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Digital Child at Play - Defense

PhD Dissertation Defense - May 3, 2010, 1pm Simon Fraser University Harbour Campus, Room 1505

Sara Grimes

on 3 May 2010

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Transcript of Digital Child at Play - Defense

The Digital Child at Play Rule Systems & Structures Children's cultural rights?? Digital Bedroom Culture Authorship
Intellectual Property
Fair Use/Fair Dealings Introduction Microethnographies of Play Images
Photo: "mix tapes" courtesy of Flickr/Landroid, reprinted in Wired, Oct. 26 2009.
Photo: Hanna Montana fan bedroom, courtesy of RafterTales.com 2008.
Image of Cat from "The Cat in the Hat" by Dr. Seuss, 1957 by Theodore S. Geisel, Random House.
Gossip Girl in Second Life, courtesy of GeekSugar.com, 2007.
"Trick or Treat," photo courtesy of mrmarkrobson.com, 2009.
Cover of Televizion journal, no. 16/2003/1.
Promo image from "Fusion Fall", CartoonNetwork, 2009-2010.
"Club Penguin Gameplay Trailer" posted by MMOHut, Aug. 10. 2009, Youtube.
Lego photo by Lori Decoite, posted Aug.2008 on Suzie Q Scrapper blog.
Original screenshots of BarbieGirls.com, ClubPenguin.com, GalaXseeds.com, PixieHollow.com, Toontown.com, Magi-Nation.com, Nicktropolis.com
Sara M. Grimes School of Communication
Simon Fraser University
Vancouver, BC
May 3, 2010 Emergent Play:

Unanticipated & Subversive Appropriations Designed Emergence:

Incorporation of emergent play into official game lore and design Configuring the "Digital Child"
Struggling to conform
Fractured Fairy Tales:

The impossibility of following a script
Producers as Consumers User as "Prosumer" - at once a producer and consumer of content
Draw heavily on prefabricated content & themes
Users provide much of the content & use value, but the site owners profit/claim ownership
Role as producer becomes obscured - reframed as consumer relationship
Same ownership patterns - primarily media & toy companies

Same cross-promotional emphasis (tie-ins, branding)
Spaces dedicated to play
Participatory, collaborative
Communities of practice
Social systems
Virtual currencies and markets Case Study Selection: From 106 to 6 *Club Penguin: over 12 million **BarbieGirls: over 10 million

PhD Defense MA, BA (Hons) Conclusions Implications Safety Mechanisms Virtual Worlds for Kids Virtual Worlds Similar to T-rated MMOGs ...but also different Rules as Technical Code Continuities with commercial children's culture: Smaller
Simpler, bare-bones
Less customization
Free/Pay Hybrid
Microtransactions The child as indiscriminating player

The child player as consumer

Child's play as "playing nice"

The child player at (and as) risk Children's Media, and Play
Children's Bedroom Culture Digital Games Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs)
Situated within larger context of children's play technologies Children's Media Studies Emphasis on cultural shifts, impacts, brought about by the increased presence of commercialization and technologies within children's culture. Debates about branded toys & transmedia convergence.

Concerns about play scripts, negative effects, the so-called "disappearance" of imaginative play.

Design Rules Commercialization as Rule System Situate digital play within a public / private version of the domestic sphere
"Bedroom" as site of (conspicuous) consumption & display Expansive, multiuser environments

Users interact with each other/environment

Simultaneously, in real time

Users visually represented as avatars

Persistent (go on without you)

Targeted to teens and adults (T-rated)
Domestic Spaces Subjectivities of Consumption Conflation of make-believe and consumption
Performatives & identity play: hinge upon acquisition & display of items
Social hierarchies Technologies Playing by and with the rules Significant evidence that kids have power to appropriate, transform and reconfigure meanings, objects, etc.

****Importance of text and context: Narrative, Design, Presence of peers, etc.

Role of design and implementation?

Paths of Influence? Next-gen kids' MMOGs
UGC Games
More opportunities for participation
But similar rule systems
What are the conditions (of play) introduced by the contents, designs, management strategies, texts and contexts of commercial children's MMOGs?

How do players negotiate these conditions? Management Strategies Shift the focus to the technologies themselves--as sites of struggle, as artifacts that embody and reproduce the social, political, economic & cultural conditions within which they were constructed. Play Scripts
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