Affinity Space Project for ILT 5320

I’ve really enjoyed learning through a subreddit called All Things Terran this semester. Until now, I’d never had an interest in affinity spaces. I’ve learned a lot. Granted, I had to lurk on a lot of spaces before I found a group that I genuinely respected.

Below is a video containing my observations over the past few months in relation to our readings, primarily from Gee and Hayes, this semester.


27 thoughts on “Affinity Space Project for ILT 5320

  1. Emily May says:

    Hey Paul- I enjoyed reviewing your affinity space presentation on All Things Terran, the subreddit group. I appreciate your thoroughness approach to finding a nurturing space that worked best for you. Sounds like you chose the right one as your gaming improved! Congrats 🙂

    Based on your remarks, this space is focused, polite, and rules are thoughtful. I understand now that All Things Terran is a place for novice and seasoned players alike to share successes, failures, and advice for anyone wanting to improve their game play –a real strength of the space.

    Like you, I’m not always a fan of participating in online spaces. It was great that this project gave you an opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and engage with the community. Sounds like taking the plunge helped you gain knowledge and skills that ultimately helped you get better over time. I’m glad you want to keep it going once our course ends!

    I am impressed that you were able to connect the subreddit group with all of Gee and Hayes 14 features of an affinity space! To me, that’s an indicator of a true nurturing affinity space. I agree with you about participation fueling growth and how knowledge and skills are transformed over time by the interactions that take place. Since this group / game has been for so long, it’s no wonder the space is so nurturing! Great job!


    1. Dim sum HK-life says:

      Hi Emily,
      Thanks for the kind words! At first it was stressful figuring things out but over time I really grew to enjoy it. The community seems like it’s a solid group of people. I think that is the most important factor to me. It met the criteria fairly well, some points better than others, but the 14 points delineates well the common features of an effective, thoughtful space.


  2. logan says:

    You mention right away that cultural norms in this space include how focused, polite, and supportive it is and that these points were clearly outlined—it sounds like that was unlike some of the other affinity spaces you were exploring for this particular assignment. It also seemed important that one of the guidelines was to search for answers to your question before posting. As you mentioned this space had been around for a while, that seems like it would be important!

    It was good that you were able to interact with the space and use the help available to improve your ability at playing the game, not just from the previously accumulated knowledge about the game, but from interacting more directly with other members of the community that gave you more directed suggestions that helped you increase your in-game skills.

    It definitely sounds like you saw a big strength of this space in the hierarchy in how one could participate in the space without actively participating (by using it as a straightforward helpful resource for the game) versus actively contributing to more advanced knowledge building about the game in actually posting.

    The idea that knowledge is pooled in the space is clearly present in how you mentioned that the space acts as a comprehensive guide about the game (up to a point), with answers to questions about just about every basic facet of the game present in the space. That being said, you did a great job of connecting this space to all elements of an affinity space from Gee and Hayes. That’s a ton of work, and you did a fantastic job with it!

    Awesome work!


    1. Dim sum HK-life says:

      Thanks, Logan! It was kind of like a training camp. You have all the necessary materials to improve, then when you reach a higher level of skill you move on to advanced, personal feedback from serious players with a wealth of knowledge. From there, it just continues as a resource no matter how skillful you become.
      I was very impressed by the organization of the site. It seems extremely thoughtful and intentional. The more I analyzed it, the more I liked it.


  3. anniemelzer says:

    Right off the bat, your game looks like Super Smash TV for Super Nintendo. I LOVED that game. I really appreciate how your space encouraged new users to search in the query for questions. This is a great way to develop norms for this site that can cut down on the clutter and repetition. I haven’t heard that from anyone’s affinity space. It also pushed the user to read more responses that already exist on the affinity space.

    It seems like according to you that people responded positively to all comments (even when newbie ones are discouraged). It is helpful to have that side bar to know who the experts are and where resources are located. Did you ever feel like an outsider in this game? Coming from a non-gaming back ground, it had to be intimidating. Why did you choose this one?

    From what I can see, a strength of this website seemed to be its organization. You did a good job connecting all of Gee and Hayes features from out readings. I found that most if not all of the features applied to my Minecraft space. Thank you for sharing your experience!


