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Women and Gaming: The Sims and 21st Century Learning Hardcover – April 15, 2010

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Editorial Reviews


"James Paul Gee and Elisabeth R. Hayes offer us vivid portrait of women of all ages ‘gaming beyond gaming,’ transforming the successful The Sims video games into a platform for their own social, creative, and intellectual lives.  These women are gamers, but they are also tinkerers, community leaders, authors, programmers, and artists, and their engagement with The Sims has opened up new opportunities for them to learn and grow far beyond the classroom.  Gee and Hayes are patient, informed, and insightful guides showing us how these kinds of participatory cultures might transform our understanding of education in the 21st century."--Henry Jenkins, Confronting the Challenges of a Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century


Women and Gaming is must-read for anyone interested in the social or intellectual side of gaming - scholars, designers, players and parents alike. At long last, we have a serious treatment of the forms of social engineering or "soft modding" that women do as part of gameplay -- not merely as some counterpoint to the (predominantly-male) practice of technical modding (modifying) found in gaming communities but in fact as a vital practice in its own right and a key feature of what it means to Design. Gee & Hayes have managed to treat an often-ignored topic with both depth and clarity.”—Constance Steinkuehler, University of Wisconsin-Madison


"If a good education is the path to human enlightenment, one might well ask what the current state of education is.  Authors Gee and Hayes waste few words in their answer: education in our culture is critically wanting...The authors have done a commendable job of positing a theory of learning according to which real education is not about acquiring knowledge, but rather about 'becoming' something."--Women and Gaming

About the Author

James Paul Gee is the Mary Lou Fulton Presidential Professor of Literacy Studies at Arizona State University and a member of the National Academy of Education. He is the author Sociolinguistics and Literacies, one of the founding works of the “New Literacies Studies”, as well as the author of What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy, Situated Language and Learning, and Good Games and Good Learning: Collected Essays.

Elisabeth R. Hayes is a professor in the Division of Learning, Technology and Psychology in Education at Arizona State University’s Graduate School of Education. She is the author and editor of numerous articles, chapters, and books, including Women as Learners and The Handbook of Adult and Continuing Education. Hayes was a lead investigator on two MacArthur-funded projects: GameDesigner and the TechSavvy Girls project.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan (April 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230623417
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230623415
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.8 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,455,286 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth M. King on September 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This book is the latest in a long series of books and articles by noted literacy, education and games scholars - James Paul Gee and Elisabeth Hayes. I found this book to be highly engaging and quite readable as they provide a wealth of real examples and poignant descriptions demonstrating how women and girls are using the popular Sims video games. It is interesting to note however, most of the emphasis is not on playing the Sims game specifically but Gee and Hayes describe instead how these innovative women are going beyond the game and leveraging the virtual communities around the game to meet their own specific interests.

As an educator myself - and a person who's not a digital native, I also see this book as providing a tremendous resource for educators looking to integrate technology in the classroom and indeed those educators who are looking to develop a broader understanding of the richer "beyond game" practices gamers are engaged in. For example, I found the chapter on writing fan fiction to be extremely relevant to the high school students I work with. Given all the hype around Twilight and all things vampire, the authors' account of vampire fan fiction is quite timely in terms of popular culture but also in terms of the digital storytelling techniques many educators are working to implement in the classroom. This chapter describes in detail the participatory writing processes embedded in these fan fiction communities. Their accounting of Alex's trajectory of writing denotes how her writing improves over time and also chronicles a common characteristic of this genre of writing - the impact of instant and iterative audience feedback uniquely present in these fan fiction communities.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a case study of five exceptional female gamers who at some point played The Sims (a computer game). These players were chosen because they are exemplary prosumers, a term invented by Albert Toffler, to distinguish consumers who also produce new content. For example, one subject uses screenshots from her Sims game to illustrate novels that she posts online. Another started by learning to recolor furniture within the game.

One interesting section of the book contrasts the forums used by these prosumers to get the information that they needed to make their creations and to distribute the completed creations with traditional classrooms. The authors characterize the forums as passionate affinity groups and note that:
* These communities are not segregated by age or ability.
* All different kinds of knowledge are respected (well, not by every user).
* Everyone is free to contribute and to use the material contributed by others.
* The content is subject to change, and input from multiple people can shape it.
* There are a lot of different ways to earn status in the community; roles and leaders are constantly changing.
* Prosumers are rewarded with compliments and useful feedback.
* Learning is proactive, but help is allowed and is generally welcome.

School classrooms, whether the students are kindergartners or graduate university students, on the other hand, are utterly stratified. The roles of the instructor and of the student are strictly defined, and the purpose of the class is usually to transmit knowledge rather than to create new knowledge through interaction.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The authors concentrate, not precisely on women that play The Sims, but in what is happening around the game. With theory about learning and videogames, they narrate the experience of several women and their experiences that go beyond their gaming. They analyze communities that are formed around videogames (in this case, The Sims), that are places where experts can help novices. They compare school to this type of communities and they give some ideas of how students/gamers can learn.

The chose the experiences of different types of women (from teenagers to a 65 year old woman who is sick) and each story shows an important aspect of learning.

In my own investigations I had concentrated in learning that goes on while gamers are playing, but this book opened a new horizon: I was able to see gamers as designers that adquire skill using 21st century digital learning tools to create artifacts and/or cultural products outside the game. It also gives a view of how women gamers play and what they do with videogames.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ratdaddy on August 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is by far not what I was hoping for from the title, which is likely what they had in mind when picking it. Sexist sarcasm aside, I was not disappointed with the actual material in this book.

This was on a list of books to read for a New Media Theory class, and I picked it mostly as a joke to the guy next to me. I said "How can I resist? I love both these things. Women AND gaming, I can't lose!" What I received was a well researched book listing the positive effects gaming has on women who get involved.

From The Sims to Second Life, this book explains the positive life lessons to be had in becoming involved in the community of creative design within a gaming platform.

If you are looking for a book to inform you of some interesting, researched facts, and interesting real-life stories, this is the book for you.

If you are looking for cute girls who happen to be holding pwning your face in the latest first-person shooter, this is not the book for you.
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