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What happens off the field? Proposing a rhetorical approach of the affinity spaces surrounding games

Joachim Vlieghe (UGent) , Jeroen Bourgonjon (UGent) , Kris Rutten (UGent) and Ronald Soetaert (UGent)
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Abstract
This paper considers the relation between literacy, social media practices and rhetoric, by focusing on game-related spaces as sites for learning. Studies from various disciplinary research domains like anthropology (e.g. Ito and Bittanti 2010) and socio-linguistics (e.g. Gee 2003) connect games and learning. Gee (2003) provocatively claims that games can be considered more powerful learning environments than traditional education. He attributes several learning principles to gaming, thereby also calling attention to affinity groups “bonded primarily through shared endeavors, goals, and practices and not shared race, gender, nation, ethnicity, or culture” (Gee 2003: 197). These observations are supported by recent research that has provided evidence for the ubiquity of learning in the digital spaces where people form affinity groups, like games and the spaces surrounding them (e.g. Steinkuehler and Duncan 2008). Earlier explorations of communities and learning practices (e.g. Anderson 1983; Bey 1991; Pratt 1991) supports Gee’s (2005) claim that the relationship between membership and learning should be approached cautiously. This paper claims that rhetorical theory can offer substantive insights in the world of gaming and learning. Based on the theoretical insights of game scholars like Frasca (1999), Bogost (2007), and Voorhees (2009), this paper proposes to broaden the scope of research to the affinity spaces outside of games and to analyze the interactions within those spaces from a rhetorical perspective. A small but growing body of research relates the study of video games to the theory of New Rhetoric. Here, rhetoric should not be defined merely as an act of persuasion through language, but a means for meaning making in a world of symbols and interactions (Herrick 2004: 223). Based on insights from New Rhetoric, and Kenneth Burke in particular, the concepts of circumference and identification are introduced as a means to widen the analytical lens (Kimberling 1982). Brief examples from discussion forums for Fifa 11 are used to illustrate the conceptualizations.
Keywords
circumference, social media, video games, new rhetoric, affinity spaces, EDUCATION, identification

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MLA
Vlieghe, Joachim, et al. “What Happens off the Field? Proposing a Rhetorical Approach of the Affinity Spaces Surrounding Games.” Proceedings of the 5th European Conference on Games-Based Learning, edited by Dimitris Gouscos and Michalis Meimaris, Academic Publishing Limited, 2011, pp. 626–31.
APA
Vlieghe, J., Bourgonjon, J., Rutten, K., & Soetaert, R. (2011). What happens off the field? Proposing a rhetorical approach of the affinity spaces surrounding games. In D. Gouscos & M. Meimaris (Eds.), Proceedings of the 5th European conference on games-based learning (pp. 626–631). Reading, UK: Academic Publishing Limited.
Chicago author-date
Vlieghe, Joachim, Jeroen Bourgonjon, Kris Rutten, and Ronald Soetaert. 2011. “What Happens off the Field? Proposing a Rhetorical Approach of the Affinity Spaces Surrounding Games.” In Proceedings of the 5th European Conference on Games-Based Learning, edited by Dimitris Gouscos and Michalis Meimaris, 626–31. Reading, UK: Academic Publishing Limited.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Vlieghe, Joachim, Jeroen Bourgonjon, Kris Rutten, and Ronald Soetaert. 2011. “What Happens off the Field? Proposing a Rhetorical Approach of the Affinity Spaces Surrounding Games.” In Proceedings of the 5th European Conference on Games-Based Learning, ed by. Dimitris Gouscos and Michalis Meimaris, 626–631. Reading, UK: Academic Publishing Limited.
Vancouver
1.
Vlieghe J, Bourgonjon J, Rutten K, Soetaert R. What happens off the field? Proposing a rhetorical approach of the affinity spaces surrounding games. In: Gouscos D, Meimaris M, editors. Proceedings of the 5th European conference on games-based learning. Reading, UK: Academic Publishing Limited; 2011. p. 626–31.
IEEE
[1]
J. Vlieghe, J. Bourgonjon, K. Rutten, and R. Soetaert, “What happens off the field? Proposing a rhetorical approach of the affinity spaces surrounding games,” in Proceedings of the 5th European conference on games-based learning, Athens, Greece, 2011, pp. 626–631.
@inproceedings{1971256,
  abstract     = {{This paper considers the relation between literacy, social media practices and rhetoric, by focusing on game-related spaces as sites for learning. Studies from various disciplinary research domains like anthropology (e.g. Ito and Bittanti 2010) and socio-linguistics (e.g. Gee 2003) connect games and learning. Gee (2003) provocatively claims that games can be considered more powerful learning environments than traditional education. He attributes several learning principles to gaming, thereby also calling attention to affinity groups  “bonded primarily through shared endeavors, goals, and practices and not shared race, gender, nation, ethnicity, or culture” (Gee 2003: 197). These observations are supported by recent research that has provided evidence for the ubiquity of learning in the digital spaces where people form affinity groups, like games and the spaces surrounding them (e.g. Steinkuehler and Duncan 2008). Earlier explorations of communities and learning practices (e.g. Anderson 1983; Bey 1991; Pratt 1991) supports Gee’s (2005) claim that the relationship between membership and learning should be approached cautiously. This paper claims that rhetorical theory can offer substantive insights in the world of gaming and learning. Based on the theoretical insights of game scholars like Frasca (1999), Bogost (2007), and Voorhees (2009), this paper proposes to broaden the scope of research to the affinity spaces outside of games and to analyze the interactions within those spaces from a rhetorical perspective. A small but growing body of research relates the study of video games to the theory of New Rhetoric. Here, rhetoric should not be defined merely as an act of persuasion through language, but a means for meaning making in a world of symbols and interactions  (Herrick 2004: 223). Based on insights from New Rhetoric, and Kenneth Burke in particular, the concepts of circumference and identification are introduced as a means to widen the analytical lens (Kimberling 1982). Brief examples from discussion forums for Fifa 11 are used to illustrate the conceptualizations.}},
  author       = {{Vlieghe, Joachim and Bourgonjon, Jeroen and Rutten, Kris and Soetaert, Ronald}},
  booktitle    = {{Proceedings of the 5th European conference on games-based learning}},
  editor       = {{Gouscos, Dimitris and Meimaris, Michalis}},
  isbn         = {{9781908272188}},
  keywords     = {{circumference,social media,video games,new rhetoric,affinity spaces,EDUCATION,identification}},
  language     = {{eng}},
  location     = {{Athens, Greece}},
  pages        = {{626--631}},
  publisher    = {{Academic Publishing Limited}},
  title        = {{What happens off the field? Proposing a rhetorical approach of the affinity spaces surrounding games}},
  year         = {{2011}},
}

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