Promoting indigenous cultural awareness through participatory game design with children
Authors: Yuhan Liu, Baosheng Wang
Abstract: As urbanization progresses in China's rural areas, so do the severity of social issues, including the decline of social assets, the recession of agricultural industries, the lack of community cohesion, and a weak sense of belonging. A decline in cultural awareness is the reason behind such phenomena, which stems from changes to residents' lifestyles and a lack of cultural beliefs. This issue also results in insufficient cultural awareness, weak cultural inheritance, and neglect of cultural values among community residents. To this end, this paper aims to examine an educational model to enhance the cultural awareness of local community residents.At present, there are two types of education methods to enhance cultural awareness: passive types and active types. For example, passive education refers to the enhancement of participants’ cultural qualities through the problem-solving style lesson and ‘implicit’ curriculum, while an active education might use reflective writing or PD to promote cultural awareness. Of the two, active education, represented by PD, is more conducive to participants' acceptance of cultural knowledge. PD is also an effective method for developing humanitarianism in developing countries. It can be applied to the special scenario of rural communities in China as a new solution for raising the cultural awareness of residents. This paper shares a specific case study of enhancing residents' cultural awareness in community collective memory using participatory game design.A total of eight subjects were selected in this study. Since children are the future of the community's cultural development, the subjects included 6 children and 2 adults. Unlike traditional PD, this study focused on attracting the interests of subjects and enhancing their abilities to inherit traditional culture through participatory game design. The study consisted of three workshops: the cultural exploration workshop, the game design workshop, and the game testing workshop. Activity theory was used as a basis to guide the choice of time, location, and power dynamics, from which a framework of participatory activities covering the four approaches of "probing", "telling", "acting", and "making" was developed for the workshops. To further enhance collaboration, participants were also provided with a complete set of toolkits during the three workshops, including role-playing tools, game idea cards, house of cards, scaffolding, etc. At the end of each workshop, the Cultural Awareness Scale, which contains the three elements of cultural cognition, cultural heritage, and cultural values, was administered to measure the change in cultural awareness of the subjects. A mixed methods approach was used in analysis to uncover underlying cultural associations. The study qualitatively analyzed the transcribed spoken words and behaviors of the subjects using multimodal analysis, and quantitatively analyzed the variations in the word count of the text and the level of detail in the elaboration. In summary, this case study is important for examining cultural education models and improving the cultural awareness of the population. It also provides a framework of activities for participatory design workshops, which can serve as a reference for further research.
Keywords: cultural awareness, game design, participatory design
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