Banterbury Library, amongst other things (Minecraft Club #22 09.05.15)

Screen Shot 2015-06-24 at 17.46.25

Still a week behind with my data familiarisation, but I’m catching up! Much of the in game play during this week seemed to centre around the creation of a new library in Banterbury. This post is built around my fieldnotes.

Week 22

Tom has trouble logging in to the game so I let him use my laptop and check that it’s ok for me to screencast his play. I become aware of the fact that there is now a library in Banterbury. I also notice that, now the town has a name, I no longer feel the need to prefix it with the term ‘virtual’ – does naming make it more ‘real’? I can’t remember if there was a library last week or not -when did it appear?

Screenshot 2015-06-02 16.38.27

Someone is singing ‘Milkshake’ by Kelis. Other children join in.

I focus on what Tom and Ben are doing, seating myself behind them. Tom looks at Ben’s screen. He then turns to Callum and asks him if he is writing books to – he isn’t, it’s just them. More singing – the girls start and the boys join in – it’s apparently the Minion’s Banana song.

Ben asks how to spell ‘comeuppance’ – I struggle to remember – it isn’t a word I use very often! I note that the boys flip between different ways of being in the game – writing, moving, writing again. Ben reads his book to Tom. Tom laughs. Ben takes his computer over to read the book to Lisa, the subject of his book. She laughs too. Both boys have inadvertently called their books ‘The Sick Buk!’ – they can’t believe the coincidence. One of them renames their to ‘The Super Buk’. Freya announces that she wants to write a book but Ben says that she can’t put it in the library. He relents saying ‘It’s just banter!’

Tom is typing ‘… swag mentally raged and blew up his…’ (short discussion over what sort of farm – ‘sausage or plastic’? He resumes, choosing ‘plastic’) ‘… plastic farm. Outraged with his stupidity of king pigs he…’ Tom says that his book is now ‘The Poop Buk’.

Untitled1

The girls are now writing books. Mia writes one about Ben and Tom, involving them walking down the isle. The book reads:

‘Happily, Tom and Ben walked hand in hand romantically down the wedding isle as the sunset shone thorough Tom’s big head. The best bit is Freya got it all on record, now that’s one for youtube. 3 weeks later Tom got fed up with Ben leaving his big bloomers on the bed, so they got a divorce :(‘

 

On hearing this they stand up and walk around the room, holding hands, doing the wedding march. They hug and pat each other’s backs, Ben stating ‘And that is how you deal with banter!’

There’s a reprise of the song ‘Tim Jim’ from week 3. Ben’s computer shuts down, L.  suggests he does some ballet to fill the time. He does. Tom is typing, again. So far he has largely interacted with an interface for typing rather than exploring space – this observation is supported by the screencast of his play. The library was build by him and Ben and seems to have a certain number of set rules, dictated by them (so creation means ownership in Banterbury?) Each book ends with the statement ‘Property of Banterbury Library’. Callum has created a book all ‘IN CAPS’ but Tom is refusing to let it in as it doesn’t fit the correct format…

The stories created by the children seem to largely involve other members of the group. More specifically, they seem to involve bad things happening to other members of the group and, as such, could be considered to be exemplars of the ‘banter’ from which the town gets its name.

Untitled

Whilst the library draws in a lot of the children, as usual not everyone is participating on the same task. Two of the girls are busy constructing what appears to be pixelart characters using the game’s blocks. One turns out to be me, with the word ‘thank you’ above it in large letters, using Minecraft blocks.

AFC652D5-85DB-453C-BD5B-3189541B6299

Finally Ben’s computer starts up again and he opens up one of the books he has created – it’s called ‘The Plastic Buk’ (each book seems to be named using this pattern, with an intentional mis-spelling of ‘book’ at the end.) He reads some of the content of the book out, to much laughter from the rest of the group.

Tom decides to hide in the game. He digs a hole under a building revealing a hidden room that he seems to have know was there already. ‘Ben, I’ve gone into operation hideout’ he says. “Ben! Come with me!’. Ben moves to sit next to Tom in the room and joins him in the game, in the hidden room. Ben is using a silly voice and I wonder what they are doing in this space.

There’s some singing from the boys, seemingly to mock the girls. ‘Don’t stop believing!’ they sing with mock enthusiasm. Tom asks Ben to fill in the secret hole.

Ben logs out, and back in. There is a discussion about veganism – about what it is. Ben starts singing a song by Blue. He is playing with words, language, lyrics, melody, tune, rhythm. Ben holds Tom’s hand. How do they drop in and out of the game like this? Ben starts rapping. I film the boys from over their shoulders as they work on separate screens, composing their separate texts – I film them doing this.

