Pew Pew Pew Research Center Study – A Scholarly Critique

*In my pursuit of further education I am enrolled in a course on games and learning. Part of the expectations for this course is to take ownership of my learning and explore the connections between games and learning for myself, this blog post is a continuation of the documentation of my learning.


This week I found a large study from the Pew Research Center called Teens, Technology and Friendships: Video games, social media and mobile phones play an integral role in how teens meet and interact with friends. I was interested in this study because it provides an interesting statistical snapshot of how teens are using digital communication to make and maintain friendships. The digital communication was facilitated through text messaging, social media, and multiplayer online games.  I feel that the presence of more friendships that exist through digital means could provide some interesting opportunities to apply theories about in-room communication and learning that were proposed in Stevens, Satwicz, and McCarthy’s article In-Game, In-Room, In-World: Reconnecting Video Game Play to the Rest of Kids’ Lives.

The statistics shared in the Pew article were surprising to me. I felt that teens were going to be active using digital communication but I assumed that it would be to stay in touch with the people they had met in the physical world. Similar to how I use my digital communication. I did not expect for teens to be making and developing friendships completely in the digital world. I learned that, 57% of the teens from the study had made at least one friend online and of the friends that had been made digitally, one in five pairs eventually meet in person. Video games played over the internet hold an important place in the communication between teen friends in digital spaces, with 46% of teens playing online games with friends at least once a week, with 67% of male teens playing online games at least once a week.

The communication between teen friends online could benefit them in ways that Stevens, Satwicz, and McCarthy showed in-room communication helped young people learn when playing games together. Digital communication through online games enables players support one another in learning and mastering a in-game skills by enabling users to be mentors for new players, be a just-in-time expert recourse, or problem solve cooperatively through coordinated talk.

Knowing that a large number of teens are already using online games as ways to make and maintain friendships I would be interested in taking a theme camp experience and building up its online presence, as a way to get kids socially involved outside of the physical camp. I am particularly thinking of the Young American’s Bank program Young Ameritowne, which gives elementary students the chance to participate in a simulated economy. Participants apply for jobs, trade labor for paychecks, set-up/manage bank accounts, and get to be consumers.

I think that bringing some of their offerings into the digital world, Young American’s Bank, could make a bigger impact on participants than they currently do. Digital jobs could mirror computer skills needed for each of the professions offered in the simulated economy and give the children a more rounded idea of what is required for each job before applying and interviewing. Online communication should be encouraged for participants to discuss experiences and problem solving strategies. Finally participants could open their Ameritowne bank accounts online, and benefit form an online banking simulation. 

Pew Pew Pew Research Center Study – A Scholarly Critique

The Family the Feuds Together . . . Play Journal Entry

*This is a continuation of a series of blog posts for my Games and Learning course. In this journaling exercise I am going to play social games and analyze the game mechanics, design, and play experience, to identify how the game can be applied to learning in formal or informal setting

This weekend I was at a small gathering of friends, when we decided we needed a shake up our entertainment and used an appleTV device to cast a mobile app game to the television. We often gather on Friday nights and have identified a collection of mobile apps for classic game shows, such as Wheel of Fortune or The Price is Right. We cooperatively play, with the whole group calling out answers and playing as one team. This week we channeled our inner Richard Dawson to play the crowd favorite Family Feud.


This is a newer version of Family Feud then we are use to playing so there was a lot for this group to master in the game. One of the new features is a tournament mode. In this mode eight players are trying to find answers to the same question. In Family Feud 100 people are surveyed and their answers are hidden on the game-board. The players try to guess all the responses and are awarded points based off of how popular the answer was. In the tournament the two players with the lowest score after each round do not move on to the next round.  So the first round has eight players, the next has six, then four, and for the final round only two players are left. This is a departure from the classic game play where only two players compete at a time, over four rounds.

family feud game play bar.jpg

The knockout nature of the tournament forced us to adjust our game play. In the past our goal was to guess all the answer on the game-board, with the less popular responses seen as unique and therefore the most prized responses to guess. In the knockout games earning the large point responses first, the popular choices, was key because we discovered that ties went to the team who scored fastest.  This made the group slow answers down and focus on what the popular answers could be not just quickly calling out answers and reaching for the obscure responses.

