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The Play of Internet Communication. (Chapter 5).

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the internet intensifies communication interplay

The Internet “[magnifies, elaborates and enhances…] play.” The sense of play encouraged by the Internet carries into our reliance on the Internet not only for entertainment, but also for “news, information, instruction and persuasion” (Shedletsky & Aitken, 2003)

  • Interplay: “an interaction, which can be transformative, entertaining, interesting, or light-hearted.”
  • The word “play” suggests pleasure as the foundational element of interplay.
  • The Web encourages playful, imaginative thinking.
  • The Internet provides an “increased opportunity to pretend.”
  • Point to ponder: When we’re online, are we living in our heads?

The Internet Intensifies Communication Interplay


      Internet Play

Our textbook defines Internet play as, "having pleasure, fun, and enjoyment through Internet communication" (Shedletsky & Aitken, 2003).

The biggest difference between online play vs. real- life play would be the environment in which it takes place.  Real-life play wouldn't involve the Internet in any way and could include for example, playing outside for a child, or for an adult, playing cards with friends.  Real-life play would occur on a face-to-face basis, or exist in the "real" world and not the "virtual" world.  Virtual play could include an online poker game, World of Warcraft or Halo.

online play vs real play
Online card games

     (playing with yourself or others but is online)

Casino games

      (playing with others in groups or chats)

MMORPGs, MOOs and MUDs: World of Warcraft, Halo, XBox Live

    (Playing with more than 1 person, but is online in a virtual world)

Card Clubs

    (playing with yourself or others, but is in person)


    (playing with others, but are usually right beside them)

Board Games

    (Playing with more than 1 person--Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, Clue)

Online Play       vs.       Real Play
theories of play schroder huizinga
Theories of Play- Schroder & Huizinga

Before the advent of the Internet, there was a theory of play that was used to describe the elements that make up play.

1.) Play is for itself. It serves no external goal.

2.) Play exists outside the scope of ordinary life.

3.) Play operates within fixed boundaries of time and space, with its own set of rules.

4.) Play is pliable. Though it can completely absorb the player, "ordinary life" can reassert itself at any time. (Schroeder, 1996)

theories of play aitken shedletsky
Theories of Play- Aitken & Shedletsky

Through the development of the Internet and the growing technologies that have arisen, online play has become an additional source for play. Aitken & Shedletsky have rewritten the previous theory of play to relate to online play.

1.) Internet play is for the self. It serves internal goals.

2.) Internet play co-exists inside and outside the scope of ordinary life.

3.) Internet play operates without fixed boundares of time and space, although the play may operate within Internet rules.

4.) Internet play is pliable. The Internet can completely absorb the player so as to integrate with "ordinary life," or take on a life of its own (Aitken & Shedletsky, 2003).

where do we learn play
          Where Do We Learn Play?

One rather large contributor to studying play was G. Stanley Hall.  He felt that through children's stages of cognitive and social growth, children learn how to play. Children's sense of play evolves as they grow older. First children are solitary in play, and as they grow into school age, the play becomes parallel, meaning that children are playing beside each other, but not necessarily together. The final stage of play is cooperative play in which children take on roles based on social norms and expectations (a good example is, when “playing house," the boy is the dad and the girl is the mom). (“Play,” 2001).

stages of play
Stages of Play

Hall suggests that through stages of play, we ultimately get to cooperative play as adolescents and stay there through adulthood.  In 1973, J.L. Singer suggested that although imaginative play is mostly thought to be used by young children, as adults, we shouldn't dismiss it. He thought that imaginative play was more of a cognitive tool that could enrich the the functioning and quality of life throughout a lifespan. (Piesach & Hardeman, 1985).

This imaginative play can be demonstrated through online play in which, for example, you play in an imaginative virtual world. World of Warcraft is a great example.

why do we play
Why Do We Play?

As Aitken & Shedletsky (as well as Schroder & Hulzinga) pointed out, play serves no external goal. Regardless of whether the play happens in reality or in a virtual world, the act of play is rewarding in itself, so there doesn't need to be any further reward.  Play commands our attention for the length of the activity and the rewards are intrinsic.

research study on play
Research Study on Play

There was a study done in September 2004 that examined the relationship between play and online searches. The researchers believed that the intrinsic value of play was escapism and enjoyment (Mathwick & Rigdon, 2004).

