I’ve been meaning to take the time to put together a really thoughtful, intelligent post here to talk about what I’m doing now. But I’ve been incredibly busy. So, instead, I’ll post the less well thought out version. 🙂
I left Ubisoft about two weeks ago to pursue a long-held interest of mine. I’ve always wanted to work on marrying together game design methodology and technology with education. As an industry, we have become so good at creating compelling experiences for people, even experiences so entertaining that people become addicted to them. What I’ve always wondered is, why we can’t we use those same techniques to create fun educational experiences for people?
Have you ever tried to learn a musical instrument? A foreign language? Algebra? Why do these learning experiences have to be so painful? For most people they are as much fun as getting a tooth pulled out.
There’s a great disconnect here. If I as a game developer can create a fun experience that motivates someone to spend hour after hour learning how to operate inside the world I have created, why can’t I use those same techniques to create a fun experience that motivates someone to spend hour after hour learning, say, Spanish? This is what I’m looking forward to exploring.
I’ll post more as it evolves. There’s certainly a lot of work ahead. At the moment I’m working on some game contracts to pay the bills as I spin up the studio. It should be a fun adventure!
One response to “New adventures”
I can see why Simon suggested we talk. You are positioning yourself at the precise leverage point needed to change the world. Education and entertainment must converge.
We educators have to be crazy to make something so vital to life enrichment as education such a boring experience. It drives me crazy that I have to drag my kids away from video games and force them to study. It makes so much more sense to design the learning so that students clamor to do it.
In my view, there is an opportunity to transform the entire world just waiting for someone with enough skills and sense to marry education and entertainment. The biggest single need (years of study and teaching and observation have convinced me) is for a wonderful, exciting, fun, involving, colorful and dynamic game that surreptitiously teaches literacy. Virtually every human problem from disease to hunger to hatred and war continues to exist only because of ignorance. Without a hint of cultural chauvinism, I can assert confidently that the single greatest measure to better the human condition would be to teach every child to learn to read English. It is the language of freedom and opportunity. I know lots of other scholars who would eagerly participate in a project to boost mastery of reading. The academic side of it is nearly trivial. In recent years a reading revolution has occurred. We know just what we need to do to teach reading effectively. No child needs to suffer the life withering effect of illiteracy. The more challenging part of the project would be to create a truly wonderful game. The learning has to be nearly osmotic, understanding absorbed automatically, almost unconsciously as the fully absorbed player engages in the fascinating pursuit of the game’s objective. I might also mention that there are a lot of people out there eager to invest in truly effective education. I don’t know the video game industry, but I’d guess it’s going to take a hundred people and ten million dollars to launch the first great world changing video game.
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