family feud game playTo play in the knockout tournaments players have to collect coins that can be slowly earned in the standard mode or can be obtained quickly in though in-app purchases. There is also a large reward for winning a tournament and second place prize that is enough to pay for another entry to the tournament. In the previous version of this game coins could be collected by watching advertisements. This is a feature we used a lot, it would have been nice if it had been included in the new version. Companies may have not seen that as effective advertising but could have tried trading in-game currency for responses to marketing surveys, there by collecting valuable information and users the opportunity to collect more coins.  

family feud championI believe that the knockout tournament featured was included in this new version of Family Feud because players of the old version were “gaming the system”, defined by Deterding as a situation when players “find a way to exploit any rule loophole” (2014, p.310). We knew how to game the old version’s advertising model to get more in-game currency and how to guess low probability answers early when there is more leeway in time and chances then give high probability answer when the round is almost over.  Removing the payments for watching advertisements and including a time dependent knockout tournament effectively stopped our what we thought were sneaky game play strategies, forcing us to discover new ways to game the Family Feud app.

The Family the Feuds Together . . . Play Journal Entry

Why do haters gotta hate? – Membership in an Fantasy Football Affinity Space

*To learn more about participation in a interest based community, also known as a6171514511.pngn affinity space, for my Games and Learning masters class, I have joined the FFToday discussion community and am blogging about the experience.  

On of my goals for joining the FFToday affinity space was to play around with the idea for using fantasy football as a learning activity in my small group math interventions. I don’t know where this ideas is going to go and I am changing jobs next year, so I am not certain I will even have an opportunity to employ it, but I have been thinking about fantasy football in math for a while. I might as well dive right into the affinity space and start seeing what the members thought. I started a discussion thread called: Fantasy Football used for teaching math in school. I made the assumption that the members of a fantasy football affinity space would see this a great idea and share testimonials about how they use math in game/in world, or about how motivating the game has been to look and and analyze data to be more successful. My opening post was an attempt to elicit those stories.


I also wondered if there was an inherent problem with fantasy football in a math class.  I have seen, in the readings from and interactions with classmates in my Games and Learning class, that gamification is not always the answer to motivating students. Would competition and point totals make the game an electronic whip? Would students to feel forced to “play” and see their scores as negative commentary for their performance? So I decided to request reasons not to use fantasy football from the community. I thought that reasons not to play would be thoughtful and come from a place of understanding – because these are not only players of fantasy football but such die hard fanatics they are interacting in an affinity space in the off-season. What I did not expect was what I got, a troll.

It didn’t happen right away, at first weepaws was just a poster that seem concerned about fantasy football being gambling but his post quickly became an attack on “lazy” teachers.

weepaws post 1

I was not in a mental place to handle this internet attack on either my profession or myself. I have been feeling constant pressure political related interactions on social media that have ranged from discussions to arguments to attacks. I know that I am not alone in this feeling but there was no way I was going to handle the situation with weepaws well, this was a fantasy football discussion forum that people go to for fun, that I had joined for a class. I envisioned myself striking back at weepaws and letting the poster know what is lazy teaching really is – probably starting a feud with a long time community member, or blowing a gasket and then have to walk away from this affinity space. So I did the only thing that I could think of to that did not end in banishment from the group; I ignored him. I responded to most of the other posts, I got some great feedback, and I thanked other members who stuck up of me in shooting down weepaws repeated claims of gambling or lazy teaching. But I did not interact with weepaws.

I was ready to use this blog post as a way to go after weepaws, to vent, because I was furious. Then he made a post that struck a cord.

weepaws post 2

I had asked for opinions on both sides of the fantasy in math controversy. Weapaws shared his opinions and I needed to address this, I gave a lengthy response, but the gist was that I wanted positive testimonials to share to support the project, to think about negative responses to decide if I was going to do develop the fantasy football project at all, and that repeated attacks of lazy teachers was not convincing me of that it was bad idea. I concluded that the attacks gave me more motivation me to show my students I care about their engagement, so they don’t hate teachers when they grow up. I thought that conclusion would push weepaws over the edge and that my math discussion thread would devolve into attacks and insults. And again I assumed wrong.

weepaws post 3
I think I learned that viewing weepaws as a troll stopped me from validating the poster’s opinion. Posters in a affinity space are looking for validation. I am not going to see eye to eye with weepaws, but we have shared a civil exchange. I am interested to see if and how weepaws continues to post on the thread.





Why do haters gotta hate? – Membership in an Fantasy Football Affinity Space