Storying in and around a Minecraft Community

unnamedI presented a webinar as part of the CAMELOT Project Webinars series on Friday 13th March. After a number of unexpected technical hitches at my end (my prezi had to be converted to a powerpoint, and then the university wifi wouldn’t let me access Adobe Connect from my Mac, so I ended up tethering through my phone – phew!) I enjoyed the unfamiliar experience of presenting online, which essentially amounted to talking to my computer in an empty room. There were some great questions and some really nice feedback, so the experience was overall very positive.

You can find the link to the archived recording on this page and my abstract is below.

moustache 2

Storying in and around a Minecraft Community

Recent work around the use of Virtual Worlds in educational contexts has conceptualised literacies as communal processes, whilst considering complex notions of collaboration through participants’ multiplicity of presence. Screen-based virtual worlds can also be viewed as multimodal texts, constructed by multiple players. Shaped by these ideas, this presentation draws upon data collected during an extra-curricular Minecraft club for ten and eleven year old children, exploring the ways in which the players take up the narrative opportunities offered by the game, as they collaborate to build a ‘virtual community’.

With a focus on the literacy events and artefacts generated in and around a virtual space, this presentation describes how this established, self-directed group of children used this environment to compose and create improvised stories. It explores how the literacies constructed through their interactions were influenced by resources drawn from their wider experiences, shaped by their experiments with in-game multimodal creation. The children’s interactions enabled them to form their own individual and collective textual landscapes, through a set of emotionally charged manifestations of literacy, played out in the hybrid virtual/material world.

My original Prezi Presentation is here:


BAILEY, Fiona and MOAR, Magnus (2001). The Vertex Project: children creating and populating 3D virtual worlds. International journal of art and design education, 20 (1), 19-30.

BARTON, David and HAMILTON, Mary (1998). Local literacies: reading and writing in one community. [online]. Routledge.

Burnett, C. & Bailey, C. (2014). Conceptualising collaboration in hybrid sites: playing Minecraft together and apart in a primary classroom. In: Burnett, C., Davies, J., Merchant, G. & J. Rowsell (ed.). New Literacies Around the Globe: Policy and Pedagogy. . Abingdon, Oxon, Routledge., .

CARRINGTON, Victoria (2005). New textual landscapes, information and early literacy. In: MARSH, Jackie (ed.). Popular Culture, New Media and Digital Literacy in Early Childhood. Oxon, RoutledgeFarmer, 13-27.

CAZDEN, Courtney, et al. (1996). A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies: Designing Social Futures. Harvard educational review, 66 (1), 60-92.

CHARMAZ, K. and MITCHELL, R. (2001). Grounded theory and Ethnography. In: ATKINSON, P., et al. (eds.). Handbook of Ethnography. London, SAGE, 160-174.

COPE, Bill, KALANTZIS, Mary and New London Group (2000). Multiliteracies: literacy learning and the design of social futures. New York, Routledge.

DENZIN, Norman K. and LINCOLN, Yvonna S. (2011). The discipline and Practise of Qualitative Research. In: DENZIN, Norman K. and LINCOLN, Yvonna S. (eds.). The SAGE handbook of qualitative research. Thousand Oaks, Calif, Sage, 1-19.

DICKEY, MicheleD (2011). The pragmatics of virtual worlds for K-12 educators: investigating the affordances and constraints of Active Worlds and Second Life with K-12 in-service teachers. Educational technology research and development, 59 (1), 1-20.

GAUNTLETT, David (2007). Creative explorations: new approaches to identities and audiences. London, Routledge.

GEE, James Paul (2007). What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy. Second Edition: Revised and Updated Edition. Palgrave MacMillan.

GEERTZ, Clifford (1993). The interpretation of cultures: selected essays. London, Fontana.

HINE, Christine (2000). Virtual ethnography. [online]. Thousand Oaks, Calif; London, SAGE.

ITO, Mizuko (2009). Engineering play: A cultural history of children’s software. The MIT Press.

JENKINS, Henry (2004). Game design as narrative architecture. Computer, 44 , s3.

MARSH, Jackie (2011). Young Children’s Literacy Practices in a Virtual World: Establishing an Online Interaction Order. Reading research quarterly, 46 (2), 101-118.

MERCHANT, Guy (2009). Literacy in virtual worlds. Journal of research in reading, 32 (1), 38-56.

MILLER, Daniel (2010). Stuff. Polity.

