Running Head: A Game without Guns

wattlexanaduSoftware and s/w Development

Oct 31, 2013 (3 years and 10 months ago)

262 views

A Game without Guns




Running Head: A Game without Guns





Making Learning Fun: Quest Atlantis, A Game without Gun
s
1





Sasha Barab
2
, Michael Thomas
3
, Tyler Dodge
4
,
Robert

Carteaux
4
, Hakan Tuzun
4

Indiana University, Bloomington




Paper accepted with revisions in
, Educatio
nal Technology Research & Development
:
11/1/13

Please do not duplicate without permission from the authors





1

This research was supported in part by a CAREER Grant from the National Science Foundation, REC
-
9980081 and by the Nationa
l Science Foundation Grant #0092831.

2

Correspondence about this article should be addressed to Sasha A. Barab, School of Education, Room
2232, 201 N. Rose Ave, Bloomington, IN, 47405.
sbarab@indiana.edu
. 812 856
-
8462.

3

Instructional Systems Technology and Language Education

4

Instructional Systems Technology

A Game without Guns





Abstract



In this manuscript we describe the Quest Atlantis
(QA)
project, a learning and teaching project
that uses a multi
-
user
,

virtual environment
to immerse children, ages 9
-
13, in educational tasks. QA
combines strategies used in commercial gaming environment
s

with lessons from educational research on
learning and motivation. It allows users
at
participating elementary schools and after
-
school

cent
ers

to
travel to virtual places to perform educational activities, talk with other users and mentors, and build
virtual personae. Our work has involved a process that we refer to as
empowerment design
, which
involves building socio
-
technical structures tha
t transform both individuals and communities. This work
sits at the intersection of education, entertainment, and social commitments and results in a new focus for
design. The challenge has been to develop a product and process that is not a game yet remai
ns engaging,
is not a lesson yet fosters learning, and is not evangelical yet still nurtures
and promotes
a social agenda.
Toward this end, we describe both the “product” and the complex

process that give rise to it. This process
involves

issues that chara
cterize the creation and implementation of an environment that responds to local
needs and constraints while at the same time supports academic learning and social change.




A Game without Guns
1

Making

Learning Fun:
Quest Atlantis,
A Game without Guns


Introduction

On April

20
th

1999, Eric Harris and
Dylan
Klebold went on a murderous rampage in Littleton
,

Colorado
,

at
Columbine High School
,

leaving 12 students and a teacher dead and wounding 23 others
before taking their own lives
. This atrocity triggered unprecedented media

attention, with many observers
blaming gratuitous violence in videogames as the underlying problem and others suggesting bad
parenting, insensitive schools, and even
the
social and moral decay of society itself. While many
researchers have claimed that no

cogent connection can be found between the use of video games and
violent behavior among youth, others are convinced that there may be a link between video game use and
deviant social behavior (Provenzo, 1991, 1992). On the flip side, however, some advoca
tes of digital
game
-
based learning suggest that developing educational games is a moral imperative, treating
videogames as the only way educators can adequately engage
the

“videogame generation” (See Katz,
2000; Prensky, 2001).
The need to design education
al videogames represents more than simply trying to
harness
their

tremendous motivational power: digital multimedia provide a scarce resource for children to
develop autonomy and an awareness of consequentiality. Laurel (2002) suggests that children today
have
fewer means
for

expressing agency, and even
fewer opportunities for
engaging in play, than they
have
had
in the past
.

T
heir
physical
space
for exploration and play
has been reduced from several square miles
to often a mere electronic screen.
Squire (2
002)
,

commenting on the cultural perspective of videogames
,

stated
,

In the United States, this fear and fascination goes back to the early 1980s, when Ronald
Reagan extolled the virtues of games to create a generation of highly skilled
Cold War
warriors, w
hile U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop proclaimed games among the top
health risks facing Americans (p. 1)
.

Rather than blindly embracing video games or impulsively brushing them aside, we have worked to
develop a technological innovation that lies at t
he intersection of education, entertainment, and our social
commitment
to make

the world a bett
er place (Barab, Thomas, Dodge
, Carteaux, Tuzun,
&
Goodrich,
200
3
). Our goal has been to develop a technology
-
rich game without guns that teaches and informs,
wh
ere the excitement is about learning and growth and the development of a sense of wonder.


Over the past two years, we have been spending time in places where kids hang out, carrying out
an eighteen
-
month ethnographic study at a local Boys and Girls Club,

visiting schools, reading pop
-
culture magazines, and even playing in video arcades.
We began with a simple premise
:
let’s make
A Game without Guns
2

learning fun
.

As we talked with children, parents, and others in our community, our interest expanded
beyond supporting content
learning
and developed into
the social commitment of trying to make the
world a better place. We had to step away from our computers, put aside our desire to design, and instead
engag
e

the ethnographic process of understanding

the life
-
worlds of those we w
ished to serve

(
Barab,
Thomas, Dodge, Newell, & Squire, 2002;
Levinson, 1998)
. Two years into the process,
we have

now
reified

our experiences and commitments into a technological design that sits at the intersection of
entertainment, education, and our co
ntinually evolving social commitments.
This innovation
, Quest
Atlantis

(QA)
,

has been
implemented
at multiple sites in the United States and around the world, with
hundreds of
users at
dozens of

elementary school

classroom
s and two after
-
school sites in th
e United
States, and
multiple
classrooms in Australia,
Denmark
Singapore, and Malaysia.
QA was released in Beta
form on January 15, 2003 and, at the writing of this manuscript (June 1, 2003), has over 2000 registered
participants who have successfully comp
leted thousands of the Quests

engaging curricular tasks that are
connected to academic standards and our social commitments. We have also documented statistically
significant learning gains in science, language arts, and social studies content.


While comp
uter
-
based in design,
Q
A

is more than a technological innovation: we regard it as a
cultural innovation, which is at some sites

given a technological implementation, but at other sites, only a
traditional (i.e., paper
-
based) form. In this way, we regard ou
rselves as what Laurel (2001) calls “culture
workers,” or what Postman (1992) calls “loving resistance fighters.” We scaffold
contextualized
participatory learning

as a strategy to improve our world, and we consider the technology as “never
inevitable” but

only as a means toward that end (Postman,

1992,

p. 185). Still, Postman allows that “each
person must decide to enact these ideas” (p. 185), and while he proposes an “otherworldly” education
system free of relevance to “the problems of today” (p. 185), we

find that the value of our work is in its
ability to bring the students’ work and dialogue to bear directly on the problems threatening both the
fictional world of “Atlantis” and our own world.


In terms of the design of technologies for learning, the

fi
eld of Instructional
Design has
successfully applied a host of systematic design models to develop

numerous artifacts
that have supported
learning (Heinich, Molenda, Russell & Smaldino, 1996). While these models are especially useful in
supporting
human
-
co
mputer interaction
designs
as tested in usability studies
, they

may not be as effective

when designing for complex, human
-
human interactions that are mediated by technology and that shift
overtime and
are responsive to

different contexts

(Nardi, 1996)
.


W
e believe that c
omplex goals

involving social interaction

are inadequately met by on
e
-
time
analyses or even iterative design models and instead require designing for sociability and
the production
A Game without Guns
3

of designs (both process and product) that are

flexibly ada
ptive
to local needs
(Schwartz, Lin, Brophy, &
Bransford, 1999
; Squire, Barnett, MaKinster, Luehmann, & Barab,
2003
).
W
e view the design process
not as producing a “thing,” but rather as the development of a series of participant structures and activity
se
ts that are as much about process as they are about product.
Additionally, designers
whose focus is on
supporting evolving social interaction do not design

learning but are designing
for

learning with the goal
of producing
a seed context out of which meani
ngful interactions and resultant learning will occur (Barab,
Kling, & Gray, in press). The process of scaling up these interventions so that they will be taken up at
new contexts that were not part of the initial design work is a process that

involves
cont
inual

re
design,
fitting, and ada
ptation for local circumstances

(Barab & Luehmann,
2003
).

More generally, our work has engaged a process that we refer to as
empowerment design
, which
involves building socio
-
technical structures that transform both individu
als and their communities. This
process has involved balancing many tensions and negotiating countless “sticky situations
.
” An artifact
designed to foster learning must, by definition, be educative. However, if, as in our case, it is also
to be
regarded as

a game, it must be entertaining or it will simply not engage the user. Furthermore, we are
inspired by our commitment to advancing the altruistic agenda of empowering children and their
communities. More specifically, our work has involved the development

of Q
A
, a learning and teaching
environment that uses a multi
-
user
virtual
environment to immerse children, ages 9
-
13, in educational
tasks. Building on strategies from online role
-
playing games, Q
A

combines strategies used in the
commercial gaming environ
ment with lessons from educational research on learning and motivation.
Additionally, we see QA as a vehicle for advancing our social agenda of empowering individuals and
communities. Collectively, these three
features

create a
new focus for design and res
ult

in a product that
is not a game yet remains engaging, is not a lesson yet fosters learning, and is not evangelical yet still
nurtures a social agenda.
In this manuscript, we treat our work as a design experiment (Brown, 1992;
Collins, 1999; Edelson, 2
002), describing

both
the “ready
-
made” environment

and the complex issues
that characterize its implementation

in a manner that
we hope will be useful to

others
engaging
in
similar

design work.


Theoretical Framework

The theoretical framework for the proje
ct, while informed by the disparate backgrounds and
commitments of the researchers, may be traced to a large extent to the early twentieth century writings of
Vygotsky, whose pioneering work continues to inform even such current theoretical discussions as
activity theory (e.g., Engeström, 1987), sociocultural constructivism (e.g., Duffy & Cunningham, 1996;
A Game without Guns
4

Rogoff, 1990), distributed cognition (e.g., Cole & Engeström, 1993), and situated learning (e.g., Barab &
Duffy, 2000 Lave & Wenger, 1991). So sweeping i
s his influence, and so diverse are applications of his
work, that we should outline the aspects of Vygotsky’s thought as it frames our research. Many writers
have identified central components of Vygotsky’s work
.

Wertsch (1985), for example, describes thr
ee
core themes
of

Vygotsky’s theoretical framework, including his developmental model and his emphasis
on social processes and on the mediating tools and signs. In our work we find five similar themes derived
from Vygotsky: human development, social constr
uctivism, Marxist activity, children’s play, and the
zone of proximal development (ZPD).

A core tenet of Vygotsky’s thought, that the development of cognition depends on social
interaction, brings together three of these themes, namely human development, s
ocial constructivism, and
the ZPD. For Vygotsky (1981
, p. 75
), development is “the conversion of social relations into mental
functions,” an understanding of human development unequivocally social in orientation. Indeed,
Vygotsky not only defines developme
nt in social terms but, in contrast to such developmental
psychologists as Piaget who regard learning as dependent on development, asserts the primacy of
learning, which itself provokes developmental processes. Characteristic of sociocultural constructivis
m,
the assertion that human cognition and development have their roots in social activity has as its basis
Vygotsky’s notion of the ZPD, or “the discrepancy between a child’s actual mental age and the level he
reaches in solving problems with assistance” (
Vygotsky, 1934/1986, p. 187). That is, achievement within
the ZPD depends upon social interaction, such as guidance and collaboration.

In addition to these themes in Vygotsky’s work, our project drew upon two more, Marxist activity
and children’s play. Fro
m the Marxist perspective, human thought and behavior transpire within a social
context, and for Vygotsky, this social context provides the key to development: the use of language as a
tool. Such an emphasis on tools supports “the Marxian position that soc
ially organized labor activity,
which is founded on the use of technical tools, is the basic condition of human existence (Driscoll, 2000,
p. 242), and indeed, Lave (1988) makes a similar argument, noting that “cognition is constituted in
dialectical relat
ions among people acting, the contexts of their activity, and the activity itself” (p. 148).
This Marxist perspective informs much current work in situated cognition (Barab & Plucker, 2002)

and
activity theory (e.g., Engeström, 1987) by addressing the cont
ext of social activity, including the
instruments by which the individual mediates the environment (Jonassen, Tessmer, & Hannum, 1999,
p.159); by “mediate” Vygotsky means that “the individual actively modifies the stimulus situation as a
part of the proces
s of responding to it” (Cole & Scribner, 1978, p. 14). The social activity that underlies
consciousness, then, is predicated upon the use of mediators including language itself.

A Game without Guns
5

In addition to the forgoing themes, our research reflects a less widely discus
sed concern of
Vygotsky’s, that of play. Consistent with the framework established above is Vygotsky’s novel stance
toward play:

The old adage that child’s play is imagination in action must be reversed: we can say that
imagination in adolescents and schoo
l children is play without action. (1933/1978, p. 93)

Again we find in Vygotsky’s words an emphasis on the apriority of activity, and indeed, this conception
of play integrates with the body of Vygotsky’s thought: he writes, for example, that “play creates

a zone
of proximal development
for

the child. In play
,

a child always behaves beyond his average age, above his
daily behavior” (1933/1978, p. 102). To elaborate, Vygotsky argues that through play the child can
engage in forms of communication and rule st
ructures that are unreachable in more explicit contexts,
helping the child to realize tendencies and desires and engage meanings that cannot be indulged in any
other way. Further, Vygotsky considers dramatic play to be a “leading activity” in the developme
nt of
young children (Elkonin, 1978; Leontiev, 1978) and argues that “the influence of play on a child’s
development is enormous … It is a novel form of behavior liberating the child from constraints”
(1933/1978, pp. 94
-
95). In this way, play becomes a sca
ffolding activity that expands the child’s ZPD,
engaging issues and debates that are not confronted directly through participation in society or even
through the normal curriculum of schools (Barab & Jackson, 200
3
). Said simply, while engaged in play a
chi
ld can function “a head above himself” (Vygotsky, 1933/1978, p. 74). It is important to clarify that for
Vygotsky, play is not simply an imaginary activity somehow distinct from the “real world,” nor is play an
unrestricted, “free” activity: rather, play o
ffers a context that is constituted by constraints of all kinds

although different and potentially liberating from many social constraints
in
which the child’s behavior
occurs. An important challenge for designers working to leverage play to support learni
ng and the
embracing of particular social commitments is to determine which constraints

need to be implemented

and how these are framed so that they are useful and meaningful to the child.