    1. Dim sum HK-life says:

      Hi Annie,
      Haha, the intro came out a little more aggressive than I initially intended. As it developed, I just decided to embrace it and run with it. Creating intros/title sequences is one of my favorite things in the world. I added 14% noise into the the first part with the old music and faded the noise out as the second track came in to give it a fun effect. It was a blast figuring out ways to use menus and screens from the game interface to facilitate topics.
      Having the search for topics as part of the guidelines definitely shapes the space and cuts out a lot of unnecessary posts. Some of the components of the site and rules reminded me of this course, it gives you something useful that leads to something else and something else.
      People seemed really encouraging and thoughtful.
      I definitely felt like an outsider. It took a while to learn the language I needed to understand a lot of the advice. I chose the game because the original StarCraft was the only mainstream computer game that I had ever played (18 years ago, yeesh). It’s funny, though. I realized more and more throughout the semester how video games were relevant at different intervals in my life. Carmen Sandiego and some Nintendo nes when I was really young, StarCraft, Tony Hawks Pro Skater, Crash Bandicoot, and Dance Dance Revolution from 12-18, and finally a dose of Call of Duty in my early twenties. I never really got into games, but there were short periods of play throughout my entire life. I guess it took my master’s degree to initiate this period of play. I’m glad it did.


  4. Melanie Sokol says:

    Awesome job Paul! I really enjoyed learning about your time in the affinity space community. It was so clear to hear your space norms, which were that everyone was focused, polite, and supportive of one another. Someone else in the class had mentioned this as cultural norms of their space as well and I just began to wonder, why this is stated though? Is it not a norm for people to respect each other’s ideas and be polite? Like Logan said, I also thought it was interesting, yet beneficial, to outline that you should research the answer to your question before posting. I find this is not the usual for people – or at least it wouldn’t be for me. I would definitely just go ahead and post the question so that the answers come to me rather than doing a ton of research though the whole affinity space to hope to find an answer.
    Nice job being able to interact directly with other members in the community. It seemed like it definitely helped you gain some skills on gaming that you can use in the future.
    It seems as though one of the strengths of your affinity space was that one is able to participate in the space without actively participating. This connects to Gee and Hayes as well with that a member can be as active as they want yet still get something out of the affinity space. It is all up to comfort level of the participant.
    Along with that connect to Gee and Hayes, you also mentioned that knowledge is pooled in the space because there are answers to just about any topic one can come up with about gaming.


    1. Dim sum HK-life says:

      Hi Melanie,
      Thanks for the comments! I really enjoyed this space this semester. The advice that one of the members gave me improved my skills in game dramatically. I’m beating levels on more difficult settings because of the advice I received.
      In regards to civility, it makes sense to have a very clear focus and set of guidelines if you’re creating a space and know what you want it be. Sites will change depending on the members and their interactions and, sadly, I believe that the second law of thermodynamics is appropriate here. Without the structure and guidelines, spaces often become salty. This is why you can edit commenting and liking features for YouTube videos. It is the job of the site creators and mods to shape the space, or not shape the space. It’s a choice.
      Noobs on the space have so many opportunities for learning. When I first joined, the resources weren’t prominently displayed on the side bar. That was a later addition. The rules were the same but the people running the site made an effort to give people easier access which, in turn, will help people follow the guidelines. I’ve been very impressed with the thought that goes into creating the space. They do an excellent job.


  5. Jennifer Johnston (@JenJennandJenny) says:

    Hi Paul,
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us! Your presentation was beautifully designed, great job on that! I’m glad your site was so helpful and as you said, “polite”. Working in a space where you feel appreciated and helped is really important.
    I appreciated you using all 14 Affinity Space indicators, that was a lot of work, but you did such a great job implementing them all!
    I appreciated your thoughts on how Affinity Spaces change over time…not only is this very true, but I think it is necessary for the survival of an affinity space. If something doesn’t know how to evolve, then it runs the risk of becoming obsolete.
    Though you were hesitant in the beginning, you received specific help from a player and you said your gameplay improved. This just goes to show how valuable these spaces are for learning. As you said, roles are reciprocal, and you obviously received the help you needed when you needed it. Would you say that this is the most rewarding aspect of this space for you?

