Understanding Habits of Participatory Civics in High School Students’ Crafting and Coding of Collaborative Game Controllers

The civic world is rapidly changing in response to the affordances of the digital age, which ushered the rise of participatory civics: interactive peer-based modes of civic action. In the spirit of Dewey’s vision of civic education as participation in a community, video games have been presented as a potential site for practicing civic interactions. We expand this approach, contending that collaborative game making can serve as a uniquely ripe setting for youth to develop habits characteristic of participatory modes of civic action. In a pilot study, high school students designed and build in small groups collaborative controllers for Scratch games. Our analyses reveal how collaborative game making potentially cultivates habits attuned to the challenges of participatory civics: engaging youth in interactive, peer-based and open-ended design processes, while demanding they reflect on the needs, perceptions and behaviors of diverse others.

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