Archive for November, 2007

Art + Science = Game
November 17, 2007

It has always been told that games are the perfect marriage between art and science. The best and most simple empirical proof of such statement is made by Helsinki’s great talent Petri Purho with this little game over here. I remember meeting him at this year’s GDC after he made a brilliant presentation on the Experimental Gameplay Project. If you love experimental games, keep a close eye on his blog.

Probably one of the inspirations behind this great ludic idea was MIT’s magic blackboard. An awesome tool that could be applied to teach Maths and Physics in a more interactive way.

The marriage between these concepts -game and educational technology- is the piece of proof I needed for my previous post.  The techniques and ways of thinking from people involved in entertainment industries such as videogames, could shape entire generations if we start using those ideas for making schools a place were students want to go rather than imposing them the pressure of having to go. Education has been stuck in the 19th century for too long…

Rant on Education
November 8, 2007

I’ve been thinking about Education a lot lately. Two reasons: my partner commented to me some weeks ago about an idea he had for making videogames to be used on schools. And secondly, I had one of those interviews about games & violence where the questions went on the direction of asking “but, do you seriously think is good for kids to play games?”.

Probably I’ve said this to many times, but I’ll say it once again: We are genetically designed to train and gain knowledge through play. Cats play with a ball of wool, dogs dramatize biting each other and we, mammalians homo sapiens, play in many many ways as well. We do so because Play is the framework nature gave us to gather the skills we’ll need to survive in the natural and social world.

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And the main thing with traditional education is that we are too scared to change it. It’s changing how we were shaped, it’s changing the future of our kids. But what’s really scaring is realising that if you go check the compositions and writings you did in your teens about biology, chemistry, history or you-name-it, chances are that you won’t remember a single thing that you wrote back then.. and the reason is simple: you just didn’t care about those topics. And after a single glance to the Wikipedia you’ll understand those topics are so damn limited!

High School education is terrible. Probably because teenagers are annoying as hell. But also because of its competitive design: Students constantly suffer the pressure of achieving good Results instead of focusing on the process of real Learning. That leads to classic end-justifying-the-means situations and thus, an average individual can’t tell what he’ll do for the rest of his life when he’s 18 years old.

That needs to get fixed. And Games and Play can be part of the solution if we add to that cocktail the power of the Internet. Working on real solutions on this field sounds like an exciting solution for technologists that want to do something more than just money. And hopefully, One Laptop Per Child is only the beginning…