Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Configuring the Child Player: New Article Out, Online First, in Science, Technology & Human Values Journal

I am super excited to announce that I have a new article appearing in an upcoming issue of Science, Technology & Human Values journal, entitled "Configuring the Child Player." In the meantime, the article has already been published on the journal's website through the publisher's "Online First" program. Subscription to the journal, publisher or database is required to access the article in full, but anyone can view the abstract here (which I've also reproduced in full below :).

I'm extremely pleased and honoured to have had one of my articles accepted in STHV - it's a journal that I regularly read and have enormous respect for, and it's widely considered to be THE journal for science & technology studies (STS) research and theoretical contributions, which is particularly important for this piece (which engages very directly with STS theories).

Abstract:
Scholars from various disciplines have explored the powerful symbolic function that children occupy within public discourses of technology, but less attention has been paid to the role this plays in the social shaping of the technologies themselves. Virtual worlds present a unique site for studying how ideas about children become embedded in the artifacts adults make for them. This article argues that children’s virtual worlds are fundamentally negotiated spaces in which broader aspirations and anxieties about children’s relationships with play, technology, consumer culture, and the public sphere resurface as “configurations” of an imagined, ideal child player. The article begins with a brief overview of the children's virtual worlds phenomenon, followed by a discussion of related research on children’s play and play technologies. Findings from a case study of six commercial, game-themed virtual worlds targeted specifically to children are then presented, with a focus on how these artifacts configure their child players in highly ideological and normative ways, wherein play is narrowly defined in accordance with a neoromantic, consumerist ethos. The article aims to uncover the hidden politics inscribed within a particular genre of children’s technology and to explore some of the implications for children’s digital play.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Game Curious? The Hand Eye Society + Toronto Reference Library Has Just the Program for You!



Mostly Cut+Paste from the original announcement: This September, the second run of GAME CURIOUS will take place at the Toronto Reference Library, featuring another lively mix of presentation, group discussion, socializing and of course PLAY! 

While the program is open to just about anyone, it is especially aimed at self-described non-gamers or people who want to learn more about the medium but aren't sure where to start. There will also be a 6-week game-making component for select participants following the main program. Here are the details:


DETAILS
Saturdays 1-3 PM
Sept 13 - Oct 18 2014 (6 weeks)
Toronto Reference Library
(Browsery, Main Floor)
789 Yonge St. (Bloor-Yonge subway station)
Recommended for ages 16+
FREE! Drop-ins welcome.
GAME CURIOUS is a 6-week program exploring the untapped art of video games, for people who don’t necessarily identify as “gamers”. It’s a no-pressure learning environment of discussion, discovery and play, with the opportunity to connect with local storytellers who love the medium. While the direction of the program will be participant-driven, games to be played and discussed will include everything from classics such as Mario and Zelda, to independent games about relationships, queer identity, political satire, work, life, and more. The program also aims to promote diversity within gaming culture by encouraging participants from a variety of backgrounds to engage with games in a way that is personally relevant to their own lives. All are welcome to apply, whether you’re an artist, an activist, a parent, or haven’t picked up a controller in years. It’s like a book club… with buttons

Monday, August 18, 2014

CFP Alert: Society for the History of Children and Youth

Cut and paste from the Childhood Studies mailing list, the CFP for next year's Society for the History of Children and Youth Conference, which will be held in beautiful Vancouver, BC (in June, no less!). Note that the deadline for paper proposals is September 15, and panel proposals are due October 1.