"The enjoyment inherent in information search is a well-documented, self-oriented reward that can transform information search into a leisure experience in its own right” (Bloch et al., 1986)

"The escapism dimension of perceived play reflects a state of psychological immersion. When psychologically immersed, a person is fully engaged by the focal activity” (Lombard & Ditton, 1997).

7 types of internet play

Imaginative play like a child

  • Identity role playing
  • Interplay with the self or other
  • Play like theater
  • Games for destruction
  • Playful Work
  • The fun of something new

7 Types of Internet Play

imaginative play like a child having fun playing games circulating jokes and humor

Human-Computer Interaction: “People can interact with computers in ways that are similar to the way two people communicate," (Shedletsky & Aitken, 2003).Examples: Playing chess or solitaire with your computer, naming your computer.

  • MOOs and MUDs: Multi-user dimensions, where people often interact with one another as if they’re interacting in the real, physical world. Examples: World of Warcraft, online interactive learning sites like Elluminate.
  • Websites are often designed for the purpose of fun/entertainment.
  • Even discussion groups and chat, which are often used for purely practical or educational purposes, have a sense of playfulness to them.

Imaginative Play Like a Child(Having fun, playing games, circulating jokes and humor.)

video games and interplay
Video Games and Interplay

Some examples of video games are:

•Action- Halo

•Adventure and Role playing- World of Warcraft

•Arcade- Pacman

•Strategy-Online chess, Poker


today s video games
Today's Video Games
  • "Today’s video games have rich story lines that involve seeking out and using information.” (Len, 2007)
  • “While role-playing video console games (RPGs) are not as popular as sports or action games, they have a loyal following. Role-playing games, which arose from the popular game Dungeon and Dragons, contain many similar elements such as: a party on a quest, the collection of magical items to assist the party, battles with monsters and enemies to gain experience and new skills, and a point system to monitor health and ability" (Phillips, 2006). RPGs are heavily character-oriented, and users select and develop their characters in 1 of 2 ways: by customizing their character using menu options, or by switching among members participating within the game's story line. Character interaction (between both player characters and non-player characters) is the most prevalent method of gaining information in order to solve puzzles or acquire the requisite knowledge for completing the quest. "Each character develops differently based upon the player's choices in gaining experience and finding items, so every gamer has a different experience, rather than following a standardized story line" (Phillips, 2006).
  • “In Virtual Space, children like to explore many rooms or buildings, they like to be rewarded early and often for completed tasks, and they like to destroy their environment” (Len, 2007).
violent video games
Violent Video Games

•There is much debate over whether the use of violent video games affects the brain in a negative way. So far, "this body of research is contradictory, inconclusive, and influenced by various theoretical positions" (Shedletsky & Aitken, 2003).

• One study, performed at Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis found that “adolescents who play violent video games show increased activity in areas of the brain linked to emotional arousal and decreased responses in regions that govern self control” (“Violent Video Games…”, 2007).

  • William Lugo, an expert on the sociology of video games, criticizes the government for producing and circulating “highly sophisticated violent video games…at taxpayers’ expense,” emphasizing the fact that such games are used by the U.S. military as a recruiting tool, and claiming that this practice “is unethical and contradicts violence prevention efforts among children and youth” (Lugo, 2006). Certain others, however, see things differently, arguing that violent video games are a good way to prepare America’s youth to defend themselves and their country, should an attack occur. Consider this: Which position on this issue do you agree with?
video games and online learning
Video Games and Online Learning
  • Video Games are “A stealth learning environment, children develop skills that connect and manipulate information in the virtual worlds of video games without really knowing that they are learning. (Len, 2007)
  • Winnicott (1971) and Hoxter (1977), emphasized the creative and communicative aspects of play. Winnicott argued that play, in addition to its symbolic significance, was very important for the child’s development, because it created an intermediate area between reality and phantasy, in which children could communicate their mental states to themselves and to others, and feel they were doing something with their own thoughts. (Bertolini, Nissim, 2002)
  • Video games are a way for people to open up creatively and communicate with themselves through internal thoughts.
  • Multi-player video games can promote teamwork and friendship building / communication skills.
human computer interaction
Human-Computer Interaction

•Human-Computer action takes place when a person has an interaction with the machine like they would with another person. It is becoming easier to have human-computer interactions because of new technology. 

