Books  |    |  May 31, 2021

We the Gamers: How Games Teach Ethics and Civics

Book by Karen Schrier.
Published by Oxford University Press.
400 pages.

Distrust. Division. Disparity. Is our world in disrepair?

Ethics and civics have always mattered, but perhaps they matter now more than ever before. Recently, with the rise of online teaching and movements like #PlayApartTogether, games have become increasingly acknowledged as platforms for civic deliberation and value sharing. We the Gamers explores these possibilities by examining how we connect, communicate, analyze, and discover when we play games. Combining research-based perspectives and current examples, this volume shows how games can be used in ethics, civics, and social studies education to inspire learning, critical thinking, and civic change.

We the Gamers introduces and explores various educational frameworks through a range of games and interactive experiences including board and card games, online games, virtual reality and augmented reality games, and digital games like Minecraft, Executive CommandKeep Talking and Nobody ExplodesFortniteWhen Rivers Were TrailsPoliticraftQuandary, and Animal Crossing: New Horizons. The book systematically evaluates the types of skills, concepts, and knowledge needed for civic and ethical engagement, and details how games can foster these skills in classrooms, remote learning environments, and other educational settings. We the Gamers also explores the obstacles to learning with games and how to overcome those obstacles by encouraging equity and inclusion, care and compassion, and fairness and justice.

Featuring helpful tips and case studies, We the Gamers shows teachers the strengths and limitations of games in helping students connect with civics and ethics, and imagines how we might repair and remake our world through gaming, together.


  • Offers research and best practices surrounding games in education, civics, ethics, and diversity and inclusion
  • Provides teachers with lesson outlines, tips, case studies, and design toolkits
  • Features exclusive interviews with designers and educators of civics and ethics games
  • Includes examples from virtual reality, mobile, card, and computer games

Table of Contents

Teaching Ethics and Civics

  • We the People
  • Why Should We Teach Ethics and Civics?
  • What Should We Teach?

Using Games for Knowledge and Action

  • What is the Knowledge We Need?
  • How Do We Take Real-World Action?

Using Games for Connection and Community

  • How Do We Connect and Communicate?
  • How Do We Understand Ourselves and Our Roles in Society?
  • How Do We Cultivate Empathy and Respect for Others?

Using Games for Critical Thinking and Inquiry

  • How Do Make and Reflect on Decisions?
  • How Do We Read and Evaluate Information?
  • How Do We Analyze Problems and Systems?
  • How Do We Explore and Design?

Games for Ethics and Civics

  • Guidelines, Questions, and Considerations
  • We the Gamers


  • Example Lesson Outline 1
  • Example Lesson Outline 2
  • Design Toolkit
  • Design Principles
  • Recommendations and Open Questions

About the Author

Karen Schrier is Associate Professor of Games and Director of the Games and Emerging Media Program at Marist College. She has over 20 years of experience creating, producing, and designing media, and has worked previously at places like Nickelodeon, BrainPOP, and Scholastic.