CFP: Society for the History of Children and Youth SHCY Eighth Biennial Conference*Date*: June 24-26th, 2015*Location: *University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada Description: “Relationality and the global circulation of children’s literature and culture” We invite papers for a prospective panel that explores the global circulation of children’s literature and concepts of childhood, particularly along paths determined by the processes of history and imperialization and colonization. The historical importance of children and children’s literature in the colonial context cannot be denied. Children are the future of the nation, and thus, what children read, and what is written for them, becomes an important part of the nation building process. And when artifacts of children’s culture travel across geographical spaces they create relationships between people, places, and ideas that shape children’s relationships with themselves and the world. The literature imported to and produced within the colonies has a direct influence on not only the subjectivity of the colonial child, but also, on the concept of childhood within the colonized nation. For instance, Enid Blyton, whose works are immensely popular in India and African countries, has provided images of play and companionship which have affected the worlds of hundreds of children living far away from the English culture and countryside described in her books. In turn, the presence of the colonies and images traveling back from the colonies affects the literature written for children, as well as the worlds and professions for which children are reared. Historical research into the circulation of children’s literature will expand our understanding of the wider network of relationships between geographical spaces as well as children’s relationships with the modern world. Possible topics include: --Circulation of children’s books within a colonial or imperial context--The role of children’s literature or culture in the colonization process--Colonial children’s texts that respond to children’s literature of the colonizing nation--The development of ideas about childhood within a global/colonial context--Depictions of colonization and/or globalization in children’s literature and culture--Relationality as a theme in colonial or imperial children’s texts 
If you’re interested in being a part of such a panel, please send a 250-word paper proposal by September 15 to Courtney Weikle-Mills (caw57@pitt.edu) and Sreemoyee Dasgupta (srd51@pitt.edu). A complete panel proposal will be submitted to SHCY for consideration on October 1.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Survey for Kids (& Parents) Who Make Things with Games


The survey for my Playing at Making project is now live and we need everyone's help in getting the word out and ensuring we receive a sufficient number of responses. I've included the ad above (we also have one aimed directly to kids), and Copy+Pasted the text from our project website below. 

Basically, we're looking to get the survey out to kids aged 12 years and under who create content in/using digital games, anything from a Minecraft server, to costumes in Stardoll, to mini-games in Scratch or LittleBigPlanet. Details below - any questions can be directed to me. 

Thank you all!

**************

Do you have a CREATIVE child? Does your child like to BUILD THINGS? Do they like VIDEO GAMES? If so, we’d like to hear from you! We’re surveying children who like to play creative games (and their parents/guardians). From Minecraft to Little Big Planet and everything in between, we want to know more about what kids are creating and making while they play today’s popular video games. We want to know more about how kids make things with video games, and why video games are so important to kids’ creativity and play. And we need your help!
If you think that your child (or a child you know) might fall into this category, please let them know about our survey. The survey itself only takes about 20 minutes to complete, and all of the answers we collect will be kept anonymous. We’ll also be sharing our results with the public once the survey is done, so if you’re interested in finding out more about kids and game-making, be sure to keep an eye on this space in the coming months.
Please click here to take the survey, which includes a section for children and one for parents.
Additional Info and Next Steps:
While we’re encouraging everyone to complete the survey asap, it will remain open for most of Fall 2014. That said, if necessary, we will keep it running a bit longer to ensure that we’ve collected a large enough sample to do some rigorous analysis and draw compelling conclusions.
But the study itself will continue on after the survey (Stage 1) is complete. During Stage 2, we want to look at some game creations made by actual kids! Instructions on how to participate in Stage 2 are included at the end of the survey. But if your child has made something in a game that they’d like to share, and you’d like to find out more about this phase of our research, you can also email us via the Contact Page!
Also, be sure to send us an email if you and your kids would like to be invited to future Playing at Making workshops and learning events, or if you have any questions or concerns about the survey or any other aspect of the project.
Please note: This study is being conducted out of Faculty of Information’s Semaphore Lab at the University of Toronto. It has been reviewed by the University of Toronto Research Ethics Boards (REB).

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Postdoc Opportunity on Parenting and Childhood in the Digital Era, at the LSE!!

For those of you researching children & media/digital culture, and nearing the end of (or have recently completed) a PhD, this postdoc opportunity working with the amazing and prolific Sonia Livingstone sounds like a dream come true. I spent an all-too-brief semester working with Sonia at the LSE during my doctoral training, and can't endorse it or her enough -- it's a fantastic, vibrant place, filled with brilliant and collegial people, and Sonia's research is of a caliber we should all aspire to. 

Deadline for applications is August 4th, 2014. Full original job posting cut&paste here:
Postdoctoral Research Officer, Department of Media and Communications
Full-time for two years
£33,450 to £36,520 per annum


The Department of Media and Communication at the London School of Economics and Political Science is advertising for a postdoctoral researcher to work on a timely and original research project into parenting and childhood in the digital era. Applications are invited from outstanding candidates with a PhD in the fields of media and  communications, education, childhood studies or allied social sciences.