O’MARA, Joanne (2012). Process drama and digital games as text and action in virtual worlds: developing new literacies in school. Research in drama education, 17 (4), 517-534.

STREET, Brian (2003). What’s “new” in New Literacy Studies? Critical approaches to literacy in theory and practice. Current issues in comparative education, 5 (2), 77-91.

WOHLWEND, Karen E., et al. (2011). Navigating discourses in place in the world of Webkinz. Journal of early childhood literacy, 11 (2), 141-163.

WOLCOTT, Harry F. (2008). Ethnography: a way of seeing. [online]. Lanham, Md; Plymouth, Altamira Press.

Throwing Meat from the Mountain (Minecraft Club #15 10.03.15)

meat throwingThis post is a narration of a short ten minute screencast from this week’s session, by way of a demonstration of how my in-game participation plays out during the club when I am present at my keyboard. My screen was recorded, alongside audio from the group present in the room.

I begin this session with an in-game explore of the children’s creations. Almost immediately I fall and get stuck in a hole. Looking down I find I am standing on the head of a zombie that also appears to be trapped.

zombie's head

After a few failed attempts to jump out I cheat and enable creative mode for myself, allowing me to fly to safety. I fly above land for a short while, before disabling creative mode. Looking back on the screencast, I wonder why I did this – why not allow myself to continue in this mode that allows freedom of movement? I walk past pigs and other avatars, pausing in game someone address me, in the room, with a technical problem:

Freya: ‘Mr Bailey, it’s gone dodgy!’ I take it as given that ‘it’ refers to the computer, or the game and dish out my usual rubbish advice (‘Log out and log back in again’) and continue.

I enter and soon exit a grey structure, created by the children, which seems half finished and uninhabited, changing direction to look for other points of interest. There are signs outside this building that I have seen before, detailing who can and can’t enter the building. The signs list the boys’ avatar names as those who are permitted. The girls’ real-life names are displayed on the sign indicating who is not allowed to enter. I soon re-enable creative mode to allow me to float above the landscape, instead of having to climb up a hill block-by-block, looking from above for evidence of the players’ creations in the blocky landscape. Spotting a grey staircase in the side of the hillside I descend and enter through a doorway. Inside I find myself in a corridor, with a choice of two directions (a liminal space?) I turn left, then right and follow the corridor to find that both directions would have led to the same place. I see a sign I recognise ‘YoloFaces room of doom’.


I enter and find a closed chest and a crafting table in front of me. I try to jump over them but there isn’t space. There’s some purple sparkle moving about in the room that I recognise as some sort of eminence from a nether portal located beyond the obstacles. I turn and leave the room. This leads to a grey chamber with another crafting table at its centre, and a grand staircase – decorated with pumpkin heads – leading out to the outside world. I make my way down the stairs, across the courtyard and into another hole in the side of the hill. It’s a dead end so I head back the way I came. Again Freya addresses me: ‘Mr Bailey, what should I do?’ I dispense more rubbish advice (‘Shut the computer down and try again… or go and grab a different computer’).

I continue exploring, entering a dimly lit cave, past a skeleton with an arrow, and exit the other side. I turn to see a horse jumping on the hillside and again not wanting to climb I float up instead of climbing and move across the landscape, from above. I notice a tall, multi-storey structure I haven’t seen before but have heard the children discussing on a number of occasions. Again, I find it’s deserted as I climb to the top on a long ladder, past identical, undecorated rooms. From the top, I look down and then set off again, flying across the landscape. I spot the fenced pens of multicoloured sheep being tended to my Lisa at the periphery of the village and my feet meet with land again on top of a mountain where I find <Famalamlad> and <CBTekkersOP>.

apple throwing

After five minutes in the game, the first fieldnote I made today comes as I observe <CBTekkersOP> standing next to me, throwing meat from the top of a mountain. I see an apple meet the same fate. I’m surprised enough by this act to question his motive.

Ben: ‘Yeah, we’re just lobbing our inventories out’.

He explains that his inventory is full and he is trying to clear space for more useful items – this being his rather dramatic method of redistribution.

On my way down the mountain I’m approached – in the room – by Joe, asking me to gift him a horse. I go to the menu in the game and attempt to give each player a horse spawner. (At this point I miss the message that says ‘item not found’). I make my way back down the hill to the bottom and watch as <Milliemoo> searches for the pile of items that <CBTekkersOP> has dumped. I think I may have accidentally collected some but don’t mention this. I try to drop them from my inventory but can’t find them and give up.

