Games for boys: a qualitative study of experiences with commercial off the shelf gaming

  • Jason A. EngermanEmail author
  • Monique MacAllan
  • Alison A. Carr-Chellman
Research Article


Boys are less likely to receive praise and recognition for good schoolwork, to consider school important, and have fewer opportunities to do the things that they do best (Lopez and Calderon in How America’s boys become psychological dropouts. The gallup blog, 2013). Traditional school cultures have come in conflict with the normal and natural ways that boys behave. As a result, boys have had alienating experiences and high levels of disengagement and lowered academic success in school due to rejection of boy culture, which includes aggressive play, competition, and violent fantasy. The purpose of this study was to explore ways in which we can re-engage boys and enhance their learning opportunities in traditional classroom settings. Boys are drawn to video games, which offer a unique environment where they can engage in learning activities. By taking seriously the indigenous knowledge of this portion of boy culture, we may identify ways in which their expertise can become useful towards common learning goals (Carr-Chellman 2007; Carr-Chellman and Savoy 2004). The current analysis represents the first of a multiphase study that uses an interpretive lens within a CHAT framework to identify relevant learning in Commercial of the Shelf (COTS) games. This phenomenological design identifies learning accounts that map to the United States Common Core State Standards. Our findings suggest that engaged learning can occur for these boys as a result of playing games. COTS games engage boys in normal and natural ways, and consequently can be relevant learning tools that educators, researchers and instructional designers might employ toward traditional learning objectives.


Boy culture COTS gaming Common core Engagement 


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Copyright information

© Association for Educational Communications and Technology 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jason A. Engerman
    • 1
    Email author
  • Monique MacAllan
    • 2
  • Alison A. Carr-Chellman
    • 3
  1. 1.East Stroudsburg UniversityEast StroudsburgUSA
  2. 2.Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  3. 3.University of IdahoMoscowUSA

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