Research and academic papers on Whyville

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

Academic papers (all pdfs can be found under the blog post Community Dynamic Reports) –

1. Your Second Selves: Avatar Designs and Identity Play in a Teen Virtual World
This paper addresses the “role of avatars in identity play and self-representation as well as the social issues that arise within the game world.”

Key ideas:
> Avatars are a form of self-representation in the online world.
> Avatar design is guided by 1) Resources i.e. tools available to create the avatar 2) Individual agency i.e. personal motivations and reasons behind avatars being made to look a certain way 3) Social constraints i.e. what the community deems as acceptable or not acceptable.

2. Synthetic Play: Girls and Boys Gaming Together and Apart in Teen Virtual Worlds
This paper brings out the idea that “gaming experiences could not only create a synthesis between the online and offline world but also bridge the gap between girls and boys who are often seen at playing apart and not together in the gaming world.”

This study was conducted by setting up an after-school Whyville club consisting of 10 boys and 10 girls.

Key ideas:
> A hybrid form of social interaction arises in the space where the online world meets the offline world.
> Gaming bridges the gap between boys and girls.

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