Educational games to support caring and compassion among youth: A design narrative

Sinem Siyahhan, Adam A. Ingram-Goble, Sasha Barab, Maria Solomou

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


In this paper, the authors argue that video games offer unique and pervasive opportunities for children to develop social dispositions that are necessary to succeed in the 21st century. To this end, they discuss the design of TavCats-a virtual role-playing game that aimed to engage children (ages 9 to 13) in understanding, acting upon, and coming to value being caring and compassionate. The authors' discussion takes the form of a design narrative through which they explain the connections between their theoretical commitments and design decisions. Specifically, they review four design elements they utilized in their design work: identity claims, boundary objects, profession trajectories, and cyclic gameplay. The authors briefly share their observations from a pilot study with children in an afterschool setting to illustrate how their design work might be realized in the world. They conclude their paper with a discussion of the implications of their work for designing educational video games for supporting social dispositions as well as academic learning, and future directions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-76
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Gaming and Computer-Mediated Simulations
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • Design narrative
  • Educational games
  • Game design
  • Game-based learning
  • Serious games
  • Social dispositions
  • Social learning
  • Teaching caring and compassion


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