Joe returns to tell me that my horse donation didn’t work. I try again and this time notice the ‘item not found’ message. I pause in the game to instruct one child to leave another child’s keyboard alone – he has accidentally given up some items that he didn’t mean to and is trying to commandeer the girl’s avatar to get them back. All in good humour, but I don’t want to risk any accidents involving technology. I suggest that the girl lets the boy have the iron blocks back as it was a mistake and she complies.

Back in the game I suggest that I meet Joe’s avatar and present him with the horse spawner in (virtual) person. I drop the egg-like horse spawning block on the floor and the foot of the stairs and am soon joined by <BBQBOY> who collects the items and spawns a horse in front of me.


Alerted by dramatic complaints of lagging from one player across the classroom I soon shut down my screen casting software (Quicktime) and leave the game in order to lighten the load on the server for the other players – my laptop doesn’t seem to be able to run applications alongside the server without some consequence for the children’s gameplay. I’ll later re-enter the game using one of the school laptops.

Using Virtual Models #4

Another lunchtime discussion session where four children built models using the iPad version, contributing to the ongoing map of models. This time I used some printed screenshots and photographs from the club as a form of photo elicitation to prompt discussion. I’m struck by how visually diverse the children’s creations continue to be – seen here are some new creations such as the massive spiral, the illuminated ‘FUN’ sign and a giant waterfall bridge. Again, I’ll keep this post text-light, based simply on some screenshots taken during the session.







Bullet Points (Minecraft Club #13 24.02.15)

I have been reading my fieldnotes and reviewing some of the video from this week’s session. As usual, there is so much going on that it is hard to know where to begin. For some reason, it seems to become even more difficult over time. This week, I am simply going to list some things I noticed, to return to at a later stage.

  • Nick Clegg is scheduled to visit the school later in the week. Before the club the children discuss possible questions they could ask him. There is a suggestion that they could ask for more money to buy updated laptops.

Photo 24-02-2015 16 05 19

  • Desks are positioned differently – preparing for SATS, using a more ‘formal’ seating arrangement. Children don’t move these but squeeze three children and laptops around spaces made for two.

Photo 24-02-2015 15 46 17

  • Children talk about how they have Skyped each other at home ‘in the middle of the night’, and a mischievous telephone based game called ‘Find Neil’ involving phoning random numbers and asking for Neil.
  • Discussion about how Dads dance compared to Mums, with demonstrations. This leads to a discussion about the differences in boys’ and girls’ behaviour. The conclusion reached by two children was that girls are more concerned about being embarrassed than boys.
  • The term ‘house hacking’ is used by Joe to indicate that someone is trying to enter his house through the cellar. ‘Stop hacking my house!’

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 16.29.07

  • There seems to be a move from creating domestic space to establishing more shared areas – there is a restaurant, an ice cream stand and a trading area.

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 16.30.32

  • The farm continues, with the boys negotiating with the girls to join in with what they have started.

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 16.21.59

  • More disagreements about territory and trespass. Ben: ‘She was invading our space’. At one point, Ben takes Mia’s laptop to move her out of his space, much to her amusement.

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 16.24.36

  • My role in the game is suggested by one child as being ‘our God’ due to my ability to give resources to the children. Children make cases for why they should be given a particular resource. This is then given to each of the participants, whether they requested it or not. This then leads to negotiation between players. I approve requests for Netherrack (‘to light our rooms’) and seeds (‘to grow at the farm’), but not for flint as this is proposed as being necessary ‘to pretend to shoot people’.

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 16.12.15

  • Some children found their way into the nether, where they gathered resources that they couldn’t get anywhere else in the game.

Photo 24-02-2015 16 05 15

  • Girls singing ‘The Pirate Song’: ‘When I was young, I had some fun, the day I went to sea’. Boys don’t join in.
  • Tom takes the GoPro and films himself playing for a while, talking to the camera and providing a dramatic, exaggerated commentary on his gameplay: ‘Last time I checked I’m not sure I was having fun, but still…. to be truthful, I think I’m having a bit of what an emotional breakdown feels like (He smiles to himself)… This is annoying. (Staring straight into the lens) This is probably going to make me go through all the flipping stages of grief…’


  • He also reflects on the comments of others. To Molly: Why do you get every precious rock?(mocking voice) ‘It’s decorative, It’s decorative, It’s decorative ‘ (Mock annoyed) Molly! They are not decorative, they are precious rocks, used in many ways! aaarrrggghhh!’
  • Tom has a large ball of bluetac, that also makes its own GoPro appearance at the end of his video.

