Tuesday, June 16, 2009

What's In A Name? (Game Education Summit -- Part 2)

Don Marinelli kicked off the Game Education Summit with a rousing "hoo-ah" speech for the academics and game design professionals in the room. He wasn't entirely preaching to the choir but it certainly seemed he knew his audience.

Beyond the high rhetoric (such as video games are the "Lucifer of Liesure" to naysayers and luddites...) there were a number of interesting points he brought up. Rather than focus on the entire speech (which, as I mentioned, was designed as much to inspire as to inform), I intend to simply hit the high points from my perspective:

The intersection between games and education. Marinelli was primarily talking about teaching game design at the University level but he spent a good bit of the speech highlighting the more general importance of games in education. He was quite passionate about it and I think generally correct. Games excel at implicit learning -- learning without knowing that you are learning. Taking advantage of that makes sense.

The inevitability of game-based learning. The shift to game based learning in Marinelli's view is largely generational. As the currnet generation (comfortable with chalkboards, lectures and linearity in general) gives away to the next (comfortable with GPS, SMS and high speed internet) there will inevitably be a shift in the way we educate people. Students want to know that they invested their youth wisely. I couldn't help but think at this point of various theories about why animals play. At least one of the theories is that they play to learn.

Intelligence studies and game design share a similar problem -- perception. Marinelli seemed to be saying that games are considered "fun" and game deigners too often feel like they have to apologize for their profession. Likewise, it occurred to me that intelligence is all too often considered "bad" and intelligence professionals similarly feel a need to apologize for their profession (It actually happened to me here. I asked a question and the presenter asked back, "What is it you teach?" My answer: "You don't want to know." And the cock crowed the first time...).

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