Experiencing the Game: an Interpretive, Multi-Case Study of Video Game Spaces Using the Philosophies of John Dewey

Thumbnail Image
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
University of Alabama Libraries

Video games are widely regarded as sources of entertainment and research suggests theymay also possess an untapped educational potential (Gee, 2008; Squire, 2011). Though trending positively, the research on the educational efficacy of video games as been slow and primarily evaluates static game elements (de Freitas, 2018). Video games are created, and played, around the ability to enact experiences (Acks et al., 2020). Therefore, research into video games should inquire into the game experiences of its players (Salen, 2008). It is for this reason that John Dewey’s theories of experience, aesthetics, and education are proposed as a possible framework by which to study video game spaces. This study utilized an interpretive, multi-case study design that focused on the individual game experiences of Don, Mipha, and Urbosa as they played the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Each participant took part in one introductory session and four gameplay sessions. Observations, recorded gameplay, think-aloud protocols, art creation, and interviews were used to better present the lived experiences of study participants. Inductive coding and cross-case analysis were then used to determine if participant game experiences met Dewey’s criteria for experience (1900, 1938, 1959), aesthetics (1959), and educational potential (1900, 1910, 1938, 1959). Evidence for all three areas were demonstrated within participants’ gameplay and led to the conclusion that Dewey’s theories can serve as a capable framework by which to evaluate the efficacy of players’ video game experiences.

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Aesthetics, Education, Experience, Game Spaces, John Dewey, Video Games