American government hosts first Games for Learning Summit

US Department of Education: ‘Games are a real educational solution’

The US Department of Education has said that video games can play a significant role in teaching everyone from young children to students, and is hosting an event to further discuss these ideas with developers.

The Games for Learning Summit will be held in New York later this month, where the Department hopes to bring together educational experts, students and teachers with games developers and publishers, according to Polygon.

The Department estimates that students play an average of 10,000 hours of video games between starting and finishing secondary school – about the same time they are spending in the class room – and is keen to take advantage of this.

“There was a perception before that games were this luxury technology and were maybe something that was really cool and really exciting, but not scalable,” said Erik Martin, the Department’s Games for Learning lead. “But now there is an opportunity to see games as solving real educational problems.

“Video games can really provide formative, quality assessment about how a kid tackles a problem and how they fail and overcome the challenges around a certain context a game provides them. This is not about looking at games because they are cool or fun – they’re a real educational solution.”

Ubisoft was highlighted as a prime example of a company whose games can be used for educational purposes, from the skill-teaching Rocksmith and calorie-burning Just Dance to the historical accuracies and exploration of Assassin’s Creed and Valiant Hearts.

However, the Department for Education believes developers still need to be educated about what games need to do to align themselves with established curriculums.

The Department’s director of educational technology Richard Culatta said: “Part of the message we are trying to send here is, if you’re building and designing games for learning you have to connect and work with teachers and with school leaders to make sure you are building games that are meeting the needs.”

The Games for Learning Summit is one of many initiatives the American government have run to explore the benefits of games development. Last year, the White House hosted its own games jam.

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