    Thanks for your thoughts, awesome presentation!


    1. Dim sum HK-life says:

      Hi Jennifer,
      Thank you for the comment! Even though it was a bit rushed, it was a fun project to build.
      The politeness of the space was inviting for learning and participation. As a beginner, it encouraged my willingness to learn.
      I was stressed about time, trying to fit all 14 points in. I wanted to include more analysis outside of the 14 points but ended up cutting a bit out to meet the 10 minute mark.
      I wish I could say more about the reciprocal nature from a personal point of view. I was able to glean knowledge, but I couldn’t contribute because my knowledge is very beginner level compared to most of the members of the site. I witnessed the back and forth contributions of more experienced players and even that was rewarding. If I continue to play the game, I’ll likely start contributing.


  6. Robert Grotans says:

    Cool intro! The Reddit search feature can be awful though, which does make it hard to find out if something has been posted before. Have you seen any examples of how the community reacts to someone that posts something that has already been asked?

    Nice quick overview off all the features of affinity spaces from Gee and Hayes! One nice thing about Reddit is it’s openness. I noted many of the same affinity space features on the subreddit I explored as well. There were always a ton of content being created, specialist knowledge was appreciated, and newbies could easily engage with masters. Did you get a lot of responses to your posts? I found on my space it could be hit or miss and some posts would received no replies.


    1. Dim sum HK-life says:

      Hi Robert,
      People respond helpfully even when the question can be answered by looking through old threads. Sometimes someone will direct the poster to those threads, other times people will just answer their question. My post only received one comment but it was really helpful. They gave me advice and shared a couple of videos with more info relevant to my experience level.
      The people in charge of the space ended up making the most common questions and beginner level content easily accessible on the sidebar of the space. It was really helpful to have quick access to tutorials and posts that answer the most common questions.


  7. benpotter8 says:

    Hi Paul,

    Nice job on your project. Great use of media from the game itself to create interest. As some have already commented, ATT was a focused and positive space that had immediate effects on the quality of your game play with Star Craft 2. It’s always nice to find a resource that creates a noticeable positive impact on an activity outside the space. Another aspect that stuck out was the clear expectation to first search the site for a thread that relates back to your query prior to creating a new post. So often in these type of spaces, people post questions without first researching to see if their query had already been addressed.

    Your thoughtful and thorough analysis of each Affinity Space element outlined by Gee and Hayes was impressive. One aspect that really stuck out for me in your analysis was the emphasis on production and not just consumption. My AS dwelled primarily in consumption and thus was slowly dying. I’m glad you had a better experience.

    Thanks for sharing.


    1. Dim sum HK-life says:

      Hi Ben,
      Thanks for the comment!
      It was a great experience. The people running the site definitely put some time and thought into the atmosphere they wanted to create. The search rule was a good move on their part.
      The content people produced was really helpful. Watching better players play really puts some of the advice into perspective. You watch the videos and see the advice you’ve read about put into action and quickly realize how effective the strategies are in play. The videos also give you something to look forward to each week.


  8. cilantro12 says:

    Hi Paul,

    Hello fellow Redditor! Your experience with gaming affinity spaces is quite similar to Mike’s in that you both found posting in the space to be limited until reaching a certain comfort/experience level with the game itself. The difference I think is that your space contained better access to tutorials and bigger willingness to help newbie posts as these were not segregated to a special portion of the space like Mike’s space required. To sum up your thinking, you said it best when you said that though the space was friendly and encouraging, participation was not guaranteed until a certain ability level had been reached in game. Regardless, I got the sense that being an insider ranged from lurkers to posters of all skill levels of the game as tutorials were readily available for lurkers in the side panel and posts were available to all with questions and feedback.

