Digital play: conceptualising the relation between real, augmented and virtual realities

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With the growing availability and easy use of digital devices, our youngest citizens can now engage in new ways of playing (Burke, 2013) both online andoffline (Marsh, 2013). In this context, calls for re-conceptualising what is digital play have been noted (Zevenbergen, 2007), but no agreement or common perspective on what constitutes digital play has been given. What is evident is a diverse range of descriptions of play within these digital contexts. There is limited theoretical discussion about what might constitute the specific nature of digital play (Kucirkova et al., 2014), and, as such, researchers do not always make clear what theoretical assumptions or model of play they are using when reporting findings. In this chapter, a theoretical discussion on what constitutes a cultural–historical conception of digital play is presented. Four key concepts from Vygotsky’s (1966) original conception of play are used to frame this discussion, where the psychological nature of digital play is foregrounded.Together, these four characteristics can guide researchers, educators, and app designers about what are the unique psychological determinants of digital play.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationApps, Technology and Younger Learners
Subtitle of host publicationInternational Evidence for Teaching
EditorsNatalia Kucirkova, Garry Falloon
Place of PublicationNew York NY USA
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781317402473
ISBN (Print)9781138927872
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Learning
  • digital play
  • imagination
  • creativity
  • scaffolding
  • self regulation
  • pivots

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