In this review article, I argue that games are complementary, not self-supporting, learning tools for democratic education because they can: (a) offer simplified, but often not simple, outlines (later called “models”) of complex social systems that generate further inquiry; (b) provide practice spaces for exploring systems that do not have the often serious consequences of taking direct and immediate social, civic, and legal action; and (c) use rules to allow players to explore this aforementioned outline or model by making decisions and seeing an outcome. To make these arguments, I perform a close reading of three examples of participatory and playful media that could be germane to, but are not designed for, educational settings: the early-20th-century board game The Landlord’s Game, YouTube videos advising about law enforcement encounters, and the dystopian indie game Papers, Please.

Response to Article

Jeremy Stoddard, Angela M. Banks, Christine Nemacheck, and Elizabeth Wenska, The Challenges of Gaming for Democratic Education: The Case of iCivics