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Peer Pedagogies on Digital Platforms

Learning with Minecraft Let's Play Videos (Learning in Large-Scale Environments)

Michael Dezuanni


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How a popular entertainment genre on YouTube—Let's Play videos created by Minecraft players—offers opportunities for children to learn from their peers.

Every day millions of children around the world watch video gameplay on YouTube in the form of a popular entertainment genre known as Let's Play videos. These videos, which present a player's gameplay and commentary, offer children opportunities for interaction and learning not available in traditional television viewing or solo video gameplay. In this book, Michael Dezuanni examines why Let's Play videos are so appealing to children, looking in particular at videos of Minecraft gameplay. He finds that a significant aspect of the popularity of these videos is the opportunity for knowledge and skill exchange.

Focusing on Let's Play practices, the videos themselves, and fans' responses, Dezuanni argues that learning takes place through what he terms peer pedagogy—a type of nonhierarchical learning that is grounded in the personal relationships fans and players feel toward one another. Moreover, the Let's Play platform is part of a larger digital ecosystem that enables children to learn from one another in unique ways. Dezuanni explores how Let's Players enable learning opportunities, examining digital literacies, the Let's Play genre, and peer pedagogies. He then presents case studies of three successful family-friendly Let's Players of Minecraft: Stampylonghead, StacyPlays, and KarinaOMG, microcelebrities in a microindustry. Dezuanni analyzes the specific practices and characteristics of these players, paying particular attention to how they create opportunities for peer pedagogies to emerge.

Praise For Peer Pedagogies on Digital Platforms: Learning with Minecraft Let's Play Videos (Learning in Large-Scale Environments)

“Michael Dezuanni’s in-depth analysis of the players and hosts of YouTube Minecraft channels illustrates that playing isn’t just about learning the game but also about learning to participate within massive online communities.”
—Yasmin B. Kafai, Lori and Michael Milken President’s Distinguished Professor, University of Pennsylvania
Peer Pedagogies on Digital Platforms describes how online digital platforms and fan culture have changed the dynamic of peer relationships. The book is timely and relevant for educators, parents, and others who are interested in understanding the nature of online social relationships and learning in young people’s digitally mediated lives.”
—Elisabeth R. Gee, The Delbert and Jewell Lewis Chair in Reading and Literacy at Arizona State University; coauthor of Families at Play: Connecting and Learning Through Video Games

The MIT Press, 9780262539722, 224pp.

Publication Date: September 22, 2020

About the Author

Michael Dezuanni is Associate Professor in the School of Communication and Associate Director of the Digital Media Research Centre at Queensland University of Technology in Australia. He is the coeditor of Serious Play: Literacy, Learning, and Digital Games.