Using activity theory to understand intergenerational play: The case of Family Quest

  • Sinem Siyahhan
  • Sasha A. Barab
  • Michael P. Downton

DOI: 10.1007/s11412-010-9097-1

Cite this article as:
Siyahhan, S., Barab, S.A. & Downton, M.P. Computer Supported Learning (2010) 5: 415. doi:10.1007/s11412-010-9097-1


We implemented a five-week family program called Family Quest where parents and children ages 9 to 13 played Quest Atlantis, a multiuser 3D educational computer game, at a local after-school club for 90-minute sessions. We used activity theory as a conceptual and an analytical framework to study the nature of intergenerational play, the collaborative activity between parents and children in the context of role-playing virtual game environment, and the opportunities and challenges of bringing parents and children together around an educational video game. Our analyses of five parent-child dyads revealed that the nature of intergenerational play is different for different parent-child dyads, but has positive outcomes. Implications of the study for supporting family learning and bonding through video games are discussed.


Collaborative problem solving Informal learning environments Intergenerational play Parent-child interaction Video games 

Copyright information

© International Society of the Learning Sciences, Inc.; Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sinem Siyahhan
    • 1
  • Sasha A. Barab
    • 2
  • Michael P. Downton
    • 3
  1. 1.Center for Research on Learning and TechnologyIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA
  2. 2.Center for Research on Learning and TechnologyIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA
  3. 3.Center for Research on Learning and TechnologyIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA

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