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2017 Conf. - Communication and catalytic dynamics in online & mobile place-based gaming environments
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This presentation describes research and formative intervention projects in two areas, multiplayer online games and mobile Augment Reality (AR) place-based activities. The first part of this presentation describes an exploratory study of the massively multiplayer game World of Warcraft (WoW) that asks: What is the nature of the linguistic ecology that WoW players are exposed to and in part produce? Existing studies have described the developmental opportunities presented by commercially produced gaming environments (e.g., Gee, 2003, 2007), their value as sites of literacy development (e.g., Squire, 2008; Steinkuehler, 2010), and their potential as venues for second language (L2) use and learning (e.g., Newgarden & Zheng, 2016; Peterson, 2010; Sundqvist & Kerstin, 2016; Thorne, 2008, 2012; Thorne, Fischer, & Lu, 2012). There remain, however, questions regarding the quality and complexity of the linguistic and cognitive environments associated with multiplayer games. This first project empirically addresses this question and aims to finely characterize the linguistic complexity of game-presented texts (or ‘quest texts’) and player generated game-external websites, showing that online games have the potential to catalyze complex semiotic ecologies that include attendant discourses such as sites that illustrate scientific reasoning and support strategy and in-game play, item analysis, and artistic and literary expression. In complementary contrast, the second part of the presentation focuses on the development of mobile Augmented Reality (AR) place-based language pedagogy, the primary objective of which is to embed language usage events and resources in phenomenologically rich and embodied experience in the world (Thorne, 2013; Thorne, Hellermann, Jones, & Lester, 2015). I conclude by describing research findings that highlight patterns of social organization and learning outcomes sparked by the intense contextualization that these sorts of mobile AR activities make possible.
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