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Play and Identity in Digital Spaces
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Play and Identity in Digital Spaces

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Go Virtual Conference, September 24, 2007.

Go Virtual Conference, September 24, 2007.

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  • Thanks to Jokay for inviting me and hello to everybody, Wonderful to see more and more Australian educators interested in or using virtual worlds and being able to be a part of this event


  • 1. Play and Identity in Digital Spaces
  • 2. Play: An Alternative Framing
  • 3.
    • Play can provide a context which allows for the cognitive and creative freedoms associated with open-ended experimentation.
  • 4.
    • A space in which experimentation
    • is safe and possible
  • 5.  
  • 6.
    • A space which allows possibilities of creative thinking , innovative problem solving , and
    shifts in perspective
  • 7.  
  • 8. Snapshot of what teens are doing online just to play
  • 9.
    • ‘ i try to be as verbose as possible. i try to use figures of speech , metaphors and alliterations . i try to make my language c o l o r f u l , detailed , full of unexpected turns and twists . just in general, a good read . ’ (Kitten)
  • 10.
    • Play allows opportunities to view situations or problems from various angles allowing one to pivot one’s mind to view the issue from myriad directions ( Galarneau)
  • 11.  
  • 12. Manga
  • 13.
    • There's a level of emotional content in manga that normal comics don't have in the eyes and the hands. It makes use of subtle imagery, sometimes, to tease the emotions. Such as the randomly popping up flower petals in romantic scenes, an effect I mean to make use of myself... and have a character glare and say "cut that out", but that's not the point. I used this by sticking the feathers in. Anime has an intensity to it that I like. Plus manga comics usually have decent plots.
  • 14. Fusing identities: exploring aspects of self through fictional characters
    • ‘… I’ve found that since I’ve been using her as one of my main characters, I have been…well… rubbing off on myself, in a way.
    • I’m more outgoing than I used to be, and Jandalf’s creation and use does figure in that..’.
  • 15.
    • “ As a spectator I am entertained by my own performance”
    • “ Becoming a character in a story is the ultimate narrative experience” (Marie-Laure Ryan)
  • 16.
    • My close friend and colleague thinks that since starting this course and spending time as Denver (my avatar), I have “blossomed” offline .
  • 17.
    • My entire identity has changed – my perceptions about who I am, the way I think and interact, and the way I see the world now - has changed as a consequence of the journey Angela has encouraged us to take
  • 18. Texts of the Body
    • Corporeal semantics: the body as a text
    • How do we interpret and construct the body as a text?
    • We communicate through a textual and corporeal dialogism
    • How might avatars be ‘read’ institutionally in ways that grant or deny access to particular forms of communication over others.
  • 19.  
  • 20. I use my avatar…
    • As a “close as possible” representation of my real body
    • As a mode of identity expression
    • To represent aspects of my inner self, in a metaphorical way
    • As a way of living out a fantasy of my idealised body
    • As a way of neutralising any discrimination I’ve felt about my offline appearance
    • To hide
  • 21.
    • To play with the idea of a fantasy character
    • To experiment with alternative ways of being
    • To challenge dominant discourses about gender, race, class
    • As a vehicle for protest or call for social action
    • To use the privilege of whiteness, beauty, youth to my advantage
    • To use the privilege of “otherness” to promote a news-worthy persona and gain media attention
    • To show off my fashion / skin / hair business
    • To attract the opposite sex
    • To express my sexuality / sexual preference
    • To align with a particular group or sub-culture
    • Errr…. What?
  • 22. I have been discriminated against because my avatar is…
    • Too beautiful
    • Too sexy and flirtatious looking
    • Too similar to everybody else
    • Too different
    • Too boring
  • 23. Too newbie-ish Too many prims Too young Too old Too humanoid Too furry Too …..
  • 24. We experience / read / interpret / construct the avatar from three perspectives: Aesthetic Functional Social / Critical
  • 25.  
  • 26. Aesthetic Do we like it? Is it beautiful / interesting / make us want to know about the person who created it?
    • Stand next to one person whose avatar you appreciate aesthetically
  • 27.  
  • 28. Functional What story does the avatar convey? What roles do they play in SL? What are the identity markers that tell us about this person’s real or imagined story?
