Digital Games for Civic Engagement

Digital games offer exciting opportunities to engage young people in political learning and civic action. In the following activities, you will evaluate a currently available, politically themed online digital game, then design your own game about voting and politics.

Youngsters from elementary school to high school and college play digital games for entertainment on gaming devices, computers, and smartphones.

Online gaming is now everywhere, with mixed and virtual reality experiences emerging as the newest innovation in the gaming industry.

But how can game play influence young people to become regular voters and actively-engaged community members?

Sketch of voting land which is a red white and blue version of candyland
VotingLand by Elizabeth Mooney & Leanna Van is licensed under CC BY NC SA 4.0

Many educators and game designers believe so and are developing serious games to promote civic awareness and participation. 

Watch on YouTube

Activity 1: Evaluate a Politically Themed Digital Game

Activity 2: Design Your Own Game

Designing for Learning: Student-Created Activity Example

Example 1: Sorry not Sorry: How to Vote by Caroline Gabriel, Ruihan Luo, & Sara Shea 

Example 2: VotingLand by Elizabeth Mooney & Leanna Van

Example 3: Memory Matching Game: Voting 101 by by Sophia Hajjar and Kayleigh Francis

Example 4: CivicsLand by Liv Sanfacon, Brendan Sarles, & Christopher Spinozzi

Image of the Sorry board game but at the end of each route it says "the polls" and the example card says "uh oh! one of your opponents sent in an absentee ballot, but they missed the deadline. Choose an opponent to send back to home"

Sorry not Sorry: How to Vote by Caroline Gabriel, Ruihan Luo, & Sara Shea is licensed under CC BY NC SA 4.0

CivicsLand is a copy of candyland but with different obstacles like gerrymandering and polarizing politics
CivicsLand by Liv Sanfacon, Brendan Sarles, & Christopher Spinozzi is licensed under CC BY NC SA 4.0
Screenshot of the memory matching game with cards for voting and polls
Memory Matching Game: Voting 101 by by Sophia Hajjar and Kayleigh Francis is licensed under CC BY NC SA 4.0

Additional Resources

Connecting to the Standards

  • Massachusetts Civics & Government Standards
    • Describe how a democracy provides opportunities for citizens to participate in the political process through elections, political parties and interest groups. (Massachusetts Curriculum Framework for History and Social Studies) [8.T4.5]
  • ISTE Standards
    • Digital Citizen
      • 2c: Students demonstrate an understanding of and respect for the rights and obligations of using and sharing intellectual property.
    • Knowledge Constructor
      • 3a: Students plan and employ effective research strategies to locate information and other resources for their intellectual or creative pursuits.
      • 3b: Students evaluate the accuracy, perspective, credibility and relevance of information, media, data or other resources.
      • 3d: Students build knowledge by actively exploring real-world issues and problems, developing ideas and theories and pursuing answers and solutions.
    • Innovative Designer
      • 4a: Students know and use a deliberate design process for generating ideas, testing theories, creating innovative artifacts or solving authentic problems.
      • 4b: Students select and use digital tools to plan and manage a design process that considers design constraints and calculated risks.
      • 4c: Students develop, test and refine prototypes as part of a cyclical design process.
      • 4d: Students exhibit a tolerance for ambiguity, perseverance and the capacity to work with open-ended problems.
    • Creative Communicator
      • 6a: Students choose the appropriate platforms and tools for meeting the desired objectives of their creation or communication.
      • 6b: Students create original works or responsibly repurpose or remix digital resources into new creations.
      • 6c: Students communicate complex ideas clearly and effectively by creating or using a variety of digital objects such as visualizations, models or simulations.
      • 6d: Students publish or present content that customizes the message and medium for the intended audiences.
  • DLCS Standards
    • Ethics and Laws (CAS.b)
    • Interpersonal and Societal Impact (CAS.c)
    • Digital Tools (DTC.a)
    • Collaboration and Communication (DTC.b)
    • Research (DTC.c)
  • English Language Arts > History/Social Studies Common Core Standards
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.5
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.7

This content is provided to you freely by Equity Press.

Access it online or download it at https://equitypress.org/mediaandciviclearning/games_and_voting.