Active videogames or exergames are introduced in schools in many countries with the purpose to increase physical activity (Sun 2015). Previous studies have shown problematic messages being offered in exergames about health but are these messages part of young peoples’ learning when playing? Whilst key metaphors like acquisition and participation often have been used as ways to explore learning, like Enright and Gard (2016) we argue that these metaphors are not sufficient to understand the unpredictability, mobility and thrown-togetherness of things when approaching the entanglement of knowledge, learning, videogames and visual culture (Fors et al 2013).
Following Deleuze and Guattari (1987), Cormier (2008) argued that organic metaphors like the rhizome could be a way to unpack learning in digital age. While the rhizome metaphor offers support to discuss unpredictable, messy and embodied learning processes, it risks missing what Engestrom (2007) describes as ‘invisible’ symbiotic and mobile aspects of the learning process, and following Engestrom we suggest the metaphor of mycorrhiza as a way beyond these limitations. Mycorrhiza refers to symbiotic relationships between fungi and roots of plants where fungi are the visible effects of the mycorrhiza. At the same time, hidden from plain view, is a myriad of mycelium threads growing unpredictably with no end or starting points, functioning in mutualistic relations to plants and trees as well as the soil around it.
Video recorded data of young people playing snowboard-, sport- and fitness games reveal various interactions where obvious fungi include; competition, interacting socially, gaming logic and norms regarding ideal bodies. These aspects of gaming occur in different combinations, games and groups, with no obvious starting or end points and a diversity of how the learning process proceeds. These sometimes interconnected aspects appear in symbiotic relations to sports, gaming, technology, discourses of ideal bodies and social relations between gamers, and can be understood as invisible organic aspects of the learning process underneath visible fungi. Even if we just see a fungus in terms of a happy and active player or a player using humour to dismiss a failed result or a BMI not considered ideal, it is important that we continue to scrape the surface and look at the soil, the mycelia, the growth and the symbiotic relations. If we do that we might find more clues to the learning going on in relation to digital technologies and what Wii in the name of health are doing to them.
Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE) Conference 2016: Transforming Educational Research, Melbourne, Australia, 27 November-1 December, 2016