GLS 2008 – Games and Incivility

Julian Dibbell presented “Sympathy for the Griefer: MOOrape, Lulz Cubes, and Other Lessons From the First 2 Decades of Online Sociopathy,” a fascinating look at those who are “spoil sports” in virtual worlds/games. This session tapped into some very strange territory regarding play and the “rules,” spoken and unspoken, surrounding play and interaction online. Fascinating!

Following Julian, Lisa Nakamura presented “Don’t Hate the Player, Hate the Game: The Racialization of Labor in World of Warcraft,” detailing her research in the emerging stereotypes surrounding “Gold Farmers” in MMO’s like World of Warcraft. It was a fascinating discussion. I also had the opportunity earlier in the day to be a part of an informal discussion between Lisa and others regarding the phenomenon of gold farming and how the player community views it. In my early MMO experiences, such as EverQuest and Dark Age of Camelot, the player community, in my opinion, had much stronger views against the practice of gold buying, though I think the player base of World of Warcraft has a much looser view of the practice of buying gold. That’s ironic and hypocritical, of course, in light of the fact that they shun the farmers. I’ve never seen the need to buy gold in WoW, especially since the upper end of the economy is so inflated with daily quests and easy money.

Edd Schneider’s presentation on “The Temptation of Virtual Misanthropy: User Exploration in Virtual Environments,” was both funny and fascinating. Edd’s research had folks who’d never played Grand Theft Auto, try the game, however, they were told that their role was as a fireman whose job it was to protect the city from fire outbreaks. Before playing, players were warned that they should be careful while driving their firetruck as to avoid running over pedestrians, that the police would arrest them if they did, and that there existed criminals in the game that might try to subvert them from their tasks. Considering the nature of the GTA series, this is hillarious. What’s even more fascinating is how long it took before these players killed their first person, either accidentally or intentionally.

GLS 2008 – USeIT – Using Squeak to Infuse Information Technology into the STEM Curriculum

GLS 2008 - The USeIT Poster

The USeIT Poster Presentation at the Games, Learning, and Society Conference for 2008 went exceptionally well. Many visitors came by to see the work that students and teachers were doing in Squeak as part of the NSF-funded project. There seemed to be a great interest in the results of the project to date and curiosity about how Squeak will be utilized in the high schools next year. Students’ work was a hit!

To learn more, visit:


GLS 2008 – An Elf, a Knight, and a Princess Walk Into This Bar… Virtual Friendships 7 Years Later

M. Hayes, W. Phipps, C. Steinkuehler

GLS 2008 - An Elf, a Knight, and a Princess...Constance Steinkuehler

What an awesome fireside chat!  Hayes, Phipps, and Steinkuehler discussed their experiences as guildmates over the course of the past seven years playing Lineage, Lineage 2, and World of Warcraft.  It was very interesting to hear a discussion of many of the social issues I’ve encountered as a guild leader over the past eight years.  There are truly some fascinating social issues that arise in a virtual, somewhat anonymous environment like the ones you find in MMO’s.  I found the discussion of community-maintained ethical/moral norms, in game, particularly interesting especially when comparing the social systems that grew up in Lineage (in many regards similar to my experiences in Dark Age of Camelot) versus those that have arisen in World of Warcraft.  The social dynamic of MMO’s has clearly changed.  The discussion of how we perceive individuals based on our online experiences with them and how that changes when we hear their voice with a voice-com. system like Ventrilo or even more dramatically should we meet them in real life was also intriguing.

The education implications for these issues are equally fascinating.


GLS 2008 – Creating a Culture of Critical Game Designers in Elementary Classrooms and Clubs

K. Peppler, A. Diazgranados, D. Fields, Y. Kafai

GLS 2008 - Alicia DIazgranados Explains Her Work With 2nd Graders and Scratch

2nd Graders and students taking part in an after-school club utilized Scratch to design games and then engaged in critical evaluation of theirs and others’ games.

By using Scratch and game design as a context, students created video games and then engaged in evaluation of each others’ work.  Students created their own rubric for evaluation that utilized language specific to Scratch and game design in general.  Students eventually learned how to not only provide an evaluation (with the rubric as a guide) but also began to offer support for their position.  The 2nd grade math was integrated in the use of classroom response systems and  and interactive white boards.

Another group of students utilized Scratch’s social-network-oriented project sharing feature that allows people to share their projects in a YouTube-stye format.  The evaluation in this instance provided by the social network.  “Friending, commenting, and browsing” of Scratch projects on Scratchr developed.  Students in this group also utilized “remixing,” or taking others’ projects and re-designing or modifying them.  Ultimately, students began expanding beyond their own network to find projects and contacts.

Scratch is available for free download at:


“Students are creative and always giving you data.  As a teacher, I am both educator and researcher.” – Alicia Diazgranados

“Students like to have fun.  Did you notice that?”  – Alicia Diazgranados