Comprehensive example:

•“Although physical touch is often associated with proximity and intimacy, technologies of touch can reproduce such sensations over a distance, allowing intricate and detailed operations to be conducted through a network such as the Internet. The ‘virtual handshake’ between Boston and London in 2002 is given as an example” (Paterson, 2006.)

role playing games and identity
Role-Playing Games and Identity

•“Active engagement with different characters and the environment in role-playing games encourages exploration and learning, and these interactions give a player the opportunity to discover diverse points of view and develop different ways of solving problems”  (Dormann, Biddle, 2006).

•When Playing video games, you can essentially create an identity different from your own and can play at being someone else. (In this context, other users are aware that you're 'pretending.') 

examples of websites used for playful purposes
Examples of Websites Used for Playful Purposes









identity role playing online experimentation with identity self representation pretending

Examples: gender switching, talking online anonymously, pretending to be someone else, sexual fantasy/interplay.

  • Some Internet users outright lie and deceive with regard to self-representation.
  • Online discussions, such as those that occur in chat rooms and discussion forums, on Instant Messenger, in cyber-communities and e-groups, etc., create lots of opportunities for role play, as do online dating sites.
  • Such role playing “may be a part or extension of the self” (Shedletsky & Aitken, 2003).

Identity Role Playing (Online experimentation with identity, self-representation, pretending.)

identity role playing online dating and deceptive self presentation
Identity Role Playing: Online Dating and Deceptive Self-Presentation

A 2007 study examined 80 online daters' use of deception with regard to information about their height, weight and age. Results showed that about 81% of participants lied about at least one of these characteristics, with men lying more about their height, and women lying more about their weight. The researchers found that the deceptions were normally small in magnitude, leading them to conclude that online daters "used deception strategically and carefully," balancing relational goals with what appeared to be a fundamental desire to remain relatively truthful. Participants reported being least accurate about their profile photos, which are easily editable (Toma, et. al., 2007). Another recent study found that “individuals can re-create their identities [using] Internet dating services,” and that “online and offline validation of the identities presented in dating profiles seem to have an impact on individuals’ beliefs about themselves and their behavior in both online and offline environments” (Yurchisin et. al., 2005).

  • A point to ponder: Do you think that online dating sites should require from users a "pledge for accuracy in self-representation," in order to prevent users lying about age, physical appearance, relationship status, occupation, education, income, etc.?
identity role playing gender switching
Identity Role Playing: Gender-Switching

 A recent study looked at gender switching behavior among a random sample of online MOO users, defining "MOO" as "a type of [multi-user dimension] that uses object oriented programming" (Roberts & Parks, 1999). Results indicated that only a minority of MOO users switch genders, and they usually do this out of a desire to play the role of someone other than the self. "Gender-switching was also used to engage in sexual talk and fantasies, or to...avoid sexual harassment." Almost all participants who cited avoidance of sexual harassment as their reason for gender-switching were female. Users of MOOs structured as role playing games were found to be about twice as likely to engage in gender-switching as users of purely social MOOs. This seems to suggest that, for users of virtual interactive environments, the playfulness inherent in experimentation with one's identity is reduced when other participants are left unaware that their fellow user isassuming a false persona. 

  • A point to ponder: If you discovered that an online friend (whom you'd never met in person) had posed as a member of the opposite gender, how would you react?
identity role playing pretending to be sick
Identity Role Playing: Pretending to Be Sick

A recent report reveals that some online support-group-frequenters merely pretend to have whatever problem the support group discusses. The frequent use of elaborate lies for the purpose of eliciting “attention or sympathy” is known as Munchausen syndrome, and those who misrepresent themselves in such a way are now infiltrating online support groups, pretending to have anything “from migraines to cystic fibrosis to post-traumatic stress” (Gunn, 2001). Such online deception is often very frustrating and insulting for the online support group participants who are genuinely suffering. The article’s author recommends: “Don't e-mail or post responses to that individual. If this person isn't getting attention anymore, odds are that he or she will go elsewhere. It may seem harsh, but it's the ethical thing to do.”

interplay with the self or other
Interplay with the Self or Other

Internet users typically “approach their communication activity with a sense of playfulness” (Shedletsky & Aitken 2003). This means that when we are using the Internet, we are doing so mostly for the purpose of seeking out a pleasurable experience.

