Cross-case analysis of IT learning trajectories in a game-modding affinity space

Shree Durga


Over recent years, game modding has garnered much recognition as being one of the "cutting edge" avenues for fostering a broad range of critical information technology practices (Hayes & King, 2009; Peppler & Kafai, 2007; El-Nasr & Smith, 2006). Recent studies argue that modding a game is an intrinsically affinity-based pursuit (Gee, 2005, Hayes & Gee, 2010) and thus, opens up possibilities for participants from varying educational and professional backgrounds to learn to program, or, more broadly, learn to produce game-based content. Drawing on data from a two-year discourse-centered online ethnography (Androutsopoulos, 2008) of Civfanatics -- a vibrant Civilization (Civ) game modding community, in this talk, I present a cross-case analysis (Miles & Huberman, 1994) of Civ modders' distinct pathways for professional growth and identity in IT. Through these cases I contest our existing notions about learning to mod or program and highlight exemplars of mentorship and development of expertise and self-efficacy in IT skills. I argue that learning to mod is an ongoing participation in a literacy of digital fan production (The New London Group, 2000); in other words, an acquisition of modding literacy --- a repertoire of competencies entailed in production of mods in an affinity-based modding community.