Multidisciplinary Research Cafe Presentation

I was invited to present my work at Sheffield Hallam’s Multidisciplinary Research Cafe this week. Here is the presentation:

In case the embedded video and audio aren’t working properly, you can find the video of the virtual horse funeral here:

And the Audio of the sheep song is here:


My (rough) notes from my presentation are below the cut…
Continue reading

Using Virtual Models #3

In this post I will reflect on last week’s discussion activity – as before, loosely based on David Gauntlett’s ‘Identity Models’ work.


Other events in school this week meant there was no time for full after-school club session. However, I took the opportunity to conduct another lunchtime discussion session with four of the participants. As before, discussion centred around the children’s creation of virtual models in a shared world – the same shared world that has been used for the previous two discussion sessions.

After updating all iPads to the same version of Minecraft (I had updated my version, forgetting the consequences of incompatibility with the school devices) the four children entered the world, hosted on my iPad. I recorded their dialogue as part of the screencast of my screen. I was present in the world, with the children. Two of the children had not participated in one of these discussion activities before so I briefly explained the presence of the existing models as ‘representations of people’s ideas’. I was later interested to note that the word ‘representation’ had obviously stuck with the two new children as this directed the nature of the virtual models they produced. While I was talking I noticed one of the players finishing off someone else’s ‘player’ model from the previous session by adding a head.

finishing player

This week I was interested in exploring the children’s use of space in the game, with a particular focus on the origin and development of the things they create in the game. The task set for the children, therefore, was to simply ‘build something that you think looks good‘. I then used their resulting activity as a basis for discussion with the children about why they had chosen to build the particular model, attempting to unpick their decision making process in relation to virtual creation. This revealed a range of different approaches to the task that demonstrated the children using the game’s resources in quite different ways, taking different routes from their own individual starting points.

None of the children seemed to take any time to think through their model – they all began building immediately.

The models:

  • Flags for England and Finland


This was created to represent the players of the game in the club. The Finland flag represented this players’ imminent holiday destination. His choice to create something that ‘represented’ something presumably stemmed from my earlier use of the word in relation to previous models. He said he had build flags before ‘a couple of times’ so his idea was also based on his previous experience.

Joe: ‘Well, it’s something that represents us all…It’s not random flags… It sort of looks interesting, because it’s big….’

  • A large sign


Rob: ‘I’m building me…. No I’m not, I’m building… a building… I’m building myself… no I’m not… Because I think I’m good… No, actually, I’m going to build a sign that says my name!’

Me: ‘Can you think how you got this idea?

Rob: ‘I saw the big person and had an idea ‘why don’t I build a person’, but it didn’t look right so I turned it into a sign.’

Later I noted that his sign had some blocks missing in the top left hand corner and asked if this was intentional. Rob said it’s wasn’t and returned to complete the project – I suspect he may have been occupied with his own alternative project (see the end of this post).

  • A Podium


This player explained that his podium started out as a lighthouse but adapted when it didn’t look right. The idea for the lighthouse stemmed from the fact that Minecraft allows the player to use light in a number of ways and he wanted to explore the use of this resource:

Callum: ‘It was originally going to be a lighthouse, but after the first three sections I thought ‘this looks too square, it’s not going to work out so I’m going to change it into a podium’

Me: ‘So it’s a podium? Can you think what made you think ‘lighthouse’ in the first place?’

Callum: ‘Well, I like minecraft because as well as playing with blocks you can play with light? And I kind of like the whole ‘playing with light’ aspect, so I wanted to do something with that.’

Conversation then turned to using TNT and whether this was allowed in this alternative world – at this point I was not aware that this linked to Rob’s alternative project.

  • A 3D Chicken  

The chicken earned significant praise from the other children.


Me: ‘What made you choose a chicken?’

Lisa: ‘Well, I like chickens…’

Me: ‘Real ones or Minecraft ones?’

Lisa: ‘Both. They’re cute. because they have a purpose in the world. To lay eggs’

Me: ‘Who are the eggs for?’

Lisa: ‘For the chicken. I suppose in Minecraft they’re for us….’

Me: ‘Does it look like you wanted it to look?’

Lisa: ‘I didn’t know, like, have an idea of what I wanted it to look like.’

