Volume 1 [Issue 1], 2009



Christopher S Walsh & Thomas Apperley


Digital culture has transformed many fundamental parts of our working, public and personal lives in terms of how we communicate and consume, create knowledge and learn and even how we understand politics. The scale and speed at which digital culture has become imbricated in everyday life is unprecedented. Its impact on politics, aesthetics, identity, art, culture, society, and particularly education is thoroughly deictic. In response, we founded DCE to provide a forum for dialogue around the educational, economic, political, cultural, social, historic, legal or otherwise relevant aspects of living in a society increasingly dominated by digital communication and media.

Revisiting violent videogames research: Game Studies perspectives on aggression, violence, immersion, interaction, and textual analysis

Kyle Kontour


Thus far, the bulk of effects research on violent video games demonstrates troubling correlations between playing violent video games and increases in (or primers for) aggressive behavior, which suggests that overall, violent video games may be detrimental to society. However, there may be significant weaknesses in this body of research, concerning not only methodological issues such as study design and the ways in which ‘aggression’ or ‘violence’ are conceptualized, but also containing fundamental misunderstandings of games as text, apparatus, or cultural artifact. Because these studies may not have a sophisticated enough understanding of games as objects or gaming as an activity, we must therefore reconsider the conclusions and implications thus far arrived at in this research and look for new ways forward for assessing violence in/and video games.

Pre-service teacher discourses: Authoring selves through multimodal compositions

John Bishop


This article explores the use of digital and multimodal compositions among pre-service elementary education students in a university language and literacy methods course. Furthermore, this piece argues for the inclusion of multimodal representation in our literacy courses given the changes in our digital landscape and the ever-increasing multimodality of our representational and communicational means online. This research aligns with a burgeoning collection of literature, namely New Literacies (Knobel & Lankshear, 2007) and multimodality (Kress & van Leeuwen, 2001). In addition, this research merges with ‘traditional’ print-based literacy pedagogies that argue for models of teacher learning that foreground opportunities to ‘do’ digital composition in order to more effectively prepare students for 21st century literacy skills in epistemologically diverse digital environments. A combination of discourse and multimodal analysis provides a means to couple both linguistic and semiotic data to examine how multimodal design functions in the construction of teacher identities and how the flexibility of these identities in turn work to prepare new teachers for successful transitions into public school cultures. In other words, how might the practice of multimedia production, and reflection on those processes, foster a deeper self-awareness during a time when students are moving from university settings into public schools? This article argues that multimodal text design is dialogic and purposeful with regards to constructions of teacher identities and highlights two ‘Digital Literacy Projects,’ multimodal video compositions designed and produced by pre-service teachers with video editing software. The two DLPs contrast the potential for authors to stabilize and/or improvise formations of identity, both which create opportunities to engage in praxis that merge university experiences with public school responsibilities.


Look at me! Look at me! Self-representation and self-exposure through online networks

Kerry Mallan


With the ever more user-friendly Web, the opportunities to use available channels of online communication complicate ways in which individuals oscillate between exhibition and inhibition, self-exposure and self-preservation, authenticity and deception. This paper draws on empirical research with high school students to examine the ways in which youth represent themselves and interact with friends and others in online networks such as MySpace. The conceptual framework for the discussion draws on the politics of visibility and notions of spatiality. These twin factors have consequences for new modes of technologically-mediated modes of representation with respect to community, friends, communication, and recognition. They also are helpful for considering what self-exposure means in terms of trust, risk, and privacy. The paper argues that there is no escaping the fact that online networks and other related activities hold both promise and peril. However, in constructing new social practices that traverse public and private spaces, technology itself is a key player in shaping how a community contributes to an individual’s identity formation and social activities.

Playing at bullying: The postmodern ethic of Bully (Canis Canem Edit)

Clare Bradford


This essay discusses Bully (Canis Canem Edit), considering the game's antecedents (narratives involving young people in school settings) and the features which set it apart from other teen texts. It discusses the controversy surrounding the game and comes to the conclusion that the principal reason for unease on the part of parents and educational authorities is that Bully's postmodernist ethic evades the binaries of liberal humanism and calls into question the foundations on which conventional ethical systems are based. The paper considers several episodes from the game to flesh out its arguments about how the game manifests features of postmodernist textuality in its propensity for simultaneously deploying and interrogating references to historical and contemporary cultural practices.

Book review of Nick Montfort and Ian Bogost (2009). Racing the Beam: The Atari Video Computer System. Cambridge; London: The MIT Press.

Thomas Apperley


Racing the Beam has two roles, to establish and demonstrate the methodology of ‘platform studies’. It is the first of a series on ‘platform studies’ published by the MIT press, for which Nick Montfort and Ian Bogost are associate series editors. The book is not only a case study of the Atari VCS (commonly known as the Atari 2600), it also sets an agenda for bringing computer hardware into social sciences and humanities discussions of new media. The authors illustrate the practice of platform studies through detailed, yet lucid, technical engagements with key Atari VCS games: Combat, Adventure, Pac-Man, Yar’s Revenge, Pitfall, and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Each chapter is oriented around the issues associated with the development of a particular game, with an emphasis on how the console’s hardware shaped the development of the software, and how the creative programming of game designers pushed the technological limits of the platform.