"Doing serious work or just playing?" : computer games in subject English

McGrath, Donna Lynette (2004) "Doing serious work or just playing?" : computer games in subject English. Professional Doctorate thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


The central focus of this study is to look at the legitimacy of using computer games for textual study in subject English and to understand the value that non-traditional forms of narrative text can have in enhancing student learning and enjoyment. This thesis argues that when students are engaged in textual study that is pleasurable, learning outcomes can be enhanced.

Narrative computer games are appropriately placed within the realm of popular cultural texts, therefore, this study is also located within a cultural studies field of inquiry. A range of theoretical lenses which are appropriate to this field, such as critical theory, poststructuralism, reader response theories and narratology, are drawn upon in order to provide different perspectives on knowledge, relationships of power, and elements of story. These multiple perspectives are combined to construct a methodological framework for my research that brings a richness to data analysis. In locating my study within this multi-dimensional methodological framework, it is possible to achieve a layering and interpretation of the many different responses to the binaries of “work” versus “play” inherent in my title.

The study focuses on a junior secondary English class at a school in South-east Queensland. The students undertook a curriculum unit which used a critical literacy framework to study the narratives and cultural identifications inherent in a number of computer games. The participants’ responses to “play” within the classroom forms one facet of the study; the depth of narrative experience enabled by computer games forms another facet; and the final facet examines the cultural responses to newer forms of literacies.

The study concludes that using narrative computer games as a form of text for study in subject English allows for an examination of new forms of literacies that are student-friendly. A hybridised form of communication and pedagogy is also suggested. Narrative computer games allow for pleasure and play in the classroom, albeit in a less traditional way, and a hybridised communication can allow students and teachers access to a dialogue that values the learning experiences associated with this textual medium.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 15832
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Professional Doctorate)
Supervisor: Morgan, Wendy & Mallan, Kerry
Keywords: Serious work, playing, computer games, subject english, textual study, non-traditional, narrative text, junior secondary english, pedagogy.
Department: Education
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Donna Lynette McGrath
Deposited On: 03 Dec 2008 03:50
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:39

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