Yasmin B. Kafai

Yasmin B. Kafai is Professor of Learning Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the coeditor of Beyond Barbie and Mortal Kombat: New Perspectives on Gender and Gaming and coauthor of Connected Play: Tweens in a Virtual World (both published by the MIT Press). She is also coauthor of Connected Gaming.

  • Connected Gaming

    Connected Gaming

    What Making Video Games Can Teach Us about Learning and Literacy

    Yasmin B. Kafai and Quinn Burke

    How making and sharing video games offer educational benefits for coding, collaboration, and creativity.

    Over the last decade, video games designed to teach academic content have multiplied. Students can learn about Newtonian physics from a game or prep for entry into the army. An emphasis on the instructionist approach to gaming, however, has overshadowed the constructionist approach, in which students learn by designing their own games themselves. In this book, Yasmin Kafai and Quinn Burke discuss the educational benefits of constructionist gaming—coding, collaboration, and creativity—and the move from “computational thinking” toward “computational participation.”

    Kafai and Burke point to recent developments that support a shift to game making from game playing, including the game industry's acceptance, and even promotion, of “modding” and the growth of a DIY culture. Kafai and Burke show that student-designed games teach not only such technical skills as programming but also academic subjects. Making games also teaches collaboration, as students frequently work in teams to produce content and then share their games with in class or with others online. Yet Kafai and Burke don't advocate abandoning instructionist for constructionist approaches. Rather, they argue for a more comprehensive, inclusive idea of connected gaming in which both making and gaming play a part.

    • Hardcover $35.00
  • Connected Code

    Connected Code

    Why Children Need to Learn Programming

    Yasmin B. Kafai and Quinn Burke

    Why every child needs to learn to code: the shift from “computational thinking” to computational participation.

    Coding, once considered an arcane craft practiced by solitary techies, is now recognized by educators and theorists as a crucial skill, even a new literacy, for all children. Programming is often promoted in K-12 schools as a way to encourage “computational thinking”—which has now become the umbrella term for understanding what computer science has to contribute to reasoning and communicating in an ever-increasingly digital world.

    In Connected Code, Yasmin Kafai and Quinn Burke argue that although computational thinking represents an excellent starting point, the broader conception of “computational participation” better captures the twenty-first-century reality. Computational participation moves beyond the individual to focus on wider social networks and a DIY culture of digital “making.”

    Kafai and Burke describe contemporary examples of computational participation: students who code not for the sake of coding but to create games, stories, and animations to share; the emergence of youth programming communities; the practices and ethical challenges of remixing (rather than starting from scratch); and the move beyond stationary screens to programmable toys, tools, and textiles.

    • Hardcover $30.00
    • Paperback $18.00
  • Connected Play

    Connected Play

    Tweens in a Virtual World

    Yasmin B. Kafai and Deborah A. Fields

    How kids play in virtual worlds, how it matters for their offline lives, and what this means for designing educational opportunities.

    Millions of children visit virtual worlds every day. In such virtual play spaces as Habbo Hotel, Toontown, and Whyville, kids chat with friends from school, meet new people, construct avatars, and earn and spend virtual currency. In Connected Play, Yasmin Kafai and Deborah Fields investigate what happens when kids play in virtual worlds, how this matters for their offline lives, and what this means for the design of educational opportunities in digital worlds.

    Play is fundamentally important for kids' development, but, Kafai and Fields argue, to understand play in virtual worlds, we need to connect concerns of development and culture with those of digital media and learning. Kafai and Fields do this through a detailed study of kids' play in Whyville, a massive, informal virtual world with educational content for tween players. Combining ethnographic accounts with analysis of logfile data, they present rich portraits and overviews of how kids learn to play in a digital domain, developing certain technological competencies; how kids learn to play well—responsibly, respectfully, and safely; and how kids learn to play creatively, creating content that becomes a part of the virtual world itself.

    • Hardcover $30.00
  • Beyond Barbie and Mortal Kombat

    Beyond Barbie and Mortal Kombat

    New Perspectives on Gender and Gaming

    Yasmin B. Kafai, Carrie Heeter, Jill Denner, and Jennifer Y. Sun

    Girls and women as game players and game designers in the new digital landscape of massively multiplayer online games, “second lives,” “modding,” serious games, and casual games.

