Abstract

As youth are becoming active prosumers of cultural artifacts, it is important to examine the mechanisms that prompt them into self-initiated making. Affinity spaces, which are spaces where groups of "people primarily orient toward a common set of endeavors and social practices in terms of which they attempt to realize these endeavors" (Gee, 2007, p. 196), have been discussed as key informal learning sites that support youth in making their own iterations of popular visual culture. Drawing from theories on informal learning, this study looks at a Minecraft video game affinity space to understand the mechanisms that support and encourage youth video game players to move beyond being consumers of video games and into being producers of artifacts. This case study uses content analysis to investigate the descriptions, discussions, and artifacts produced on Minecraft affinity space r/Minecraft. This study finds that artifacts produced and shared in this affinity space congregate around the themes of news, artifacts inspired by the game, artifacts created through the game, add-ons to the game, and opinions. At the same time, members posit that participating in these affinity spaces through critiquing artifacts produced by other members and producing artifacts of their own is an integral aspect of playing Minecraft. This study implies the need for art educators to further consider digital platforms when designing formal learning experiences and create curriculum that harnesses the informal learning mechanisms supported by affinity spaces.

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