Playable Personas: Using Games and Play to Expand the Repertoire of Learner Personas


  • Deborah Cole Utrecht University, Netherlands
  • Stefan Werning Utrecht University, Netherlands
  • Andrea Maragliano University of Genoa, Italy



learner personas, playful identity performance, game-based learning, game-making, live action roleplay


This article explores how playing and co-creating games in higher education contexts contributes to expanding learner personas and facilitating a multimodal learning experience. Working from the interdisciplinary perspectives of media/games studies, pedagogy, and linguistic anthropology, we conceptualize in-class learning as the making and playing of games, reporting on game experiments and playful practices targeted at learning key theoretical concepts in our disciplines. Game-based modifications to established educational practices involved: replacing lectures with Educational Live Action Role Play (Bowman 2014) sessions, using acting/performance games (Flanagan 2009) to critically reflect on ideas of community and collective identity, and introducing Twine (Werning 2017; Wilson & Saklofske 2019) to defamiliarize the expected structures and media modalities of academia. Based on evidence from participant reflections and classroom ethnographies, we argue that games can serve as a resource for extending the expressive spectrum of learner personas, for enabling embodied, participatory learning of theory, and for empowering students and educators to reflect on our internalized rules of the game of education.


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How to Cite

Cole, D., Werning, S., & Maragliano, A. (2021). Playable Personas: Using Games and Play to Expand the Repertoire of Learner Personas. Persona Studies, 6(2), 38–53.



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