    I understand the hesitance to posting in a space for a game that you are not yet experienced with. I felt the same challenge with my own affinity space, and I wasn’t a newb to my game. I, too, took advantage of tutorial posts and side panels at first to get ahead in my gaming skills. I’m glad that you eventually became comfortable with your space, and I think this ease could be related to the many aspects of a good affinity space contained within this space. You mention just about every feature of Gee & Hayes list for nurturing affinity space. The three that I think work best are the newbies/masters and everyone else share the common space, specialist and general knowledge are pooled, and everyone can produce or consume as they see fit. It was clear to see where the newbies and masters hung out in your space (side panels versus posts) and that the knowledge contained in either section included specialist and general knowledge for all to access. You also mention a clear delineation between masters being the posters and newbies being the consumers as newbs are expected to search for questions that already contain the answers for which they seek per the rules of the space. What other learning theory outside of Gee and Hayes do you think connects with your affinity space?

    The strengths of your space appear to lie in the friendly and well-organized community. Your space has a clear section for those seeking tutorials versus those asking more higher level questions versus those seeking feedback for creations. Members are quick to respond with help and resources. You mention that your own gaming improved as a result of using the space, so I would count this as a strength as well. I wasn’t clear what the limitations of the space were, but at times it seemed like being a newb to the space could be limiting in terms of contributions. Were there any other stand-out limitations beyond this?

    Overall, nice job helping me to understand the game and the subreddit for which you participated within. I enjoyed getting to learn about a new section of a space (Reddit) I frequent often.


    1. Dim sum HK-life says:

      Hi Stephanie,
      Even though, according to the rules, a noob wouldn’t have much of a reason to post, people were still really helpful and friendly when noob posts came up. Sometimes they’d be directed to older posts and sometimes people would write paragraphs of helpful advice and include links to help the person out.
      It took me a while to post, and I only received one comment, but it was extremely helpful. They gave me their personal advice to better play and added a couple of video links they thought would be helpful. Their advice improved my game play dramatically. I’m playing on a more difficult setting than I was a month ago and winning more games.
      The biggest limitation I encountered was that I wasn’t able to contribute yet. Being a beginner level player, I don’t really have any valuable feedback for other players. I’m sure if I keep playing the game I’ll start contributing. That was really the only limitation I encountered.
      As far as other readings this semester, I had another one I wanted to highlight in the video but had to cut to meet the 10 minute mark. The quote was from Jenkins’ ’06 article, “We can move in and out of informal learning communities if they fail to meet our needs; we enjoy no such mobility in our relations to formal education.”
      I searched through a lot of spaces before settling on this one. Even a game like SC2, which isn’t especially popular anymore, has hundreds of spaces online dedicated to the game. I eventually found the perfect one because I was able to freely roam through the spaces to find what I thought would be the best place for me to learn. I wanted a space inhabited by skillful players, I also wanted somewhere civil. I found it.
      Thanks for the thoughtful analysis and questions!


  9. darrenblackman says:

    Hello Paul,

    I think you did a great job with your presentation, I thought using the ambient sounds from Starcraft 2 was particularly engaging.

    You observed that the cultural norms of your affinity space, All Things Terran, hinged to the mission statement, shared in the community rules. The communities mission is to share successes, failures and advice for anyone who wants to understand the game and become the strongest player they possibly be. This statement shared as part of the rules seems to make this AS a very focused community, the AS that I joined for fantasy football supported development as a fantasy football player but that was mixed in with lots of tangential interactions, which while engaging, did not lead to FF mastery, heck even my contributions, sharing about using FF in a math class, would not necessarily help adults be better players.

    The seriousness of the community fostered another norm which seems to encouraged new members to start their contributions by searching thought previous threads, like you experienced, finding solutions for problems that have already been shared. After becoming familiar with the forums as a type of interactive tutorial then members are ready for the next level of participation and contributions, the sharing of game experiences and answering the queries of others.

    The strength of this community seems to be the focus of members that make the forums an interactive and moderated tutorial. The leaders of the community organize threads and information to make knowledge accessible to users, with insiders answering new questions and the whole community sharing game states and strategies to help all members improve.

    l thought you made three insightful connections between your AS and the Gee and Hayes text:
    1 Everybody is encouraged to produce – users are encouraged to upload videos of their game play and states from game play, to create a pool of knowledge that can be tapped when making strategies.
    2 Content is transformed by interaction – the community has developed as an interactive tutorial that evolves thought the content contributed by users, answering questions of other users.
    3 There are many routes to status – the stated mission of the AS is to support users development as skilled players, with statue shown though game rank and league statue.

    thank you for sharing your presentation, I think you did a great job!



