Children's Choices and Strategies in Video Games

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Publication Title

Computers in Human Behavior


It is important to develop an understanding of children’s engagement and choices in learning experiences outside of school as this has implications for their development and orientations to other learning environments. This mixed-methods study examines relationships between the genres of video games children choose to play and the learning strategies they employ to improve at these games. It also explores students’ motivations for playing the games they choose to play. One hundred eighteen fourth- and fifth-grade students participated in this study. Qualitative analyses of student responses resulted in a model for classifying motivation for game choices. Children primarily cite reasons that can be classified as psychological or cognitive reasons for choosing to play certain video games, and are motivated by the challenge and thinking required in the games. Analyses using Chi-square tests of association demonstrated significant relationships between video game genre and learning strategy used for two of the six learning strategies (p<.05). Children playing action games are more likely to use repetition to learn the game and children playing adventure games are more likely to use their imaginations to take on the role of the character in the game and think the way the character would to make decisions in the game. There were also several gender differences in learning preferences.

Original Citation

Hamlen, K. R. (2011). Children's choices and strategies in video games. Computers in Human Behavior, 27(1), 532-539. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2010.10.001