While the other themes informed our work quite consciously, it was
only in returning to the
literature that we found this theme in Vygotsky’s work: until finding that Vygotsky had already
explicated play in terms of his theoretical framework, we dealt with conceptualizations derived from other
writings in the field. For e
xample, discussing interactive narrative, Murray (1997) draws upon
Winnicott’s account of play: like Vygotsky, Winnicott emphasizes the role of a mediating or “liminal”
object and the construction of meaning in the context of a “facilitating environment” (
Winnicott, 1971, p.
89). That Winnicott also emphasizes “the
preoccupation

that characterizes the playing of a young child”
and compares it to “the
concentration

of older children and adults” (1971, p. 51, all emphases in original)
A Game without Guns
6

brings another area of r
esearch to inform our understanding. Central to Csikszentmihalyi’s (1990) theory
of flow

the sense of enjoyable, unselfconscious engagement

is the importance of concentration, which
itself may bring about some of the other components of flow (p. 67). The e
xperience of flow, like that of
play, derives from a concentrated effort and results in the development of new skills. For
Csikszentmihalyi and Vygotsky alike, then, concentrated engagement ultimately leads to self
development, and accordingly, our concept
ion of play was not redefined but, rather, supported by
considering Vygotsky’s stance toward play. Further, through considering these different conceptions, we
brought a critical perspective to our discussion of play and came to recognize the need for not
just
engagement but reflection (cf. Schön, 1987). Such an understanding of play, founded on Vygotsky and
supported by the work of Winnicott, Csikszentmihalyi, and others, we call “critical engagement” and
address briefly in the discussion below of core the
mes emerging from our study.


The Triadic Foundation for Design

While in the initial stages of our work we were not clear on the design outcome, we embrace
d

what we have come to understand as the “triadic foundation” that underlies our work (see Figure 1).

Specifically, this involves design work that sits at the intersection of education, entertainment, and our
social commitments.
We have worked to understand how to develop a

game without guns


that provides
excitement without violence, a girl
-
friendly env
ironment that still is attractive to boys, that includes
inquiry
-
based and experiential activities that are in alignment with standards and that can be assessed for
learning gains
, and that is committed to making the world a better place
.

Below, we briefly

overview each
of the
sides of the triangle
that
make up
the foundation out of, and through, which our work evolves.

[insert Figure 1 about here]


Education:
Designing For Learning
.

It is generally accepted that learners should be involved in doing domain
-
related activities, not
simply receiving the results of someone else’s activities as summarized in texts or as heard in lectures.
Underlying the development of
QA

learning tasks, QA Units, and the experience of QA more generally is
a participatory framewo
rk that stresses action
(hands on)
and reflection
(minds on)
as components
central
to the learning process
, and treats context as co
-
determining meaning (Barab, Cherkes
-
Julkowski,
Swenson, Garrett, Shaw
,

& Young, 1998)
. This notion of an active learner eng
aged in real
-
world
activities is central to the child
-
centered, experientially
-
focused, and inquiry
-
based learning environments
being advocated in the literature and is consistent with current frameworks and plans for educational
A Game without Guns
7

reform (
Bransford, Brown,
& Cocking, 2002; NRC, 1999)
. Underlying our interpretation and application
of a participatory framework to guide the design of QA is our belief that there is an intimate and
necessary relationship between actual experience and education.
O
ur design work is

grounded in three
schools of thought on learning: experiential learning, inquiry
-
based learning, and portfolio assessment.


There have been numerous scholars and learning theorists who advocate for the core
characteristics of experiential learning (Dew
ey, 1938; Kolb,
1984
): the belief that learning involves real
-
world participation, the belief in the intimate relations between experience and education, the certainty
that understandings are derived from and modified through experience, and the conviction

that action and
reflection are necessary features
of
meaningful learning. However, advocating for the necessity of
experience does not mean that all experiences are equally educational (Dewey, 1909/1965). Experiential
learning that involves meaningless ac
tion neither liberates the learner nor changes society (Freire, 1970).
While
we

recognize the necessity of experience,
our

design work is also grounded in
sound pedagogy

and
is
, at the same time, connected to our guiding social commitments.

Further, one ca
nnot embed experience
in design but rather can only design
for

experience with the goal being t
he

establish
ment of

a motivating
context that is seeded with potentiality.

In this light, the challenge may be regarded as a design that
affords a learning exper
ience,
yet
, as Gibson (1979) emphasized, the
affordance

will

lie dormant unless
realized

by the user. Coupled with the
potential for educative experience
, then,

must be the
salience of
that potential
:
it must be not only apparent to the user but positively

inviting
; it must be
both
readily
available and keenly anticipated.

In terms of inquiry
-
based learning, t
here is broad consensus among educators and psychologists
from a variety of
fields that students learn

best when the learning process involves inquiry

as opposed
to
the memorization of the facts and principles that result from someone else’s inquiry
(Barab & Hay, 2001;
Bransford,
Brown, & Cocking,
2002). Inquiry requires students to actively participate in the learning
process (AAAS, 1993; NRC,
1999
). I
t is frequently collaborative and affected by available tools and local
conditions. It involves supporting students in taking ownership over the learning process, and focuses on
learning with understanding. Inquiry
-
based learning leverages students’ natura
l curiosity to make sense of
the world. While engaging in inquiry activities, students refine questions, gather data, evaluate
information, develop plausible interpretations, and reflect on findings to answer initial and emergent
questions (Krajcik, Blumen
feld, Marx, & Soloway, 1994).
Still, bound within the scope of the questions
posed by the designer, inquiry
-
based learning necessarily involves constraints, and a significant tradeoff
involves interesting the student in the intentions of the designer. The
privileging of one form over another
must be a deliberate design decision (Bass, 1999), one informed by a consistent theoretical framework.
A Game without Guns
8

Moreover, as Murray (1997) writes, “in an interactive medium the interpretive framework is embedded in
the rules by
which the system works and in the way in which participation is shaped” (p. 89), so the
structuring of inquiry
-
based learning within the context of QA would depend on an explicit a priori
stance.
Designing for inquiry, in our interpretation, has involved u
sing techniques associated with
problem
-
based learning (Savery & Duffy, 1996), introducing engaging challenges and providing
resources for producing learner
-
owned solutions.

All too often
,

assessment is treated as an activity that is distinct from the lear
ning process and
from authentic participation
,

and

that

involves determining the extent to which the completed work meets
some standardized criteria of success (Wiggins, 1992)
. With a commitment towards assessment
techniques that capture and consequently r
einforce
student
-
owned

work
,
many educators have adopted
p
ortfolio assessments
. Th
is

type of assessment

allow
s

educators to examine what students can produce
when using authentic tools and resources and confronting realistic problems (Mabry, 1999). Portfol
io
assessment allows educators to validate and encourage real
-
world activities, with assessment focused on
the quality of student work as part of these experiences as well as their reflection on the produced work.
Portfolio assessment is particularly valua
ble when evaluating outcomes that result from experiential and
inquiry
-
based learning (e.g., action plans, interviews, scrapbooks, presentations, stories).

Still, while
portfolios facilitate more holistic understanding
s

of a student’
s capacities, their ass
essment still poses a
challenge, and indeed, the place of rubrics is prominent in
the
discussion of portfolio assessment. To this
end, QA has developed a range of means
for
addressing this including providing adaptive rubrics, making
available exemplars o
f

student work, and apprenticing novice reviewers. Further,
the

chronology

of
critical response from
teachers and peer
-
reviewers accompanies student work, and, at the student’s option,
this is made available to
both
teachers and students alike,
bringing
the

entire
educational venture out of
the black box for

inspection

as well as inspiration.


Entertainment:
Designing for Engagement
.


Children today are growing up in an exciting and changing world of communication and media.
We are seeing television, digita
l technology, the
Internet
, videogames, mobile phones, and personal
desktop
and wireless
devices creating novel ways
for children
to play, to express themselves, to learn, to
communicate, and to explore texts, ideas, and even identities (Willet, 200
1
). How
ever, while modern
media and producers of pop culture have developed many profoundly entertaining products that engage
our children (video games, films, television shows, etc.) (Jenkins,
1998
; Squire, 2001), examples of
materials that support learning

are
few in number and, moreover, rarely integrated with activities in the
A Game without Guns
9

school setting
.

T
his is particularly true with respect to video games, which have been the target of
constant criticism on the part of concerned parents and educators

(Squire, 2001)
. In
contrast, the
education and design community has developed many curricula and contexts to support learning but has
not necessarily captured the interests and motivations of children.
In fact, a common strategy adopted by
the entertainment industry is to de
velop contexts for participation that have elements of challenge,
curiosity, play, and control (Cordova & Lepper, 1996). However, we would argue that it would be quite
rare to have a textbook company (or even a classroom teacher) consider how their unit pl
ans leverage
these four elements.
More generally, instead of learning from the success of modern media and pop
culture producers, educators have
distanced themselves

from those who are most successful in engaging
our children.

One of the most exciting dev
elopments in interactive electronic entertainment has been the
popularization of persistent virtual worlds (often referred to as Massively Multi
-
Player Online Role
Playing Games), such as Everquest (
http://
www.everquest.com), Asheron’s Call
(
http://
www.ash
eronscall.com), and Ultima Online (
http://
www.ultima.online) (Simpson, 2000
),
three
worlds
which
each
support tens of thousands of users each day. These environments grow out of the
tradition of Multiuser Dungeons (MUDs), or text
-
based environments where p
layers collaborate to
engage in combat, create virtual identities, design environment
s
, or simply participate in text
-
based chats
(Bartle, 1996; Kollock & Smith, 1999). Koster (2000) argues that persistent virtual worlds are defined by
(a) a spatial repres
entation of the virtual world, (b) avatar representation within the space, and (c) a
sandbox in which to play, offering persistence for some amount of the data represented within the virtual
world. These environments frequently provide a meta
-
context throu
gh which participant behaviors are
given meaning. How to establish a meta
-
game context that would engage academic learning
has been

an
important challenge
in

our work.

Since desktop computers with powerful graphics
and Internet
capabilities have become rea
dily
affordable by schools, multi
-
user virtual environments
(MUVEs)
now provide an intriguing complement
to real world and laboratory settings

(Haynes & Holmevik, 1998)
, and their potential is the topic of
diverse research
.
Bruckman (1998)
has been studyin
g

how children create and share artifacts as a means
of learning programming and collaborative skills in the textual MUVE MOOSE Crossing
(http://www.cc.gatech.edu/elc/moose
-
crossing/) and in the graphical MUVE AquaMOOSE 3d
(http://www.cc.gatech.edu/elc/aqu
amoose/). Corbit
and
DeVarco's (2000) Vlearn3d group has been using
the ActiveWorlds Educational Universe to investigate how graphical MUVEs can aid science learning
(http://www.vlearn3d.org/). Bers and Cassell (2000)
study

how children construct identity
in a MUVE
A Game without Guns
10

(
http://lcs.www.media.mit.edu/~marinau/Zora/
) through sharing stories to form a virtual therapeutic
community. Dede (
2002
) has been developing and researching River City, which uses a M
ulti
-
user
Virtual Environment Experiential Simulator (MUVEES) to introduce an engaging multi
-
user virtual
environment that teaches science concepts in a way that draws on curiosity and play
(
http://www.virt
ual.gmu.edu/muvees
).

The design of shared virtual environments for learning draws on a foundation of work on
computer

interface
s as theatre (Laurel, 1991), the representation of the self in virtual settings (Turkle,
1995), the design of educational simul
ation environments (Orlansky & Thorpe, 1991), the design of
shared virtual environments for entertainment (Morningstar & Farmer, 1991)
, the possibility for
interactively
unfolding narrative (Murray, 1997),

and others (McClellan, 1996)
. A core component of
many of these MUVEs and of
role
-
playing games

in particular

is that the user assumes a role
(e.g., knight,
wizard
, animal)
within the game context. In role
-
playing games
,

the person’s attributes persist from one
session to the next and are saved within the

user’s avatar, that is, a virtual placeholder symbolizing the
user’s identity in the virtual space and allowing the user to interact with the environment (Damar, 1997;
Poole, 2000). The avatar itself is the vehicle through which the user interacts with th
e environment; the
avatar develops
a customized look, a status, and a character as it interacts with the avatars of other
members
, allowing the
individual
to experiment with different aspects of his

or
her identity (Bruckman
,
1998
; Donath, 1999; Turkle, 19
9
4
).


In the highly successful
Sims Online™
game (
http://thesims.ea.com/
), players actually
experiment with realistic social dynamics such as sharing an apartment with multiple roommates in which
one
may
adopt an unt
rained dog or get fired
from a job,
to the frustration and angst of the other
roommates.
We have attempted to leverage this role of avatars in Quest Atlantis by developing a role
-
playing game and a larger meta
-
context that would
imbue

student avatars with
meaning that
relates
not
only to their game functioning but to their real
-
world participation.

In this way, and unlike most “shoot
-

em
-
up” role
-
playing environments, our goal was to develop a MUVE that would support transfer as
players become avatars whose

virtual identity is based on the ability of the player to complete real
-
world
activities.


Social Commitments:
Designing for Change
.


Education is not simply a process of replicating the existing structures of society, but a process
for empowering and pr
oviding opportunities for all members of society to better understand themselves
and the world in which they live.

