Exploring the Creative Potential of Values Conscious Game Design: Students’ Experiences with the VAP Curriculum

Jonathan Belman, Mary Flanagan


Values at Play is a research project investigating how social, moral, and political values can inform the design of digital games. For example, how can designers create games that affirm, explore, and/or interrogate values like peace, justice, patriotism, and tolerance. One project activity has been the development of a curriculum introducing university students to values conscious design. We use this term to describe an approach wherein designers consider the social, political, and moral resonances of design features in a systematic way. The curriculum has been used and evaluated in leading American game design programs. Here, we discuss the results of a focus group study and analysis of student design documents.  

Students experienced significant challenges applying values conscious design methods. However, they often overcame these challenges using either strategies provided by the curriculum or strategies of their own devising. These strategies can serve as models for designers interested in values conscious design. Overall, students’ work was impressively innovative and reactions to the curriculum were enthusiastic.


Game Design; Values; Game Design Education

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