Created: March 2020
Last Updated: April 2020
|Group or individual activity:||Group|
|Child / children ages:||11-16 years old|
|Online / offline elements:||This activity contains an offline activity and discussion — both of which don't require computers or mobile devices with Internet access.|
Main area: Civic and Political Engagement
Additional areas: Context, Digital (Literacy), Positive / Respectful Behavior, Safety and Well-being
|License:||This activity has been created by Lionel Brossi and Alexa Hasse and is licensed under a Creative Commons AttributionShareAlike 4.0 International license.|
About this Activity
This activity encourages families to reflect on the video and/or mobile app games they play, the benefits and drawbacks of them, and creative ways to address these drawbacks.
This activity is designed to help family members think about the way they engage with video and/or mobile app games, the pros and cons of such games, and how they might creatively address these drawbacks.
[One per participant/family member] Colored pens or pencils
[One per participant] Poster paper/large sheet(s) of paper
[For participants - optional] Computers or mobile devices with Internet access
Article: Should Your Avatar’s Skin Match Yours? - Jess Kung (NPR)
Article: Finally, I Can Be Me in Animal Crossing – But I’m Exhausted - Funké Joseph (GameSpot)
This activity has three stages: Explore, Reflect, and create. Let’s get started!
First, each family member should:
Reflect on the video and/or mobile app games you each play, and/or played in the past. If you don’t play any games, feel free to browse different games online. Each person should select at least four to five games they enjoy playing and/or would be interested in playing.
Then, as a family, discuss the following:
What games do you play?
Share your favorite games, and write all of them down on a piece of paper.
Where do you play those games?
Now, think of the tools and platforms you use to play those games. Do you play them on a desktop computer, laptop, home console, handheld device? What online gaming platforms do you use to play them (e.g., Steam, Sony), if any? Write these tools and platforms down by the games.
With whom do you play the games?
Do you tend to play single-player games, or play games with others?
Now, you’ll rank the games! Each person should choose, of their four to five favorite games, their top three. If you haven’t played any video and/or mobile app games, choose the top three you would be most interested in exploring.
Next, as a family:
Think of the three games you each chose. Now reflect on and discuss some of the pros and cons of the games. Here are some short prompts to help you get started:
Interactions with other players
Portrayal of certain game characters
Storyline of the game
Amount of time spent playing the game
Violence/aggression in the game
Impact of the game on your mood
The issues addressed (e.g., particularly in the context of COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other health organizations, have praised the video game Plague Inc. – where players can create outbreaks of disease on a global pandemic level – for increasing awareness around infectious diseases).
Now, individually or in pairs (depending on the number of the people):
Choose one of the drawbacks of the games you play that you just identified. This might be, for instance, the level of violence in the game, cyberbullying you’ve experienced and/or witnessed, or a lack of characters from different communities and backgrounds.
Next, individually or in pairs, imagine you were to create your own game that helped to address this issue. Over the next 30 minutes, you’ll create your own game story. Don’t forget to write your story down on a piece of paper. Also feel free to get creative and add drawings of other artistic elements!
To get started:
First, think of the setting of the game. Where will it take place? Will the location be real or fictional? What will the culture be like?
Now, consider the key characters. What are their names? What are their traits? What do they like and dislike?
Finally, reflect on the overall storyline. What are at least three main events that will happen? What will happen in the story to address the issue you identified?
Now, come back as a family, and share the game stories you created with each other. Be sure to describe how your game addresses the issue you previously identified.
Then, discuss the following questions:
What was your favorite part of creating your game world?
Do you think you could take your ideas around addressing the issue you noticed and apply them towards games you actually play/would like to play?
If so, how? What types of support would you need (e.g., raising awareness around the issue on social media, working with other players to create change)?
Has your perspective around gaming changed after this activity? For example, have you noticed any new benefits and/or drawbacks of the games you play?