However, s
everal researchers have found that modern schools serve to
A Game without Guns
11

maintain existing power structures that disempower certain segments of s
ociety while exalting others.
Freire (1970),

for example,

in discussing the “pedagogy of the oppressed,” began the process of exposing
power inequities within and propagated by the Brazilian educational system. Valenzuela (1999) referred
to the disempoweri
ng effects of United States public schools (“subtractive schooling”) on Mexican
-
American youth, explaining how children’s identities are siphoned away by schools negatively impacting
their education and their empowerment in society. She further indicted sc
hools stating, “rather than
centering students’ learning around a moral ethic of caring that nurtures and values relationships, schools
pursue a narrow, instrumentalist logic”
(
Valenzuela, 1999
,

p. 22)
with a focus on imparting
a

culture on
young people wh
o may not identify with it and who may, indeed, be harmed by this sort of neo
-
cultural
imperialism

(Valenzuela, 1999).
Kozol

(1991)
,
whos
e

widely cited books scathingly expose
disempowering inequalities in our public education system, was actually repriman
ded when he attempted
to empower his
inner
-
city poverty stricken students
by
reading the poetry of Langston Hughes. School
officials called this “inflammatory”

(Kozol, 1991).



Some have argued that research

and we argue design

should be grounded in soci
al
commitments that empower. Fine (1996), for example, promoted anthropological research “which
empowers as it exposes, which offers critique as it reveals not only what is not but what could be” (p. 16).
Reason (1994) advocated for “participatory action r
esearch,” referring to work that explicitly seeks to
empower both groups and individuals. Delgado
-
Gaitan and Trueba (1991) developed a framework called
the “Ethnography of Empowerment,” which seeks to uncover disempowering structures leading to the
eventua
l empowerment of disenfranchised communities. Levinson (1998), in support of brin
g
ing a
n
empowering

social commitment
to research

wrote:

The justification for [applied] research does not derive solely from theoretical
considerations; it derives from a perc
eived problem in need of solution, or an opportunity
for humane intervention. (p. 86)

It is our view that empowerment lies at the heart of not only education but also design work. By working
to empower all, we empower ourselves and society at large. With t
he central theme of empowerment
firmly ensconced in our research, design, implementation
,

and evaluation
practices, we
infuse our work
with meaning
.

Applied or “critical” ethnographers are committed to exposing unequal power structures

and

advocating for

the social consequences of anthropological work (Freire, 197
0
; Levinson, 1998). This
work takes a step towards bringing a transformative agenda to the more value
-
neutral, traditional
ethnographic or anthropological approach. The goal in this work is to un
cover, expose and deconstruct
A Game without Guns
12

those power structures that serve to subjugate a segment of a population (Glesne, 1999). Said simply,
critical ethnography seeks to empower the people it aims to understand. Barab
, Thomas, Dodge,
Goodrich, Carteaux, and Tuzun
(
2003
) argue that

… while critical ethnography does embrace a social commitment or ‘critique’ and, as
such, has value added over traditional ethnographic accounts, it does not necessarily
package this critique in a manner that can be used by others who wer
e not part of the site
in which the critique was developed
,

thereby limiting its potential impact. (p. 2)

The field of instructional design has produced countless designed products and has even developed
numerous principles for designing them. While these
well
-
designed programs, software applications, and
even online communities have supported deep understandings and new practices, less common in this
design work is an altruistic agenda that has the goal of exposing and transforming inequities. It is in the

service of an altruistic agenda that we have taken up “empowerment design” work, which has at its core
the goal of supporting users and those communities which t
ake

part in their own transformation.


At a minimum, this work requires that designers enmesh

themselves in local contexts to
collaboratively

work with those people the work seeks to empower. A core challenge facing the

design
ethnographer


is how to reify the critique and resultant social commitments into a design that will be
taken up and
will
be
useful for individuals in contexts beyond
those

on

which the initial ethnographic
work was based
; that is, design ethnography as a methodological process for conducting empowerment
design work involves r
eifying the social commitments and emergent critiq
ue into an artifact that can be
used by people in contexts beyond those in which the initial ethnographic work was carried out
.

The
empowerment design process, while benign in theory, is complex business that exposes power struggles

and
controversial issue
s of intentionality and
ethnocentrism

in addition to conflicting struggles around
ownership. In this manuscript, we describe our resultant and evolving design work centered
on

QA
.
W
hile
we do describe the “ready
-
made artifact,”
our
focus
is
on

the core des
ign challenges that we have
confronted as we engaged in our design
and implementation
work.


Methods


Our design process for this project can be thought of as an example of design
-
based research or
what Brown and Collins referred to as “design experiments.
” The methodological paradigm of “design
experiments” was introduced by Collins (1992) and Brown (1992) who advocated for a new
methodological approach for carrying out research and design work in the context of real
-
life settings. In
communicating the act
ivity and the need, Brown (1992) stated
,

A Game without Guns
13

As a design scientist in my field, I attempt to engineer innovative educational
environments and simultaneously conduct experimental studies of those innovations. This
involves orchestrating all aspects of a period
of daily life in classrooms, a research
activity for which I was not trained (p. 141)
.

Design
-
based research involves introducing innovations into the booming, buzzing confusion of real
-
world practice (as opposed to constrained laboratory contexts) and exa
mining the impact of those designs
on the learning process (Barab,
Hay, Barnett, & Keating
, 2001; Hoadley, 200
2
). Lessons learned are then
cycled back into the next iteration of the design innovation. Roth (1998) found that

because of the closeness to the
classroom, design experiments constitute research efforts that
are not only suitable to generate theory from practice, but

because of the thick descriptions
they can provide

inform practice and practitioners in meaningful ways (p. xvii)
.

Said another way,
because design experiments develop theory in practice, they can lead to interventions
that are trustworthy, credible, transferable, and ecologically valid (Barab, Hay, Barnett, & Squire, 2001).


The process of carrying out empowerment design work adds ano
ther layer of complexity to
the

already complex process

of instructional design
.
One is no longer

simply designing an artifact to deliver
pre
-
defined content or to support a process in which the final product is
already known
. Instead,
empowerment design w
ork involves engaging participants in activities that expose inequities, stirring
interest in complicated issues, and stimulating local ownership over the entire process. Empowerment
design work brings together critical ethnography, instructional design, a
nd social activism with a focus on
producing a designed artifact and process that at its core has the goal of
facilitating

individual and societal
transformation (Grills, 1998), creating ties to action research (Eden & Huxham, 1996; McNiff, 1995;
Stringer,

1996; Wells, 1999) and critical ethnography (Freire, 1970; Levinson, 1998). However, where the
action researcher and the critical ethnographer stop at the already daunting task of supporting change in
one particular context
,

the design ethnographer has th
e added challenge of reifying this critique and
associated social commitments into a design that can be taken up and usefully integrated into other
contexts.

Given the above complexities, our agenda
of empowerment design involves the process of

design
eth
nography
.
As a brief overview,
design ethnography

involves four components: (1) developing a “thick
description” of one context, (2) developing a series of social commitments that have local and global
significance, (3) reifying these understandings and co
mmitments into a design, and (4) supporting scaling
up and local customization (see
Barab, Thomas, Dodge, Carteaux, Tuzun, & Goodrich, 2003
a and Barab,
Thomas, Dodge, Carteaux, Tuzun, & Goodrich, 2003b

for more in
-
depth discussion of this process).
This
A Game without Guns
14

pr
ocess involves design work coupled with the continual production of
naturalistic interpretations based
on both qualitative and quantitative data
over extended time frames and at multiple sites
; it

involve
s

using
multiple data sources and continual
ly

cyclin
g
between the processes of

data collection, coding, and
analysis, with the lessons learned at each step being used to direct the subsequent process
es (Guba &
Lincoln, 198
9
; Scriven, 1983; Stake, 19
78
, 1995)
. Qualitative data collection efforts
target

the e
volving
technical structures (e.g., websites, developed artifacts at the Centers, design decisions) as well as the
social relationships, interactions,
member
-
produced work, and conversations (online and face
-
to
-
face)
through which these structures are info
rmed and take on meaning.
Further, we did not treat the structures
and relationships separately, but instead used
ethnographic procedures and specifically, participant
observation, interviews, and member checking to better understand the social issues as t
hey relate to the
implementation of Q
A
.

The interpretations presented here are
derived largely from the qualitative data
, collected by ten
researchers over a 30
-
month period from multiple locations both here in the United States and overseas.

In understa
nding the data, we began by reflecting on our experiences and the data to produce a list of the
issues that were important for understanding QA.
However, these issues were not isolated episodes or
self
-
contained themes that existed independently of each ot
her.
Rather
than
conceiving
of
these issues as
episodes or periods
,

we think of the
m

as braids

that
, when described as a collective, form the tapestry that
is QA. While it is common to look to the design
ed

(technical)

artifacts as QA, a richer and more use
ful
perspective can be gleaned from an appreciation of the complex

(
socio
-
technical
)

issues that have
surrounded the development and implementation of QA. In identifying which issues to highlight, we
examined our field notes,
submitted articles
,
reviewed
e
mail exchanges, student work,
and
interviews, and
reflected on our first
-
hand experiences so as to develop a useful list of those
braids

that were most
significant to the project and that would be most useful to others. This process resulted in the
identif
ication of
four

braids

that are presented in the Core Themes section of the results

following the
discussion of the
flexibly
adaptive design itself
:
Creating a Vision, the Participatory Design Process,
Developing a Meta
-
Context,
and
Supporting
Local Custom
ization.

First, however, in order to
contextualize the reader we will describe the technical design with the caveat that this is simply a
fragmented part of the larger socio
-
technical design that constitutes QA in situ.


Flexibly
Adaptive

Design

A core com
ponent of role
-
playing games is that the user assumes a role within the game context.
In QA, the child is assigned the task of using the virtual environment and responding to the associated
A Game without Guns
15

Quests
(developmentally appropriate activities that include
a
task

description, specific goals, and useful
resources)
so as to help the Council of Atlantis restore lost wisdom. The Q
A

storyline

(or myth)
,
associated structures, and policies constitute what is referred to as a meta
-
game in the commercial gaming
sector.
A
meta
-
game refers to a genre of play in which there is an overall uber structure that lends form,
meaning, and cohesion to collection of nested activities or games
,

all of which have their own identifiable
rules and challenges. This uber structure creates a

boundary condition that unites the individual actions
and outcomes of these otherwise disparate activities.
Specifically, the Q
A

meta
-
game consists of several
key elements:



A shared mythological context that establishes and supports Quest Atlantis activit
ies;



A set of online spaces through which children, mentors (local staff, older children, or teachers),
and
Atlanti
an

characters

can interact with each other;



A well
-
defined advancement system centered on pedagogically valid activities that encourage
acade
mic and social learning;



Regalia and rewards associated with advancement and wisdom; and



An individual
Home Page
for each child, showing their advancement and serving as a repository
for their work.

Through this meta
-
context, Quests and member behaviors ar
e targeted and instilled with meanings, with
its primary function being both structural (providing a cohesive framework) and motivational (providing
an engaging context to stimulate participation and learning). However, in contrast to traditional role
-
play
ing games, one’s game identity and activity in Q
A

are dependent on the
student
’s ability to leave the
virtual environment to accomplish Quests in the physical world.

At one level, QA is a multi
-
user virtual
environment that immerses children in educational

tasks as part of an online adventure to save Atlantis
from impending disaster. However, rather than conceptualizing the Q
A

project as a computer program,
it

might best
be viewed

as a virtual space designed to support online
as well as

face
-
to
-
face communi
t
ies.

In
this way, identity within QA might best be considered a sheltered extension of one’s daily self, rather than
a fiction
,
experiment
, or substitute
.

The QA community consists of both the virtual space and the face
-
to
-
face QA Centers. In order
to par
ticipate in QA, children must be associated with a particular QA Center (such as participating
elementary schools, Boys and Girls Clubs, local libraries) and register on the Website. Once
student
s are
registered, they may use
the QA
software at a participa
ting Center or from other locations with Internet
access.
When the QA software first opens,
student
s are presented with a split screen in the interface
window: on the left is the virtual environment through which
student
s can explore, interact with others,

A Game without Guns
16

and find Quests; on the right is a side
-
bar browser, opening
web
pages to support the QA experience

(see
Figure 2)
. The virtual space is organized into different 3D worlds, and by using
their
avatar
s
,
student
s can
move through these wor
lds, meet the avata
rs of
other
student
s, participate in communal activities, and
explore different Quests. The interface features toolbar options for customizing the experience, along with
a function for text
-
based chatting. The virtual world presents links that open Quest p
ages and other QA
pages in the side
-
bar. The most important details are shown
in Figure 2
.

[insert Figure 2 about here]

The pages that open in the right side of

the QA interface perform different functions,

but they
behave in a similar manner: they all pr
esent summary information in the side
-
bar, and this information
can be opened in a larger pop
-
up window for viewing and

editing

(see Figure 3 for the most common
features of the side
-
bar)
.

The

side
-
bar pages
host custom Home Pages,
introduce Quests, announ
ce

timely
news, and serve other fu
nctions. These pages are opened
when the user

click
s


hot


objects in the virtual
3D
space.

Other QA activities extend beyond the virtual space: for example,
student
s develop and

submit
their work on Quests, and they commu
nicate with each other and with the

Atlantis Council. The pages in
the side
-
bar also support these activities by offering information on each
student
’s work, providing tools
for sending e
-
mail

within QA, and giving each
student

a custom Home Page that othe
r
student
s can visit.

The Home Page is the default page in the side
-
bar, and the other pages are opened by

clicking the
navigation links.

