University of Oulu

Mertala, P., & Meriläinen, M. (2019). The best game in the world: Exploring young children’s digital game–related meaning-making via design activity. Global Studies of Childhood, 9(4), 275–289.

The best game in the world : exploring young children’s digital game -related meaning-making via design activity

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Author: Mertala, Pekka1; Meriläinen, Mikko2
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Education; KTK 323, 90014 University of Oulu, Finland
2University of Tampere, Finland
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.7 MB)
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Language: English
Published: SAGE Publications, 2019
Publish Date: 2019-08-13


Although digital games have become a constituent part of young children’s lives, not enough is known about the kinds of meanings children give to games and gaming. This qualitative study contributes to resolving this need by engaging 26 5- to 7-year-old Finnish preschoolers in an open-ended drawing task to answer the following research questions: What aspects of digital games appear meaningful for young children when they act as game designers? Why are these aspects meaningful for young children? The findings suggest that children are not mere passive consumers of digital games but are agentic meaning-makers who are capable of critically evaluating digital games when a safe and supportive space and the appropriate medium are provided. The children refined, modified, and personalized existing influential games by replacing the leading male character with a female one or by having a player operate as the antagonist instead of the hero. The findings suggest that there are vast unexplored dimensions for scholars to engage with in young children’s gaming cultures, children’s perceptions of game content, early game literacy, as well as children’s meaning-making in games. Implications for pedagogy of early childhood education are discussed.

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Series: Global studies of childhood
ISSN: 2043-6106
ISSN-E: 2043-6106
ISSN-L: 2043-6106
Volume: 9
Issue: 4
Pages: 275 - 289
DOI: 10.1177%2F2043610619867701
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 516 Educational sciences
518 Media and communications
Copyright information: © 2019 The Author(s). Reprinted by permission of SAGE Publications.