Monday, August 04, 2008

Schooling and virtual worlds


An interesting story unfolded on Paul Verhoeven's blog last week, which he also related on Triple J's breakfast show (the story starts two thirds of the way through the mp3).

Basically, a secondary school student playing World of Warcraft stole an item from his 'guild' (a group of players who work together within the game). Many of the players in the guild were adults that play the game very seriously, and they took exception to the theft of the rare and valuable 'Warglaive of Azzinoth' (pictured). So much so, in fact, that one of the guild members wrote a letter to the principal of the student's school, asking that the student be held to account for his actions. The letter drew analogies to the action that would be taken if the student, as representative of the school, were caught stealing in the 'real' world. Allegedly, the principal took action, the parents of the student were contacted, and the item was returned.

To my mind, this is an interesting response from the school: in this instance virtual worlds were considered to be a legitimate space of social interaction, with which the school should be concerned, and not 'just a game'. While student behaviour in virtual worlds may already be a subject of curricular and pedagogical focus in some places (especially in terms of online safety), this seems like a different kind of 'whole school' recognition, which frames these worlds not just as spaces in which students are vulnerable, but ones in which they must also be responsible and accountable.

4 comments:

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Jay said...

Hi Victoria.

Really enjoyed your talk at the Middle Years Conference.

DeviantArt (http://www.deviantart.com/) is the online artists community that I mentioned to you at the end of the talk. It has been going since August 2000 and has 8 million members who have uploaded over 60 million artworks to date.

Jason.

Victoria Carrington said...

Hi Jason,
Thanks for coming to the presentation and for saying nice things at the end! I really appreciated it.

Also, thanks for the link to the artist community.

v

Paul Verhoeven said...

Hi Victoria,

It's actually amazing how often this happens (gaming making incursions into real life), but it rarely affects schooling. Funnily enough, when harrasment happens in virtual worlds, it's called bullying, and rightfully so. The GMs (Game Masters) in WOW rarely take action, so I can't help but harbour a kind of admiration when people actually act out like Archeus did. Thankfully they're lovely guys and were tongue in cheek about it, but I wouldn't be surprised if things like this end badly from time to time.

:D