There is also a Teacher Toolkit which the teachers can
use to
register
student
s in their
classroom,
register Quests fo
r their particular classroom, review student work,
assign
student

work

to
other
student
s

for review
,
assign awards to individual
student
s, and keep track of student emails and chat
entries

(see the QA teacher manual:
http://atlantis.crlt.indiana.edu/qamanual.pdf
)
.

[insert Figure 3 about here]

By moving their avatar through the
on
-
screen
environment, citizens travel to virtual worlds where
they can read about and listen to the themes of th
ese worlds, complete Quests, talk with other children and
with mentors, and build their virtual personae. Members travel through virtual villages and worlds to
locate and complete quests.
The virtual space is divided into worlds, and each world is divided
into 3
villages that hold up to 25 quests

(see Figure
4
)
. Each Village has a

title reflecting a

theme

for example,
community power, all about us, animal habitats, water quality, creepy crawlers, words of meaning

and
an associated series of engaging Quests.

The themes were designed to span
diverse
areas of knowledge
and feature something for almost everyone, yet still
overlap
academic categories. Each Village houses a
spectrum of Quests (engaging academic tasks that take from 20 minutes to 1 week to complete
) ranging
from simulation to application problems of varying levels of complexity.

A Game without Guns
17

[insert Figure
4

about here]

Completing Quests requires that
student
s participate in real
-
world, socially and academically
meaningful activities, such as conducting environ
mental field studies, interviewing families and friends,
researching community problems, examining current events from multiple perspectives, writing
autobiographical anecdotes
, producing advocacy media, or developing real
-
world action plans. Each
Quest is

also connected to local academic standards and to at least one of our social commitments
,
discussed below
.
Student
s can select a number of these Quests based on their interests or as assigned by
their teacher if they are participating as part of a school.

The children’s work on Quests, which are
submitted through an interface integrated with the client software, includes both content
-
area findings and
personal reflections to foster retention, critical thinking, and meta
-
cognition. Both the
content
-
based
fi
ndings and the
personal, process
-
oriented reflections are assessed by
the teacher and/or other
student
s
.
In this way, the Quests bring together two traditionally disparate forces

the motivation of free
-
play and
the rigor of academics

and through a system o
f checks and balances, they scaffold children’s
exploration while ensuring
robust
content.
An important part of Quests is that they engage students in
academic work not simply for
grades but as part of the greater mission in
helping

the Council of Atlantis

rebuild their lost knowledge

this context of helping has proven quite compelling to girls.

By completing Quests, the
student

earns points as well as gains increased status in the virtual
environment. These points can be exchanged at the
Trading Post

for i
tems such as QA stationary, stickers

and
pins, and even trading cards about famous people

the latter has been a powerful form of motivation
in our initial work. Over time and after completing a series of Quests, the
student

can
gain world
privileges such a
s walking through objects

and flying
, and even gain building

privileges in the virtual
environment. Each member’s level of citizenship is publicly displayed in the Quest Atlantis “Hall of
Fame,” which lists all
student
s, their ranks,
and
accumulated points
,
with
links to
the

artifacts
they
created
.

Additionally,
student

home pages allow
student
s to develop an online persona
e
,
itself

a powerful
motivator for engaging participation in online worlds (Turkle, 1995)
, and m
oreover, these personae
contribute to fo
rmative identities or sense of self (Bers, 2001).
The bright and vivid colors of the worlds,
as opposed to the dark and gloomy look of many MUVEs designed by the entertainment industry, were
implemented in particular for engaging for girls.

Children’s work

on Quests includes actual Quest responses (text or uploaded
file
attachments)
and reflections, both of which are submitted through an online system that connects
student
s and the
“Council.” As part of the legend underlying
QA
, this Council is a group of A
tlant
i
ans committed to
staving off disaster by learning about the Earth by way of children. Council members are characters that
A Game without Guns
18

occasionally appear in
QA

videos, the 3D space, and other circumstances. The Council is actually a group
of staff, volunteers
,

a
nd even teachers (although the latter may communicate that they are a Council
helper to their students) who use the
Teacher Toolkit

space to evaluate and provide feedback on
children’s work. The 3D space also includes other structures that facilitate novic
e and expert use, allow
student
s to experience rudimentary 3D building, facilitate collaboration among members, support Socratic
events in which
student
s put their wisdom to the test, and a multitude of other activities that support
identification with the

Quest Atlantis experience and that help to actualize our social commitments and
support learning.

Children can
even

co
-
quest with each other
and

review other children’s Quests. Co
-
questing
involves two members completing the same Quest tasks and then eac
h uploading their own reflections.
Another process that we have integrated is that of guilds, a strategy adopted from the popular Microsoft
multiplayer online r
ole
-
playing game Asheron’s Call (Axelsson & Regan, 2002)
and that appears to be
motivating to gi
rls in particular. In
QA
, a guild is a large
,

long
-
term group that a
student

joins by pledging
allegiance to
other
student
s
. Through this act, the pledging player becomes the other player’s apprentice
and the other player his/her mentor. This relationship
forms a mutual exchange system in which the
apprentice automatically passes on a small percentage of
QA

points to his/her mentor, who typically will
support the apprentice in completing Quests and progressing in Quest Atlantis.

An

additional

comp
onent

tha
t support
s

implementation
is

the QA project unit plans
. The two

to
three
week long units aid

the teacher by
providing
a manageable implementation structure (an activity
set), which includes various Quests and some larger culminating activity such as childr
en developing

a

“world fair” to promote international awareness. Another unit plan focuses on environmental issues, with
children cleaning up
neglected
areas,
developing educational flyers,
and even
starting local recycling
programs
. There is also a divers
ity
unit

in which children produce a diversity affirmation book (a
collection of child
-
developed poems, stories, songs, pictures, artwork, etc.) and a diversity play in which
students
engage community issues as part of the script and perform at the local t
heat
er

for parents and
community members. The important point is that with currently over 400 Quests, 8 unit plans, and 25
starter activities
,

no teacher could possibly implement all QA activities. As such, when we do workshops
with teachers we introduce Q
A as a collection of resources, opportunities, and an engaging meta
-
game
structure that they can integrate in diverse ways to meet local implementation needs

a process we
describe in the next section.


Core Themes

A Game without Guns
19

Creating a Vision

An important
feature

of
effective

design work is that it is grounded in the life world
s

of those it
is
meant to
serve. Most instructional designers usually begin with some sort of needs or context analysis
(
Heinich, Molenda, Russell, & Smaldino, 1996
), to understand the potential

context of use. To be fair,
while we did spend time at multiple sites
including much

time at
one after
-
school site
in particular,
in the
beginning
we
naively
believed we had a fairly solid vision of what needed to be designed and we treated
these sites mo
re as usability sites than as places that would fundamentally change our vision (Barab,
Thomas, Dodge, Newell, & Squire,
in review)
.

Over time, however, they became less of a repository for
our pre
-
designed vision and more of a collaborative group
with who
m to
co
-
construct
a

vision of Q
A
.
This attitude
of treating potential and actual “users” of the system as collaborators
has permeated our
thinking and, two years later, we

continually

work to maintain this attitude as we scale up
the

project
.

One core cha
nge in our thinking during this period was
moving
from designing a learning
environment
simply for
content learning, to becoming what Laurel (
2001
) refer
s

to as “culture workers.”
We
spent more and more time
listening
, eventually choosing to build

an ethno
graphic account of one
after
-
school site

(Geertz, 197
6
)
,

and
conducting
interviews and focus groups with others, all of which
were

used to guide our future design work
.
Through this process, we uncovered much detail about the
various life worlds of the gro
ups with whom we design
ed

Q
A
. Moreover, we became committed to
empowerment design and to
designing with heart
. Quests, instead of simply supporting math and science
learning,
focused on

the social commitments we adopted
. A
s a result
,

we developed, for exam
ple, Unity
World with its associated villages of Community Power, Global Awareness, and All About Us

titles
capturing our commitment to empower the whole learner and nested communities with
whom

they
transact.

A core challenge facing critical anthropologi
sts and design ethnographers is defining the
particular social commitments that are adopted and to which the work is directed. Our experience was that
these social commitments were not imposed by us or simply produced
through

our readings
; i
nstead
,

they
we
re cooperatively uncovered and exposed through collaborations with our partners. It is not our role to
create problems but to position ourselves so that we are attuned to
potential

problems and to highlight
issues of concern
to

those with whom we
collabora
te
. We do not see ourselves as evangelists or crusaders,
but rather our agenda
has emerged collaboratively

and the focus of our design is
toward

a series of
participant structures
to

engage individuals and the culture more generally in exposing and transfo
rming
their own contexts.
This process continues

as children and their teachers inquir
e

into Quests, commenting
on problems in their community and developing
the
means
for

bringing about
meaningful
change.

A Game without Guns
20

In building a vision, an important first step is t
o spend time understanding the life
-
worlds of those
for whom we design.
We spent time learning about the television shows they liked to watch, the movies
that interested them, the games they liked to play, and what and who was considered “cool.” We asked
t
he children what they liked to do in school, at home, and with friends, and we observed them in the
computer lab at the Boys and Girls Club. We attempted to identify differences, such as which games the
girls liked to play and which most interested the boy
s. As much as possible, we worked to instantiate
these interests into our design work. For example, many boys collected trading cards of all kinds: they
liked collecting them, talking about them, and trading them. As such,
QA

trading cards were developed
w
ith the expectation that as students
earned points through Questing
, they could trade them in for cards.
Our trading cards represented real people who made important contributions to the world (e.g., Jacque
s

Cousteau, Mahatma Ghandi,
Mother Theresa
). The c
ards
listed

their positive contributions to the world
and included other traits the children would use to intellectually

flip


as they traded cards based on who
knew more about the
figures on the

cards. Girls liked plot and story, so we supported this wit
h a rich
back
-
story for our legend and worked to develop the characters as well as the
QA

plot
line
. Further,
in
places where
our plot was overly dramatic,
we found that children disengaged
: t
he
children were
accustomed to wit
ty banter
, so we watched leadin
g children’s
television
shows and used
such
banter

as
we found
to
revise our presentations
. This
further
resulted in the decision to develop

a comic book that
would make
important social issues accessible and
interesting

to children.

The evolving mission o
f QA is to support children in developing their own sense of
purpose

as
individuals, as members of their communities, and as
knowledgeable

citizens of the world. With this
mission in mind, we adopted seven social commitments and

associated

“t
-
shirt” slogan
s
that

underlie our
design decisions

(
Creative Expression
-

"I Express Myself
,”
Diversity Affirmation
-

"Everyone Matters
,
"
vP
ersonal Agency
-

"I Have Voice
,
" Social Responsibility
-

"We Can Make a Difference
,
" Environmental
Awareness
-

"Think Globally, Ac
t Locally
,
" Healthy Communities

-

"Live, Love, Grow
,
"

and
Compassionate Wisdom
-

"Be Kind
.
" These commitments are evident in the animated movies, the
emergent plotlines, the choice of topics for unit plans, the posters that
adorn

the walls at Centers, and

the
development of Quests. They provide a structure
for and add

meaning to
the development of

QA
. T
hey
are what drives our work and what continually excites the teachers to become involved in the project. In
fact, we have found that the most common reason

teachers
join QA is

to be involved in a project that is
connected to standards,

that

integrates technology, and

that

has meaningful social commitments.

A final aspect to the initial vision
relates to

good pedagogy
, s
pecifically, the commitment to
supporti
ng experiential
(Dewey, 1938; Kolb, 1984)
and inquiry
-
based learning

(Krajcik, Blumenfeld,
A Game without Guns
21

Marx, & Soloway, 1994)
, as well as to integrate portfolio
-
based assessment practices

(Wiggins, 1992)
.

In
QA we stress the need for both action and reflection, with
a focus on inquiry
-
based activities that support
the learner in generating information, in evaluating its relevance to real
-
world problems, in constructing
meanings in authentic settings, and in justifying the credibility of assertions.
This is most eviden
t in
Quests, which introduce a problem for inquiry and provide resources to support learner
s

in their inquiry.
These
inquiry
-
based activities are grounded in real
-
world issues and require the application of principles,
methods, and conceptual understanding
s associated with core disciplines.


The
Participatory Design

Process

Consistent with others involved in participatory design work (Gaver, 1996; Sanday, 1998;
Schuler & Namioka, 1993; Schwen, Godrum, & Dorsey, 1993
;
Schwen & Hara, in press; Wasson, 2000),
our design process has involved a collaborative posture in which those who implement the design work
also have a hand in its evolution. This began at our initial Boys and Girls Club site and has continued with
each workshop we do with new Center
s. The coll
aborations provide a

chance
for us to collectively
develop understandings

on
how to integrate
QA in
particular

contexts and, at the same time,
help

us
understand

how we can re
-
configure QA to better support
multiple contexts
. In contrast to the view that
w
e have some completed design to disseminate, we have found that maintaining a participatory posture
creates a better initial relationship with future Centers
,

and

helps us to learn from these
collaborations
. It
also

allows
the Centers
the freedom to implem
ent QA in a manner that meets their local needs
.
Throughout the design and implementation process we have considered children, staff, parents, and
ourselves as co
-
designers, mutually determining the purpose, value
,

and worth of the emergent
collaboration a
nd design work. The agendas of our collaborators have been as significant in determining
the direction of our research and development, as were those goals that we initially brought to the project.

