Vivek Haldar

Games as a hook into CS

From the same article I was talking about in my previous post, a fascinating look at how videogames are a hook into CS, but it’s not how much you play games, but how you play them, that affects whether it steers you towards CS:

Betsy DiSalvo (now an assistant professor at Georgia Tech) starts from an interesting observation. Many computer scientists (who are mostly white or Asian, and male) say they became interested in computing because of video games. No demographic group plays more video games than African-American and Hispanic teenagers and men. But few African-American and Hispanic males become computer scientists. Why was that?

DiSalvo explored her question with ethnographic methods. She observed African-American teen males playing video games and talked to them about how and why they played. She found they were playing video games differently than white teen males. Her participants never used “cheat codes” or modified their games in any way—they used video games like athletic competition. Manipulating the football or the field is cheating, so why would you change the video game?

The full paper is here.