Living and Learning on

Multiplayer games and worlds have increased in popularity with millions of players now spending dozens of hours or more online each week. We know surprisingly little about what younger players do in virtual worlds like Teen Second Life, Habbo Hotel, Club Penguin, Virtual Laguna Beach, There and others. Discussions about their promises and problems have been initiated among researchers, parents, developers, and policy makers. The purpose of this blog is to make our current research publicly available about one such teen virtual world called Whyville and to solicit feedback and initiate discussion. currently has over 2 million registered players ages 8-16. In Whyville, teens are encouraged to play casual science games in order to earn a virtual salary in ‘clams’, which they can spend on buying and designing parts for their avatars, projectiles to throw at other users, and other goods. The general consensus among Whyvillians (the citizens of the virtual community of Whyville) is that earning a good salary and thus procuring a large number of clams to spend on face parts or other goods is essential for fully participating in the Whyville. Like other virtual worlds, hundreds of cheat sites have been developed outside of Whyville to reveal shortcuts and introduce new players to virtual customs.

Funded by the National Science Foundation, UCLA researcher Yasmin Kafai and her team study many different aspects of Whyville including science learning, avatar creation and virtual identity, the role of cheating, and flirting and dating through Whyville.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Upcoming Conference Presentations (Summer 2007)

Upcoming Conference Presentations

American Educational Research Association
Fields, D. A. (2007, April). Learning by cheating? Investigating the science in cheat sites for informal educational mutli-user virtual environments.

Fields, D. A. (2007, April). WhyCheats: The presence and absence of science in online cheats. In Y.B. Kafai (Chair), Where in the world is the science in Whyville? Informal science in a multi-user virtual community. Symposium

Feldon, D., Kafai, Y., Fields, D. A., Giang, M., Quintero, M. (2007, April). Mixed methods for mixed reality: Overcoming methodological challenges to understand user activity in a massive multi-user virtual environment.

International Conference on Communities and Technologies, East Lansing, MI:
Kafai, Y., Feldon, D., Fields, D. A., Giang, M., Quintero, M. (2007, June). Life in the time of Whypox: A virtual epidemic as a community event.

Computer Supported Collaborative Learning, New Brunswick, NJ:
Fields, D.A., Kafai, Y.B. (2007, July). Tracing Insider Knowledge Across Time and Spaces: A Connective Ethnography in a Teen Online Game World.

Fields, D.A., Kafai, Y.B. (2007, July). Illegitimate Practices as Legitimate Participation: Game Cheat Sites in a Teen Virtual Community.

Games, Learning, & Society 3.0, Madison, WI :

Kafai, Y.B. (chair), Consalvo, M., Fields, D.A., Satsicz, T., Zimmerman, E. (Under review). To cheat or not to cheat? Practicies, purposes, and politics of cheating in online games. Interactive symposium

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