Learning via Game Design: From Digital to Card Games and Back Again

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In this paper we consider the problem of making design of digital games accessible to primary school children and their teachers, and we argue for the need of digital games that are easy to alter by young learners. We know from previous research projects that digital games do not enable children to express their creativity at full, in contrast with low-fidelity prototypes and non-digital toys (such as card or table top games). Therefore, we propose here a novel approach that serves as a middle ground between digital and traditional table top games, and grants children more freedom to express themselves, articulate their understanding and difficulties both individually and socially. This approach, called card-based model for digital game design, is an alternative to the current trend of associating programming with digital creativity. A preliminary study was conducted by transposing a digital game into a trading card game, to investigate the potential of the approach: as expected, students participating to the study shifted between playing and design thinking. The card-based model introduced in this paper works full circle: it enables learners to go from digital games to cards and back. In fact, the card-centric game architecture that resulted from the study allows a digital game to be reified as trading card-game, so that learners can re-design and digitize it to obtain a new a digital game, without programming. The next step is to involve primary schools in more complete evaluations of our new game development approach.
Original languageEnglish
JournalElectronic Journal of e-Learning
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)167-180
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Learning
  • game design
  • card games
  • playful play
  • knowledge transposition
  • group creativity

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