Gaming Fluencies: Pathways into Participatory Culture in a Community Design Studio

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Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Many recent efforts to promote new literacies involve the promotion of creative media production as a way to foster youth’s literate engagement with digital media. Those interested in gaming literacies view game design as a way to engage youth in reflective and critical reading of the gaming culture. In this paper, we propose the concept of “gaming fluencies” to promote game design as a context in which youth not only learn to read but also to produce digital media in creative ways. Gaming fluencies also present the added benefit of addressing equity issues of participation in the new media literacy landscape. We report on an ethnographic study that documented urban youth producing digital games in a community technology center. Our analyses focus on an archive of 643 game designs collected over a 24-month period, selecting a random sample to identify evidence of creative and technical dimensions in game designs. In addition, we highlight three case studies of game designs to identify different pathways into the participatory culture. Our goal is to illustrate how gaming fluencies allow for a wide range of designs, provide low thresholds and high ceilings for complex projects, and make room for creative expression. In our discussion, we address how gaming fluencies represent a complementary pathway for learning and participation in today’s media culture.



technology fluency, new literacies, media education, Scratch, informal learning, game design


Peppler, K. Kafai, Y. B. (2010). Gaming Fluencies: Pathways into a Participatory Culture in a Community Design Studio. International Journal of Learning and Media, 1(4): 1-14.


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