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Emotions at Play: Assessing Emotional Responses of Teenagers After They Play “Papers, Please”

Thesis by Anna Lopez (2015)

The purpose of this study was to assess and describe emotional responses of teenagers after playing “Papers, Please”, a game displayed at EMP’s Indie Game Revolution exhibit. Data was collected through interviews with 13 teenagers from EMP’s Youth Advisory Board and Pacific Science Center’s Discovery Corps. With the game’s focus on immigration, teenagers were asked to retrospectively describe the game, what they felt during various points in the game, why they may have felt that way, and if concepts of the game paralleled current social issues. Findings show emotional responses focused on both the mechanics and narrative of the game, although teens that identified as children of immigrants were more susceptible in expressing emotional responses about their personal experiences. This research is intended to extend conversations within the museum field about the potential of using similar games in a museum setting to discuss difficult social issue related topics, like immigration.


Keywords: research, emotion, youth, teens, digital technology, games, education, digital youth, immigration, play


Lopez, A. R. (2015). Emotions at play: Assessing emotional responses of teenagers after they play “papers, please”  ProQuest Dissertations Publishing. (Order No. 1599855). Available from Dissertations & Theses @ University of Washington WCLP; ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (1730395659). Retrieved from