In understanding the challenges of building collaborative

relationships, we have focused on
Finn’s (1994) participatory design model, which highlights three elements: people, power
,

and praxis

(or
reflective action)
. The first element, people, has meant that we have worked to include multiple voices,
both
childr
en
and
adults
,

into our design process. However,
we consider
people
not as isolated entities but
as part
s

of
socio
-
historical contexts
building

understanding
s of

the constraints and opportunities th
e
se
individuals and
contexts pose for QA. This has also in
volved building relationships, earning trust, and
coming to appreciate and recognize local expertise. In terms of power, we have worked to adopt a posture
in which our words and actions communicate respect and a desire to understand
the
needs and strengths

of others,
while at the same time sharing our expertise in ways that afforded mutual dialogue rather than
A Game without Guns
22

top
-
down solutions

(Barab, Thomas, Dodge, Newell, & Squire, in review)
.
Further, in consulting with
both children and teachers to inform our
work
,
we

have reified our collaboration in a design that we hope
will continue to position students and teachers in more mutually respectful
, rather than historically
hierarchical, power relations.

Lastly,
our process entails
praxis

a dialectic of
discussion

and e
nactment
,
both within the design team and among the stakeholder
s, and w
e have
h
osted
meetings debriefing users of
the systems
as well as

content experts and other designers in an effort to reflect upon and revise our work.

The
final criteria for all we do
is that it results in a useful design for those the project is meant to serve,
and that it is

at the same time grounded in
sound

theory about teaching and
learning
.

A core challenge of design work is to
avoid

becom
ing

more focused on the designed product t
han
on the people and interactions
that

the design was developed to support. Even when design work intend
s

to support human
-
computer interactions, there is a commitment to usability studies in which the designer
observes the use of the final design in cont
ext by potential users. However, our focus is not simply to
design usable technical structures that support human
-
computer interactions, but to develop technical
structures that support human
-
human interactions as mediated through technology (Barab, 2002;
Barab,
MaKinster, & Scheckler, in press). Designing in response to the social transactions and emergent norms
for use is complex work that involves
addressing
both usability and
sociability

challenges (Barab,
MaKinster, Moore, Cunningham, & the ILF Design
Team, 2001; Preece, 2000). When designers focus on
ongoing sociability issues, they have the opportunity to facilitate social interactions that are supportive of
the program and the user, as well as the community of which they are a part.

Koster (2000) arg
ued that the following commitments were crucial for the design of online social
environments: the fundamental attitude of designers and developers must be that they are creating a
service, not a product;
and
the providers must be active participants creati
ng a dynamic and evolving
environment, not mere static content creators delivering a packaged software product.
To use a metaphor
adopted to describe the development of Linux, we have been working on
supporting

a “bazaar”

not
creating a “cathedral” (Raymon
d, 1999).
In contrast to the “cathedral” approach in which there is one
release of a product, the “
bazaar
” approach is consistent with participatory design and involves multiple
iterations of the program being released frequently and
with distributed owner
ship
, with the program
seeming to grow in an organic manner akin to that in which a medieval “
bazaar
” or marketplace might
develop.

This is consistent with not only good design work in ge
neral but the design of MUVEs
in
particular. For example, when Sony a
ttempted to create social places for their online citizens to meet, they
created taverns and other

reality


based venues. However, players tended to congregate in
A Game without Guns
23

geographically logistical locations like crossroads and gates
,

or meaningfully interactive a
reas like banks,
armories, and other online game related

businesses,


not in those
areas
pre
-
specified by the designers.

In our work, we have worked to
balance a priori design decisions with revisions of
the space in
response to user needs

and actions
, y
et even
a

conception of
the QA virtual space

as
service to

participants

rather than a fixed product

involves tension
s
. For example
,

when one student earned real
-
estate and began building in the 3D virtual space,
the r
esultant structure was
very
enticing

to

other
students, if only for
its

novelty and haphazard style. Still, while we strove to support student ownership of
the design of the space,
this

meandering skyscraper

was not informed by
the
many
practical
considerations impinging on the work,
such as lo
ad on the processors
, to say nothing
of
maintaining a
consistent style to support the meta
-
game.

In this episode, then,
the lesson learned
was
not simply what
balance to strike or tradeoff to make
; r
ather,
we were
brought

to
witness

the implications of our

values

and

to
recognize that
our
response
must be informed by
our
values
.
More importantly still, we
realized
that
even design decisions
originally
dictated by values might need to be changed in service to those
values

an unexpected form of revision, but
one remaining true to the foundations of design.


Although participatory and emergent by design, the QA Program must articulate a set of easily
understood goals that support meaningful learning.
The
balancing of

entertainment and education has
been a delic
ate and difficult task,
one that
directly speaks to the nature of motivation as well as cognition.
In terms of the former, the entertainment value (as an expression of motivation intrinsic to the game) is
incredibly important if we hope to offer
a

context
for learning that will also be of interest to the children.
However, if we pander requests for entertaining products too much, we run the risk of becoming
educational researchers who simply support the use of video games in education. Cordova
and Lepper
(1
996) spe
ak

about the need to balance motivational and educational goals:

The most general principles determining whether increased motivational appeal will also
lead to increased learning … concerns the match between the actions required for children
to le
arn the material being present
ed

in an activity and the actions required for children to
enjoy that activity. When these actions are identical or mutually reinforcing, the effects on
learning should be positive; when these actions are mutually exclusive or

other
-
wise at
variance with one another, the effects on learning should be negative (p. 727)
.

We have found that balancing play and learning activities has been a delicate balance. At the core of this
challenge is that the Quests,
the chief form of achiev
ement and cause of advancement
, require academic
work.

A Game without Guns
24

When children are introduced to QA as a game
,

they are frequently let down and become
frustrated by the amount of academic work required. However, when
children

are told that they are going
to do educ
ational activities on the computer
,

then they self
-
label QA as a game and are more willing to do
the work.
In fact, one child involved in the program in an after
-
school context referred to QA as work, but
when
QA

was introduced at h
is school, he called it
a game; such a
shifting characterization of the
program not only
reveals
our tri
adic

foundation
a
s
dynamic but
emphasiz
es

the role of context in co
-
determining meanings.

We recently interviewed four dozen children and collected questionnaire data on
anothe
r 200 about
where
they rank QA in terms of playing, helping, learning, and working. While some
activities might have scored high on one particular dimension, QA scored significantly higher on the sum
of all four dimensions than any other activity in which
the students engaged (e.g., non
-
QA school work,
playing with friends, taking out the trash, etc.). The fact that children see QA as playing even though they
are doing school work and rated it almost as highly on this dimension as playing video games is
par
ticularly interesting given that a significant amount of QA activity involves doing academic work that
directly maps to academic standards. However, interviews with children suggest that the meta
-
game
context
can
turn even
an

“academic” activit
y

into
one t
hat is more associated with play

a point taken up
in the next section.


Developing a Meta
-
Context


A core component of role
-
playing games is that the user assumes a role within the game context.
A
s stated above, a

meta
-
game refers to a macro
-
level structur
e that subsumes

and gives coherence to

multiple micro
-
level
activities
. This is frequently the case in online role
-
playing games such as Asheron’s
Call or EverQuest. In these games, there is some larger task
(
like saving the world from invading
green
meani
es)

involving
multiple activities like
killing monsters,
building houses, purchasing armor, finding
gems, accruing apprentices, etc. In Q
A
,

members are asked to help the Council rebuild the arch of
wisdom
,

which was destroyed by some misguided
rulers

who
s
ought

technological progress at any cost
;
a
s a result, their world is undergoing environmental, moral, and social decay. Through completing Quests,
primarily developed by the
fictitious Atlantian
Council to target specific social issues,
students
are
assis
ting the Council in putting together a collective knowledge base that can help them address their
problems and help save “Atlantis” from
problems similar to those we face
on Earth
. To the extent that
students “buy in” to this
storyline
, they are doing Ques
ts for the game but at the same time are addressing
real
-
world issues on Earth.
A final important aspect of the storyline is that the main character is a punky
girl with blue hair

a major fact that interviews have revealed contributes to QA being as engagi
ng to
A Game without Guns
25

girls as boys. In fact, there are minimal differences between girls and boys with respect to
frequency and
number of
logins, internal emails sent, Quests completed, points traded in for cards,
or

real
-
estate
purchased
with the

three

most active Quest
er
s

being
girls who each have over 400 logins, 4000 lines of
chat, 100 emails, and a dozen completed Quests.



Play

is a crucial aspect of human development, facilitating learning opportunities that are
appealing and motivating to the learner (Vygotsky, 19
78)
, but
aimless play with computer software,
regardless of its educational value, is unsustainable and ultimately less motivating than experiences with
clear challenges and outcomes. In terms of play, a
large part of the success of persistent virtual
envi
ronments involving role playing is due to their providing users the opportunity to enter a different
(virtual) world (Reid, 1999). A key aspect of Q
A

is that the development of the game identity is based on
the child’s ability to accomplish activities in t
he real world and not simply in the virtual environment

bringing together what is “real” and what is “virtual.” In this way, the fantasy overlaps with the real
-
world, providing a mutable platform through which our social commitments become manifest and
sug
gesting
that we have not simply developed a “role
-
playing environment” but have actually created a
storyline that directly engages issues of real
-
world identity and community. We have worked to prioritize
neither
the entertainment
n
or the educational aspec
ts of QA, realizing that prioritizing the latter will
alienate the children while prioritizing the former will alienate those stakeholders (teachers and staff) who
are the gatekeepers of the schools.

While MUVEs

offer opportunity for play and, more recent
ly, for
learning academic content, they
also

can

provide an opportunity for exploring the self. Turkle (1995) applied the notion of identity
development to Multi
-
User Dimensions (MUDs), one type of computer
-
mediated communicative tool.
Turkle examined the
way various individuals have used the Internet, and especially MUDs, to explore
issues of identity and gender, showing how playing with gender in cyberspace can shape a person's real
-
life understanding of gender. Bers (2001), building on earlier work by Tu
rkle, designed what she labeled
“identity construction environments” (ICEs), referring to immersive online 3D environments that support
identity development among children. Bers believed that ICEs can provide opportunities for children to
express identity
as a dynamic, changing entity and can support the development of
not only
identity
but
even
moral values.
Stephan (1992) stated, “identities are meaning that the self acquires through social
interaction, and as such are crucial to an understanding of an in
dividual’s sense of himself or herself”
(p.51). More generally, many researchers have identified relationships between classroom structure and
activities and manifestations of identity, with numerous studies describing change
d

behaviors in children
followi
ng the development of “culturally appropriate” pedagogical practices and social arrangements
A Game without Guns
26

(Davidson, 1996; Heath, 1982;
Ogbu, 1991; Ortner, 1991
).
It is for this reason that success in the QA
meta
-
game directly overlaps with success in the real
-
world an
d that
the
targeted focus of many of the
Quests is on issues of personal identity. It is also for this reason that we have designed

QA
, in contrast to
most MUVEs, with the goal of facilitating transfer in that we want students to make links between

their

MUVE participatio
n and their lives outside of QA
.
Indeed transfer in first person shooter MUVEs is the
last thing any of us would want to see. However, in QA,
, the more those lines
between real and virtual
can
be blurred
,

the greater the likelihood of QA r
ealizing its potential as an identity transformation MUVE

a
MUVE
-
IT
.

In QA
,

we have worked to establish a
structure
in which learning and reflection are central to the
story and become activities that are meaningful in their own right. We have evidence of

this occurring in
that children have completed
hundreds of
Quests
, all of which require reflection,

in after
-
school contexts
or have
completed

Quests
not
assigned by their teacher
s
.

We have even conducted research in which we
have students complete one of

the Quests as part of the QA context or as a worksheet in which we have
stripped out any allusion to the Council or QA more generally. Preliminary results show that students are
willing to complete significantly more work and rate the activity as more int
eresting when completed in
the context of QA. With that said, the use of point systems and various rewards structures to motivate
student work seems in some way coercive, so we continue to seek to establish ways to focus student
participation not solely on

earning points but instead on the quality and pleasure of the work itself; still,
while we are concerned with the use of points a
n
d associated reward structures as an effective means to
engender participation
,

we have not seen evidence that these structur
es are undermining other school
work. Further, whereas QA levels and points are designed to establish motivating reinforcers for member
activity, they may undermine the intrinsic joy of engaging in meaningful activities, so reflection may
serve to the comp
lete the learning and thus amplify the natural appeal of flow activities.

T
he notion of Guilds was designed to provide child
ren with a feeling of solidarity
.

Guilds let
students work

together on

a shared issue (e.g., animal rights, healthy diets, homelessn
ess, etc.),

while
allowing them to complete individual work
.

H
ow Guilds work to empower individuals and foster
collaboration while avoid
ing

the
promot
ion of

exclusionary cliques remains a core challenge. Consistent
with traditional conceptions of multicult
uralism, our QA Council includes male and female animated
figures having features associated with African American, Asian, Hispanic, and Anglo populations, but
further reflection might challenge whether mere balanced heterogeneity truly represents broad cu
ltural
diversity.
In fact, we have had comments from our Australian and Singaporean collaborators that the
gestures, norms, Quests, and ways of interacting do not necessarily represent those associated with people
A Game without Guns
27

from their countries.
As such, we develope
d multi
-
cultural Quests and
allude
to issues of cultural
homogeneity in the QA legend, with the Council stating that the lack of multiple perspectives is a core
problem facing Atlantis

a topic central to the third
QA
comic book.


Supporting Local Customiza
tion

A commonly cited feature of successfully implemented educational programs is their ability
to
adapt to the
needs of local

contexts (Fullan, 1993
)
, and t
his is particularly the case with programs that
seek to bring in
a

reform agenda
such as

support
ing

new
educational practices
,
identity
transformation, or
cultural change
. Every context
presents
the project
with
a new set of circumstances, personalities,
resources, cultural norms, and other variables that directly or indirectly speak to the viability of

the
project
’s implementation
. Many researchers who have studied
the implementation of

projects in multiple
settings have found that local customizability is the key to successful implementation (Randi & Corno,
1997). That is, the program must be flexible
enough to adapt to local conditions and provide meaningful
ways for local stakeholders to legitimately feel that they are part of the project and that their opinions are
not only respected but show tangible manifestations in the local iteration of the proj
ect. However, this
customization can go too far if the
local adaptations result in a

metamorphosis

that

renders
the innovation
unrecogni
zable. For example, early on in the project we were propositioned by one district
that
wanted to
simply use our technolo
gical
skeleton
yet not adopt
our
particular curriculum or social commitments
.