Me: ‘Can you remember which bit of the chilcken you did first?’

Lisa: ‘I started with the feet first, then made a boat shape and then changed it to make it more round’

This model made me think about Lisa’s relationship with animals in the game. Her play often revolves around animals, and a previous model she build also involved animals. I recalled a conversation in a previous session where I heard her discussing an incident in the game where she had killed a pig for food.

Freya: [incredulously] ‘YOU killed a pig? How did you manage that?’

Lisa: ‘Well, I looked the other way!’


As usual, other topics were discussed too.

  • The children discussed their preference for this type of discussion activity in comparison with their perceptions of what a more formal interview would entail:

Lisa: ‘It’s better than an interview’

Callum: ‘Yeah, I hate interviews. A proper interview, when they’re asking loads of questions about you, they just feel like when they ask all these questions of you they feel like the person doing the interview is intruding on your life, in a way because they’re asking questions about you, personal stuff in the interview, and they feel like they’re trying to intrude….it feel’s like an interrogation or something.’

  • There was some talk about the differences between engagement with different game modes:

Callum: ‘with survival you’ve got to concentrate a lot, you’ve got to stay on task, whereas with creative you can just chill out. If I’m on survival at home I can’t stop because I’m just terrified that I’m going to get blown up!’

  • Callum discussed a building project that he had undertaken at home:

Callum: ‘I had this idea for a community… I just thought… I was watching this TV programme, and there was this big, like, community with allsorts of things from the future and things from the past and from the present….  .so you have Aztec temples and rocket stations and stuff….. It was just a show, a real life thing, but with loads of… like a live action thing – and I thought ‘hey that’s a really good idea, I wonder how I could make something similar’. First I thought about a sketch or something but then I thought ‘hey!’ and then I did it on Minecraft.’

‘What I really love with Minecraft is you can just build anything you want, I mean, before Minecraft it was just dreams people had, and it was just really frustrating because you couldn’t make it in real life… For me, it’s, like, the next best thing to real life. The second most realistic thing, even though it’s make of blocks!’

Finally, as we reached the end of the session, Rob drew our attention to a hole in the ground, demonstrating why he had not perhaps had his full attention on finishing his sign:


Inside revealed a basement had been dug and filled with Endermen and zombies, recalling the subversion of gameplay often seen during the early stages of the club.


Server Logs as Data (Minecraft Club #12 03.02.15)

server logs

This week’s club presented a welcome but unexpected new data source: the server log. From the outset, I have intended to include text from the children’s in-game chat as part of my data. So far, I have collected this by using screenshots when I notice text appearing on screen – inevitably this approach has missed a significant amount of talk.

Whilst clicking between screens during this week’s club, however, my attention was drawn to the ‘Log and chat’ window of the server software that runs on my Mac. I soon realised that, alongside the system messages, the children’s chat was also appearing. Trying to copy and paste this, however, didn’t work so I conducted a quick internet search for a solution, to no avail.

Tweeting my request to @MinecraftEdu – via the iPad I was otherwise using for fieldnotes – was much more successful:

chat tweet

Unexpectedly, the link in their second tweet gave me access to the full server and chat log, not only for this week’s club but for the entire history of my fieldwork so far (and, indeed, every time I have ever used MinecraftEDU with classes since 2012).

This lengthy document, something of a hybrid text produced by the game and the children, gives me a number of additional possibilities. I can filter out the chat logs for any given week so far, for instance. This will enable me to examine the sort of language being used by the children in the game. I will also be able to see which children engage with the chat log and which children choose not to.

Potentially, there are additional insights to be gained too, beside their use of text. For instance, the following three lines from this week’s log:

2015-02-03 15:38:44 [INFO] Disconnecting YoloFace234 (/ EduWrongTeacherPassword

2015-02-03 15:39:22 [INFO] Disconnecting grizzlybear100 (/ EduWrongTeacherPassword

2015-02-03 15:40:21 [INFO] Disconnecting BBQBOY (/ EduWrongTeacherPassword

These three usernames relate to three boys who were working together. Their first attempts to log in all seem to involve them making failed attempts to log in as a teacher, which would have given them additional admin powers. Whilst these pieces of information alone don’t mean that they did this purposefully – although all three boys doing so in sequence would be quite a coincidence – it does remind me of an earlier instance of one of these boys taking advantage of access to my computer in order to gain access to additional blocks that would be unavailable on his account. Possibly something to keep an eye on in relation to different manifestations of gameplay.

text on screen

As for the text this week, a brief look reveals that there are a number of instances of chat speak:

<Tom> wuut


(wuut = what you up to?    YOLO = you only live once)

Allegations of flirting:

 <CBtekkersOP> bit of flirting oooohhhhhhh

An example of persuasion:

<Famalamlad> galz can me come in plz (puppy dog eyes!)

