Chapters 18 & 19 HALR

Chapter 18: Literacy in Virtual Worlds

Rebecca W. Black

Constance Steinkuehler

On page 273, right-hand column, last paragraph, they discuss how “traditional expert and novice roles are often reversed as younger members (often adolescents) play the role of ‘old timers’ within the community, giving ‘expert’ feedback to adults on various aspects of popular culture.  In such contexts, the outward trappings of youth can sometimes disappear, providing adolescents an opportunity to take on and experiment with more adult (or even childlike) roles in a community.”  This is a key intervention in the process of identity formation, and it’s interesting to consider the differences between those who have regular internet access outside school and those without out-of-school internet access.  I would imagine that the issue of quality of interaction is somewhat less critical than the issue of quantity, in this case.

On page 277, left-hand column, end of first paragraph: “Research such as Chandler-Olcott and Mahar’s also contradicts claims that electronic media diverts users from activities such as reading, writing, and broader civic participation.  Instead, these robust characterizations of virtual spaces serve to reframe a new generation of tech-savvy adolescents and fans as “consumers who also produce, readers who also write, and spectators who also participate”.”  I’m left both encouraged and wondering by these sentences.  It’s great that online interaction is given its due, so to speak, for the quality and type of interactions it supports. That said, being tech-savvy isn’t going to get you through an interview.  But most of these kids go to school and learn social literacy there so I would imagine that overall, the scale tips in favor of online interactions for adolescents.

“it appears more empirically accurate to conclude that successful MMO gameplay is itself a constellation of literacy activities rather than something that might displace such practices in the lives of adolescents and young adults.”  <–That sounds about right.

This chapter is fascinating to me, for all of its information about gaming and literacy practice.  I knew they were complicated, but I have to admit I drank some of the kool-aid about online multiplayer gaming being a wasteful, entertainment-only kind of engagement.

I really appreciate this from page 283 (I excluded some in parens content): “Games, like all new media before them, have roused deeply ambivalent feelings in American culture, often masking deeper societal tensions and problems, an attitude often rooted in societal guilt over the mistreatment of American youth, one that again casts them as the source of the problems rather than the victims of those oft-ignored risk factors associated with them.”  It would be an interesting study in culture to look at the rise of popularity of video games and how that intersects the relationships of adolescents with both their peers and their family members.  The point is well taken that these are not just kids passively absorbing capitalist culture, but a form of social storytelling–one of our best forms of meaning-making.

Chapter 19: Reading and Writing Video

Media Literacy and Adolescents

David L. Bruce

Umm, right.  I’ll be reading this tomorrow.


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