Gaming into “New”Literacies

Screenshot 2013-09-09 at 4.39.32 PM

While reading Lankshear and Knobel ( “”New” Literacies: Research and Social Practice” and A New Literacies Sampler) , I needed a way to keep track of all their definitions and subcategories of  “new” literacies, so I made the chart above. Unfortunately, I couldn’t figure out how to get it into the blog, so I took a screenshot and now its basically illegible, but the point is there was a lot going on. Especially, since they changed terms between the 2004 plenary talk and the 2007 book. Once I started making the chart, my mind drifted and I began thinking about how this chart, which I made in Google Draw-a program I’ve never used before, embodies “new” literacies. Even though I’ve used other “drawing” applications before, it still took a good amount of work to navigate the program and then to read and write in it. When you break it down, all of the literacies you need to function in this program and make this chart are complicated! Google Drive in general has a whole lot of “technical stuff” and I think “ethos stuff.”  However, at the same time, “drawing” charts aren’t anything new, so its also an example of new technologies capturing old technologies.

But back to the readings…for my choosen chapter in A New Literacies Sampler I read Chapter 5: “Pleasure, Learning, Video Games, and Life: The Projective Stance” by James Gee who makes interesting parallels between video games (such as Full Spectram Warrior, and Thief  )and real life. He asserts that like video games

When we humans act in the world (in word or deed) we are “virtual characters” (i,e. taking on specific identities such as “tough cop,” “sensitive man”…) acting in a “virtual world” (i.e., constructing the world in certain ways, and not others” (100).

In any situation, we take on certain identities, decipher how the world works and how it doesn’t, and then figure out how to respond to the situation. It’s complicated to think about how much “reading” of the world we do every minute of every day. Even further it complicates our identity. If we are constantly switching in and out of “virtual characters,” what is our true identity? How can we talk about it?

Gee goes on to explain that for each “virtual character,” for both video games and real life, we have to work with and take on the “authentic professional expertise” of those characters. According to Gee, “authentic professionals have special knowledge and distinctive values tied to specific skills gained through a good deal of effort and experience.”

I think what Gee is trying to say is that learning in real life is like video games because students need to immerse themselves in the “virtual world” of a “virtual character” who has “authentic professional experience.” Video games allow you to know what the character knows, but at the same time apply your own knowledge by making decisions that have low stake consequences because you always get a do-over. Students don’t need to be told and tested; they need to be put into the “virtual world,” so they can gain the experience and knowledge with help of a “authentic professional.”

What does this have to do with “new” literacies, you ask? I think Gee is taking video games, a form of “new” literacies (that in Lankshear and Knobel’s term contain both “ethos stuff” and “tech stuff”) that a good amount of students use, but that doesn’t get recognized in education, as a way to discuss learning and the affect “new” literacies can have in the classroom. Connecting video games, real life, and learning complicates our idea of reading and writing in the world.

How do we use this connection in the classroom? I’m not sure. I don’t know if Gee wants it to have actual pedagogical implications, at least things that are easy to do; it might just be a new way of looking at technology and as a way of talking about literacy. Or maybe also just a different way of letting students immerse themselves in the world and in learning.


One comment on “Gaming into “New”Literacies

  1. It’s interesting- when we first started this semester, I barely had a clue who the man was, and while I found this post interesting, it didn’t make a strong impact on me. However, now that I’ve read quite a bit of Gee’s stuff, looking back on this is rather fascinating.

    I think everybody in this class could now give a pretty decent answer as to whether Gee thinks it has pedagogical implications- it does, but he’s not actually advocating for gaming to be used in classrooms, but just as an example and lesson of useful learning techniques and ideas.

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