Here’s the abstract of a paper Nicci Pallitt and I just had accepted by the journal Language & Education:
‘Grand Theft South Africa’: Games, literacy and inequality in consumer childhoods
By Marion Walton and Nicola Pallitt
Discussions of ‘game literacy’ focus on the informal learning and literacies associated with games but seldom address the diversity in young people’s gaming practices, and the highly differentiated technologies of digital gaming in use. We use available survey data to show how, in South Africa, income inequalities influence consumption patterns, shaping experiences of digital games. Two case studies of young people’s play practices involving digital games in Cape Town suggest the fragmentation and inequalities of contemporary play practices and the need for a more inclusive understanding of digital gaming. Mobile phones offer more accessibility than other digital gaming platforms and local appropriations include display of micro-commodities, concealment of outdated technology, control strategies and deletion of functionality. Digital games articulate between multiple overlapping communicative spaces and hence complex cultural articulations arise when global game narratives are appropriated to make sense of racial otherness, crime and politics in South Africa. Since educational curricula cater for highly fractured publics, we ask whether it is advisable to speak of ‘game literacy’. We suggest the need to validate less strongly mediatised forms of play, and to address diverse identification practices in consumer culture, including prestige and status as well as othering and shame.