Examples of ways that we interplay with ourselves through the use of the Internet:

  • Computer simulations and single-player games
  • Shopping online
  • Visiting favorite or personally bookmarked websites
  • Conducting research into a subject of personal interest

Examples of ways that we interplay with others through the use of the Internet:

  • Online multiplayer games
  • Instant messaging and social networking sites
  • Chat rooms
  • Fantasy sports leagues
interplay with the self
Interplay with the Self

Single Player Games:

  • 65% of American households in the year 2008 played some kind of computer game, with an average user age of 35 years old.
  • 49% of gamers do not play games with other people in person.
  • “Role Playing” was the second best selling genre of game in 2008

(“Essential Facts…,” 2008)

Online Shopping:

  • Over half (51.0%) of consumers are using the Internet before making a purchase in shops, educating themselves on the best deals available. (Verdict Research, May 2009)
  • Users who contribute product reviews or post messages visit sites nine times as often as non-contributors do. Contributors also make purchases nearly twice as often (McKinsey & Co./Jupiter Media Metrix study, January 2002).This shows that people want to be connected to the products they are buying online.
  • 50.1% of online shoppers who placed items in their shopping carts did not go on to place an order (Core Metrics, March 2009).This shows that people will often “window shop” for fun online.
interplay with the self1
Interplay with the Self

Search Engines, Google, YouTube:

  • There are currently hundreds of language-specific and country-specific search engines, and tens of thousands of website-specific search engines. (“How Many Search…,” 2007.)
  • In May 2009, Google had over 4.0 billion search page views in the UK.
  • (Rubel, 2009)
  • Users are 1.5x more attentive when browsing YouTube than when watching TV (Rubel, 2009). This is probably a result of the user having more personal control over what is being viewed.

Personal Research, News, Online Databases:

  • Internet users are able to access almost any form of information at any time and are able to seek out information and answers to questions on their own
  • The Amazon Kindle, a new personal electronic reading device, allows users to directly connect and download books and articles directly to their device.
  • Most major newspapers now have an online presence and many are available for free to all users.
  • Online databases such as EBSCO, LexisNexis, and AccessScience allows users to access vast numbers of scholarly articles, peer-reviewed journals, and literary works.
interplay with others
Interplay with Others
  • People seek out pleasure when using the internet. Ex: Games, Chat, Jokes, Play.
  • When playing multi user games, people can communicate their own creative thoughts, strategies, and abilities with others.
  • Some video games, such as Halo, emphasize working as a team to destroy mutual enemies and can encourage the building of bonds and teamwork skills.
interplay with others1
Interplay with Others

Online Multiplayer Games:

  • People will often use these games as a way of interacting with others. They eventually learn to draw real emotion from these simulated experiences. 
    • Roughy 11.5 million people play the massive online multiplayer game World of Warcraft (“World of Warcraft…,” 2008).

Social Networking Sites: 

  • These have become extremely popular in recent years. They provide a way for people to connect to friends and family and engage in online interactions.
    • Facebook is most popular social networking site with more than 300 million active users, and more than 8 billion minutes are spent on Facebook each day worldwide. (“Press Room Statistics,” 2009).
    • Twitter is fastest growing social network, 75% of all user accounts were added in 2009! (Cheng, Evans, 2009).
interplay with others2
Interplay with Others

Fantasy Sports Leagues:

  • Over 34 million people in North America have played fantasy sports, with 19.4 million in the US (Leo, Seo, Green, 2008).
  • The more time a person spends on the internet, the more likely they are to engage in fantasy sports. Fantasy sports participants view it as a vital part of being a sports fan. (Randle, Nyland, 2008)
  • Fantasy Sports users were “either highly involved and enjoyed the statistics, knowing that they outsmarted those who did not win, or they were less involved and sought the thrill of victory and subsequent bragging rights” (Farquhar, Meeds, 2007).

Cyberfan Pages, Discussion Groups:

  • Online discussion groups about TV shows and movies “give the story lines and characters a kind of validity” to those who participate in them (Shedletsky & Aitken, 2003). This also allows people to connect to others based on similar opinions held about the same subject.
  • “A message board can be a particularly effective way to sustain a large, thriving community as it provides a "location" where members can gather. Users can chat with each other nearly in real-time and navigate through conversation threads with ease. Discussions are archived, and you can access them and search them via a Web-based interface” (Tenby, 2003).
play like theater

Virtual reality: “the creation of an imaginary space in which people can pretend” (Shedletsky, Aitken 2003).

