Playful Constructivism: Making Sense of Digital Games for Learning and Creativity Through Play, Design, and Participation

Vittorio Marone


The goal of this article is to provide a conceptual framework to better understand digital games in learning and creative contexts through the dimensions of play, design, and participation. This framework can be used as a guiding tool for the selection, implementation, and evaluation of game-based approaches in formal and informal educational settings, as well as a blueprint for making sense of playful learning and creativity in virtual worlds and technology-mediated environments. In essence, this article seeks to answer the question “What are digital games and how can we make sense of them for learning and creativity?” The proposed visual model and conceptual framework, here defined as Playful Constructivism, is grounded on the learning theories of Situated Cognition, Social Constructivism, and Constructionism, and draws from play and game studies, design-based learning, and affinity spaces research. This framework is not intended as the “ultimate” conceptualization of game-based learning, but rather as an agile tool that can guide scholars, practitioners, and students through the affordances, challenges, and opportunities of implementing and using digital games in learning and creative contexts.


digital games; game-based learning; participatory learning; affinity spaces; Constructionism; game design

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