While

we were enthusiastic about their interest and the funds they would bring to the collaboration, we
felt that their changes would undermine the most innovative
and important
aspects of QA.

On the other
hand, t
o the extent that our social commitments we
re reified in the design,
a user’s

engagement with
the
design artifacts would
afford and even invite
consideration

of

the
commitments
, so in this regard, a robust
design might
he
lp even philosophical orientations survive in contexts hostile to them.


Schwartz, Lin, Brophy,
and

Bransford (1999) argued for
flexibly adaptive

design processes that
allow educational products to be designed in a way that strikes a balance between
comple
te control

by
designers and
easy

re
-
configuration
by

teachers and other stakeholders who will use the products. The
importance of
allowing for local ownership
was painfully communicated to us as we worked with
stakeholders at
one school
.

We

initially had c
omplete buy
-
in on the part of the principal, technology
coordinator, and a
group
of teachers. However, over the course of the summer we made many changes to
QA
,

and it became a much more substantial program with unit plans and hundreds of Quests. We though
t
we had more to offer the teachers
,

and
during
a 90 min
ute
workshop we introduced the revised and
expanded project. However, this workshop was at the end of the day and, due to firewall issues, involved
A Game without Guns
28

us presenting the project on a large screen with lit
tle input from the teachers. Given the abbreviated nature
of the workshop which was initially scheduled for a full day, we ended up lecturing

(if not actually
“selling”
)

and trying to present all the QA features in a rushed fashion. This
top
-
down presentat
ion was
only exacerbated by the fact that the projector was old and required that we turn out all the
lights so as to
see the screen. These factors taken as a whole resulted in a one
-
sided presentation
that frustrated

the
teachers
.

They
became

concerned th
at they were being handed a “ready
-
made” program rather than
participating in a collaboratively
-
owned project that they co
uld adapt to meet their needs.

Learning from this experience, at subsequent meeting
s

with
other

school
s we moved to a different
appro
ach

that involved a much more collaborative stance. For example, in one school where

there was
little immediate interest
and some resistance to technology
-
based interventions,
we
simply passed out
our
teacher manuals and talked with them about their needs.

We never actually lectured about the program
;
i
nstead
,

we
had a collaborative dialogue in which we all brainstormed
on
what the teachers wanted to do
with technology and how QA might help. At the end of the meeting, the initially reluctant teachers asked
how they could get involved and when they could begin.
We have learned to always begin these
workshops by communicating the sentiment that QA is not one program but a series of opportunities
with
an overall meta
-
structure that can be integrated into classr
ooms based on local needs and interests. We
now see workshops as opportunities to listen, to speak, and, most importantly, to see
how
the QA context
can be collaboratively adapted in the service of their needs while at the same time remaining true to the
p
roject core. This has not meant watering down our vision or ignoring the realities of classrooms but
bringing these together to develop useful implementations of QA.

To clarify, w
e have learned the importance of understanding rather than simply being under
stood.
W
e have developed multiple activity sets so that teachers can integrate QA based on their own local
needs. Through activity
,

th
e
s
e

resource
s

are

rendered into a cogent identifiable pattern. In fact, there is no
t

one
distinct
QA program. Multiple act
ivity sets afford the production of different activity systems that
support different needs. For example,
a situation in which a

teacher only implements random Quests or
only tangentially engages the QA storyline results in the creation of a context that l
ooks very different
from one in which a

teacher

implements

a complex unit plan.
Even in terms of the unit plans, some
teachers focus on language arts, others on science, and still others on social studies, for example.
Having
multiple participant structure
s

allows us to support the needs of different contexts as well as different
teachers, teaching styles and preferences, different
student
s, parental concerns, and different stake
holders. All of this is done to support local customization by providing many
different paths for
individuals to “do” QA.
One problem with this freedom is when teachers leave out particular aspects that
A Game without Guns
29

we see as central to our pedagogical and social commitments. For example, one teacher who used QA in
five different classrooms neve
r showed them the legend, undermining the social commitment and the
“gameness” of QA. Another teacher, instead of providing rich portfolio feedback started assigning
numbers from a rubric score as the review feedback for Quests.

In both of these circumstan
ces, important
aspects of QA were compromised.

In addition to now presenting QA as a series of activities that teachers can integrate in one class
period or over a month
-
long process, we developed
the
T
eacher
T
oolkit
, mentioned before, which

teachers

can
use to
customize activities and develop ownership over their
QA
classrooms.
Teachers
can
assign Quests

(sorting them by unit plan, world, or standards)
, select items for which points can be traded,
route student work on Quests to other students for peer
-
re
view
, and even
restrict e
-
mail circulation to
their local context
. QA looks very different at different Centers and even at the same Center but in
different teachers’ classrooms. However, we begin all these relationships with a discussion of the
triadic
fo
undation

of our work

so that teachers understand our pedagogical framework (inquiry
-
based,
experiential learning, and portfolio assessment), our social commitments, and the meta
-
game structure.
By sharing the experience of designing idiosyncratic implement
ations of QA cooperatively with teachers
and local stake holders, we have buttressed our implementation, empowered our counterparts and
student
s, and created instantiations of
a
product that continually
adapts and
improves.


The tension between
reproducing

innovations into multiple contexts whole cloth and having a
program that
flexibly adapts

to multiple
-
contexts is central to the problem of broad
diffusion

(Fishman &
Krajcik, in press). How does an educational program maintain its fidelity while adapting
to multiple
contexts? At what point do these adaptations to local contexts become
lethal mutations

(Brown, 1992)
that kill, dilute, or make unrecognizable the flexibly adaptive innovation?

A major struggle in the
implementation of QA has been to
usefully h
arness this

tension between the need for local customization
and maintaining the program

s integrity
, finding the strengths in both without endangering either
.
This
tension has been quite apparent in terms of the inquiry
-
based pedagogy that underlies much
of QA.
A
common initial sentiment is that QA will somehow teach

children
. However, QA does not teach
but
instead provides an engaging context and set of nested activities
,

all of which require active participation
on the part of the students and teachers.
As a result, implementing QA actually means more work for the
teachers as they are required to support students undertak
ing

Quests and then review student work

all of
which occurs

in a public space that can be
scrutinized
by the
school
administration and
e
ven
the
parents
of the child who submitted the work. Teachers
, and certainly staff working at after
-
school sites,

are not
necessarily trained in
how to support

inquiry
-
based learning, creating scaling challenges as teachers

and
A Game without Guns
30

after
-
school staff

must now
become
proficient with a new technology, understand the
framework
of QA,
and employ a new pedagogy that is time consuming and less expedient
than simply

having students learn
specific facts.

A final approach we have undertaken to support scaling involves t
he use of
“buoys.” A buoy is an
individual who has become a committed “early adopter” (Rogers, 1995) of the program. The buoy must
be a person from the local context and not a QA staff member. This person assists in the program

s
technological, pedagogical
, and social
implementation by serving as a mediator between people at the
local site
who are implementing

QA and the QA staff. To support QA both nationally and in international
contexts, we identified local educators who served as “buoys” to support the
program and its local
implementation. At this time, the QA project has buoys in Florida, Australia, Singapore,
Denmark,
and
Malaysia

with over 2000 registered users
. These buoys use QA not only as a program to support the
educational and social needs of ch
ildren and their communities in each local setting but
also
as research
sites.
For example, our colleague in Australia is supporting teachers by helping them register students and
integrate unit plans, yet at the same time she is collecting data
to publish

as her own research and to
inform our project evolution.
In this way, each QA site becomes a site of research with the buoy serving
as the chief architect of
that
research. The buoy is
thus
a co
-
designer of QA, an implementer of the
program, a researcher
of
its
implementation
,

and an evaluator. The findings that spring from this research
and evaluation
are

then cycled back into the design of QA to inform its continual redesign and ongoing
development. This collaborative partnership supports the scaling of
QA as it continues to be implemented
in an increasing n
umber of sites and
range of
contexts.


Conclusions

In describing QA, we have overviewed both the ready
-
made structure as well as the core themes
that characterize its design and implementation. At its

core, QA sits at the intersection of education,
entertainment, and our social commitments, creating many tensions as we work to balance these features
so as to produce a meta
-
game without guns that supports academic learning
,
individual development
, and
s
ocial transformation
. In this manner, we have worked to integrate principles underlying the development
of entertaining games (play, challenge, curiosity, and control) into the design of a learning environment

a practice that is frequently absent from text

books and other school
-
based activities. To this end, we
developed a rich meta
-
game context through which participation for children has been perceived as
meaningful and engaging. We see the QA project more generally as one
instance of empowerment design
A Game without Guns
31

work
; a process that

involves the development of socio
-
technical structures that have an altruistic agenda
and involve engaging participants in their own and their communities’
ongoing
transformation.

Central to
empowerment design work is a

methodological

approach that we refer to as design
ethnography

(Barab et al., 2003)
. Whereas the basic ethnographer builds a thick description with the goal
of understanding the culture, the critical ethnographer (Levinson, 1998) goes
a
step further and actually
uses th
is understanding to develop a critique with the goal of transforming the context being researched.
In our work we have gone farther

still
, reifying this critique into a design (consisting of artifact and
process) with the expectation that this design will
engage children and their communities at others sites in
meaningful issues affecting their local communities
. This latter process runs the risk of being
ethnocentric; however, it is

our conviction that if the process is managed with respect, if the design
itself
is flexibly adaptive,
and if each new implementation is treated as
a collaborative process
, then

this type of
design work has much potential to positively impact the world.

At a basic level, we have come to value
the importance of having a flexibly
adaptive program. The term “flexibly adaptive” can be related to the
diffusion of innovations like QA by considering that innovations must be able to adapt to multiple
contexts if they will be broadly implemented.


As
an

instance of empowerment design work
,
QA combines elements of play, role playing, and
learning.
We
view
QA

as providing an exciting and powerful venue for the exploration of self, with
contexts such as QA having an opportunity and responsibility to engage children in matters of personal
and
social significance. It is also our conviction that if we as educators do not integrate these engaging
contexts into our design tool kits
, then
the entertainment
industry and
market, which has less vested
interest in supporting positive identity developmen
t, will be the teachers of our children.
We have tried to
capture the enthusiasm and motivation inherent in these contexts, yet situate these into a positive context
focused on empowering children, supporting learning, and promoting a social agenda.

Q
A

has

a number of characteristics that
have helped it becom
e

a

valuable intervention for
schools.

First, we are advancing a
Social Commitment
. The mission of QA is to support children in
developing their own sense of purpose as individuals, as members of their
communities, and as
knowledgeable citizens of the world, with each Quest targeting at least one of the seven dimensions of
development that we hope to foster in the lives of the children we serve. Second
, is its
Connections to
Standards
. From the inception

of Q
A
, we have had the support and participation of teachers and
administrators and have connected each of the over
4
00 Quests in the system to academic standards.
Third, we use an
Online, Meta
-
Game

Strategy

to
establish a rich environment that sets up a
meaningful
context of participation
. This strategy makes use of design features and strategies similar to those found in
A Game without Guns
32

the more popular computer
-
based gaming environments to capture the interest of children. However, QA
goes beyond the computer domain to

engage children in their surrounding “real” community. Fourth,
QA

employs
3
-
D technologies

to create an immersive
experience and to support real
-
time collaborations
,
thereby engaging children (including girls and underrepresented groups) and teachers in t
he use of
advanced technologies in a manner that organizes educational content
, and do
es

so in a context that may
further

engage children

in

undertak
ing

int
rinsically motivat
ing

challenges
.

Fifth, the Q
A

project has an explicit focus on
Engaging Girls
, a
population that too often has
been ignored or overlooked in the design of computer
-
based environments. Q
A

has many features that
focus on girls including the incorporation of narrative and characters, multiple female role models

(indeed, with the main char
acter being a girl)
, the use of guilds to support solidarity, the ability to collect
objects, and the facility to customize avatars. Sixth, we offer a
Flexibly A
daptive Curriculum
, thereby
supporting local adaptation and allowing each participating site to

customize the experience in a way that
meets their local needs. Seventh, is our
Multi
-
Disciplinary Focus
, with Q
A

being a meta
-
context that
brings together

content from multiple domains including Science, Math, Reading, Social Studies, and
Language Arts.
Quest Atlantis contains multiple worlds
,

each dedicated to a particular theme and
disciplinary content. For example, EcoWorld contains Quests related to measuring water quality,
understanding different habitats and biodiversity, practicing scientific inqui
ry
, and many other topics
related to ecology and the environment
. This multi
-
disciplinary content focus of the project allows for the
broad
-
scale integration of Q
A

in elementary schools. Lastly, Q
A

does not simply involve working on the
computer
;
instead i
t
targets

Building Connections
, with most Quests requiring that participants leave the
computer and gather real
-
world evidence, thus helping to establish connections among children, parents,
schools, after
-
school centers, families, and communities.

