Constance Steinkuehler joins the faculty of Educational Technology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison as an Assistant professor in the Fall. After researching and developing online learning environments designed specifically for learning for five years, she shifted her focus toward the documentation and analysis of more naturally occurring online learning environments, specifically those designed for play (MMOGs). Her dissertation in the Literacy Studies program in Curriculum & Instruction is two-year online cognitive ethnography of the game Lineage (first I, now II), focusing specifically on the forms of cognition, learning, and literacy recruited from those who game. She earned her MS degree in Educational Psychology at University of Wisconsin in 2000 and before that, three simultaneous BAs in 1993 at the University of Missouri-Columbia in Mathematics, English, and Religious Studies. She was an associate lecturer in Educational Psychology, a Spencer fellow, and writes online for Joystick101.org and Terra Nova. Current interests include the ways in which online play spaces align (or fail to align) with practices valued outside the game, rethinking notions of what it means to be 'literate' in a globally networked online world, youth culture, and issues of gender and identity. She has been a siege princess, a mon calamari dancer, a human priest herbal/alchemist with a penchant for flowers in dangerous places, Wu the Lotus Blossom with a best friend named Dawn Star, a pudgy spaceman who orders around many small vegetable-ish creatures, a pink Master Chief, the misunderstood hero of the story, the last chance at world salvation destined to save the world (and the princess), god, and the master of a very big big ball.
The Mangle of Play
Early academic discussions about what games are and how they ought to be studied frequently tend to fall back on a tired old dichotomy drawn between ludology (commonly oversimplified as the study of games as formal rule systems), and narratology (commonly oversimplified as the study of games as texts), even when core scholars on both sides of the debate acknowledge that the debate is an unfortunate red herring (cf. Aarseth & Jenkins debate, 2005). Games are designed experiences and, as such, their study requires understanding both the formal rule systems and stories designed into them, as well as the full range of human practices through which players actively inhabit their worlds and render them meaningful. Games are a "mangle" (Pickering 1995) of production and consumption - of human intentions (with designers and players in conversation with one another, Robison 2005), material constraints and affordances, evolving sociocultural practices, and brute chance. In this presentation, I discuss the ways in which, in the context of the massively multiplayer online game Lineage, the game that's played is the outcome of an interactively stabilized (Pickering, 1989) "mangle of practice" of designers, players, in-game currency farmers, and broader social norms. Parallels between instructional and game design are highlighted throughout, with an eye toward what it means to "design for emergence" (Squire & Steinkuehler, in press) in a context in which such precocious improvisation is both wanted and abhorred.
Brace for Impact: How User Creation Changes Everything
Leveraging Virtual Omniscience: Mixed Methodologies for Studying
Social Life in Persistent Online Worlds
'Effects' of Games