A Framework to Democratise the Design of Educational Games on Social Issues during Game Jams

Myers, Christina (2021). A Framework to Democratise the Design of Educational Games on Social Issues during Game Jams. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.000132de


Game Jams are events organised to create computer games, usually taking place during weekends. These events have become a popular way to enable participants to experience processes and practices of game development as well as to offer multidisciplinary learning opportunities, accessed through the variety of skills involved in game design. However, these events tend to be attended predominantly by male game developers and present barriers to participation for more diverse groups.

This thesis investigates how to support diverse group participation in Game Jams, including people from different ethnicities, genders, ages, sexual orientations and who do not have any prior experience of designing games; and explores Game Jam participation as an opportunity to discuss social issues. To this end, a framework to democratise the design of educational games on social issues in Game Jams is proposed.

The framework consists of a process with structured resources and activities to enhance learning by supporting egalitarian participation and agency. It offers collaborative learning opportunities for groups to engage with a social issue, relying on storytelling and on the exchange of perspectives and experiences. It also provides support and access to research-based principles to design games for education, and egalitarian opportunities to acquire game development skills, considered relevant opportunities given the wide-spread use of games and increasing interest in games as engaging tools for online education.

The development of the framework is grounded in Critical Pedagogy, an educational approach providing principles and processes to democratise learning initiatives based on egalitarian participation and agency. Following a Design-Based Research methodology, the framework is developed through a case study on creating educational games on everyday sexism. A set of formative design studies are undertaken to co-design resources and activities that enable participants to elaborate solutions to the social issue and create educational games themselves.

An evaluative study is then presented with the realisation of two Game Jams to assess and validate the proposed framework. The theoretical contributions of this work validate two new applications of Critical Pedagogy. The first one is to apply Critical Pedagogy to shape Game Jams to enhance learning through the active involvement of participants as equal learners and agents of social change. The second one applies Critical Pedagogy to democratise knowledge of design principles to create educational games on social issues. Lastly, access to a co-created tool for raising awareness of everyday sexism and insights on how to enable broad audiences to acquire games development skills are some of the practical contributions of this thesis.

Viewing alternatives

Download history


Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions

Item Actions