    • Stand next to somebody whose avatar has an identity marker similar to yours
  • 29.  
  • 30. Social / Critical What values or attitudes are being represented and how do they align with yours? Are there any seeming contradictions between the ideology of the avatar and the ideology of the person? What histories are being included and omitted?
  • 31.  
  • 32. Opportunities for Identity Play
    • Cause “gender trouble”
    • Be outrageous
    • Explore the use of different identities to challenge the status quo
    • Question why you or your students react negatively to certain avatars
    • Include identity play in your curriculum
    • Change your avatar – don’t always wear a business suit!
    • Tolerance, respect, understanding
  • 33.  
  • 34. Identity Transformations: the authentic expert (Gee) the mantle of the expert (Heathcote) roleplaying the “Other” (Lacan)
    • Thinking like a historian becomes that transformative factor: this is a participatory practice, even if only in the play environment.
    • And once the learner has the sense of being a participant in history and and the investigation of history, the door is opened to learning and thinking critically about it.
  • 35. I roleplay at being famous
  • 36.
    • my favorite part... is bringing my character to life
    • Lalaith Elerinna is my favorite character.
    • Lalaith: NO!!!! You touch him, you'll die before you ever see your life. You can trust your mind to it! Back up now or I shall throw my sword into your neck!
    • thats her warrior side. :-) hehe
    • now here’s her romance
    • Lalaith: My heart weeps at the si ght of your tears, tell me Tregallien, wha t makes you cry so?
  • 37.  
  • 38. Subversive performances of gender, fantasy and desire
  • 39.  
  • 40. Fantasies of Femininity
    • I’ve never had a boyfriend, as I said, and there's really nothing else to my romantic life. Jandalf is way ahead of me romantically, simply because she’s older. I do imagine I’ll get married and all that someday …
    • and so I paired Jandalf up with my favourite Star Wars male character. Heck, Obi-Wan always was my favourite character period, even before I saw the prequels. I really liked him as an old guy, and when TPM came out…well. Good-looking, too. That’s always a bonus. Heehee.
  • 41.  
  • 42. Participatory Culture: Informal Mentorship
    • Sometimes Zhou Wei is taken along with lord Xian Jing to diplomacy... sometimes he is invited to a party... Sometimes people come up and talk to him... Sometimes he shimmies over. Some of the game masters are given historical characters... those who really play them according to history I love to play with, because it just makes you glow. My first interaction with historical characters was Yuan Shu, the brother of Yuan Shao. Yuan Shu conducted a fire attack on a city and killed 20,000 innocents. I still love to role-play with them, because it can get so interesting. Sure, I can get angry with the characters (Die, Shu, die) but we smooth it over. Vendettas can be so much fun ^_^
  • 43. 43 reviews ! Contributions matter
  • 44. I have already become quite articulate through using Zhou Wei's intelligent speech(tm). To do this, I read a lot and see how people of my character's 'stature' and 'personality' talk, and I simply pick and copy pieces into Zhou Wei’s speech
  • 45.
    • I have had some experiences that have made me laugh a lot and others that have moved me to tears. One of these things was the real life death of Luo. In Heroes of Chaos , last game we received an announcement that famed member and role-player Luo had died in a fatal car accident- the other person was drink-driving. He was legendary- I shed my own tears then a whole 4 sims together mourned his loss.
    • But the real shock came later when Luo appears, and announces his brother had panicked and told them he had died, when he had only broken his arm/ribs. I was crying, but I was also laughing in relief . Even one of the coldest, so called meanest Admins on there hugged me in tears before we discovered he was still alive. Luo was probably one of the most emotional experiences of my life .
    The Joy of Participation
  • 46.  
  • 47.
    • Having fun
    • Making connections – social, professional, business
    • Learning, developing, self as identity project
    • Developing relationships
    • Being understood
    • Belonging
    • Being noticed
    • Feeling special
  • 48. Winifred Warburton, 99, said that recording the song was the best day of her life
  • 49.  
  • 50. Transforming Pedagogies
    • Environment which privileges play
    • Play and experimentation leading to innovation
    • Active participation and learner responsibility
    • Leadership and autonomy
    • Scaffolding, apprenticing
    • Authentic experts
    • Team-work and communication
    • Role-playing, identity play, spaces to imagine and dream