February 17th, 2006

Will Games Replace Text Books?

Let's see a dog eat this homework assignment.

Michael Guerena of the Orange County Department of Education informed Kotaku earlier this week of a podcast in their Technology in Education series that explores the potential for the use of video games in the K-12 classroom.

"If you look at a kid they'll go to bed early when they have problems solving a question on a homework assignment but they'll stay up late to beat a game level," says Dr. Henry Jenkins from MIT Media Lab.

"The worst thing a kid will say about a homework assignment is that it's too hard and the worst thing they'll say about a game is it's too easy. How do we bridge the gap between the two so that what's motivating about games encourages kids to learn?"

In addition to Jenkins, the twenty minute video (available here) interviews Dr. James Gee, Clark Aldrich, and GameSpy's Dave Kosak who reveals that he learned more about capitalism from Lemonade Tycoon (screen at left) than any book could ever hope to teach.

Although education games have been around since the eighties, Reader Rabbit and Math Blaster are rather limited in scope. Organizations like Muzzy Lane and the Education Arcade are currently developing games for classroom use that far surpass those early attempts.

These include entrepreneurial simulations, historically accurate war games, and MMOs that allow players to learn about and experience life from various time periods such as 18th century Williamsburg on the eve of the Revolution.
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North Carolina Video Game Bill Still in the Mix

GamePolitics has confirmed with the office of North Carolina State Senator Julia Boseman (left) that her proposed video game legislation is still alive.

The legislation would make it illegal to sell games deemed "harmful to minors." In addition, such games would need to be displayed in an area not accessible to minors. Information concerning game ratings would also need to be displayed.

Readers may recall that Boseman's proposal, SB2, was passed by North Carolina's Senate last April. The bill was subsequently referred to the state's House of Representatives but was stuck in committee when the 2005 legislative session ended.

However, as we've been told by a Boseman staffer, "The video cames bill, Senate Bill 2, is eligible for consideration during the 2006 session, having passed the Senate last year. It is in the House Judiciary I Committee, and Sen. Boseman expects it to be heard when the North Carolina General Assembly is back in session this year."

The 2006 Assembly session begins on May 9th - coincidentally, the week of the video game industry's E3 Expo.