Game on? Or game over? Recognizing the instrumental values of computer play


This study focuses on the usefulness of "playful" computer activities, such as social networking and gaming. When venues prioritize activities like word processing or spreadsheets while restricting gaming or social networking, they limit expectations of appropriate technology use and good stewardship of public monies. The quantitative and qualitative data in this study demonstrate that people who primarily use computers for non-instrumental purposes are generally as capable with computers as those who use them for instrumental purposes. It also illustrates that people who largely use computers for non-instrumental purposes gain skills that help them perform instrumental tasks. This suggests that embracing gaming and other leisure activities will allow novice users to acquire the experience necessary to build a range of computer competencies. Most important for computer skill acquisition is the variety of activities users engage in, not their formal training, and not whether they perform instrumental or non-instrumental activities.

Recommended Citation

Kolko, B., Racadio, R., Deibel, K., Krause, K., & Prempeh, J. (2013). The value of non-instrumental computer use: Skills acquisition, self-confidence, and community-based technology training. Global Impact Study Research Report Series, Seattle: Technology & Social Change Group, University of Washington Information School.