  • Many online games, especially MOOs and MUDs, allow users to adopt new personae or “become” characters (imaginary or based on real life). Many of these users “perform” on the stage of their virtual dimensions in ways similar to how theater actors perform on real-life stages.
  • How is this different from identity role playing?: Both involve pretending to be someone you’re not, but in play like theater, receivers are aware that the sender is pretending, whereas, in identity role playing, receivers expect that the sender is being truthful.

Play Like Theater

play like theater identifying with the virtual self
Play Like Theater: Identifying with the Virtual Self
  • In many online games, people will often “carve out distinct spheres of meaning between themselves, their fantasy personas, and status of players of these games.” Most players are located at “the liminal margins between the people we believe ourselves to be and the personas we perform in situated social encounters.” (Waskul, Lust, 2004)
  • A recent study found that players in online games often identify heavily with their character. 65% of players said they were proud of their avatar. These same players are also the most likely to become addicted to the game (Smahel, Blinka, Ledabyl, 2008). This shows that people can come to believe that the character they are playing is almost real, as well as all the other characters they are encountering within the virtual world. They may then choose to spend more time within the virtual world, “living” the life of their character.
play like theater role playing games rpgs
Play Like Theater: Role Playing Games (RPGs)

“Since the majority of online RPGs are character-centered, the concept of character attachment – the level of perceived affective and cognitive connection felt by a video game player toward a video game character containing dimensions of parasocial interaction, indentification, suspension of disbelief, control and responsibility – becomes an important aspect in understanding online RPG experiences.” (Lewis, Bowman, Weber 2009)

play like theater real emotion from a virtual world
Play Like Theater: Real Emotion from a Virtual World
  • “As the technology behind virtual worlds evolved from small text-based worlds to massive 3D worlds, the user base also evolved. In this co-evolution, players of virtual worlds became residents of virtual worlds, and what were once fantasy worlds over time became mirrored worlds: worlds complete with social and financial dynamics that seeped out from cyberspace into real life.” (Sanchez, 2009)
  • When gamers were asked whether the most positive experience they had experienced over the period of the past 7 days occurred in an MMORPG or in real-life, 27% of respondents indicated that the most satisfying experience over the past 7 days occurred in the game. “What is clear is that these environments encourage both time and emotional investment from the users, and that users derive salient emotional experiences from these environments.” (Yee, 2006)
play like theater avatars and behavior in digital environments
Play Like Theater: Avatars, and Behavior in Digital Environments

In 2009, researchers combined the results of 2 studies they'd conducted on avatar users in virtual environments. Their research confirmed what previous studies had found: that in the virtual  environment, users' expected behaviors and attitudes are inferred from their avatar's appearance. (Note the similarities between this and 'getting into character' by putting on a costume). Furthermore, they found that both the attractiveness and height of an avatar in an online game were reliable predictors of the player's performance. Most importantly, the researchers concluded that, not only do our virtual bodies change the way we interact with others in avatar-based online communities, but also, "the behavioral repertoire that is shaped by our digital avatars in virtual environments carries over into physical settings" (Yee et. al., 2009). Specifically, "participants given taller avatars negotiated more aggressively in subsequent face-to-face interactions than participants given shorter avatars." 

  • What do you think?: Is 'play-acting' on the virtual 'stage' more damaging than constructive, or vice versa?


  • Gossip
  • (Cyber)terrorism
  • Violent Video Games
  • Transmission of Viruses

Games for Destruction(Destructive Internet activities carried out by users who experience a sense of play when they take something away from others, such as safety, employment, money, time, status, etc.) 

