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Interactive media for play: Kids, computer games, and the productions of everyday life

, Stanford University, United States

Stanford University . Awarded


In recent years, it has become difficult to ignore the pervasiveness of interactive media technology in the lives of American children; computers are increasingly ubiquitous, and the computer gaming industry has become more profitable than even the movie industry. Despite major social changes wrought by computer gaming, there have been few studies of the everyday practices of computer game play. This dissertation conducts an ethnographic analysis that addresses basic descriptive questions around the social significance of computer games--why kids play computer games, how they play them, and what roles and meanings they have in their everyday lives. The primary research question is: What kinds of social, cultural, and material realities are produced through children's everyday play with computer games? Constructing an interdisciplinary framework derived from educational theory, interaction analysis, political economy, and cultural studies, this dissertation analyzes details of everyday game play in relation to social structure and cultural categories.

The study draws from videotapes, fieldnotes, and interviews at Fifth Dimension sites, a network of community based afterschool computer clubs across the US and overseas, that brings kids and undergraduates together around educational computer games. In order to arrive at a multi-dimensional view of the role of computer games in social life, the analysis integrates descriptions of various aspects of games and game play. The structure and content of computer games are analyzed through a description of the affordances of the games, which include particular interactional features, as well as multiple layers of narrative content and technical capabilities. The body of the dissertation uses this understanding of computer game structure and content as a departure point to analyze videotaped sequences of kids' play, identifying certain interactional modalities in game play, and developing case studies of particular kids' learning and subject formation through game play. Finally, the dissertation describes how computer games and game players are part of the production and reproduction of a translocal and quasi-virtual social practice, mediated by the flow of technological and meaning laden commodities.


Ito, M. Interactive media for play: Kids, computer games, and the productions of everyday life. Ph.D. thesis, Stanford University. Retrieved July 31, 2021 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

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Cited By

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  • Evaluating Computer Games for Children

    Tsung-Yen Chuang, National University of Tainan, Taiwan; Wei-Fan Chen, The Pennsylvania State University, United States

    EdMedia + Innovate Learning 2007 (Jun 25, 2007) pp. 3253–3256

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