Jon and I just returned from AAAL 2011 in Chicago and were excited to hear James Paul Gee present his keynote address on what he calls “passionate affinity spaces.” Basically, he refers to the online (and offline) contexts in which people come together to engage in complex tasks and discourse(s) related to various types of pop culture media such as video games and fan fiction. He cited a number of relevant examples such as simulations utilizing the SIMS and teen fan fiction.
Most relevant to the work we are doing in the Games to Teach project was the focus on players’ intense involvement with communities engaged in similar activities. This is an especially rich source of interaction for language learners to address pragmatic and strategic abilities with a variety of languages. As part of the G2T project we are presenting on, and writing about, ways in which instructors can utilize digital games and their associated communities to build literacy skills and assist in L2 learning. This includes analysis of existing communities and eventual participation in these “passionate affinity spaces,” as well as the use of in-game interaction. We were excited to see Jim’s talk on the AAAL program and look forward to talking more about these issues as related to L2TL on this blog and throughout the G2T project! We will be talking more about this at our upcoming CERCLL workshop (May 31 – June 1). Thanks to all of you with whom we had the chance to talk with at AAAL. We look forward to many more conversation in the future!