This dissertation shares the results of a study of the community of the mobile augmented reality game Pokémon Go. It also serves to build on and expand the framework of Distributed Teaching and Learning (DTALS), which here is used as a framework through which to explore the game’s community (Gee & Gee, 2016; Holmes, Tran, & Gee, 2017). DTALS serves to expand on other models which examine learning in out-of-school contexts, and in particular on the connections between classroom and out-of-school learning, which numerous scholars argue is of critical importance (Sefton-Green, 2004; Vadeboncoeur, Kady-Rachid, & Moghtader, 2014). This framework serves to build bridges as well as fill gaps in some key literature on learning in out-of-school contexts, including connected learning (Ito et al., 2009), participatory culture (Jenkins, Purushotma, Weigel, Clinton, & Robison, 2009), learning ecologies (Barron, 2006), and affinity spaces (Gee, 2004; Gee & Hayes, 2012). The model also focuses on teaching in addition to learning in and across informal contexts.
While DTALS can be used to examine any number of phenomena, this dissertation focuses on the community around Pokémon Go. The game, with its emphasis on geography and community, presents unique opportunities for research. This research draws on existing video game research which focuses on not only games but their communities, and in particular the learning and literacy activities which occur in these communities (Gee & Hayes, 2012; Hayes & Duncan, 2012; Squire, 2006; Steinkuehler, 2006).
The results here are presented as three separate manuscripts. Chapter Two takes a broad view of a local community of players, and discusses different player types and how they teach and learn around the game. Chapter Three focuses on families who play the game together, and in particular three focal parents who share their perceptions of the game's merits, especially its potential to promote family bonding and learning. Chapter Four discusses teaching, in particular guides written about the game and the ways in which they are situated in particular Discourses (Gee, 2014). Finally, Chapter Five offers implications from these three chapters, including implications for designers and researchers as well as calls for future research.