janeiro 24, 2005

How Games are Reshaping Business & Learning
with James Paul Gee, Kurt Squire, Constance Steinkuehler

A really interesting conference on videogames learning. You can watch all the conference through webcast here,

Is really stimulating hearing Paul Gee talking about the new capacities of videogames about the future perspectives for using videogames in education. Is arguments and references to the military using of videogames is really convincing. Although I'm still sceptic about this revolution in 2 or 3 years like he says. I'm more convinced about a slow revolution in the next 10 years. Young people can change quickly because they are not tied to strong responsibilities, however society buildings and rules can't be changed at this velocity.

"Videogames are very long, very complex and very hard. Videogames are sized for learning in deep levels."
Here he compares videogames industry with school teachers.
"How do you get somebody to learn something that is hard, complex and long? and take hours to do it?"

"By necessity industry had to be very good at learning"
And here I can compare videogames industry with film industry in the beginnings when they had to transform film spectacle into film narrative. It was trial and error that helped film industry refine film language in order to attain people minds and caught people attention. More than others Hollywood have done it since the beginning their capitalist urge to reach widest as possible audience made of them the most efficient and universal film language in the world.

Gee main argument is that taking into account the deep level of learning involved in the process of playing videogames and thinking about the fact that in "Videogames you can be a "Thief", you can be a "hard ass" or you can be "soldier". We just need to translate that to our university learning environment and think that we want students to be playing as scientists, as doctors, as engineers, etc.

Constance talk about videogames economics is not that interesting mostly because we're already tired to hear about all these fabricated numbers in the interest of videogames industry. She shows a table where in 2003 Videogames Industry out profit Hollywood box office movies - 10 billions against 9.5 billions.

This is uninteresting doing this kind of comparisons, Hollywood profits changed long time ago. They are not selling a movie through movie theatres only anymore. The changes performed in society made people to prefer staying at home than going out to a movie theatre for lots of reasons. And videogames also profit from this sedentary society. If we want to compare Videogames against Movies in terms of economics we need to be serious, and not using these numbers just to make fun and just to impress. Once again videogames are imitating Hollywood. It was Hollywood who invented the Box Office numbers in order to raise people expectations and peoples need to see movies that are doing so well at the box office. With the spreading of these numbers, videogame industry is only trying to call for attention from people who are not playing yet, and saying to them "hey listen, we already out profited Hollywood and if you don't come with us you'll lose your connection with the real world". Constance is being naïf when she says that "videogames are secretly and silently out profiting" without anybody knowing.

If we want to talk about economic comparisons, let's think about movie industry as we think about game industry. A movie itself produced in Hollywood without any merchandise must be accounted for: movie theatre sales + video rentals sales + dvd sales + cable sales + televison sales, now compare this with the videogame that is only sold in the little disc. And we need to be careful about talking of gaming industry and putting in the same bag videogames offline plus online because it seems to me like putting in the same bag movie industry plus television industry.

However after all this numbers and bag of media I came to think about one thing that makes me once again hate these capitalist strategies for selling more and more. Because in the end and in the future we want to arrive at a convergence point where we'll have no possible distinctions between TV, cinema or videogames. We'll have a central audiovisual hub at home and everywhere we go that will permit us to enjoy any type of content all through the same convergent media.

Kurt Squire gives an interesting overview of the gains business can have using videogames and also about the new possibilities for elearning.

Give a look and enlarge your horizons about the "art/entertainment/work" form of the XXI century. This perspective of videogames is only confirming Mcluhan predictions on Automata. "The age of information will compel us to use all of our faculties simultaneously, and we will discover that we are in leisure the more intensely we agree to involve with them, as it was the case of artists of all time" (Understanding Media, 1964)

James Paul Gee - Read his book "What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy", one of the most important works in the games/education field.

Constance Steinkuehler- https://mywebspace.wisc.edu/steinkuehler/web/
Kurt Squire - http://website.education.wisc.edu/kdsquire/