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.

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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.


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