online stalking
Online Stalking
  • Cyberstalking is "the repeated use of the Internet, e-mail, or related digital electronic communication devices to annoy, alarm, or threaten a specific individual or group of individuals" (D'Ovidio & Doyle, 2003).
  • One study found that there are no fundamental differences between 'on-ground' stalking and cyberstalking, and that those who use the Internet to stalk ex-intimates "remain the most populous stalker type" (Sheridan & Grant, 2007).
  • Researchers cite the Internet as being among the new technologies that "make it easier than ever before for abusers to control their victims." Initially, cyberstalkers "used low-tech monitoring options such as looking at Web site browser history and reading deleted e-mail, but now [they're] increasingly using more sophisticated but broadly available spy ware software and hardware," as well as sensitive information sold, shared and published by corporations, courts and government agencies (Southworth et. al., 2007).
online gossip
Online Gossip
  • Last year, researchers found that college students who do not use social networking sites had an attitude towards gossip that ranged “from incredulous to hostile” (Tufecki, 2008).
  • This year, due to the failing economy, the college gossip site shut down. Many students (and parents) are relieved, as the site allowed students to anonymously post all manner of gossip, from harmless to malicious. One student who was the subject of some particularly nasty gossip, “became so self-conscious…that she missed classes for three weeks” (Westfall, 2008). For months, school administrators refused to police or shut down the site due to the risk of violating freedom of speech rights.  
  • The International Encyclopedia of Communication defines cyberterroism as: "[a] convergence between nonstate actors and communication technologies [wherein] hackers (cyberterrorists) ...cripple websites, data systems, and networks of rival groups and/or governments" (Sonwalkar, 2008).
  • Cyberterrorists often rely on the Internet to “create an information sharing network [that allows them] to streamline and coordinate operations” (Kohlmann, 2006). Defense Secretary Robert Gates has claimed that “the U.S. is ‘under cyberattack virtually all the time, every day’” (Whitney, 2009). A report from this month announces that this year, “the U.S. power grid has been especially vulnerable as utility companies rely more on network-based smart-grid technology to manage it….[S]pies from Russia and China have already hacked into the grid, leaving behind traces of their activity” (Whitney, 2009). Some of the advantages that the Internet affords cyberterrorists are: information on targets can be obtained through hacking. Also, the lack of borders of legal control make it “difficult for prosecutors to apply laws to some crimes. Criminals can operate from countries where cyber laws barely exist, making them almost untouchable” (Gorge, 2007). A recent report criticized the U.S. government’s protocol for handling cyberterrorism, claiming that the U.S. has focused primarily on the prevention of cyberterrorism, rather than paying attention to how terrorists use the Internet to carry out their agendas (Kohlmann, 2006).
transmission of viruses
Transmission of Viruses
  • According to one PC-savvy blogger, Win32/Conflicker is this year’s most prevalent virus. It’s “a network worm that…[allows] an attacker to remotely attack a computer without valid user credentials” (Sategroup, 2009).
  • Last year, “a survey of college students revealed that fear of computer viruses may influence respondents’ intentions to engage in digital piracy” (Wolfe, et. al., 2008).
  • A report from 2006 explains that anti-virus and security companies frequently make the mistake of assigning different names to a single virus, which confuses users, convincing them that their computer is infected with multiple viruses (Lemos, 2006).
  • In a recent study on viruses, worms and Trojan horses, researchers concluded that, while “these unique forms of cybercrime warrant general concern…their overall threat to corporate, government, and end computer users thus far has been exaggerated” (Hughes & DeLone, 2007). They went on to say that “greater attention must be paid to the role of the computer user in the spread of viruses.” In other words, we should be trying to better understand the communicators of these viruses, rather than the viruses themselves!
  • Currently circulating in Congress is the Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act (HR1966).The bill proposes severe penalties for online messages that indicate "intent to coerce, intimidate, harass, or cause substantial emotional distress to a person." Many consider it a violation of the 1st Amendment, since, by using such broad language as "harass" and "cause emotional distress," it could end up criminalizing forms of speech which are protected under the Constitution. What's your opinion on this issue? (“HR 1966,” 2009).
Playful Work: The Intersection of Work and Play(The Internet intensifies the interplay of pleasure and work)
  • In many ways, the Internet has blurred the lines between work and play, both in business and education. 
  • Web surfing and daydreaming: Checking e-mail from friends, visiting social networking pages and fun web sites during class or work. 
  • In order to enhance the effectiveness of lectures, many professors and teachers:

        -reference popular culture using films and flash videos accessed online.

        -demonstrate points using computer simulations.     

        -have students use online discussion groups to discuss theoretical principles.