A textual recreation of a line from ‘The GoPro song’:

<bantersata> im on a gopro

And what looks like a ‘type as much nonsense as you can’ competition:

<CBtekkersOP> ett
<Mia> hihihiihihihihihhiihhihhiih
<YoloFace234> ftd20he

Of course, all of this needs to be taken in context – for example, I know from my notes that <Tom> above was actually another child mischievously logging in using using his name. This, in fact, is also played out in the chat log, as <bantersata> (a misspelling of <banterSANTA>) suggests:


Context (Minecraft Club #12 03.02.15)

[NB: All names used on this blog are pseudonyms, just in case you wondered]

It seems to be becoming a tradition at the beginning of the club that Tom brings me something that he wants to show me. I think these short exchanges occur while he’s waiting for his computer to boot up, and are seemingly intended to make me smile – which they always do. A few weeks ago he bought me a fake £20 note printed on tissue paper:


Last week he demonstrated how he could make the noise of a wasp by blowing into his hands. I observed that it didn’t sound much like a wasp. This week he showed how he could ‘magically’ change the colour of his hat by waving it in the air – turning the reversible hat inside out. I asked Tom if I could photograph his hat – he asked why – I said I didn’t want to forget it – he agreed and posed for the shot and continued to wear the hat for most of rest of the session. Had I been teaching this class I would no doubt have asked Tom to remove his hat on the basis that it was inappropriate inside wear, but such rules don’t apply in this club, even though they are the same children, seated at the same tables, in the same room. I noted that Tom’s hat was a Manchester City Football Club hat and wondered how this allegiance sits in a class full of Sheffield Wednesday Supporters.


Soon, a discussion began between Ben and Mia, focussing on their use of Instagram. Connections are clearly being made between these children, using social media, outside of the classroom. Ben had apparently promised that he would ‘do a challenge’ if he got ten ‘likes’ on a photo he posted. There’s discussion about which challenge he is prepared to do:

Ben: [exaggerating for dramatic effect] ‘Not the chilli challenge – I’d kill myself! Tell me a challenge that doesn’t involve me killing myself!’

Mia suggested the cinnamon challenge, the lemon challenge, the egg challenge, the salt challenge and the ice bucket challenge. All were dismissed by Ben as being too dangerous or unpleasant. Freya told a cautionary tale about ‘a dodgy drink’ that killed someone during a challenge. ‘Some of my brother’s friends know this dude….’ The group fell quiet.

Ben and Tom started singing their version of ‘Uptown Funk’ by Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars.

Someone mentioned the GoPro camera, at this point being worn by Mia. The previous song quickly morphed into the GoPro song that they composed together three weeks ago (‘I’m on a GoPro / I’m on a GoPro’ etc) and the song spread around the room.

UKLA 2015 Abstract

Just received confirmation that I will be presenting at UKLA 51st International Conference (at the National College for Teaching and Leadership, Triumph Road, Nottingham) on Friday 10th July at 3.00pm – 3.40pm.Week 10 screenshot (9)

‘Exploring textual landscapes: the lived experience of an after school Minecraft Club’

Abstract: Recent work around the use of Virtual Worlds in educational contexts has conceptualised literacies as communal processes, whilst considering complex notions of collaboration through participants’ multiplicity of presence. Screen-based virtual worlds can also be viewed as multimodal texts, constructed by multiple players. Shaped by these ideas, this presentation draws upon data collected during a year-long ethnographic study, investigating a group of ten and eleven year old children’s engagement with the video game ‘Minecraft’. It charts children’s experiences as they collaborate to build a ‘virtual community’, making individual and collective decisions about their use of the shared virtual space.    With a focus on the literacy events and artefacts generated in and around a virtual space, this presentation describes how this established, self-directed group of children used this environment to compose informal texts. It explores how the literacies constructed through their interactions were influenced by resources drawn from their wider culture, shaped by their experiments with in-game multimodal creation. The children’s interactions enabled them to form their own individual and collective textual landscapes through a set of emotionally charged manifestations of literacy, played out in the hybrid virtual/material worlds.