The appointee will play a key role in conducting original ethnographic and case study research, project management and research dissemination, under the direction of Professor Sonia Livingstone. The project, ‘Preparing for a Digital Future’ is part of the 'Connected Learning Research Network' (CLRN) led by the University of California, Irvine, together with partner projects across the US, and part of the Digital Media Learning initiative funded by the MacArthur Foundation. The main fieldwork will comprise a series of qualitative case studies which variously examine how parents approach the task of bringing up their children in the digital age. Going beyond the question of how they manage digital media technologies at home, it will ask more broadly how parents conceive of the changes in society since their own childhoods, how they manage them, and what vision of a digital future they have for their children? The project will also identify relevant international projects in order to compare and contrast parenting strategies and practices in the digital era. The appointee will also play a key role in constructing a lively public face for the research in terms of blog posts and social media to engage a wider public of policy-makers, parenting groups and youth/learning practitioners. 
Candidates should have a developing record of excellent quality publications in refereed journals, an ability to write for and communicate with a range of audiences and experience of research management and administration, including workshop/seminar organisation. The other criteria that will be used when shortlisting for this post can be found on the person specification which is attached to this vacancy on the LSE’s online recruitment system. In addition to a good salary the benefits that come with this job include a defined benefits pension scheme, generous annual leave and excellent training and development opportunities. 
To apply for this post please go to ‘www.lse.ac.uk/Jobs at LSE’ and select “Vacancies”. The direct link ishttp://bit.ly/1ogaDaT  Applications must be received by 4 August 2014 (midnight UK time). Regrettably, we cannot accept any applications received after this date. Interviews are likely to take place in late August. Informal queries may be addressed to Sonia Livingstone, s.livingstone@lse.ac.uk

Monday, July 07, 2014

CFP Alert: Meaningful Play Conference

Cut & Paste from the email announcement for this year's Meaningful Play Conference, with a warning that the deadline for submissions is next week! Also, please note the publication opportunity with Games and Culture journal. Very cool.

Meaningful Play 2014October 16 - 18, 2014East Lansing, MI, USAhttp://meaningfulplay.msu.edu
Call for Submissions (Deadline July 14, 2014) 
Whether designed to entertain or to achieve more "serious" purposes, games have the potential to impact players' beliefs, knowledge, attitudes, emotions, cognitive abilities, physical and mental health, and behavior.  

Meaningful Play 2014 is a conference about theory, research, and game design innovations, principles and practices.   Meaningful Play brings scholars and industry professionals together to understand and improve upon games to entertain, inform, educate, and persuade in meaningful ways.  

Paper, Panel, Poster, Roundtable, Workshop, and Game submissions are sought from both researchers and practitioners in academia and industry. Graduate and advanced undergraduate students are also encouraged to submit either jointly with an academic/member of industry or alone. 

The conference includes thought-provoking keynotes from leaders in academia and industry, peer-reviewed paper presentations, panel sessions (including academic and industry discussions), innovative workshops, roundtable discussions, and exhibitions of games and prototypes. 
Meaningful Play 2014 and the Journal of Games and Culture have partnered to bring a Games and Culture special issue containing top papers from the Meaningful Play 2014 conference. The Journal of Games and Culture Culture is a peer-reviewed, international journal that promotes innovative theoretical and empirical research about games and culture within interactive media. 
Details on the conference, including the call for submissions, is available at:http://meaningfulplay.msu.edu

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Summer Hiatus? Not Quite...

Just a quick update to note that while I haven't had much time to update Gamine Expedition this summer, it's not from a lack of research activity or dearth of interesting kids' digital media-related things going on. My research team and I have actually been hard at work getting as much data collected and as many findings written up as possible before Fall 2014 (when I go on hiatus for real for several months on maternity leave). No need to wait for updates on all of that activity here, however. You can already find news about our research and related stories on my project-specific research blogs, regularly updated courtesy of my diligent and hard-working research assistants.

For news on (and relating to) the Kids DIY Media Partnership, click here!

For news on (and relating to) the Playing at Making project, click here!

For news on my Adaptive Gaming & Inclusive Play project, click here!

 I'll do my best to start updating Gamine Expedition again soon - but with all the projects, data collection and writing assignments I've got going on right now, it's been extra tough to juggle and give adequate attention to all three of my beloved sites.
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Gamine Expedition by Sara Grimes is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.