Changing My Mind About Video Games: The potential of video game-enhanced learning
During my May 3 trip to Washington, sponsored by The California Endowment, I shifted my perspective toward the video game industry and technology fields. I never had an interest in video games, and I did not think they were a particularly enriching activity for kids to indulge in. However, my opinion changed when I was exposed to the ways technology itself has been changing, and how innovations in the field have been changing the way people experience video games.
I had the great opportunity to attend a GlassLab event at the Microsoft Innovation Lab, and visit offices at the Entertainment Software Association (ESA). During that time, I saw a much more beneficial and innovative side of video games of which I was previously unaware. At GlassLab, they are partnering with educators and game designers to create a new brand of video games that help kids learn problem solving through engagement and teamwork. One of the speakers was a seventh-grade student who remarked how much more interesting and helpful it is to learn skills through video games than to use traditional methods at school. It was amazing to see how much creativity is put into designing these games, and the new technology GlassLab is producing has the potential to change the way gaming is used. They gave a demonstration of SimCityEDU which combines the Sims game and learning modules that teachers can use in and out of the classroom.
At ESA, I heard about their vision for a transformative brand of gaming. Advocates are focusing on the benefits of video games, and countering claims that they only foster violent behavior in children. Revolutions like the Kinect or Wii, games that engage kids and get them off the couch, is what has expanded the industry to surpass those of both television and film combined. During a discussion with representatives from the White House, it was also exciting to hear about efforts to include more women and minorities in the STEM fields. There are so many opportunities in these expanding fields, and it's encouraging that there is an effort to diversify the professional landscape. It turns out that there are more jobs to fill in technology fields than there are in others because of the specialized education required to be eligible for those jobs.
It's inspiring to see the developments that are being made in technology and gaming, and to know that the trend will only continue into the future. With a more diversified work force, we will continue to see different products of varied creative energy in gaming and STEM.
For more first-hand reporting by young people about their Washington trip, read Alyson Bryant’s report, My Trip to the White House: A Reporter's Notebook.
Guest blogger Yasmine Elsafy, a member of The California Endowment’s State Youth Advocacy Network, writes about her recent trip to Washington and what she learned about the use of gaming to teach and learn. The California Endowment sponsored the trip to enable California youth leaders to meet with lawmakers, advocates and innovators in the health and education fields. Elsafy is in her third year at City College of San Francisco, majoring in communications with a minor in marketing. She is a contributing writer to the Richmond Pulse.