Someone asks how to spell ‘submarine’ – this prompts singing of ‘yellow submarine’ followed, again, by Milkshake by Kelis. They show a video of on of the club member at the skate park, on Youtube, on one of the class ipads. ‘How much money do you earn?’ asks one of the class, referencing the fact that people get paid for having popular channels of Youtube. He patiently explains that he doesn’t have enough views to get paid.

Some of the class discuss their Youtube accounts. They are discussing Minecraft videos and the show me a video called ‘the Villager News’

Tom returns to his computer and is typing, referencing something that turns out to be ‘Rap God’ by Eminem.

Cycling, the jeb door, tomatoes, nostalgia, rapping, the ‘flipping sofa’ and Jeffery, my pet block (Minecraft Club #19 12.05.15)

I am worn out when I arrive at the club this week – I have met headwind all the way on my regular uphill cycle to school. Whilst this ethnography clearly doesn’t extend to cover my reflections on my means of transport in (although I’m sure I could come up with enough data for a whole other ethnography based on this – particularly when my chain snaps on the way home) it does serve as a constant reminder that the boundary of the club is permeable, in that it draws the experiences of all participants at times outside of the club’s set beginning and end times. Most notably this week the children are taking part in their Y6 SATs. Some of them have even be entered into the Level 6 tests (tests that are well above the nationally expected level for children of this age – although there is a creeping expectation that schools enter some children for them). This afternoon was spelling, with some children (successfully) spelling words such as ‘recommended’, ‘partial’ and ‘picturesque’.IMG_0253 anon

This blog post is drawn from my fieldnotes. I also left the GoPro with a group of girls and created a short screencast towards the end of the session – I will look more closely at these later (the girls tell me at the end that they’ve done some talking to the camera to explain what they’ve done this week).

One of the dads arrives to pick up his daughter, having forgotten that the club is on (entirely forgiveable as I had to cancel last week’s club at short notice). She bundles him out of the classroom and returns, having persuaded him to let her stay. I’m relieved that all children manage to log in without too much problem and the session runs largely, and unusually, without any technical problems (aside from laptop batteries running out – the children now seem to have made their own rules for the percentage at which they will swap chargers).

Four boys are seated at the back of the class – I choose to focus on their participation for much of the session, and stay out of the game until towards the end (which could explain the lack of technical issues). Tom asks where the girls are located in the game and they refuse to tell him. Game play, this week, is taking place in creative mode – as it ended this way last week. There’s an unusual sense of calm to being with, with everyone seemingly focussed on their screens. 

Ed turns to talk to me: ‘Mr B, I’ve made a hidden Jeb door!’ – he shows me a piston door that he has made, using the instructions from the Redstone Handbook that he helped himself to earlier, proceeding to demonstrate the operation of the door on screen.

IMG_0257

Ed then turns to Callum and they discuss employing another Jeb door elsewhere in the building they are working on. They discuss a living room that Tom has created ‘under the room of doom’ – ‘it’s so we can chill out‘ he says. I’m pleased to stumble upon this later on in the session. I ask about the purple floor I see on Joe’s computer. He says that was just Tom’s idea – ‘he likes purple’.

IMG_0256Seemingly out of nowhere, Tom asks Ed ‘What’s your favourite kind of tomato? Plum, Cherry…?’ Ed chooses cherry, as do most of the rest of the class who join in answering the question. Tom nods approvingly – ‘It’s gotta be cherry every time!’.

Across the room there’s a lot of chat happening. Freya’s screen in turned away from her and she’s clearly not playing the game at this point, engrossed in conversation. I catch snatches of discussion about their older brothers and sisters, texting, their dad’s cars (Adam remembers Mia’s dad ‘rocking up in a Mercedes’  – clearly impressed), swimming (Freya reminisces about the time she fell off the baby slide at the local leisure centre, Matt jumps in at this point with a competing story about hurting himself at a swimming pool and suggests that ‘Freya -I think that was the origin of your bad luck!’ ), a proposed Skype call when they get home (presumably to continue these conversations). There’s also an extended discussion, relating to their roles in Christmas plays further down the school. They laugh at having to play each other’s family members (sample quotes: Freya (laughing): ‘I had to be his wife AND sister!’, ‘In Santa’s on Strike – YOU (points to Ben) were my dad!’, Tom: ‘We were the kids with the wooden gameboys!’) As discussion trails off, Freya returns to the game and turns the screen to face her. Throughout this discussion, Mia (next to Sophie) has contributed whilst still engaged with the game.

