Gamers versus the Index


This paper presents an ethnographic study of pupils within a trial programme (P2), aimed at developing an upper secondary education for so-called ‘gamers’ who had ‘dropped out’ of school. It was done to follow up a previous trial programme (P1), since many young persons have problems with school. The main question examined here is: When we found situations where the learning worked, by means of social responsitivity, what components were active? How were meaningful affordances created? The trials may be understood from a historical perspective on orality and literacy. Print enabled words to be embedded in space as indexes (tables, lists etc) rather than in time (as orality implies). The index is practiced at the core of traditional school today, with attendance lists and schedules (controlling time and space) and schoolbooks (finalizing the word). Digital culture challenges these structures where the word is not as finalized, and literacy may include other modalities than writing. School is a culture conservative context, which fights back this transformation with more control, through the use of indexes and constraints on digital culture. As contrast, P2 replaced the schedule with full workdays. This enabled the use of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) computer games, especially massively multiplayer online (MMO) games, as replacement for schoolbooks (not all books). The study is based on interviews with the pupils as well as daily participatory observations for two years. Further, data about attendance over two years and grades at the start and end of P2 are presented. The results show that most of the pupils returned to school, became interested in learning again and got grades. They expressed a sense of freedom, which is closely related to the voluntary aspect of playing a game. In other words, to do things for the sake of the actitivity itself, rather than some external learning goal. The paper concludes with a comparison between P2 and traditional school, based upon the study and suggests future research. A review of related research is also included.

Share and Cite:

Westin, T. & Lange, G. (2012). Gamers versus the Index. Creative Education, 3, 25-30. doi: 10.4236/ce.2012.38B006.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Asplund, J. (1987). Det sociala livets element?ra former: Bokf?rlaget Korpen.
[2] Bj?rnsson, A. (1979). Nej till iagosamh?llet eller Betygen m?ste vi ha! F?rr och nu. Tidskrift f?r folkets kultur, 21-28.
[3] Buckingham, D., & Burn, A. (2007). Game Literacy in Theory and Prac-tice. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 16(3), 323-349.
[4] Burn, A., & Durran, J. (2007). Media education: Literacy, learning and contemporary culture. Cambridge, England.
[5] Charsky, D., & Mims, C. (2008). Integrating Commercial Off-the-Shelf Video Games into School Curriculums. TechTrends, 52(5), 38-44. doi: 10.1007/s11528-008-0195-0
[6] Egenfeldt-Nielsen, S. (2007). Third generation educational use of computer games. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hyper-media, 16(3), 263-281.
[7] Gee, J. P. (2007). What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
[8] Grosin, L. (2001). Skolans legitimitet belyst genom forskningen om framg?ngsrika skolor. Pedagogik i barns socialisation - texter om ingripandens legitimitet, Forskningsrappor-ter(64).
[9] Hsu, H.-Y., & Wang, S. (2009). Using Gaming Literacies to Cultivate New Literacies. Paper presented at the World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Educa-tion 2009, Vancouver, Canada.
[10] Huizinga, J. (1971). Homo ludens: Beacon Press.
[11] Kim, B., Park, H., & Baek, Y. (2009). Not Just Fun, But Serious Strategies: Using Meta-Cognitive Strategies in Game-Based Learn-ing. Computers & Education, 52(4), 800-810.
[12] Kress, G. (2009). Multimodality - A social semiotic approach to contemporary communication. London: Rout-ledge.
[13] L?fberg, K. (2000). Kultur som ideologi Utvecklingspsykologiska seminariets skriftserie, ISSN 0281-661X; 59 (pp. 26).
[14] Ong, W. J. (1982). Muntlig och skriftlig kultur - teknologiseringen av ordet: Anthropos.
[15] Partington, A. (2010). Game Literacy, Gaming Cultures and Media Education. English Teaching: Practice and Critique, 9(1), 73-86.
[16] Price, C. B. (2008). The Usability of a Commercial Game Physics Engine to Develop Physics Educational Materials: An Investigation. Simulation & Gaming, 39(3), 319-337.
[17] Qvarsell, B. (1996). Pedagogisk etnografi f?r praktiken - en diskussion om f?r?ndringsfokuserad pedagogisk forskning: Pedago-giska institutionen, Stockholms universitet.
[18] Qvarsell, B. (2001). Leka, studera, arbeta - om barns och ungas verksamheter i internationell pedagogisk belysning: Stockholms universitet: Pedagogiska in-stitutionen.
[19] Qvarsell, B. (2005). Early childhood culture and education for children’s rights. . Internation-al Journal of Early Childhood, 37(3), 99-108.
[20] Reynolds, R., & Caperton, I. H. (2011). Contrasts in Student Engagement, Meaning-Making, Dislikes, and Challenges in a Discovery-Based Program of Game Design Learning. Educational Technology Re-search and Development, 59(2), 267-289.
[21] Rice, J. W. (2007). New media resistance: Barriers to implemen-tation of computer video games in the classroom. Jour-nal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 16(3), 249-261.
[22] Robertson, J., & Good, J. (2005). Child-ren's Narrative Development through Computer Game Authoring. TechTrends: Linking Research & Practice to Improve Learning, 49(5), 43-59.
[23] Robinson, K. (2006). Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity: TED.
[24] Robinson, K. (2010). Changing Paradigms. London: Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, RSA.
[25] Robinson, K., Minkin, L., Bolton, E., French, D., Fryer, L., Greenfield, S., . . . Green, L. (1999). All Our Futures: Creativity, Culture and Education.
[26] Salen, K. (2007). Gaming literacies: A game design study in action. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 16(3), 301-322.
[27] Skolverket. (2010). Skolfr?nvaro och v?gen tillbaka.
[28] Suits, B. (2005). The Grasshopper: Games, Life and Utopia: Broadview Press.
[29] Wiklund, M., & Ekenberg, L. (2009). Going to school in World of Warcraft. Observations from a trial programme using off-the-shelf computer games as learning tools in secondary education. Designs for learning, 2(1).
[30] Winograd, T., & Flores, F. (1986). Understanding Computers and Cognition. A New Foun-dation for Design. (24 ed.): Addi-son-Wesley.

Copyright © 2023 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.