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Civic play and civic gaps: Can life simulation games advance educational equity?
  • Christine Bachen, Santa Clara University
  • Pedro F. Hernández-Ramos, Santa Clara University
  • Chad Raphael, Santa Clara University
  • Amanda Waldron
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Publication Date
Taylor & Francis
Digital games and simulations (DG&S) could help mitigate inequities in civic education and participation, which are found in many contemporary democracies. Yet incorporating DG&S into the curriculum may reinforce or introduce inequities for students who are less engaged by game-based learning. A quasi-experimental study of 301 U.S. high school students in social studies classes examined whether prior academic performance, civic engagement, civic game play experience and gender affected how (and which) students benefit from playing a life simulation game. Dependent variables included several civic dispositions: justice-oriented citizenship norms and interest in politics, news, and global issues. The simulation game especially enhanced political interest among lower performing students and those with fewer informational resources. Although prior civic activity and civic gaming experience provided advantages for some outcomes, for the most part, gender did not. We conclude that life simulation games have the potential to advance both equity and excellence in civic education, engaging males and females, and advantaged and disadvantaged students, and we theorize about the reasons why.

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of Information Technology & Politics in November 2015, available online:

Citation Information
Bachen, C. M., Hernández-Ramos, P. F., Raphael, C., & Waldron, A. (2015). Civic play and civic gaps: Can life simulation games advance educational equity? Journal of Information Technology & Politics, 12, 378-395.