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Reading Videogames as (authorless) Literature.

Berger, R. and McDougall, J., 2013. Reading Videogames as (authorless) Literature. Literacy, 47 (3), 142-149.

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LIT12004[3].pdf - Submitted Version

McDougall.pdf - Published Version


DOI: 10.1111/lit.12004


This article presents the outcomes of research, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council in England and informed by work in the fields of new literacy research, gaming studies and the socio-cultural framing of education, for which the videogame L.A. Noire (Rockstar Games, 2011) was studied within the orthodox framing of the English Literature curriculum at A Level (pre-University) and Undergraduate (degree level). There is a plethora of published research into the kinds of literacy practices evident in videogame play, virtual world engagement and related forms of digital reading and writing (Gee, 2003; Juul, 2005; Merchant, Gillen, Marsh and Davies, 2012; Apperley and Walsh, 2012; Bazalgette and Buckingham, 2012) as well as the implications of such for home / school learning (Dowdall, 2006; Jenkins, 2006; Potter, 2012) and for teachers’ own digital lives (Graham, 2012). Such studies have tended to focus on younger children and this research is also distinct from such work in the field in its exploration of the potential for certain kinds of videogame to be understood as 'digital transformations' of conventional ‘schooled’ literature. The outcomes of this project raise implications of such a conception for a further implementation of a ‘reframed’ literacy (Marsh, 2007) within the contemporary curriculum of a traditional and conservative ‘subject’. A mixed methods approach was adopted. Firstly, students contributing to a gamplay blog requiring them to discuss their in-game experience through the ‘language game’ of English Literature, culminating in answering a question constructed with the idioms of the subject’s set text ‘final examination’. Secondly, students taught their teachers to play L.A. Noire, with free choice over the context for this collaboration. Thirdly, participants returned to traditional roles in order to work through a set of study materials provided, designed to reproduce the conventions of the ‘study guide’ for literature education. Interviews were conducted after each phase and the outcomes informed a redrafting of the study materials which are now available online for teachers – this being the ‘practical’ outcome of the research (Berger and McDougall, 2012). In the act of inserting the study of L.A. Noire into the English Literature curriculum as currently framed, this research moves, through a practical ‘implementation’ beyond longstanding debates around narratology and ludology (Frasca, 2003; Juul, 2005) in the field of game studies (Leaning, 2012) through a direct connection to new literacy studies and raises epistemological questions about ‘subject identity’, informed by Bernstein (1996) and Bourdieu (1986) and the implications for digital transformations of texts for both ideas about cultural value in schooled literacy (Kendall and McDougall, 2011) and the politics of ‘expertise’ in pedagogic relations (Ranciere, 2009, Bennett, Kendall and McDougall, 2012a).

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: literacy; videogames; English literature; digital transformations; pedagogy
Group:Faculty of Media & Communication
ID Code:20847
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:15 May 2013 09:36
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 13:47

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