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This article describes the support for social interactions received by three students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) through their multimodal engagements with Minecraft®. The data were collected through at-screen observations and semi-structured interviews. Multimodal analysis of the data demonstrated that online multiplayer games supported social interactions through modes, such as speech, writing and gesture, and within physical and virtual spaces. The analysis revealed that online multiplayer games provided platforms for the students to use speech to engage in reciprocal conversations, to share information, to make requests, to give commands and to direct others. Additionally, screen-based written texts were used to attract the attention of others, send messages, communicate rules and maintain engagements with others within the students’ physical and virtual worlds. Furthermore, the findings showed that online multiplayer games supported the students’ uses, interpretations and mirroring of gestures for social interactions. The findings have implications for providing opportunities to support social interactions in multimodal ways that social spaces in face-to-face and offline contexts do not allow. The findings offer implications for targeting the students’ interests in online multiplayer games to support their capacity to initiate and sustain social interactions in inclusive educational settings.


Institute for Learning Sciences and Teacher Education

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Journal Article

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