Systems at Play

The purpose of this mixed methods study was to analyze the impact of a facilitated game design experience on teens’ awareness of systems thinking and self-expression of their lived experiences. To investigate how teens incorporated issues that are important to them through the processes of game design and systems thinking during a summer program, a concurrent nested mixed methods design was used (Creswell, 2003).
Using qualitative data and analytic procedures, participant-created artifact and observational research notes were examined. A pre/post survey provided descriptive data, as well as ordinal data, that allowed us to investigate any statistically significant change in participants’ awareness of systems thinking. The findings inform how game design can be used as an approach for teen self-expression and developing an awareness
of systems thinking. Findings suggest that through constructionist game design teens did make the connection between systems in their daily life. The findings also suggest that the teens were not necessarily cognizant of this awareness.

Game Design as an Approach for Teen Self-Expression
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