In a follow on from my Feb ’05 thought for the month I attended a DfES (Department for Education and Skills) Game Summit last week. The focus of the event was the potential use of computer/video games in education. It seems that the DfES has been wrestling with the idea for some time but has so far not come up with a viable plan for the use of games in education. However there has at least been a sea change in the opinion of both educators and the games industry. Previous discussions hosted by the DfES resulted in both parties agreeing that games in schools were a dreadful idea. Now at least both sides agree that actually games are a viable teaching aid – it just remains to work out how a business model can be constructed that works for developers/publishers within a schools purchasing process. As is often the case several people expressed the opinion that the government would have to put its hand in its pocket to fund development and kick start the market. My personal view is that the governments best efforts would be directed towards educating publishers/developers on how education department purchasing works (so that they can work out a viable business model) and how to track down educators who can work with them to develop great games that meet a school’s curriculum requirements.
I am certainly a believer in the educational ability of great games. Not only do I know more about the Seven Wonders of the ancient world after playing Rome: Total War but my interest and knowledge of European Geography can be traced back to senior school, where my Geography teacher hosted an after-school Diplomacy club (a board game loosely based on a pre World War I map of Europe).