Video Game Testing Helps Students Learn Computer Science While Navigating Multiple Identities

The desire to be a good student, while at the same time rejecting “geeky” subjects like computer science in order to save face among friends and family, can impact a student’s motivation to learn. To better understand this internal conflict faced by students, researchers studied African-American males in the Glitch Game Testers program.

High school students worked as a quality assurance team on digital games and spent time in computer science workshops. Researchers discovered that these students continued with computing education because they were able to navigate around perceived learning barriers by creating many “face-saving” tactics to explain their involvement with Glitch. For example, they would tell family members that
they “like getting experience being on a college campus.” While at school, they might say that it was a good way “to meet the ladies.” Results show that after participating in Glitch, more than 65% of the participants went on to study computing after high school.

DiSalvo, Betsy, Mark Guzdial, Amy Bruckman, and Tom McKlin. “Saving face while geeking out: Video game testing as a justification for learning computer science.” Journal of the Learning Sciences 23, no. 3 (2014): 272-315.