January 09, 2003
Educational computer games?

You may recall me writing here about educational software. I persist in expecting good things along these lines eventually, if only because this kind of thing has only to be cracked once. This - and my thanks to Joanne Jacobs for the link to it - is the kind of thinking I had in mind:

Education is a proven means for investing in our future. But while American schools are notoriously under-serving their students, kids are rushing home to learn how to succeed in alternative universes. Video games compel kids to spend dozens of hours a week exploring virtual worlds and learning their rules. Barring a massive overhaul of our school system, Nintendo and PlayStation will continue to be the most successful at captivating young minds.

Over 60% of Korean homes have broadband Internet access. Massively multiplayer online role-playing games are immensely popular there; increasing numbers of people spend hours each night fighting monsters together online. The largest Korean textbook distributor Daekyo and an independent software design firm JMCJ (Interesting & Creative Co., Ltd.) have joined forces to make a massively multiplayer online role-playing game in which children can study math, science and history: Demiurges. These people intend to make it possible for people to play in a virtual world saturated with real-world knowledge.

I suspect that children learn somewhat more from those 'commercial' games than Justin Hall goes on to imply, but that aside, I like his attitude.

This was from a piece he did in response to a question about what President George Bush should be thinking about science policy. My answer to that would be as little as possible, and if the answer to Justin Hall's answer is that President Bush decides to throw government money at educational computer games, my answer to that would be that this will, as always with government money, impede that which is being 'helped' and not help it at all.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 03:51 AM
Category: Technology