Through

these characteristics, Q
A

serves

as a technological tool that links children internationally
to work collectively on solving complex global problems, such as deforestation, decreasing bio
-
diversity,
overpopulation, racism, prejudice, and eroding social co
nditions. Learning how children all over the
world deal with local and global problems helps us to confront these problems in new ways and
both
appreciate

and learn from the struggles of others. Q
A

can support children, teachers, and researchers in
learnin
g from each other and even engaging in collaborative work around common problems. It is our
hope that children
around

the world will feel at
ease
using technology to work and learn in diverse
settings, creatively solving complex problems, thinking “out of
the box,” and compassionately serving
others. It is becoming increasingly apparent that intercultural communication must be improved in many
ways

(
Friedman, 2000
)
. QA works to mitigate the bewildering effects of the rapid onset of globalization,
A Game without Guns
33

shifting s
ocio
-
economic landscapes and the threat of cultural hegemony by challenging children as they
engage in inquiry and problem solving approaches to learning.
The QA project supports world
-
wide
collaboration so that children, teachers, and researchers can lear
n from each other and join in
the
common
mission of helping children from all cultures and walks of life to learn and grow.
P
rojects like
QA

that
value diverse perspectives, foster multicultural appreciation, and engage users in distance
-
mediated
collabora
tions bear much promise

and responsibility.


Implications

The fact that we as designers will never uncover the “teacher
-
proof” solution suggests that
,

instead
,

the goal should be to develop flexibly adaptive designs (Schwartz et al., 1999). Instead of the

design being treated as complete after a series of design experiments, a more useful treatment is to view
the design as an evolving system and to develop scaffolding that will support teachers in sharing their
experiences with each other. The “design expe
riment,” in this view, is distributed across teachers

and
contexts

and is ongoing, as opposed to a completed trajectory overseen by the designer. Q
A

continues to
change in terms of its technical structures and is continually retranslated in terms of its lo
cal
contextualization by individual teachers. In this way, implementation is not a one
-
to
-
one mapping

or

“rubber stamping” of the designed environment to the new context. Instead, future users must always
adapt the design for their local use, and this adap
tation occurs as part of a larger institutional context.
Successful designs are never “black boxed” but instead are continually reinterpreted as part of the cultural
systems in which they are being realized (Barab & Luehmann,
2003
). Scaling up educational
initiatives
involves careful attention to the cultural and social process in a given context

while being based upon

an
effective program. It involves listening, respecting and adapting to local concerns (Buechler, 1997;
Confrey, Castro
-
Filho, & Wilhelm, 20
00; Elmore, 1996; Rogers, 1995; Slavin & Madden, 1999).
QA has
been successfully implemented in multiple contexts, including elementary schools and after
-
school
centers, suggesting that we have taken steps in the right direction.

New technologies and espe
cially the Internet offer much potential as vehicle
s

for intercultural
collaborative inquiry, allowing us to develop global perspectives on local issues and to find complex
approaches to complex problems. However, technology is only a tool

and one that is
only as powerful
as we choose to make it. Better understanding the value of this tool to support learning is a central
concern and priority in our work. It is our hope that through this collaboration we can learn from other
cultures in a manner that will a
llow each one of us to grow as individuals, as responsible citizens, as
loving members of the human family, and as considerate stewards of the earth.
It is our hope that through
A Game without Guns
34

participation in QA, members will come to value their own communities and to r
ecognize not only that
their communities value them but that they have important ways to contribute
to

their communities and
the world.

We further hope that designers more generally will take up the challenge of empowerm
ent design
work, bringing a
deliber
ate
social agenda

to their work
.
Developing a design that sits at the intersection of
entertainment, education, and our social commitments has
evolved
, and will continue to
e
volve as we
scale out, balancing tensions in ways that do not cater to any extreme

yet do justice to
all concerned
.
More generally, we have tried to leverage the motivational value of games, offering children a safe and
meaningful
space

for play while at the same time supporting autonomy, agency, collaboration,
a
sense of
purpose and co
nsequentiality, and
even
academic learning.
Given that children’s play spaces have been
reduced from several square miles to, in some cases,
a mere
electronic screen, it is imperative that we
provide them with
the
means for safe and productive play.
We pre
sent this instance of empowerment
design work as
one example of taking up this challenge
. We look forward to reading more from our
colleagues
on

how this work impacts their thinking,
on

related work that they are carrying out, and
on

h
ow we
in the

field
of

instructional design
can best be of service to those
for (and with) whom we design
.


A Game without Guns
35

References


American Association for the Advancement of Science. (1993).
Benchmarks for science literacy
.

NY:
Oxford University Press.

Axelsson, A. & Regan, T. (2002, Ja
nuary 29). How belonging to an online group affects social behavior:
A case study of Asheron’s Call. [Homepage of The Microsoft Research Publications]. Retrieved
May 2, 2002 from the World Wide Web:
http://research.microsoft.com/scripts/pubs/view.asp?TR_ID
=MSR
-
TR
-
2002
-
07

Banathy, B. (1991).
Systems design of education: A journey to create the future.

Englewood Cliffs, NJ:
Educational Technology Publications.

Barab, S. A. (in press). Designing for virtual communities in the service of learning. To appear in
Information Society
.

Barab, S. A., Cherkes
-
Julkowski, M., Swenson, R., Garrett. S., Shaw, R. E., & Young, M. (1999).
Principles of self
-
organization: Ecologizing the learner
-
facilitator system.
The

Journal of The
Learning Sciences, 8
(3&4), 349
-
390
.

Barab,
S. A., & Duffy, T. (2000). From practice fields to communities of practice. In D. Jonassen, & S.
M. Land. (Eds.),
Theoretical Foundations of Learning Environments

(pp. 25
-
56). Mahwah, NJ:
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Barab, S. A., & Hay, K. (2001). Doing s
cience at the elbows of scientists: Issues related to the scientist
apprentice camp.
Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 38
(1), 70
-
102.

Barab, S. A., Hay, K. E., Barnett, M. G., & Squire, K. (2001). Constructing virtual worlds: Tra
c
ing the
historical

development of learner practices/understandings.
Cognition and Instru
c
tion, 19
(1), 47
-
94.

Barab, S. A., & Jackson, C. (2003). From Plato’s Republic to Quest Atlantis: The role of the Philosopher
-
King. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American
Educational Research Association,
Chicago, Ill.

Barab, S. A., Kling, R., & Gray, J. (in press). (Eds.). To appear as
Designing for Virtual Communities in
the Service of Learning
. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.

Barab, S. A., & Luehmann, A. L. (2
003). Building sustainable science curriculum: Acknowledging and
accommodating local adaptation.
Science Education, 87
(4), 454

467.

A Game without Guns
36

Barab, S., MaKinster, J. G., Moore, J., Cunningham, D., & the ILF Design Team. (2001). Designing and
building an online comm
unity: The struggle to support sociability in the Inquiry Learning Forum.
Educational Technology Research and Development, 49
(4), 71
-
96
.

Barab, S. A., MaKinster, J., & Scheckler, R. (in press).
Designing system dualities: Building online
community.

To appe
ar in
Information Society
.

Barab, S., Schatz, S., & Scheckler, R. (in press). Using activity theory to conceptualize online community
and using online community to conceptualize activity theory. Accepted in
Mind Culture and
Activity.

Barab, S. A., Thomas,
M. K., Dodge, T., Newell, M., Squire, K. (2002). Design ethnography: Building a
collaborative agenda for change. Submitted for publication.

Barab, S. A., Thomas, M. K., Dodge, T., Squire, K., Carteaux, B., Goodirch, T., Tuzun, H., & Misanchuk,
M. (2002). Q
uest Atlantis: Creating a community
-
based, online, meta
-
game for learning

(pp. 235
-
243)
.
Conference Proceedings of the International Conference of the Learning Sciences
.

Barab, S., Thomas, M., Dodge, T., Carteaux, R., Tuzun, H., & Goodrich, T. (
2003, April
).
Empowerment
design work: Building participant structures that transform.

Paper

presented at the American
Educational Research Association Conference, Chicago, Il.

Bartle, R. (1996).
Hearts, clubs, diamonds, spades: Players who suit MUDs
. Retrieved July
30, 2002,
from the World Wide Web: http://www.mud.co.uk/richard/hcds.htm

Bass, R. (1999). “Story and
a
rchive in the
t
wenty
-
f
irst
c
entury.”
College English 61
(6)
:
659
-
670.

Berman, P., & Mclaughlin, M. (1978).
Federal programs supporting educational change,
vol. VI:
Implementing and sustaining title VIII bilingual projects.

Santa Monica, CA: Rand Corporation.

Bers, M. (2001). Identity construction environments: Developing personal and moral values through the
design of a virtual city.
The Journal of the Learn
ing Sciences, 10
(4), 365
-
415.

Bransford, J.D., Brown, A. L., & Cocking, R.R. (Eds). (2002).
How people learn: Brain, mind,
experience, and school.

Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.

Brown, A. L. (1992). Design experiments: Theoretical and methodolog
ical challenges in creating
complex interventions in classroom settings.
The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 2
(2), 141
-
178.

Bruckman, A. (1998). Finding one's own in cyberspace. In High Wired: On the Design, Use, and Theory
of Educational MOOs. Ed. Cynth
ia Haynes and Jan Rune Holmevik. Ann Arbor, MI: U of
Michigan P, 1998. 15
-
24.

Buechler, M. (1997). Scaling up: The role of national networks in spreading education reform. Portland,
OR: Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory.

A Game without Guns
37

Chickering, A. & Reiser, L.

(1993).
Education and identity
. San Francisco: Jossey
-
Bass.

Cole, M. (1996).
Cultural psychology: A once and future discipline.

Cambridge, MA: Harvard University
Press.

Cole, M., & Engestrom, Y. (1993). A cultural
-
historical approach to distributed cognit
ion. In G. Salomon
(Ed.),
Distributed cognitions
. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Cole, M., & Scribner, S. (1978). Introduction. In L. S. Vygotsky,
Mind in society: The development of
higher psychological processes
. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University
Press.

Collins, A. (1992). Toward a Design Science of Education. In E. Scanlon & T. O'Shea (Eds
.),
Proceedings of the NATO advanced research workshop on new directions in advanced
educational technology.

(pp. 15
-
22). Berlin: Springer.

Confrey, J., Castro
-
F
ilho, J., & Wilhelm, J. (2000).
Implementation research as a means to link systemic
reform and applied psychology in mathematics education.
Educational Psychologist, 35
(3), 179
-
191.

Cordova, D. I., & Lepper, M. R. (1996). Intrinsic motivation and the proce
ss of learning: Beneficial
effects of contextualization, personalization, and choice.
Journal of

Educational Psychology, 88
,
715
-
730.

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990).
Flow: The psychology of optimal experience.

New York: Harper and Row.

Damar, B. (1998).
Avat
ars! Exploring and building virtual worlds on the internet
. Berkeley, CA: Peachpit
Press.

Davidson, A.L. (1996).
Making and molding identity in schools: Student narratives on race, gender, and
academic engagement.

Albany: State University of New York Press
.

Delgado
-
Gaitan, C. and Trueba, H. (1991). Crossing cultural borders
.

New York, NY: The Falmer Press.

Dewey, J. (1909/1965).
The influence of Darwin on philosophy and other essays in contemporary
thought
. Bloomington, IN
:
Indiana University Press.

Dewey,
J. (1938).
Experience and Education
. New York: The Macmillan Publishing Company.

Dewey, J., & Bentley, A. F. (1973). Knowing and the known. In R. Handy & E. C. Harwood (Eds.),
Useful procedures of inquiry
. Great Barrington, MA: Behavorial Research

Council.

(Original work published 1949)

Dick, W. & Cary, L. (1990), The Systematic Design of Instruction, Third Edition, Harper Collins.

Donath
, J. (
1999
)
Identity

and
deception

in the
virtual community
. In M. A. Smith & P. Kollack (Eds.)
Communities in Cyberspace
. London; New York: Routledge.

Driscoll, M. P. (2000).
Psychology of learning for instruction
. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

A Game without Guns
38

Duffy, T. M., & Cunningham, D. J. (1996). Constructivism: Implications for the design and delivery of
instruction. In D. J. Jonassen (Ed
.),
Handbook of research for educational communication and
technology

(pp. 170
-
198). New York: McMillan.

Edelson, D. C. (2002). Design research: What we learn when we engage in design.
Journal of the
Learning Sciences, 11
(1), 105
-
121.

Eden, C. & Huxham, C.

(1996). Action research for the study of organizations. In S. Clegg, C. Hardy, W.
Nord (Eds.),
Handbook of organizational studies
.

Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. (pp. 526
-
542).

Elmore, R. F. (1996). Getting to scale with good educational practice.
Harvard Educa
tional Review,
66
(1), 1
-
26.

Engström, Y. (1987).
Learning by expanding: An activity
-
theoretical approach to developmental
research.

Helsinki, Finland: Orienta
-
Konultit.

Erikson, E. (1968).
Identity, youth and crisis
. New York: W. W. Norton.

Fine, M. (1996)
. (Eds.).
Disruptive voices: The possibilities of feminist research.

Ann Arbor, MI. The
University of Michigan Press.

Finn, J. (1994). The promise of participatory research.
Journal of Progressive Human Services
, 5
(2), 25
-
42.

Fishman, B. J., & Krajcik, J
. (in press). What Does It Mean to Create Sustainable Science Curriculum
Innovations? A Commentary. In S. Barab & A. Luehmann (Eds.),
Building Sustainable Science
Curriculum: Acknowledging and Accommodating Local Adaptation.

Fordham, S. & Ogbu, J. U. (1986
).
Black students’ school success: Coping with the “Burden of ‘acting
white.’”
The Urban Review 18
(3). 176
-
206.

Freire, P. (1970/2000)
Pedagogy of the oppressed
.

New York, NY: Continuum.

Friedman, T. L. (2000). The Lexus and the olive tree
: Understanding g
lobalization.
Anchor Books, NY.

Fullan, M. (1993).
Change forces: Probing the depths of educational reform.

Bristol, PA: Falmer Press.

Gaver, W. W. (1996). Situating Action II: Affordances for interaction: The social is material for design.

