Inclusive Digital Socialisation : Designs of Education and Computer Games in a Global Context

University dissertation from Stockholm : Department of Computer and Systems Sciences, Stockholm University

Abstract: Digital socialisation is to learn the ways of living online, across national borders, local cultures and societies and has to be inclusive for equal participation. Conditions for this socialisation process are different due to both local and individual limitations. In a high-income country like Sweden, playing computer games are one of the most common practices for digital socialisation among youth online (digital youth), but rarely in school with teachers. Thus, there is limited institutionalised support taking responsibility for the socialisation process online of digital youth. As contrast, in a lower middle-income country like Sri Lanka, telecentres provide holistic community services with free access to computer hardware and sometimes also Internet to bridge an internal digital divide. However, there are still several barriers for inclusive digital socialisation, such as shortage of teachers, infrastructure, accessibility and a language barrier. The problem is that digital youth have to overcome barriers for inclusive digital socialisation, often with limited institutionalised support. Game oriented education (GOE) is a potential approach to bridge these barriers. Thematic questions were: How can environments for inclusive digital socialisation be designed for digital youth who: T1) are gamers that are excluded in school; T2) are living in underprivileged communities; and/or T3) have disabilities and play games? A related thematic main question is: T4) how can education about game accessibility be designed for game developers? Within a design science framework, ethnography showed that GOE with entertainment games enabled gamers excluded in Swedish schools to be included, but could not be sustained by the schools. GOE workshops about programming were a possible way to raise awareness about ICT opportunities at Sri Lankan telecentres. Furthermore, a game prototype for deaf versus blind was demonstrated in workshops within formal education settings in Sweden and Sri Lanka, exploring a design method. Finally, two international online surveys provided data for designing a game accessibility curriculum framework, based upon opinions from researchers and game developers. Conclusions are that GOE may be an environment for inclusive digital socialisation, if it is: 1) sustained in the educational social system; 2) enabled within limits of ICTD; and 3) accessible for digital youth with disabilities. The latter requires: 4) education for game developers. This thesis shows how these requirements may be fulfilled, enabling GOE as a design to achieve inclusive digital socialisation in a global context.

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