This chapter describes a study conducted with nine adolescents hired to instruct week-long video game making camps over the course of one summer and the subsequent fall, working with younger children ages 9-12. Data was collected through participant observation, repeated interviews, and focus groups with the participant adolescent teachers. By engaging in teaching as well as playing, these youth have had greater opportunities to critically reflect on their learning, assessing the value of the technical and ideological approaches to video games. Several themes emerged as we reviewed the discussions we had with the instructors, related to knowledge of content, issues of management of learning environments, and learning how to teach. In this chapter we hope to point to the importance of the cultural and subcultural capital that adolescents bring to learning experiences, in order to better utilize their expertise and to recognize ‘texts’ such as video games as sites of meaningful learning.
How often do we get to observe older students teaching younger students? How often do we make this a possibility? The Game Academy owner saw the potential in having adolescents, who were keen about video games and technology, work with children who were interested in knowing more about video game design and creation. The Game Academy was a new business venture located within a middle class neighborhood in a mid-sized west coast city in Canada that catered to the growing video game interest. The site was a building (previously an office complex) organized into five rooms that each were equipped with big screens, surround-sound, leather couches, a snack fridge, and all the latest video game consoles. People of all ages were able to visit this facility to play video games individually, and more often, with friends. In the summer and fall of one year, video game design camps were offered to children ages 10-12, and over the course of a week, they would work in pairs with the software program Stagecast (http://stagecast.com/) coached by an instructor, each day for two hours, and at the end of the week they would present their product to the other participants. Although they had the choice of both working on one game, most of the children chose to create their own games.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Video Games: Games that use electronic systems (either personal computers or video game consoles) and involve interaction with a user interface to generate visual feedback on a video device.
Legitimate Peripheral Participation: A way of describing how new members of a group become experienced members in a community of practice or affinity group, where the new member initially participates in small but important tasks that contribute to the overall community, and gradually becomes acquainted with the more complex and challenging expectations of the community and takes up a more central and active role
Communities of Practice: Process of social learning that happens when people with a common focus or concern collaborate to share their ideas, develop future courses of action, and develop social capital.
Cultural Capital: Knowledge accumulated through upbringing and education that confers social status, often institutionalized in educational qualifications and objectified in cultural artifacts.
Production: Creation of new material, being the author of original texts (i.e., writing, performing, speaking).
Consumption: Being the recipient of ideas, interacting thoughtfully to texts that have been produced by others (i.e., reading, viewing, listening).
Subcultural Capital: Unofficial knowledge—such as that of popular culture, extracurricular knowledge, and practices—embodied in current fashions, trends, and activities.
Insider Perspective: Being positioned as part of a group; understanding the rules, expectations, and discourses of a community or culture.