This example seeks to elaborate the concept of "affinity spaces" and how such spaces support various kinds of learning. In other words, how do crowds of people come together in ways that might seem chaotic to outsiders (the photo of fans) yet allow them to share information, expertise, gain recognition and support, and otherwise create spaces that offer rich resources for informal learning?
This example examines key features of affinity spaces and the kinds of learning they support, drawing primarily on studies of such spaces that have been created around video games. An "affinity space" is a location (physical or virtual) where groups of people come together around a shared interest or common activity.
What are you designing, creating, or researching?
We hope to build stronger conceptual models through the collection and analysis of a robust set of case studies.
In 2004, Jim Gee proposed the concept of "affinity space" as a means of moving beyond the limitations of terms like "community" or "community of practice" and their notions of membership and belonging. While his initial concept presumed that affinity spaces shared certain attributes that made them universally supportive of learning, our current work seeks to understand how affinity spaces vary in the kind of learning they support, how they evolve, and how they might be designed for deliberately educative purposes.
- How are affinity spaces created and sustained? - What forms do game-based affinity spaces take? - How do game-based affinity spaces support the development of traditional and new forms of literacy?
We are using a variety of research methods to examine different aspects of Sims-related affinity spaces, including online ethnography, discourse analysis, content analysis, and participant interviews.
What have you done to get ready (planning, research, visioning, etc.)?
Research on game-related affinity spaces has been initiated up by a variety of scholars in game studies and digital media. The research described here focuses on affinity spaces that have been created by fans of the computer game, The Sims. These spaces include Mod The Sims and The Sims Resource, More Awesome Than You, The Sims Writers Hangout, and others.
Mod The Sims:
The Sims Resource:
Related research by other scholars will be published in an edited volume Videogames, Affinity Spaces, and New Media Literacies (P. Lang, projected publication date 2012).
Give us some time. We're not in the bloom phase yet.