EMPOWER*play

For young people, gaming is a self-evident part of their daily lives. The Austrian project wants to encourage young people to advocate their interests and to demonstrate the importance of gaming as a modern cultural practice through discussing about and reflecting on their gaming experience.

Adults often have difficulties and resentments when approaching videogames. To bridge this inter-generative gap, the project provokes a role switch: young participants become trainers and guides, who invite adults to enter their gaming worlds proactively.

The project offered the participants reflexive rooms to think about their rich gamebiographies (group discussions and interviews, world café,…). Different methods of action-oriented mediawork (video – mobile phone clip, tv-studio production, photography – portrait, shadow theatre, online pin boards, wall newspapers,…) were used to make the individual gaming experiences visible and accessible.

As a highlight at the end of the project, the participants organized a gaming event and invited their significant adult others to join them. They had the chance to show their gaming expertise, as well as motivating the adults to try out chosen games and accompanying them through their first gaming attempts.

Time and target group

The first run of the project was carried out over seven days within a period of six months with a group of young people between the ages of 15 and 22 from WUK m.power (a course for young people to catch up the lowest Austrian school graduation level).

The second run of the project was carried out as a project week of five consecutive days with a group of young people between the ages of 15 and 23 from spacelab (a low-threshold labour-market service for youth, who have a greater need for support and assistance in planning their educational and vocational future).

Outcomes

At the beginning of the project, the participants had some difficulty in understanding why the reflection on games and the gaming experience could be of importance to them. By the end, they had all come to the realisation that their own gaming experiences and the knowledge thereof are valuable resources for instructing and accompanying their adult guests in a competent manner.

During the course of the project, the participants could partly use and activate their gaming experiences as sources of self-confidence and self-effectiveness. For them, it was especially valuable to receive attention and respect from the adults as is illustrated by the statement of one of the participants (17 years old) after the project: “I really had something to say and they listened.”