Studying Gaming Literacies

Theories to Inform Classroom Practice


Recognizing the vast numbers of old and young people alike that interact, socialize, and learn through gameplay, this book explores research approaches to games, their literacies, and the pedagogical possibilities of play. Consequentially, this volume is rooted in the idea that powerful forms of learning, communication, and multimodal production occur through and because of gaming. These profound literacy practices can mirror traditional literacies but the educational field’s approach to engaging in a pedagogy of playful literacies has been largely scattershot. By bringing together diverse voices, contexts, and research designs, the chapters in this volume present a snapshot of 21st century literacy practices at work and at play.

Organized into two parts, Studying Gaming Literacies explores the rich methodological approaches to gaming literacies scholarship as well as the possibilities of engaging in research in both classrooms and informal learning settings. With a robust set of context-specific approaches, this book acts less as a how-to manual for equity-driven scholarship than as a companion to support and undergird other research and pedagogical approaches to play and gaming in literacy-rich learning environments.

Focused on presenting scholarly approaches to gaming research, this volume, too, presents pedagogical takeaways for educators, for students, and for game designers and curators. Across the seven case studies presented in this volume, we call for intentional playful practices in educational research. The literacies of play are myriad and complex and – particularly in the name of educational equity – they demand to be studied, uplifted, and leveraged for academic achievement.

Contributors are: Jolynn Asato, Ali Carr-Chellman, Sebastián Castaño, Laura D’Aveta, Jennifer S. Dail, Jason Engerman, James Paul Gee, Robert Hein, Michael Hernandez, Ellen Middaugh, Raúl Alberto Mora , Shannon Mortimore-Smith, Tyrone Steven Orrego, Daniel Ramírez, Nate Turcotte, Shelbie Witte, and Jennifer Wyld.

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Introduction Gaming Literacies and the Boundaries of Play
Antero Garcia is an Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Education at Stanford University. Prior to completing his Ph.D., Antero was an English teacher at a public high school in South Central Los Angeles.

Shelbie Witte, Ph.D. (2008), Kansas State University, is the Watson Endowed Chair and Professor of Adolescent Literacy and English Education at Oklahoma State University, where she directs the OSU Writing Project and the Initiative for 21st Century Literacies Research. She has published extensively on the intersections of pedagogy and technology.

Jennifer S. Dail, Kennesaw State University, is a Professor of English Education and directs the Kennesaw Mountain Writing Project. She has published multiple articles and co-edited two books, including Young Adult Literature and the Digital World: Textual Engagement through Visual Literacy (Rowman & Littlefield, 2018).
Donna E. Alvermann
List of Figures
Notes on Contributors
Introduction: Gaming Literacies and the Boundaries of Play
Antero Garcia, Jennifer S. Dail and Shelbie Witte

PART 1: Methodological Investigations in Literacies Research

Introduction to Part 1: Methodological Investigations in Literacies Research
Antero Garcia, Jennifer S. Dail and Shelbie Witte
1 Inform, Perform, Transform: Modeling In-School Youth Participatory Action Research through Gameplay
Antero Garcia
2 How Youth Can Use Gaming as an Act of Creation
Jennifer Wyld
3 Digital Literacy Practices for a Gaming Generation: Commercial Gaming Lessons from Adolescent Gamers
Jason A. Engerman, Robert Hein, Nate Turcotte and Alison Carr-Chellman
4 Literacies of Play: Blazing the Trail, Unchartered Territories, and Hurrying Up – #TeamLaV’s Interview with James Paul Gee
Raúl Alberto Mora, James Paul Gee, Michael Hernandez, Sebastián Castaño, Tyrone Steven Orrego and Daniel Ramírez

PART 2: Playful Explorations

Introduction to Part 2: Playful Explorations
Antero Garcia, Jennifer S. Dail and Shelbie Witte
5 Building Civic Literacy in the English Language Arts through Geospatial Play
Ellen Middaugh and Jolynn A. Asato
6 Projective Worlds: Minecraft and Mcalagaësia
Laura D’Aveta
7 Literacy Practice and Play: Participatory Culture in the MMORPG, FFXIV: A Realm Reborn
Shannon R. Mortimore-Smith

All interested in gaming and literacy practices in classrooms: institutes, academic libraries, specialists, post-graduate students, undergraduate students, practitioners.
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