Cognition & Learning in Massively Multiplayer Online Games: A Critical Approach
by Constance A. Steinkuehler
This dissertation consists of a collection of articles based on a two-year online cognitive ethnography of the Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG) entitled Lineage. In the first chapter, I outline why we ought to research MMOGaming culture (Chapter One, Part One) and present a theoretical framework for how we might go about such investigation (Chapter One, Part Two). Next, I apply the suggested theory to selected data, demonstrating both its applicability and explanatory power (Chapter Two). In the remaining four chapters, I address specific research questions that are prompted by the theoretical lens used: how identity is constructed in such environments (Chapter Three), the nature of learning in MMOG cultures (Chapter Four), the literacy practices that constitute participation in such environments (Chapter Five), and finally how the virtual worlds of MMOGs bear on other worlds beyond them (Chapter Six) at both the micro level of individual experience (how MMOGs function in the everyday life of those who participate, Part One) and the macro level of broader economic, legal, and social forces (how MMOGs are a “mangle of practice,” Pickering 1995, of corporations, designers, players, and in-game currency farmers, caught up in the tensions of an increasingly globalized world, Part Two). I have chosen to keep the citations organized under separate headings for each chapter for ease of reference. All tables and figures, however, are compiled together at the end.