What Videogame Making Can Teach Us About Access and Ethics in Participatory Culture

Document Type

Conference Paper

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Breaking New Ground: Proceedings of the Digital Games Research Association (DIGRA)

Publication Date



In "Confronting the Challenges of a Participatory Culture", Jenkins and colleagues (2006) outlined three challenges in their participatory competencies framework that need to be addressed to prepare youth for full involvement in a digital culture - participation, transparency, and ethics. Expanding upon the framework of our earlier work, in this paper we examine more closely two aspects of Jenkins and colleagues' challenges - the participation gap and the ethics challenge - as they apply to game-making activities in schools. We report on a four-month ethnographic study documenting youth's production of video games in both an after school club and classroom setting. The growing use of videogame- making for learning in schools offers youth the opportunity to no longer simply be consumers but also producers of technology. But as kids learned to contribute as such producers, both participatory and ethical issues arose in the ways they were willing or reluctant to share their own ideas and projects with their peers. Schools' long-standing focus on individual achievement and traditional notions of plagiarism drew these issues of participation and ethics to the foreground, making them especially relevant considerations given on-going efforts to bring more game playing and making activities into schools.

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