world for informal science with over 3 million registered players ages 10-16, and, a file sharing site for programmers that features thousands of games designed by kids and adults that can be played, downloaded, modified and commented upon. In our after-school club, we studied how a group of tweens ages 10-12 years joined first Scratch and then the Whyville community over six months and participated concurrently in them. Our particular focus was directed towards understanding how different participatory competencies came into play as tweens joined and contributed to each of those virtual worlds. Analysis focused on how club members negotiated their entry into both virtual world communities, (Fields & Kafai, 2008), how they engaged in creative production of their games and identities, and what club members perceived as opportunities and challenges to their participation in different virtual communities.


Presentation at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Diego, CA

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