Women and Gaming: The Sims and 21st Century Learning

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Today, virtual worlds abound, avatars are every day occurrences, and video games are yesterday’s news. But today’s games are not just a pastime for millions – they are also a technological focal point for new forms of learning.

James Paul Gee and Elisabeth Hayes are leading researchers in the field of gaming, and here they argue that women gamers—a group too often marginalized—are at the forefront of today’s online learning world. By utilizing the tools of gaming in ways never before imagined - actively engaging in game design, writing fan fiction, and organizing themselves into collaborative learning communities - women of all ages acquire the tools to successfully navigate the complex social, cultural , and economic problems of the 21st century. 

Women are leading the way to a new understanding of online learning techniques, from cultural production to learning communities to technical proficiency in the latest software. This book draws on case studies about women who “play” the Sims, the best selling game in history, to argue for a new general theory of learning for the 21st Century.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"James Paul Gee and Elisabeth R. Hayes offer us vivid portrait of women of all ages ‘gaming beyond gaming,’ transforming the successful The Sims video games into a platform for their own social, creative, and intellectual lives.  These women are gamers, but they are also tinkerers, community leaders, authors, programmers, and artists, and their engagement with The Sims has opened up new opportunities for them to learn and grow far beyond the classroom.  Gee and Hayes are patient, informed, and insightful guides showing us how these kinds of participatory cultures might transform our understanding of education in the 21st century."—Henry Jenkins, Confronting the Challenges of a Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century


Women and Gaming is must-read for anyone interested in the social or intellectual side of gaming - scholars, designers, players and parents alike. At long last, we have a serious treatment of the forms of social engineering or "soft modding" that women do as part of gameplay — not merely as some counterpoint to the (predominantly-male) practice of technical modding (modifying) found in gaming communities but in fact as a vital practice in its own right and a key feature of what it means to Design. Gee & Hayes have managed to treat an often-ignored topic with both depth and clarity.”—Constance Steinkuehler, University of Wisconsin-Madison

"If a good education is the path to human enlightenment, one might well ask what the current state of education is.  Authors Gee and Hayes waste few words in their answer: education in our culture is critically wanting...The authors have done a commendable job of positing a theory of learning according to which real education is not about acquiring knowledge, but rather about 'becoming' something."—Women and Gaming

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780230623415
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 5/11/2010
  • Pages: 216
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

James Paul Gee is the Mary Lou Fulton Presidential Professor of Literacy Studies at Arizona State University and a member of the National Academy of Education. He is the author Sociolinguistics and Literacies, one of the founding works of the “New Literacies Studies”, as well as the author of What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy, Situated Language and Learning, and Good Games and Good Learning: Collected Essays.

Elisabeth R. Hayes is a professor in the Division of Learning, Technology and Psychology in Education at Arizona State University’s Graduate School of Education. She is the author and editor of numerous articles, chapters, and books, including Women as Learners and The Handbook of Adult and Continuing Education. Hayes was a lead investigator on two MacArthur-funded projects: GameDesigner and the TechSavvy Girls project.

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Table of Contents

• Video Games and 21st Century Skills: Why the Sudden Worldwide Interest in Video Games and Learning?
• The Nickel and Dimed Challenge: Designing New Forms of Socially Conscious Play
• A Young Girl Becomes a Designer and Goes Global, Succeeding at 21st Century Skills but Not at School
• How Passion Grows: A Retired Shut In Goes from Making a Purple Potty to Gaining Millions of Fans
• Passionate Affinity Groups: A New Form of Community that Works to Make People Smarter
• A Young Girl and Her Vampire Stories: How a Teenager Competes with a Best Selling Author
• From The Sims to Second Life: A Young Woman Transforms Her Real Life
• What Does it All Mean: What Women and The Sims Have to Teach Us About what Education and Learning Will Look Like in the 21st Century

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