This short course is offered through the Institute of Education’s Doctoral School. The content of the course changes, depending on the interests of those taking part. This year’s reading list is posted below.


Millions of people regularly play computer and video games, and during the past decade there has been an explosion of innovative research in the area of Game Studies. Students of this course will analyse games, research player culture, and explore current games and education debates. The course will cover:

·         Game definitions and genre

·         Narrative and games

·         The relationship between games and other popular media

·         Play, player culture and online communities

·         Representations, identity, gender and fandom

·         Learning in games, and within game communities

·         The use of games and virtual worlds by teachers

·         The place of games within the Media Studies curriculum

·         The meaning and acquisition of ‘game literacy’

·         Drama, Role-Play and Learning

·         Game research methodology

This MA level course is aimed at anyone interested in studying games, play and education. The course combines distance learning with 2 days of face-to-face teaching. The course tutors, Diane Carr and Andrew Burn, have researched, taught and published extensively on the topics of games, players and media education.

The course can be taken on its own, as part of the Institute of Education’s MA in Media, Culture and Communications, or as a 30 credit optional module on many of the IOE’s MA’s.

For more information contact Diane Carr (


Here are the readings for the Researching Online Communities seminars, 2009. 

Session 1: Ethics and research issues

Reading to be discussed during session 1 : Ess, C. and the AoIR ethics working committee (2002) ‘Ethical decision-making and Internet Research. Recommendations from the aoir ethics working committee’, online at

Additional readings: 

Bruckman, A. (2002) ‘Ethical Guidelines for Research Online’, online here.

Useful selection of papers about ethics and online research is available at

BERA (British Educational Research Association) Revised Ethical Guidelines for Educational Research (2004)

Basett, E.H and O’Riordan, K. (undated) ‘Ethics of Internet Research: Contesting the Human Subjects Research Model’, online

Kraut, R. Olson, J., Banaji, M., Bruckman, A,. Cohen, J., Couper, M. (2003) ‘Psychological Research Online: Opportunities and Challenges’ APA-Internet Version 3.3 (2003)

Session 2: Identity, learning and community 

Readings to be discussed during session 2: Communities of Practice: Learning as a Social System by Etienne Wenger [Published in the “Systems Thinker,” June 1998] and online at

Goodfellow, R. (2008) ‘New Directions in Research into Learning Cultures in Online Education’ Proceedings of the 6th  International Conference on Networked Learning. Halkidiki, Greece. May

Additional readings: 

Bayne, A. (2010) Academetron, automaton, phantom: uncanny digital pedagogies. London Review of Education, 8 (1) pp5-13.   Online at :

Savin-Baden, M. (2010) Changelings and shape shifters? Identity play and pedagogical positioning of staff in immersive virtual worlds. London Review of Education, 8 (1) pp25-38. Online at:

Selwyn, N.   (2007)   ‘Screw Blackboard… do it on Facebook!  an investigation of students’ educational use of Facebook’  paper presented to Poke 1.0 symposium, November

Turkle, S. (1996) Life on Screen. London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson. 

Race in Cyberspace (2000) B. Kolka, L.Nakamura and G.Rodman (eds). Routledge

Lin Holin, Sun Chuen-Tsai (2005) The ‘White-eyed’ Player Culture: Grief Play and Construction of Deviance in MMORPGs Conference paper for DiGRA 2005 Changing Views: Worlds in Play, Vancouver June

Bradley, S.A., and McConnell, D. (2008) Virtual Groups in Learning Environments: Collaboration, Cooperation or (Self) Centred Individualism? Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Networked Learning, Halkidiki, Greece. May.

Carr, D., Oliver, M., Burn, A (2008) Learning, Teaching and Ambiguity in Virtual Worlds, Paper for ReLive 08 at the Open University, Milton Keynes, November 2008.

Bowker, N., Tuffin, K. (2003) Dicing with Deception: People with Disabilities’ Strategies for Managing Safety and Identity Online Journal of Computer-Mediated Communications 8 (2) January 2003

Carr, D., Oliver, M (2008) Tanks, Chauffeurs and Backseat Drivers: Competence in MMORPGs for “Future and Reality of Gaming (FROG) Conference, Vienna, October

Macfadyen, L.P (2008) ‘Constructing ethnicity and identity in the online classroom: linguistic practices and ritual text acts’ Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Networked Learning. Halkidiki, Greece. May

Session 3: Methods/methodology

Readings to be discussed during session: Wittel, Andreas (2000) ‘Ethnography on the Move: From Field to Net to Internet’, Forum: Qualitative Social Research Vol 1 No 1, Article 21 January 2000.

Note that for this session, we will talk methods/methodology for the first hour. In the second hour, we will discuss the pros, cons and practicalities of converting this particular course into an online course. To so this, we will be returning to some of the material on communities and e-learning from week 2, such as the Bradley and McConnell paper. 

Additional readings: 

TL Taylor (2006) Play Between Worlds, MIT Press


Ducheneaut, N., Yee, N., Nickell, E. and Moore R.J (2006) ‘Building an MMO With Mass Appeal: A Look at Gameplay in World of Warcraft’ Games and Culture 2006 1: 281-317


Boellstorff, T. (2008) Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human Princeton University Press

Mortensen T. (2002) ‘Playing With Players: Potential methodologies for MUDs’ Game Studies, Volume 2, issue 1.

Whiteman, N. (2007). ‘The Establishment, Maintenance and Destabilisation of Fandom: A study of two online communities and an exploration of issues pertaining to internet research.’ PhD thesis, Institute of Education, University of London) Online here
Other resources/readings: (DiGRA’s digital library – for online worlds and games research)

Cybersociology (issue 6 is on research methodologies)

Terranova (blog)

Association of Internet Researchers

Journal of Computer-Mediated Communications

Steeples, C., & Jones, C.(Eds) (2002). Networked Learning: Perspectives and Issues. London: Springer-Verlag. Institute Library: Lev Loz Sab STE.

Thorpe, M. (2002) From independent learning to collaborative learning: new communities of practice in open, distance and distributed learning. In Lea, M. & Nicoll, K. (Ed), Distributed learning: social and cultural approaches to practice, pp 131-151. London: Routledge Falmer.

 McKee, H. and Porter, J.E (2009) Playing a Good Game: Ethical Issues in Researching MMOGs and Virtual Worlds, in International Journal of Internet Research Ethics.