  • Interactive media, computer simulations, and online discussion and collaboration have added a dimension of ease and enjoyment to work and educational tasks.
  • The Internet has given workers and students more freedom, mobility, and diversion than ever before.
at the intersection of work and play
At the Intersection of Work and Play

Traditionally, “play” has not been considered a legitimate part of work:

  • “Games by definition challenge the utilitarian concept of productivity that emerged in the transition to market capitalism: they combine pleasure and pain, leisure and work, a dedication to achieving goals that have no ends beyond themselves” (Alberti, 2008).
at the intersection of work and play1
At the Intersection of Work and Play
  • The Internet and a new work/play paradigm
  • A 2002 study by Brooks and Bowker noted that during the 1990s, there was “a surge of corporate anxiety” related to the Internet.
  • “…large multinational corporations, alarmed by the success of small entrepreneurial e-commerce startups, began to re-assess their own organizational identities” and focus on creativity, play and innovation to compete (Brooks and Bowker, 2002).
  • “… firms are notorious for ushering in a new set of work habits to the corporate workspace. T-shirts and jeans, marathon programming sessions interspersed with flying Frisbees and pizza… efforts in merging play, home, and work” (Brooks and Bowker, 2002).
workplace flexibility telecommuting
Workplace Flexibility/ Telecommuting
  • Many jobs can now be performed from the worker’s home via the Internet, rather than at an on-site office.
  • This freedom can make work more comfortable and enjoyable. Telecommuting can also solve stress-causing problems related to transportation and child-care.
  • Telecommuting enhances “the ability of individuals to meet all of their personal, family, occupational, and community needs” (Hill, et al, 2008). 
  • Telecommuting creates “a mutual sense of trust and respect between employer and employee, a supportive workplace culture, and an optimal sense of control over one’s job and working conditions” ” (Hill, et al, 2008). 
  • At the same time, “the organization will indirectly benefit with increased efficiency, effectiveness, and greater productivity” (Hill, et al, 2008).
internet play and education
Internet Play and Education

“… if divisions between learning and play were ever clear to students, that clarity no longer exists” (Shedletsky & Aitken, 2003).

the internet at school
The Internet at School

One recent study looked at how Taiwanese elementary school students viewed the Internet, in terms of a “5 T’s” model of Internet use (Chou, Yu, Chen and Wu, 2009).

  • Among the 2580 fifth grade students surveyed, “the Tool factor and the Toy factor are highly correlated.”
  • The students seemed to view the Internet itself as a toy; therefore, most tasks done on the Internet are considered play/entertainment.
  • Children today have grown up with the Internet; work and play on the Internet are intertwined. (Cultural factors should also be considered.)

The 5T’s model of Internet use

    • Tool
    • Toy
    • Telephone
    • Territory
    • Treasure of Information
online play and education distance online education
Online Play and Education: Distance (Online) Education

Three major factors are believed to guarantee student success in a web-based course (Blignaut and Nagel, 2009) :

    • consistency in course design
    • interaction with course instructors
    • active discussion
  • All three factors are rooted in interaction– student-technology, student-instructor, student-classmates. An enjoyable interactive experience is important. Frustrations with any or all of these factors could threaten the student’s success.
internet play and education distance online education
Internet Play and Education: Distance (Online) Education
  • Researchers Blignaut and Nagel experimented with a ”fictitious student” participating in an online class. “Virtual Jane” was simply a second screen name used by the instructor and presented as a teaching assistant. The instructor used the character to encourage discussion among students without intimidating them.
  • [Virtual Jane] “became the students’ friend and confidante as she provided both technical and contextual support, elicited discussion, and poured oil on troubled waters… [she] was a valuable helper who provided additional support to learners without increasing the facilitator’s domination in the courseroom” (Blignaut and Nagel, 2009).
gaming a new metaphor for literacy
Gaming: A New Metaphor for Literacy?
  • John Alberti, a professor of English, suggests that, in order to reach students of the digital age, writing/composition instructors should explore gaming as a metaphor for reading and writing: “Video games reveal how pleasure and desire are inherent to the reading and writing process” (Alberti, 2008).
  • Many video games have a complex narrative (story) structure, similar to novels and films, that could be used to teach young people about reading and writing: “Video game players are simultaneously readers and writers whose gaming decisions are inscribed within a certain horizon of possibilities but not predictability (Alberti, 2008).  
  • Students today live in a different “literacy environment” than has ever existed before: “[Gaming, social networking, blogging and messaging] contain imaginative possibilities for the transformation of writing pedagogy...From a pragmatic perspective, they are the literacy environments in which our students have developed and now live as writers, readers, and players” (Alberti, 2008).
instructors on facebook
Instructors on Facebook

A 2007 study looked at how an instructor’s self-disclosure on Facebook might affect student perceptions and expectations. (Self-disclosure: Any personal information an individual chooses to share. Can include photos, political views, hobbies, personal stories, relationship status, etc.)

