The applicability of e-games in youth work

At a time when the world is becoming increasingly digital, people are looking for ways to harness innovative digital opportunities in different areas of their lives, including youth work. Digital game-based learning is fast becoming one of the most dominant methods of learning. At the same time, however, the application of e-games and their usefulness in both formal and non-formal learning is still largely unknown. Widely available commercial e-games now have a wider scope than just entertainment and are increasingly used in education and mental health. It is therefore important to know which e-games are best suited to develop young people’s competences, complement curricula and promote youth work.

E-games have been gaining popularity in Estonia, as shown by e-game purchasing statistics. It shows that Estonians spent around €8 million on video games in 2020. Today, this figure is estimated to be close to €10 million. The popularity of e-games among young people is also confirmed by the 2019 Student Health Behaviour Survey published by the Institute for Health Development. More than half of respondents in the 11-15 age group spend more than two hours playing video and TV games on school days. Therefore, we can conclude that the use of e-games is on the rise in Estonia and, as a consequence, their use among young people should be explored and the possibilities for implementing e-games in youth work should be analysed.

The focus of this survey was on popular commercial e-games that can be played on a computer, mobile phone or game console. The study provides an in-depth overview of the most popular e-games played by 7-16 year olds and their potential impact on the development of young people’s general skills. In addition, it looks at the potential for integrating e-games into youth work in Estonia and elsewhere and makes recommendations for the implementation of e-games in youth work.

The central methods of the study were secondary source analysis, focus group interviews with youth workers, individual interviews with young people aged 7-16 and an online survey among both target groups (young people and workers). By combining several research methods, it was possible to arrive at relevant research findings that allow for more effective targeting of eGames.

The activities are funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) co-funded programme “Inclusion of young people at risk of exclusion and improving their employability”, approved by the Ministry of Education and Research and implemented by the Education and Youth Board.