Games in Education

Games in Education video created by Mark Wagner and Michael Guerena of the Orange County (CA) Department of Education’s Educational Technology group. They have given permission to post. A really interesting video on games in education.  I completly agree that games can play a major role in education, when I got my hands on the Nintendo DS title “Brain Training” my first thought was “wow – I wish I’d had this as a kid!”  I think it could be an excellent tool.  I do think we have to be careful however.  I’ve recently finish a book discussing violence in western culture and its effects on creating a violent society.  I believe theres a strong argument against the use of violent games (I’ll explain my position on this in future posts).  To think that children could learn much about WWII by playing a war management game I think is stretching things, the important lessons remain the human experience for evacuated children and their bombed homes, to reverse this and have children selecting to bomb cities is a gross perversion. I think our schools should try to create a progressive education focused on the values of peace, human rights and non-violence.  In my opinion theres no justification for normalising violence to children.  Education establishments also bear a large responsibility, if we do allow any violent games into the education system, they could be played by every child in the country.  Even if the game has a very small effect of enabling violent attitudes this will be amplified over the entire nation.

As a side note, I’m a HUGE fan of Civ, but I really dont think it has much of an educational value.  I’ve spent many a sleepless night playing that game and learned very little compared to a late night reading a good book.  Also I find its a violent game as theres little option for being peaceful and little argument against major issues like the production of nuclear weapons.  It makes war “fun” and when you finally get nuclear weapons your dying to use them.  It projects nothing of the true nature of war, or history. Democracy is merely an option the player switches too, not something people fought for.  The bombing of cities is just something you do, theres no mention of how disgusting and criminal it was origionally thought (or still is), no sense of the true horror, its clinically and crucially missing.  Taking an empire by force is not a crime but a winning strategy (no Ghandi forces you out) and you switch to slavery at the touch of a button, why not?  Its Plus three production.  I think the line between entertainment and education should be drawn more clearly. Links

Extra A review on Civ

Son loves it, Dad’s not so sure5 I bought this game because my son had an older version, loved it, and wanted this newer one. He loves it. In watching over his shoulder I was a little concerned about all the ‘killing’. I didn’t know that war was such an important component of the game when I bought it for him. It’s not gory violence like an action game, but still there’s killing going on.

A paper by Kacber Poblocki “The Bio-culture Imperialism of Sid Meiers Civilization”

Representations of what lay beyond insular or metropolitan boundaries came, almost from the start, to confirm European power. There is an impressive circularity here: we are dominant because we have the power (industrial, technological, military, moral), and they don’t, because of which they are not dominant; they are inferior, we are superior and so on and so on

Do we really want children learning to get as much power as possible at all costs and then to use it to dominate the weak?

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