    1. Dim sum HK-life says:

      Hi Darren,
      Thanks for the comment!
      It was a lot of fun and really helpful to have such a focused, established resource for learning this semester. Having the ability to pick my learning environment made it easier to learn. I was looking for focused an civil content, and I found it.
      Another thing that I realized is that Gee and Hayes outlined components will translate differently for different people. Some people might find inclusion and nurturing characteristics in places that others would not. Even though Gee and Hayes outlined the components, they can be interpreted different ways and the criteria can be met on a sliding scale.
      I don’t think that the tangential communication in your space is a bad thing. I think that it is an important part of any social community. Within ATT, the social components happen outside of the space. People play games together, they have a weekly skype chat for members, and other opportunities for engagement. Within the site, it seems like it’s mostly business, though.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Rocz3D says:

    Great presentation! I’ve played a few RTS games, but haven’t played SC2. It’s a huge competitive game and from your experience with the affinity space, it looks to have been a good resource. Do you think it is a game that you would continue to play? It’s helpful that there was ample community rules and code of conduct listed to orient new users. I thought it was great how you discussed all of Gee&Hayes characteristics of affinity spaces to your space. It made for a comprehensive discussion of the SC2 space.

    I had previous experience with my game along with the community to some extent. Your not having played the game prior seem to be a greater learning experience as you really have to dive in deeper, making more connections. The community sounds extremely supportive and helpful. Sounds like there was a lot of discussion about strategy and plans of action. All those opinions can provide fertile ground for new ideas. It’s easier than trying to think of them yourself. I can be rather lazy and letting the discussions of others spark new thoughts is my way of maintaining that status quo 😊 Thanks for sharing.


    1. Dim sum HK-life says:

      Hey Brian,
      What are your favorite RTS games? My buddy is trying to get me into some other genres, but I think RTS is likely the only type of game I can really get into. I’d love some suggestions. If you ever pick up SC2, let me know. It’d be fun to play some time.

      Holy cow, it’s competitive! I probably will continue to play from time to time, to my wife’s chagrin.

      It’s been a lot of fun learning to play the game, then learning to play it better. Still learning.

      The community is awesome. I learn similarly. I want to see, study people that know what they’re doing or talking about. This group knows what they’re doing. This is definitely one of the most important characteristics of an AS. Outside of the pool of knowledge, it’s just social components that either lead you in or push you away.


  11. kyleandrewroberts says:

    Hello Paul,
    Thank you for sharing your awesome presentation! I really enjoyed your well put together presentation. That game looks pretty cool. I think that I would have definitely enjoyed playing that if I had the time. It looks as though it would be pretty easy to play for hours. I thought that the space itself that you joined was great. There was a common passion that people of all skill levels were engaged in. I do especially enjoy the fact that members of the community promote users to seek out answers before they ask a question. I wish that my own students did this sometimes rather than rely on me for help. However like you said when this type of situation did happen, members of the community were polite and respectful to the member. Like Emily said earlier, I am very impressed that you were able to connect all of the aspects of Gee& Hayes to your affinity space! Wow, well done! Do you think that you will continue on in this space or do you think that you will take what you have learned and play on? Thank you for sharing, great job!


    1. Dim sum HK-life says:

      Hi Kyle,
      It was a lot of fun playing the game and consulting the space. I’ll probably play and consult the site occasionally still. I also wish I had more time for simple pleasures.
      The real world requires research. I was the same way when I was a kid. I would often ask the question before I tried to figure it out on my own. Getting primary and secondary students to establish that mindset must be difficult.
      Thanks for the feedback!


  12. Kait C (@katmndieux) says:

    Love Starcraft! When Starcraft first came out, my hubby and I played co-op regularly and often, especially with specialized maps. We only played the beta version of SC2. How did you like game-play in general? Were there opportunities for online play and did you reach a comfortable skill level to try that? If so, how did it go?