    Ten years after the groundbreaking From Barbie to Mortal Kombat highlighted the ways gender stereotyping and related social and economic issues permeate digital game play, the number of women and girl gamers has risen considerably. Despite this, gender disparities remain in gaming. Women may be warriors in World of Warcraft, but they are also scantily clad “booth babes” whose sex appeal is used to promote games at trade shows. Player-generated content has revolutionized gaming, but few games marketed to girls allow “modding” (game modifications made by players). Gender equity, the contributors to Beyond Barbie and Mortal Kombat argue, requires more than increasing the overall numbers of female players. Beyond Barbie and Mortal Kombat brings together new media theorists, game designers, educators, psychologists, and industry professionals, including some of the contributors to the earlier volume, to look at how gender intersects with the broader contexts of digital games today: gaming, game industry and design, and serious games. The contributors discuss the rise of massively multiplayer online games (MMOs) and the experience of girl and women players in gaming communities; the still male-dominated gaming industry and the need for different perspectives in game design; and gender concerns related to emerging serious games (games meant not only to entertain but also to educate, persuade, or change behavior). In today's game-packed digital landscape, there is an even greater need for games that offer motivating, challenging, and enriching contexts for play to a more diverse population of players.

    Contributors Cornelia Brunner, Shannon Campe, Justine Cassell, Mia Consalvo, Jill Denner, Mary Flanagan, Janine Fron, Tracy Fullerton, Elisabeth Hayes, Carrie Heeter, Kristin Hughes, Mimi Ito, Henry Jenkins III, Yasmin B. Kafai, Caitlin Kelleher, Brenda Laurel, Nicole Lazzaro, Holin Lin, Jacki Morie, Helen Nissenbaum, Celia Pearce, Caroline Pelletier, Jennifer Y. Sun, T. L. Taylor, Brian Winn, Nick YeeInterviews with Nichol Bradford, Brenda Braithwaite, Megan Gaiser, Sheri Graner Ray, Morgan Romine

    • Hardcover $60.00
    • Paperback $30.00

Contributor

  • DIY Citizenship

    DIY Citizenship

    Critical Making and Social Media

    Matt Ratto and Megan Boler

    How social media and DIY communities have enabled new forms of political participation that emphasize doing and making rather than passive consumption.

    Today, DIY—do-it-yourself—describes more than self-taught carpentry. Social media enables DIY citizens to organize and protest in new ways (as in Egypt's “Twitter revolution” of 2011) and to repurpose corporate content (or create new user-generated content) in order to offer political counternarratives. This book examines the usefulness and limits of DIY citizenship, exploring the diverse forms of political participation and “critical making” that have emerged in recent years. The authors and artists in this collection describe DIY citizens whose activities range from activist fan blogging and video production to knitting and the creation of community gardens.

    Contributors examine DIY activism, describing new modes of civic engagement that include Harry Potter fan activism and the activities of the Yes Men. They consider DIY making in learning, culture, hacking, and the arts, including do-it-yourself media production and collaborative documentary making. They discuss DIY and design and how citizens can unlock the black box of technological infrastructures to engage and innovate open and participatory critical making. And they explore DIY and media, describing activists' efforts to remake and reimagine media and the public sphere. As these chapters make clear, DIY is characterized by its emphasis on “doing” and making rather than passive consumption. DIY citizens assume active roles as interventionists, makers, hackers, modders, and tinkerers, in pursuit of new forms of engaged and participatory democracy.

    Contributors Mike Ananny, Chris Atton, Alexandra Bal, Megan Boler, Catherine Burwell, Red Chidgey, Andrew Clement, Negin Dahya, Suzanne de Castell, Carl DiSalvo, Kevin Driscoll, Christina Dunbar-Hester, Joseph Ferenbok, Stephanie Fisher, Miki Foster, Stephen Gilbert, Henry Jenkins, Jennifer Jenson, Yasmin B. Kafai, Ann Light, Steve Mann, Joel McKim, Brenda McPhail, Owen McSwiney, Joshua McVeigh-Schultz, Graham Meikle, Emily Rose Michaud, Kate Milberry, Michael Murphy, Jason Nolan, Kate Orton-Johnson, Kylie A. Peppler, David J. Phillips, Karen Pollock, Matt Ratto, Ian Reilly, Rosa Reitsamer, Mandy Rose, Daniela K. Rosner, Yukari Seko, Karen Louise Smith, Lana Swartz, Alex Tichine, Jennette Weber, Elke Zobl

    • Hardcover $12.75
    • Paperback $34.00