Ecological Psyc
hology, 8
(2), 111
-
129.

Geertz, C. (1976). From the native’s point of view: On the nature of anthropological understanding. In K.
Basso & H. A. Selby (Eds.)
Meaning in anthropology
. Albuquerque, N.M: U. of New Mexico
Press.

Gibson, J. J. (1979).
The ecologi
cal approach to visual perception
. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Glesne, C. (1999).
Becoming qualitative researchers: An introduction

(Second Edition ed.). New York,
NY.: Longman.

A Game without Guns
39

Grills, S. (1998).
Doing ethnographic research: Field settings
.

Thousand Oaks, C
A: Sage.

Haynes, C. & Holmevik, J. R., Eds. (1998).
High Wired: On the Design, Use, and Theory of Educational
MOOs.

Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

Heath, S. (1983).
Ways with words: Language, life, and work in communities and classrooms
.
C
ambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.

Heinich, R., Molenda, M., Russell, J.D., & Smaldino, S.E. (1996).
Instructional media and technologies
for learning

(5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill.

Hoadley, C. P. (2002). Creating context: Design
-
based
research in creating and understanding CSCL.
Proceedings of Computer Support for Cooperative Learning, Boulder, CO.

Jenkins, H. (1998). Voices from the combat zone: Game girls talk back. In Cassell, J. & Jenkins, (Ed.),
From Barbie to Mortal Combat: Gend
er and computer games. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Jonassen, D. H., Tessmer, M., & Hannum, W. H. (1999).
Task analysis methods for instructional design
.
New Jersey: Lawerence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.

Katz, J. (2000). Up, up, down, down. Slashdot.org.
Originally published November, 30, 2000.
(http://slashdot.org/features/00/11/27/1648231.shtml)

Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development.
Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall Press.

Kollock, P., & Smit
h, M. (1996). Managing the virtual commons: Cooperation and conflict in computer
communities. In S. Herring (Ed.),
Computer
-
Mediated Communication: Linguistic, Social, and
Cross
-
Cultural Perspectives
. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Koster, R. et al (2000). The

laws of online world design, http://www.legendmud.org/raph/gaming/

Kozol, J. (1991).
Savage inequalities: Children in America's schools.
New York: Harper Perennial.

Krajcik, J., Blumenfeld, P., Marx,, R. W., & Soloway, E. (1994). A collaborative model for

helping
science teachers learn project
-
based instruction.
Elementary School Journal, 94
(5), 483
-
498.

Laurel, B. (1991).
Computers as
theatre
, Addison
-
Wessley Publishing, NY.

Laurel, B. (2001).
Utopian
entrepreneur
.
Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Laurel, B. (2
002, January).
Gender and technology: A case study in design research and ethics
.
Presentation at Indiana University, Bloomington.

Lave, J. (1988).
Cognition in practice: Mind, mathematics and culture in everyday life
. New York:
Cambridge University Press.

Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991).
Situated learning
. New York: Cambridge University Press.

A Game without Guns
40

Levinson, B. (1998). The social commitment of the educational ethnographer: Notes on fieldwork in
Mexico and the field of work in the United States. In
Being reflexive

in critical educational and
social research.

Geoffrey Shacklock and John Smyth, (eds.). London: Falmer Press. 83
-
109.

Mabry, L. (1999).
Portfolios plus: A critical guide to alternative assessment.
Thousand Oaks, CA:
Corwin

Matute
-
Bianchi, M. E. (1986).
Et
hnic identities and patterns of school success and failure among
Mexican
-
decent and Japanese
-
American students in a California high school: An ethnographic
analysis.
American Journal of Education 95
(1), 233
-
255.

Mead, G. (1934).
Mind, Self and Society from

the Standpoint of a Social Behaviorist.
Chicago: University
of Chicago Press.

McLaughlin, M. W. (1990). The Rand change agent study revisited: Macro perspectives and micro
realities.
Educational Researcher, 19
(9), 11
-
16.

McLellan, H. (1996). Virtual reali
ties. In D. Jonassen (Ed.)
Handbook of research for educational
communications and technology

(pp. 457
-
487). Boston, MA: Kluwer
-
Nijhoff Publishing.

McNiff, J. (1995).
Action research principles and practice.

New York, NY: Routledge.

Morningstar, C. et Farm
er, F.

R. (1990). The lessons of Lucasfilm's habitat. On
-
Line Publication, (also
published in: M.Benedikt (ed.) Cyberspace: First Steps, MIT Press, 1991).

Murray, J. H. (1997).
Hamlet on the Holodeck: The future of narrative in cyberspace
. New York: Free
P
ress.

Nardi, B. (Ed.). (1996).
Context and consciousness: Activity theory and human
-
computer interaction.

Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

National Research Council. (1999).
Designing mathematics or science curriculum programs: A guide for
using mathematics a
nd science education standards
.

Washington, DC. National Academy Press.

Ogbu, J. (1987). Variability in minority student performance: a problem in search of an explanation.
Anthropology and Education Quarterly 18
:312
-
334

Ogbu, J. (1990) Cultural model, ide
ntity and literacy. In J.W. Stigler, R.A. Shweder, & G. Herdt (Eds),
Cultural psychology, essays on comparative human development

(520
-
541). Cambridge, UK:
Cambridge University Press.

Ortner, S. (1991). Reading America: Preliminary notes on class and cultu
re. In Fox, R. (Ed.)
Recapturing
Anthropology

(pp. 163
-
189). Santa Fe, NM: School of American Research Press.

A Game without Guns
41

Orlansky, J. & Thorpe, J. (1992).
Lessons from desert storm via advanced distributed simulation
technology,
vol. 1, Alexandria, VA: Institute for
Defense Analyses. Document D)
Doc. call no.:
M
-
U 40381
-
41 no.1110.

Oyserman, D., Gant, L., & Ager, J. (1995). A socially contextualized model of African American identity:
School persistence and possible selves.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
, 69,

1216
-
1232.

Poole, S. (2000).
Trigger happy: Videogames and the entertainment revolution.

London: 4
th

Estate.

Postman, N. (1992).
Technopoly: The surrender of culture to technology
.

New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Preece, J. (2000).
Online communities: De
signing usability, supporting sociability
. Chichester, UK: John
Wiley & Sons.

Prensky, M. (2000).
Digital game
-
based learning.

New York: McGraw Hill.

Provenzo, E.F. (1991).
Video kids: Making sense of Nintendo.

Cambridge, MA: Harvard.

Provenzo, E.F. (199
2).
What do video games teach?
Education Digest
, 58
(4), 56
-
58.

Provenzo, E.F., Jr. (1992). The video generation.
American School Board Journal

179(3, Mar): 29
-
32. EJ
441 136.

Randi, J. & Corno, L. (1997). Teachers as innovators. In B.J. Biddle, T.L. Good,

& I.F. Goodson (Eds.)
The international handbook of teachers and teaching

(Vol.II, pp. 1163
-
1221). Dordrecht, The
Netherlands: Kluwer.

Raymond, E. (1999). The cathedral and the bazaar:
Musings on Linux and open source by an accidental
revolutionary
. Sebas
topol, CA: O’Reilly & Associates.

Reason, P. (1994). Three approaches to participative inquiry. In N. Denzin & Y. Lincoln (Eds.)
The
Handbook of Qualitative Research
. (pp. 324
-
339). Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.

Reid, E. (1999). Hierarchy and power. I
n M. Smith, & P. Kollock, (Eds.),
Communities in cyberspace

(pp. 107
-
133). New York, NY: Routledge Press.

Renn, K. (1998). Claiming space: The college experiences of biracial and multiracial students on
predominantly white campuses. Unpublished dissertatio
n. Boston College. UMI Microform
9901377.

Rogers, E. (1995).
Diffusion of innovations

(4th ed.). New York: The Free Press.

Rogoff, B. (1990).
Apprenticeship in thinking
. New York: Oxford University Press.

Roth, W.
-
M. (1998).
Designing communities.

Dordrec
ht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Sanday, P. (1998)
Opening statement: Defining public interest anthropology
.

[Online]. Available:
http://www.sas.upenn.edu/~psanday/pia.99.html

A Game without Guns
42

Savery, J., & Duffy, T. (1996). Problem based learning: An instructional model an
d its constructivist
framework. In B. Wilson (Ed.),
Constructivist learning environments: Case studies in
instructional design

(pp. 135
-
148). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.

Scharwtz, D., Lin, X., Brophy, S, & Bransford, J. (1999
). Toward the development of flexiblity adaptive
instructional design. In C. Reigeluth (Ed.),
Instructional
-
design Theories and models: A new
paradigm of instructional theory
(Vol II, pp. 183
-

214). Lawrence Erlbaum: Mahwah, New
Jersey.

Schön, D. A. (1987)
. Educating the reflective practitioner:
Toward a new design for teaching and
learning in professions.

San Francisco, CA: Jossey
-
Bass.

Schuler, D., & Namioka, A. (Eds.). (1993).
Participatory design: Principles and practices
. Hillsdale,
New Jersey: Lawrenc
e Erlbaum Associates.

Schwen, T. & Hara, N. (in press). Community of Practice: A metaphor for Online Design. To appear in S.
A. Barab, R. Kling, R., & J. Gray (eds.),
Designing for Virtual Communities in the Service of
Learning
.

Cambridge, MA: Cambridge Un
iversity Press.

Schwen, T. M., Godrum, D. A., & Dorsey, L. T. (1993). On the design of an Enriched Learning and
Information Environment (ELIE).
Educational Technology, 33
(11), 5
-
9.

Scriven, M. S. (1983). Evaluation methodologies. In G. F. Madaus, M. S. Scr
iven., and D. L. Stufflebeam
(Eds.)
Evaluation models: Viewpoints on educational and human services evaluation

(pp. 229
-
260). Boston, MA: Kluwer
-
Nijhoff Publishing.

Slavin, R. E., & Madden, N. A. (1996). Roots & Wings Program Design, from
http://www.succes
sforall.net/curriculum/rwprogdescr.htm

Slavin, R. E., & Madden, N. A. (1999). Disseminating Success For All: Lessons for policy and practice
(No. 30): CRESPAR Program 7 Systemic and Policy
-
Related Studies.

Squire, K.

(2002). Cultural framing of computer/vi
deo games.
The International Journal of Computer
Game Research, 2
(1), Game Studies Available online:
http://www.gamestudies.org/0102/squire/

Retrieved 12
-
24
-
02.

Squire, K., MaKinster, J., Barnett, M.
, Luehmann, A., & Barab, S. A. (2003). Designed curriculum and
local culture: Acknowledging the primacy of classroom culture.
Science Education, 87
(4), 468

489.

Stake, R. E. (1978). The case study method in social inquiry.
Educational Researcher, 7
(1), 5
-
8
.

Stake, R. E. (1995).
The art of case study research
. Thousand Oaks, CA.: Sage.

Stringer, E. T. (1996). Action research : A handbook for practitioners. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

A Game without Guns
43

Stephan, C. (1992). Mixed
-
heritage individuals: Ethnic identity and trait char
acteristics. In M. Root (Ed.),
Racially mixed people in America.

(50
-
63). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Thomas, R., & Chickering, A. W. (1984). Education and identity revisited.
Journal of College Student
Personnel, 25
(4), 392
-
399.

Turkle, S. (1994). Constructio
ns and reconstructions of self in virtual reality: Playing in the MUDs.
Mind,
Culture, and Activity 1

(3), 158
-
167.

Turkle, S. (1995).
Life on the screen: Identity in the age of the internet.

New York: Simon & Schuster.

Valenzuela, A. (1999).
Subtractive
schooling: U.S.
-
Mexican Youth and the politics of caring
. Albany:
State University of New York Press.

Vygotsky, L. (
1933/
1978).
Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes.

Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Vygotsky, L. S. (19
34/1986).
Thought and language

(A. Kozulin, Trans.). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1981). The genesis of higher mental functions. In J. V. Wertsch (Ed.), T
he concept of
activity in Soviet psychology
. Armonk, NY: Sharpe.

Wasson, C. (2000). Ethn
ography in the Field of Design.
Human Organization, 59
(4), (377
-
388).

Wells, G. (1999). Dialogic inquiry: Towards a sociocultural practice and theory of education.

Wertsch, J. (1985).
Vygotsky and the social information of mind
. Cambridge MA: Harvard Unive
rsity
Press.

Wiggins, G. (1992). Creating tests worth taking.
Educational Leadership, 49
(8), 26
-
33.

Willet, R. (2001).
Children’s use of popular media in their creative writing
. Unpublished dissertation,
London: University of London, Institute of Education
.

Wordsworth, W. (1802/
196
7
).
Lyrical Ballads

(preface,
2nd ed.).

In Perkins, D. (Ed.),
English Romantic
Writers
(pp. 320
-
331). Fort Worth: Harcourt, Brace Jovanovitch.

Winnicott, D. W. (1971).
Playing and reality. London: Routledge.

A Game without Guns
44

Figure 1.
Quest Atlan
tis Foundations
. Quest Atlantis lies at the intersection of entertainment,
education, and the QA social commitments.



A Game without Guns
45

Figure 2.
A Screenshot from Quest Atlantis, showing a scene from a village on the left and the
homepage for a
student

on the right.










A Game without Guns
46

Figure 3.
The OTAK is the virtual environment through which the Council communicates with
other civilizations. It currently contains the OTAK
-
Hub, Unity World, Culture World, Ecology
World, and Healthy World. The OTAK
-
Hub is the central location f
rom which to teleport to
each of the worlds. It also has introductory Quests, a Trading Post, general information, and the
Quests of the Month.



A Game without Guns
47

Figure 4.
The OTAK side
-
bar, which introduces Quests, announces timely news, opens the
Trading Post, and serves other functions.