Even in its absence in this part of the room, the GoPro camera is influencing events – Tom starts singing the recurring GoPro song, changing the words to ‘We’re NOT on a GoPro’. This song soon morphs into a rap – Tom tells me it’s this:

… an imagined Rap Battle between the main characters from ‘Breaking Bad’ and ‘The Walking Dead’ (two 18 rated American TV shows). He gives what sounds like a word perfect rendition of a short section. (Later, watching this video I wasn’t previously aware of, I’m struck by the adult language and the reference to drugs and killing and how different this is to the content of the reading Sats paper that they completed earlier in the week, recalling a discussion with C. about this very thing)

IMG_0258

There appears to be some mischief happening. Someone has spawned and abandoned a herd of horses. Tom’s got his mind set on using TNT. He suggests that he has ‘a sick trick to play on central plaza’ – outlining his intention to link a daylight sensor to some TNT. Soon he’s asking the girls if it’s ok if he blows up a section of land. He warns the rest of the group ‘get ready for the boom’ but it seems not to work and, when it does, the impact of his explosion is minor. Meanwhile, Callum is clearing away the horses by setting fire to them. This is accompanied by a slightly unsettling noise coming from his computer, although he’s keen to point out that this is the quickest way of clearing them and sees them as an obstacle rather than a representation of any kind of real animal.

Screenshot 2015-05-12 16.33.38 Jo seems to be working really carefully in his room. I enter the game (and start the screencast) and join him in the room. I’m initially invisible to them, until we realise that I have ‘spectate mode’ turned on. Joe has filled a large chest with ender pills. Callum soon joins us and leads my Avatar off elsewhere, where he gives me a virtual present – ‘jeffery the amazing red block’. He reminds me not to place it anywhere as it will lose its name, so I keep it in my inventory.

I investigate a hole in the floor and end up in the aforementioned lounge room. The sofas are labelled with signs ‘a flipping sofa’ and ‘yet another flipping sofa’.

Screenshot 2015-05-12 16.36.50

A flipping sofa

Screenshot 2015-05-12 16.37.03

Yet another flipping sofa

 

 

Rebel Pig, Liam Neeson and a tour of Banterbury Baths (Minecraft Club #17 21.04.15)

A series of busy weeks has meant I’m a couple of weeks behind with looking at my data and writing these reports. Week 17 of the club was the first for four weeks, following an extended break for Easter. These notes will be a brief retelling of the main events from my fieldnotes.

Screenshot 2015-04-21 16.06.35

The session begins and I’m soon engaged in chat with Ben who has noticed a ‘rebel pig’ in the game. I’m told he is a rebel pig because he is balanced on the edge of a tall tree. Ben proceeds to sing a version of the ‘Spider Pig’ song from the Simpson’s Movie, changing the words to ‘Rebel Pig’. He asks me how to take a screenshot and I show him. (I intend to retrieve this later but I forget!) I ask why he wants to take a screenshot and he says he doesn’t know and laughs!

Mia is after a new horse. I note that the boys and girls are seated separately, in rows.

Someone declares that they are ‘having an existential crisis!’ It feels good to be back at the club after a break – there seems to be a renewed enthusiasm from the children (even though it has taken one child almost 30 minutes to get logged in due to technical problems with a series of laptops).

Screenshot 2015-04-21 16.37.14

I gift Mia an apple, at her request, as a gift for her new horse.

There’s an announcement. Tom dances across the front of the class, inviting everyone to ‘Come to the Banterbury Baths!’.

Ben is also on the lookout for horses, but he can’t find any. He approaches me and asks me to use my ‘special powers’ to fly above the landscape so that he can look for any stray horses on the ground below. He then explains that I can then teleport him to the horse so he can tame it. We look for horses but can only find the one belonging to Mia. He decides he will just try and steal this one while she is distracted and returns to his computer!

Screenshot 2015-04-21 16.07.08

There’s a spate of laptop batteries on the verge of running out and I have to go to the trolley to unthread some chargers to bring back in to the class. This is always annoying as it means I can’t be involved in the club and certainly can’t make any observations.

Tom gives me a tour of the Banterbury Baths, using my computer.

Screenshot 2015-04-21 16.28.01

I note that he has the word ‘facetious’ misspelt on his arm. I ask why it is there and he says that he was trying to spell it. I ask what it means and he tells me. I ask if he has labelled himself with that term and he laughs and says no.