  • “Students may perceive a teacher’s use of Facebook as an attempt to foster positive relationships with his or her students, which may have positive effects on important student outcomes” (Mazer, Murphy, Simonds, 2007).
  • Based on a Facebook profile, students may perceive an instructor as “honest and genuine,” a person who “would relate well to her students and make the classroom atmosphere enjoyable.”
  • On the other hand, an instructor can disclose inappropriate personal information (T.M.I./ Too Much Information) that diminishes his/her credibility and professionalism in the eyes of students. 
  • Instructors should be careful to design a Facebook profile that is casual and genuine, yet still maintains a professional image.
playing on the internet at work
Playing on the Internet at Work

“It is one of the great paradoxes of the ‘new economy’:The same technologies that have spurred huge productivity gains in recent years have also made goofing off easier than ever--not to mention a lot morefun. In need of down time or simply bored with their jobs,workers are flocking to web sites designed for diversion, staying there, in some cases, for hours at a time” (Sloan & Yablon, 2000).

playing on the internet at work1
Playing on the Internet at Work
  • "In July [2000] well over one million people visited Pogo [a game website] from work--an almost threefold increase from just five months ago… Even more astonishing: The average workplace player spent more than 2 hours and 34 minutes per visit glued to a game” (Sloan and Yablon, 2000).
  • “A representative from an Internet surveillance company recently estimated that ’recreational web surfing’ cost U.S.businesses $5.3 billion in 1999” (Mastrangelo et al, 2006).
playing on the internet at work2
Playing on the Internet at Work

1000 employees with Internet access were surveyed…

  • Nearly 10 percent think that their work performance has suffered as a result of the time they spend online.
  • Another 13 percent blamed the Internet for their inability to stay focused at work.
  • 11 percent said they checked their e-mail up to 10 times a day (Fickenscher, 2000).
the fun of something new

Computer users experience a mix of “satisfaction, fun, productivity and frustration” (Shedletsky & Aitken, 2003)

  • As long as the computer use provokes more pleasant feelings than negative ones, overcoming the frustration may be what makes computer use satisfying.

The Fun of Something New

the difference between playing and lying
The Difference Between Playing and Lying
  • Lying: the sender communicates a claim, as well as the conviction that they themselves believe in the claim they are making. 
  • Playing: the sender intends for the receiver to believe that the sender does not believe in the claim that he or she is making; they want the receiver to be aware that the claim is a falsehood.
playful metaphors
Playful Metaphors
  • A metaphor is basically an implicit comparison, in which one term or idea is used to designate another term or idea to which it is not literally applicable. For example, one might call the Internet the digital ocean. In Internet use, metaphors are used primarily to refer to activities, people or ideas that users have either imagined or don’t want to state explicitly.
  • Language affects our perceptions of the context and those around us. For example, when we use the metaphor information superhighway to designate the Internet, the term “conjures up images of travel with other people to access information” (Shedletsky & Aitken, 2003).
  • The use of metaphors adds to the sense of play experienced in Internet use by intensifying creativity and imagination.
principles on the interplay between the internet and communication
Principles on the Interplay Between the Internet and Communication
  • Internet communication is a process; as information accumulates, the experience changes.
  • Adapting to the Internet increases communication effectiveness.
  • Communication is irreversible, be it with a website or another person online.
  • Internet meanings reside within people, as people are the ones who attribute meanings to words.
  • No one can experience totally effective communication on the Internet. (This is mostly due to users' limited ability to employ nonverbals in online communication).
questions for reflection
Questions for Reflection
  • Do you feel that the Internet blurs the lines between work and play?
  • How much time per workday do you spend playing on the Internet?
  • If you play massive multiplayer online role playing games, how heavily do you identify with your fantasy persona(s)/ avatar(s), if at all?
  • Do you think there are certain situations where it’s ethical to pretend (online) to be another person or pretend to have a different occupation, social status, educational background or income?
  • Overall, do you find that Internet use adds a sense of fun and pleasure to your life, or do you think it causes more stress than it’s worth?
works cited

For our works cited page, please see the Word doc. attached to the presentation…