At the Learning Without Frontiers conference in London today, Ray Maguire, the managing director of Sony Computer Entertainment UK, pushed for a collaborative effort among game designers, educators, and the government to accelerate technological advancement in schools and present game design as a viable career path. We also expected him to express concerns regarding overuse of the word "frontier" in relation to education, but he didn't comment on the topic.
"There has to be a public and private partnership. Promote digital content creation as a career choice – it shouldn't' be 'I want to be a doctor or a lawyer,' it should be 'I want to be game designer' as well," said Maguire. He also stated that Sony is currently "doing work with government" to bring game design courses to universities.
Sony also hopes to employ Move and PSPs in schools (presumably for youth), as well as create "teacher packs" for LittleBigPlanet. The details of these efforts are unclear, but it isn't hard to imagine LBP being adapted for educational purposes.
"We shouldn't wait too much longer. A collaborative effort is absolutely required, it needs endorsement at the highest level, it needs someone in government to say we will do this," said Maguire.
Of course, Sony isn't only motivated by social enrichment - Maguire added that game-related businesses may acquire "the ability to make revenue out of this in the same way a textbook manufacturer does." But it isn't just about direct revenue - do you want Sony products pushed in schools? Should educational devices, even if beneficial, come at the cost of corporate indoctrination?
We all know that "edutainment" is a misnomer, because it implies that the current stable of 'educational' games offers entertainment and education, which is the exception, not the rule. But that shouldn't preclude continued thought about the potential for games - or, as better put in a classroom setting, interactive learning experiences - as educational devices. If implemented well (in the UK or elsewhere), I'm all for experimentation with digital education (as a tool, of course, and not a replacement for books and teachers). It must, however, be carefully handled, such that it doesn't become a marketing opportunity under the guise of social investment.
As for universities - the elements of game design should absolutely be available subjects of study in public institutions. The game industry out-grosses the film industry, and overlaps with other emerging fields, such as general application programming and 3D arts for film and TV.
Hey, also, did anyone else use LOGO in school? LOGO rules.
Jan 11, 2011