This paper argues that game play and the design of games offers a window into youth agency, defined here as the use of competence, strategy, and awareness. Analysis of game experiences in light of classical (Aristotelian) and progressive (Deweyan) learning goals illuminates design principles that can support the development of agency in contexts beyond games. A key factor is the role of making that occurs within games but is often absent in other learning environments. A three part model articulates aspects of making that occur within game spaces: (1) creation of original games or modifications of existing games, (2) construction of transient artifacts used within game play, and (3) development, application, and modification of tacit mini-theories which guide play. Each of these ‘making’ processes allows kids to exercise agency, and thus be active participants in the game space — an identity well worth nurturing for other parts of kids’ lives.


Games and the Quest for Agency
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