Screenshot from Disney's Toontown (2008)
I'm very happy to announce that I've been given an amazing opportunity to deliver a public lecture at the University of Toronto Faculty of Information next week. The talk, entitled 'Playing by (and with) the rules', will provide an overview my dissertation findings and future research plans (i.e. next steps), along with a discussion of the larger social, ethical and policy implications of some of the ongoing trends I've identified within children's digital play culture. Here's the abstract and info:
"Playing By (and With) The Rules"
Thursday, March 25, from 4-5:30 pm
Faculty of Information, Bissell Bldg (Room 728)
Abstract: Virtual worlds are now a prominent feature of the children’s digital landscape, as well as a compelling site of study for exploring children’s evolving relationship with new media technologies. Popular children’s virtual worlds such as Club Penguin and Webkinz appear to epitomize the “web 2.0” emphasis on participation and social networking. Upon closer examination, however, it is clear that along with these exciting new opportunities, virtual worlds also present children with a number of important challenges. For one, many of the most popular children’s virtual worlds are owned and operated by media and toy conglomerates, including Nickelodeon, Disney and Mattel. Accordingly, their contents are organized around commercial priorities such as promoting products, avoiding controversy, protecting corporate copyright regimes, and fostering a form of transmedia intertextuality aimed at enrolling children in an ever-expanding, multi-modal, cross-promotional narrative experience. This presentation will examine how these priorities not only shape the design and management of children’s virtual worlds, but also manifest as powerful “rules of play” that children are expected to (but do not always) follow. I will explore how virtual worlds serve as a locus for the ongoing negotiation that occurs between children, parents, corporations, and regulatory bodies about the nature and function of digital play, branded entertainment, and cultural participation within children’s everyday lives. Lastly, I will discuss how the outcome of this negotiation could have significant implications for the current and emerging information practices of younger children, particularly in relation to issues of authorship, cultural rights and children’s participation in the production and sharing of digital content.
Free Admission • General Seating • All Welcome
****Update: You can now view the Prezi slides for this presentation by clicking here.