A33CF094-D0FA-4E33-85FE-46BEF047A73A

Ben dramatically resigns from the game for this week – although his reasoning is unclear regarding why. He takes out a packet of cards and invites other children to play either Twist or 21.

Something is happening in the comments – Tom asks me if I have seen the film ‘Taken’. I tell him that I have and he tells me to watch my screen.

E96F33A7-3F65-4837-BC55-A62E5A436FF6

He has types ‘roses are red, violets are blue, Im Liam Neeson and I will find you’.

I approach three boys at the back to see what they are doing. They confide that they are tunnelling under other children’s creations without them knowing. One of them is finding the co-ordinates of the buildings above ground to help them arrive underneath. They show me their notebooks with their plans and co-ordinates written in.

87024FC2-3102-42A1-9448-A82FF927491F

FB4AA056-4DCB-4624-8293-BE4976E34A79

83AA6262-7041-4278-ADA0-0FD8623FF547

Throwing Meat from the Mountain (Minecraft Club #15 10.03.15)

meat throwingThis post is a narration of a short ten minute screencast from this week’s session, by way of a demonstration of how my in-game participation plays out during the club when I am present at my keyboard. My screen was recorded, alongside audio from the group present in the room.

I begin this session with an in-game explore of the children’s creations. Almost immediately I fall and get stuck in a hole. Looking down I find I am standing on the head of a zombie that also appears to be trapped.

zombie's head

After a few failed attempts to jump out I cheat and enable creative mode for myself, allowing me to fly to safety. I fly above land for a short while, before disabling creative mode. Looking back on the screencast, I wonder why I did this – why not allow myself to continue in this mode that allows freedom of movement? I walk past pigs and other avatars, pausing in game someone address me, in the room, with a technical problem:

Freya: ‘Mr Bailey, it’s gone dodgy!’ I take it as given that ‘it’ refers to the computer, or the game and dish out my usual rubbish advice (‘Log out and log back in again’) and continue.

I enter and soon exit a grey structure, created by the children, which seems half finished and uninhabited, changing direction to look for other points of interest. There are signs outside this building that I have seen before, detailing who can and can’t enter the building. The signs list the boys’ avatar names as those who are permitted. The girls’ real-life names are displayed on the sign indicating who is not allowed to enter. I soon re-enable creative mode to allow me to float above the landscape, instead of having to climb up a hill block-by-block, looking from above for evidence of the players’ creations in the blocky landscape. Spotting a grey staircase in the side of the hillside I descend and enter through a doorway. Inside I find myself in a corridor, with a choice of two directions (a liminal space?) I turn left, then right and follow the corridor to find that both directions would have led to the same place. I see a sign I recognise ‘YoloFaces room of doom’.

yolofaces

I enter and find a closed chest and a crafting table in front of me. I try to jump over them but there isn’t space. There’s some purple sparkle moving about in the room that I recognise as some sort of eminence from a nether portal located beyond the obstacles. I turn and leave the room. This leads to a grey chamber with another crafting table at its centre, and a grand staircase – decorated with pumpkin heads – leading out to the outside world. I make my way down the stairs, across the courtyard and into another hole in the side of the hill. It’s a dead end so I head back the way I came. Again Freya addresses me: ‘Mr Bailey, what should I do?’ I dispense more rubbish advice (‘Shut the computer down and try again… or go and grab a different computer’).

I continue exploring, entering a dimly lit cave, past a skeleton with an arrow, and exit the other side. I turn to see a horse jumping on the hillside and again not wanting to climb I float up instead of climbing and move across the landscape, from above. I notice a tall, multi-storey structure I haven’t seen before but have heard the children discussing on a number of occasions. Again, I find it’s deserted as I climb to the top on a long ladder, past identical, undecorated rooms. From the top, I look down and then set off again, flying across the landscape. I spot the fenced pens of multicoloured sheep being tended to my Lisa at the periphery of the village and my feet meet with land again on top of a mountain where I find <Famalamlad> and <CBTekkersOP>.

apple throwing

After five minutes in the game, the first fieldnote I made today comes as I observe <CBTekkersOP> standing next to me, throwing meat from the top of a mountain. I see an apple meet the same fate. I’m surprised enough by this act to question his motive.

Ben: ‘Yeah, we’re just lobbing our inventories out’.

He explains that his inventory is full and he is trying to clear space for more useful items – this being his rather dramatic method of redistribution.

