Connected Play: Tweens in a Virtual World

Overview

Millions of children visit virtual worlds every day. In such virtual play spaces as
Habbo Hotel, Toontown, and Whyville, kids chat with friends from school, meet new people, construct avatars, and earn and spend virtual currency. In Connected Play, Yasmin Kafai and
Deborah Fields investigate what happens when kids play in virtual worlds, how this matters for their offline lives, and what this means for the ...

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Connected Play: Tweens in a Virtual World

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Overview

Millions of children visit virtual worlds every day. In such virtual play spaces as
Habbo Hotel, Toontown, and Whyville, kids chat with friends from school, meet new people, construct avatars, and earn and spend virtual currency. In Connected Play, Yasmin Kafai and
Deborah Fields investigate what happens when kids play in virtual worlds, how this matters for their offline lives, and what this means for the design of educational opportunities in digital worlds.

Play is fundamentally important for kids' development, but, Kafai and Fields argue, to understand play in virtual worlds, we need to connect concerns of development and culture with those of digital media and learning. Kafai and Fields do this through a detailed study of kids'
play in Whyville, a massive, informal virtual world with educational content for tween players.
Combining ethnographic accounts with analysis of logfile data, they present rich portraits and overviews of how kids learn to play in a digital domain, developing certain technological competencies; how kids learn to play well -- responsibly, respectfully, and safely; and how kids learn to play creatively, creating content that becomes a part of the virtual world itself.

The MIT Press

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What People Are Saying

Ellen Wartella

This is a terrific multimethod analysis of nine-to-twelve-year-old users of the virtual world of Whyville. It contributes substantial information about an understudied population of tween digital media users and it contributes to an expansive understanding of how play in the digital world extends real-world experiences. Connected Play is an informative and yet nuanced description of the ways digital playgrounds are being used by tweens today and how these play experiences represent educational opportunities. Both children's media designers and those who study the role of digital media in children's development will find this a rich contribution to the literature.

Sara Grimes

A rich and insightful examination of the complex -- and too often misunderstood --
universe of tweens' online gaming. Connected Play not only provides a comprehensive overview of the diverse relationships and learning opportunities that can emerge out of young people's virtual world play, but also serves as a template for how to conduct a methodologically rigorous study of a digital environment and its inhabitants.

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Yasmin Kafai is Professor of Learning Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate
School of Education. She is the coauthor of Connected Play: Tweens in a Virtual
World
and the lead editor of Beyond Barbie and Mortal Kombat: New Perspectives on
Gender and Gaming
, both published by the MIT Press, and The Computer Clubhouse:
Constructionism and Creativity in Youth Communities
.

Deborah A. Fields is Assistant Professor of Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences at
Utah State University.

Mizuko Ito is a cultural anthropologist who studies new media use, particularly among young people, in Japan and the United States, and a Professor in Residence at the University of California
Humanities Research Institute.

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