Knowledge at play. Studies of games as members’ matters Kunskap genom spelande. Studier av digitala spel och spelande som kunskapsdomän
Abstract: On a general level, this thesis seeks some answers to the broad question of what one can learn from digital games. With an analytical approach informed by ethnomethodology, the main thrust of the work is an exploration of members’ matters in the area of games and gaming. In response to prevailing discussions about how, where and what gamers learn, the aim is to examine emerging forms of knowledge embedded in practices in and around digital games. The first part of the thesis addresses three themes: the question of whether leisure gaming could be understood to have transfer effects; how games are positioned in a state of restlessness and multistableness; and how the domain encompassing gaming and game development is advancing in terms of professionalization and institutionalization. The second part is comprised of three empirical studies based on two sets of video recordings: collaborative gaming in The Lord of the Rings Online, and assessment practices in game development education. The studies begin to unravel the elusive phenomena of gaming by making some gameplay practices and conventions visible. For instance, the findings suggest that there are specialized coordination practices, developed through long-term engagement with the online game. Furthermore, from the perspective of the institutional framing, it is argued that understandings from other media are not applicable in a straightforward manner, but must be carefully calibrated to matters such as game genre conventions and control over gameplay conduct. By describing the reasoning and knowledge displayed by gamers and game developers, the thesis contributes to interrelated discussions about knowledge development, currently carried out in educational science, interaction studies and game studies. In conclusion, it is suggested that digital games are establishing autonomy from other forms of entertainment media and software industries as a result of the ways games and gaming as multistable objects of knowledge have become deeply embedded in society.
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