On my way down the mountain I’m approached – in the room – by Joe, asking me to gift him a horse. I go to the menu in the game and attempt to give each player a horse spawner. (At this point I miss the message that says ‘item not found’). I make my way back down the hill to the bottom and watch as <Milliemoo> searches for the pile of items that <CBTekkersOP> has dumped. I think I may have accidentally collected some but don’t mention this. I try to drop them from my inventory but can’t find them and give up.

Joe returns to tell me that my horse donation didn’t work. I try again and this time notice the ‘item not found’ message. I pause in the game to instruct one child to leave another child’s keyboard alone – he has accidentally given up some items that he didn’t mean to and is trying to commandeer the girl’s avatar to get them back. All in good humour, but I don’t want to risk any accidents involving technology. I suggest that the girl lets the boy have the iron blocks back as it was a mistake and she complies.

Back in the game I suggest that I meet Joe’s avatar and present him with the horse spawner in (virtual) person. I drop the egg-like horse spawning block on the floor and the foot of the stairs and am soon joined by <BBQBOY> who collects the items and spawns a horse in front of me.

bbqboy

Alerted by dramatic complaints of lagging from one player across the classroom I soon shut down my screen casting software (Quicktime) and leave the game in order to lighten the load on the server for the other players – my laptop doesn’t seem to be able to run applications alongside the server without some consequence for the children’s gameplay. I’ll later re-enter the game using one of the school laptops.

Annotating a Chat Log (Minecraft Club #13 24.02.15)

A first attempt at using the annotation function in Word to try to make sense of some of the chat log, adding some wider context.

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 16.20.50
(null)
Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 16.38.30

Bullet Points (Minecraft Club #13 24.02.15)

I have been reading my fieldnotes and reviewing some of the video from this week’s session. As usual, there is so much going on that it is hard to know where to begin. For some reason, it seems to become even more difficult over time. This week, I am simply going to list some things I noticed, to return to at a later stage.

  • Nick Clegg is scheduled to visit the school later in the week. Before the club the children discuss possible questions they could ask him. There is a suggestion that they could ask for more money to buy updated laptops.

Photo 24-02-2015 16 05 19

  • Desks are positioned differently – preparing for SATS, using a more ‘formal’ seating arrangement. Children don’t move these but squeeze three children and laptops around spaces made for two.

Photo 24-02-2015 15 46 17

  • Children talk about how they have Skyped each other at home ‘in the middle of the night’, and a mischievous telephone based game called ‘Find Neil’ involving phoning random numbers and asking for Neil.
  • Discussion about how Dads dance compared to Mums, with demonstrations. This leads to a discussion about the differences in boys’ and girls’ behaviour. The conclusion reached by two children was that girls are more concerned about being embarrassed than boys.
  • The term ‘house hacking’ is used by Joe to indicate that someone is trying to enter his house through the cellar. ‘Stop hacking my house!’

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 16.29.07

  • There seems to be a move from creating domestic space to establishing more shared areas – there is a restaurant, an ice cream stand and a trading area.

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 16.30.32

  • The farm continues, with the boys negotiating with the girls to join in with what they have started.

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 16.21.59

  • More disagreements about territory and trespass. Ben: ‘She was invading our space’. At one point, Ben takes Mia’s laptop to move her out of his space, much to her amusement.

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 16.24.36

  • My role in the game is suggested by one child as being ‘our God’ due to my ability to give resources to the children. Children make cases for why they should be given a particular resource. This is then given to each of the participants, whether they requested it or not. This then leads to negotiation between players. I approve requests for Netherrack (‘to light our rooms’) and seeds (‘to grow at the farm’), but not for flint as this is proposed as being necessary ‘to pretend to shoot people’.

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 16.12.15

  • Some children found their way into the nether, where they gathered resources that they couldn’t get anywhere else in the game.

Photo 24-02-2015 16 05 15

  • Girls singing ‘The Pirate Song’: ‘When I was young, I had some fun, the day I went to sea’. Boys don’t join in.
  • Tom takes the GoPro and films himself playing for a while, talking to the camera and providing a dramatic, exaggerated commentary on his gameplay: ‘Last time I checked I’m not sure I was having fun, but still…. to be truthful, I think I’m having a bit of what an emotional breakdown feels like (He smiles to himself)… This is annoying. (Staring straight into the lens) This is probably going to make me go through all the flipping stages of grief…’

afk

  • He also reflects on the comments of others. To Molly: Why do you get every precious rock?(mocking voice) ‘It’s decorative, It’s decorative, It’s decorative ‘ (Mock annoyed) Molly! They are not decorative, they are precious rocks, used in many ways! aaarrrggghhh!’
  • Tom has a large ball of bluetac, that also makes its own GoPro appearance at the end of his video.