Re: [xmca] Joint mediated Activity

From: Polin, Linda (
Date: Sun Mar 19 2006 - 10:13:54 PST


General reaction: yes. But not sure I get what you mean by:

> the principles of meaning making in games are a
> sub-genre(?) of meaning making
> from a chat perspective.

Why a sub-genre?

I find I have also gotten dragged into something: 'new media' and
communication literature, where I find folks who also think, as do I,
that new media is increasing the gap in the... oh, let's call it the
Mediational Divide instead of the Digital Divide, between school life
and non-school life. eg Lankshear

As for your PS, absolutely. I'm scrambling to find that chapter right
now. I have the book. This (programmer as player) is oddly very
foregrounded in the case of MMOG design, where the designers are
often are hard core gamers as well (job descriptions include heavy
game experience in the requirements for the position, for instance),
and where the player community also constructs widgets for use in the
game. when i play the game I am always playing with the designers
(company designers and player-designers) or their residue.

Hey Mike, come to Games+Learning+Society.

And since Eugene has claimed What do you think? I will go with,


On Mar 18, 2006, at 9:11 AM, Mike Cole wrote:

> Linda, Donna, ........
> I am being dragged willy nilly into the video game world including
> mmogs
> which figure
> more and more in my teaching so all of this discussion is very
> helpful. One
> comment you
> made, Linda, struck me as of very general applicability but with some
> emendation.
> You wrote: I suppose that means I think the meaning
> is NOT in the tools but in their use, which is
> user-defined/appropriated.
> I suppose that means I think the meaning
> is NOT in the tools but in their use, which is
> user-defined/appropriated.
> A la wittgenstein, meaning derives from the use of language in use.
> That is, from the way that words are positioned in joint, mediated
> activity.
> The way words (tools) are used involves the speaker's choice (given
> the
> circumstances
> as interpreted by the speaker) and in this sense, could be said to be
> "user-defined/appropriated."
> If this kind of translating appears appropriate (e.g. if you choose to
> appropriate it!) then what you
> are saying is that the principles of meaning making in games are a
> sub-genre(?) of meaning making
> from a chat perspective.
> Does this work?
> mike
> PS- There is a paper in the Context of Learning book edited by
> Elice forman
> and others several years ago
> by Peg Griffen and others that includes a discussion of the way
> that the
> programmer (of then extant
> computer games) is a participant in the activity. From what you
> write, the
> forms of programmer participation
> as well as user participation in the design of the game medium has
> expanded
> in important ways.
> What I think is generally true is that meaning making emerges from
> the tools
> in their use which
> is user
> On 3/16/06, Polin, Linda <> wrote:
>> Donna,
>> I hope I understand your remarks as you intended them. My own 'just
>> plain folks' experience looking inside MMOGs (these games)
>> suggests that
>> the primary giver of meaning is the game play/activity itself, and
>> that
>> that game play is partly enabled by or shaped by game 'tools' (sign,
>> symbols, tools) but equally constructed by player-to-player
>> interaction.
>> I suppose to the extent that player to player interaction is
>> available
>> by design, it is a tool based meaning construction as well. But I
>> believe players bring more to the play than engagement with what is
>> available in-game. There is identity work going on here.
>> Meaning in the co-constructed play is a negotiated meaning with
>> multiple
>> layers, and by negotiated I may even mean constantly negotiated or in
>> negotiation. The tools in the game are also constantly in
>> negotiation.
>> The designers and players even overtly discuss design and redesign in
>> company-supported forums outside the game.
>> Oddly, I'm not sure folks experience the foregrounding of a cyber
>> context, as you seem to suggest in your remarks. Do avid poker
>> players
>> create an alternative reality that expands human consciousness into a
>> card-social-cultural reality? I don't think players (whether 12 or
>> 62)
>> mistake this for an alternate reality. I think it is experienced as a
>> social game, like poker, but a very rich one in which people of
>> all ages
>> and cultures might play together. I think the social richness
>> augmented
>> by the huge number of fields/domains for meaning construction is
>> what is
>> so compelling. My current hunch is that everyone really digs MAKING
>> sense...with others....and with cool objects and activities in a
>> changing landscape. [Did you know that online game play tends to
>> come at
>> the expense of TV viewing time? Just found that out.]
>> As for your other question, I think how you understand the
>> mediational
>> effects of these environments has to affect your research
>> epistemology.
>> Don't you think? Frankly, for me, part of what makes MMOGs both
>> fascinating and difficult to study is the amount of variation in
>> jointly
>> produced and historically mediated meaning creation going on. It is
>> further complicated by the variation of meaning within the online
>> gaming
>> community itself. Blizzard has commented on the fact that the Chinese
>> players on the Asian servers play the game very differently than the
>> players on the American and EU servers. And...within those gross
>> cultural layers there is even more refined differentiation of
>> meaning.
>> For instance, in their 'official strategy guide,' the World of
>> Warcraft
>> folks have a section for players migrating from other game genres who
>> are "coming over" to the Warcraft game. They declare, among other
>> things: Those that have played FPS' primarily understand the teamwork
>> involved easily enough if you have ever participated in Capture
>> the Flag
>> or Team Deathmatch events. However, where everyone once had the same
>> resources and character typer, here everyone is different based on
>> their
>> class and race. Without knowledge of others capabilities, it is more
>> difficult to work together as a team. Things work slower. There is
>> more
>> time for interaction with others beyond a simple macro." Frankly,
>> this
>> is what gives the whole "guild" scene its meaning.
>> My biggest problem in research is that I don't think there is one, or
>> one kind, of play experience. I suppose that means I think the
>> meaning
>> is NOT in the tools but in their use, which is
>> user-defined/appropriated. I think of the day trader, Felison, who
>> spends an inordinate amount of time hanging out in the Auction
>> House in
>> one of the capital cities. I think of the level 48 druid 14-year old
>> girl, Rainbows, who leads questing parties made up primarily of
>> adults.
>> I think of the open source software company manager, Konstig, who has
>> six level 60 characters and who is always helping players
>> considerably
>> lower level than he. I think of the general chat channel in one
>> region
>> of the game world where the talk is constantly one-upmanship in
>> telling
>> jokes about Chuck Norris (this is a common middle school boy joke
>> thing). These are people constructing different meanings in the same
>> game, using the same tools of the game, but for different tasks.
>> Linda
>> _______________________________________________
>> xmca mailing list
> _______________________________________________
> xmca mailing list
xmca mailing list

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Sat Apr 01 2006 - 01:00:13 PST