Steinkuehler on Why Game (Culture) Studies Now

Why game (culture) studies now? (PDF, Via c.a. steinkuehler – MMOG research.) This was a brief article, but with several quotable sections, some of them quite long, and as the title might suggest, many of them again relate to the social negotiation of meaning in games. As you now know, these quotes are categorized based on the section of my own paper they might appear in. They appear with minimal annotation, and they appear sans any formating – I’ve dragged and dropped from my outliner.

Incidentally, its fun to be writing a paper in March 2006 that cites sources that are dated 2006. This is current stuff we’re talking about here… a good thing in the field of educational technology I think. :)


– [ ] “Games are an extremely valuable context for the study of
cognition… [and of] how a given sociocultural context shapes
and influences individual activity and meaning making through
socialization and enculturation (Nasir, 2005) and how the
individual shapes and influences the culture in which he or she
participates in return.” (Steinkuehler, 2006, p. 2) This quote
might easily go in the social negotiation section below.

Socially Negotiated

– [ ] ZPD: “the valuing of seeking out challenges just beyond the
current level of one’s ability (cf. zone of proximal development;
Vygotsky, 1978), whether you are Level 5 or 55.” (Steinkuehler,
2006, p. 3)”
– [ ] MMOGs are ” learning environments, albeit naturally occurring,
self-sustaining, indigenous ones dedicated to play rather than
work or school.
They are rich settings for reciprocal forms of teaching and
apprenticeship, as successful in-game problem solving often
requires access to the collective intelligence (Levy, 1997/1999)
of the communities attending them.” (Steinkuehler, 2006, p. 3)
– [ ] “the networked learning communities that emerge around game play
exhibit many of the features orig-
inally sought after by research communities such as Computer
Support for Collaborative Learning (CSCL). Game communities also
exhibit characteristics and properties heretofore theoretically
and practically underemphasized, such as interaction among
community members with a wide range of skill, age, and maturity;
reciprocal forms of teaching and learning that occur in all
directions throughout the social network (in contrast to movement
from “periphery” to “core;” Lave & Wenger, 1991); and interwoven
forms of competition and collaboration that appear to foster the
high levels of engagement (Seay, Jerome, Lee, & Kraut, 2004; Yee,
2005) that periodically concern the American nongaming public and
press (a discussion typically framed in terms of “addiction”).
Understanding such indigenous, voluntary, self-sustaining,
naturally occurring learning environments may prove quite crucial
to the future theorization and development of contexts for
learning, both online and off, particularly as the “Nintendo
Generation” grows up with expectations shaped by just such
experiences. ” (Steinkuehler, 2006, p. 4)
– [ ] “MMOGs are social simulations” (Steinkuehler, 2006, p. 4)

21st Century Skills

– [ ] ” In the context of MMOGs, a game having “deep play” is typically
one that includes several overlapping well-defined problems as
its core mechanics (that typically increase in difficulty over
time), with a host of ill-defined problems enveloping them that
render the continuous solutions of those well-defined problems
meaningful in terms of one’s membership and identity within the
game’s community
of practice. Thus, MMOG game play includes all the traditional
characteristics of problem solving—problem representation,
conditions, goals, procedures, strategies, and metastrategies—as
well as shared practices typically found in problem-solving
contexts within formal and informal instructional
contexts—debriefings, theorizing about the problem space,
apprenticeship, and the valuing of seeking out challenges just
beyond the current level of one’s ability (cf. zone of proximal
development; Vygotsky, 1978), whether you are Level 5 or 55.”
(Steinkuehler, 2006, p. 3) This tail end bit also belongs in the
subsectino on the ZPD in the Socially Negotiated section of my


– [ ] Role of the Researcher: ” The ability to simulate entire worlds
and cultures populated by actual individuals working in concert
(or discord) with one another with which researchers can run
trials of full-scale social change is veritably unprecedented.”
(Steinkuehler, 2006, p. 4)


Steinkuehler, C. A. (2006). Why game (culture) studies now? Games and Culture, 1(1), 1-6.