Supporting the development of youth digital civic engagement in libraries through the co-design of table-top games.

The University of Washington Information School, led by PI Jason Yip and Co-PIs Chris Coward and Jin Ha Lee, proposes a two-year research project supporting youth (ages 10-15) in digital civic engagement (DCE). The project aims to enhance understanding and support for youth’s DCE needs in cultural heritage institutions by employing co-design methodologies with librarians and youth, to create a flexible tabletop role-playing game (TTRPG) for democratic digital learning in libraries. Our proposal fills a critical gap by developing a play-based narrative TTRPG for youth that libraries can utilize to create meaningful engagement for children through programmatic design. Additionally, we will develop a curriculum and offer support to help librarians develop their own TTRPG stories for youth. The following research questions guide this project: (RQ1): How do TTRPGs support DCE with librarians and youth?; (RQ2): How can socioemotional learning play a role in DCE through tabletop gaming in libraries?; and (RQ3): What does the co-design experience teach us about children’s DCE and youth engagement?

The high level activities will occur in three phases. Year 1 (Fall 2024 – Summer 2025) will be a teen- and librarian-led co-design effort at The Seattle Public Library. Year 2 (Fall 2025 – Spring 2026) will focus on finalizing the design of the core single game and running the research evaluations in multiple libraries on the design. Finally, in Year 2 (Summer 2026) we will (1) distribute the game, game resources, and curriculum, along with our research findings and (2) implement a plan for long-term hosting of the digital products.

We aim to collaborate with youth and teen librarians, teen leaders (ages 16-17), youth co-design partners (ages 10-15), and MLIS students. Our goal is to develop a TTRPG for DCE, enabling youth to collaborate and enhance children’s understanding of technological interactions for democratic learning. The research project’s intended results are: (1) the information dissemination around the socioemotional supports that can be used and developed around the topic of DCE, children, and libraries; (2) creating a TTRPG game centered on DCE and socioemotional learning, and the accompanying resources for youth and libraries; and (3) creating a co-designed curriculum and process that allows librarians to create their own DCE explorations and activities.

We will measure the success of our results through a mix of qualitative and quantitative research methods. We have planned a multi-year evaluation through co-design with librarians, teens, and youth; interviews; focus groups with game designers and library communities; observations of design sessions; user testing; and gameplay analytics of online game metrics. Our data analysis will include a mixed inductive / deductive thematic analysis approach using digital civic engagements and socioemotional learning frameworks.

Grant Info


Caroline Pitt

Start Date

Jan 1, 2024