    I like how you took us through all of the Gee & Hayes components systematically. A very good evaluation of your space and its usefulness. It seems useful and really thorough as a site for all levels of players from Newbie to Master Player. I’m really on the fence about how sites deal with newbie questions. EVE online has a newbie chat so that you don’t have to spend so much time pouring through posts and can learn as you go in the game, much more interactive. I think I prefer it that way rather than having to read through things or even easily search (as this AS has it well organized). What do you think? It sounds like the AS is also well planned and implemented and allows a player a really comprehensive opportunity to participate in different ways as their skill level grows.

    You’ve made clear connections with Gee & Hayes and I’d love to have seen you throw in something from another one of our readings and see what you reflected on it as your reflections for the G & H parallels were well done.

    And you used the word plethora. I love that word. 🙂



    1. Dim sum HK-life says:

      Hi Kait,

      Thanks for the feedback! That’s awesome that you were into StarCraft! I’d recommend picking up SC2 if you have the time for it. It’s a really fun game. The original game was the only computer game I had ever played until this semester. I even played WoW the other night with a friend for a while. Not sure I can get into that one, though. I think the RTS games might be where my interests lie.

      Online play is great. I play once a week with a friend. We’ve done the co-op missions and occasionally just play different maps. There are some really good modded maps with fun qualities. One map eliminates wait time for building/training, so it’s really fast-paced and fun.

      I definitely got better. I’m playing on harder settings alone and during co-op play with my friend. A lot of that was due to the ATT space.

      I bet the newbie chat is really helpful. I can’t remember if it’s on ATT or another SC2 site, but there’s a weekly help a newb thread. If it isn’t hosted on ATT, ATT links to it on the space as a resource for newbs. There’s some great content in those.


  13. shynagill says:

    Hey Paul,
    I am blown away by your affinity space presentation! This looks extremely professional. Your opening sequences were amazing and the way you had added music to certain screenshots was awesome. Just out of curiosity, what program,or programs, did you use to create this in?

    I have really enjoyed seeing the affinity space presentations of subreddits. They all seem like positive places and yours was no exception. I thought this one may have been the most organized as far as rules go. I was reading some of the rules and noted that the moderators seem to take politeness very seriously, which is great to see. This affinity space certainly seems like it fits the criteria that Gee and Hayes mention about nurturing spaces.

    I was unfamiliar with StarCraft II until I saw your presentation, but I know that Starcraft was a pretty popular game back in the day. I am wondering if StarCraft II has as loyal of a following as the original Starcraft game?

    Well done, Paul! I am really impressed with your work and the time and thoughtfulness you put into this presentation.


    1. Dim sum HK-life says:

      Hi Shyna,

      Thanks for the comments! I used Adobe Premiere Pro to put it all together, but I used the Windows Game Bar and Screencastomatic for in game captures and video recordings. I retrieved most of the audio from the YouTube Audio Library.

      I was always skeptical of reddit until this semester. I grew to be really impressed with all that it has to offer. I’m sure there are some terrible subreddits, but it seems like everyone in the class that used reddit for their AS projects had good experiences overall.

      SC2 isn’t as popular as WoW or other games, but there’s a dedicated following. A lot of people spend time creating tutorials, fan art, game mods, and other types of media dedicated the game and the mechanics. I’m not sure how the fan base compares to the original. I’d be curious to see some stats.



  14. Nik Unterkircher (@nikutek) says:

    Hey Paul,

    Thanks for sharing your AS presentation. I liked your presentation style choices, simple but effective. I had never heard of Terran before, your video did a great job at explaining the intricacies of the game.

    You broke down the attributes of an Affinity Space and the principles set forth really well, that any novice would be able to follow along and still feel really engaged via your presentation. I like how you mentioned the fact that the forum encourages users to search for an answer to their question before posting a duplicate question. I think this is multi-purpose, it prevents unnecessary clutter within the space. But also, it encourages one to explore the forum and engage in an meaningful way rather than receive instant gratification.

    Your explanation of the attributes of an Affinity Space according to Gee & Hayes was extremely thorough and well-executed. You detailed each principle with an accurate example. I especially like how you highlighted the role of the moderators within the space. It also was a welcomed measure for you to be vocal about your shortcomings within the space and your lack of knowing everything about a space. I’m glad to know that your interaction with your chosen space was a positive one, and that it lent itself to a greater understanding of how AS operate.

    Thanks again for sharing.


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