Using activity theory to understand intergenerational play: The case of Family Quest

Sinem Siyahhan, Sasha A. Barab, Michael P. Downton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


We implemented a five-week family program called Family Quest where parents and children ages 9 to 13 played Quest Atlantis, a multiuser 3D educational computer game, at a local after-school club for 90-minute sessions. We used activity theory as a conceptual and an analytical framework to study the nature of intergenerational play, the collaborative activity between parents and children in the context of role-playing virtual game environment, and the opportunities and challenges of bringing parents and children together around an educational video game. Our analyses of five parent-child dyads revealed that the nature of intergenerational play is different for different parent-child dyads, but has positive outcomes. Implications of the study for supporting family learning and bonding through video games are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)415-432
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Collaborative problem solving
  • Informal learning environments
  • Intergenerational play
  • Parent-child interaction
  • Video games

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Human-Computer Interaction


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