On Monday, U.S. president Barack Obama unveiled an education campaign designed to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in children’s education. A raft of companies and charity foundations announced their support including Time Warner, Discovery, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Sony Computer Entertainment America.
The games firm has pledged to back a $2 million contest called the National STEM Game Design Competition, which will seek to persuade developers to create kids’ games that promote STEM education. The contest is being backed by the Entertainment Software Association. Games based on Sony’s LittleBigPlanet will form part of the competition. Sony is also donating 1,000 PS3s and copies of LittleBigPlanet to libraries and community centres.
President Obama said, "Reaffirming and strengthening America’s role as the world’s engine of scientific discovery and technological innovation is essential to meeting the challenges of this century. That’s why I am committed to making the improvement of STEM education over the next decade a national priority." The plan is to partner with technology interests to broaden STEM’s appeal and reach among students.
Michael Gallagher, president and CEO of the ESA said, "Computer and video games are one of the most effective ways to reach America’s children and encourage them to stay interested in vital STEM principles. We are honored to have President Obama recognize the unique ability of games to act as a catalyst in generating new areas of growth in education."
He added. "Our industry’s lifeblood is the energy and innovation of new, emerging developers. To create the next generation’s epic titles and incredibly immersive storylines, we need America’s youth to have strategic and analytic thinking skills along with complex problem solving abilities. It is my hope that it will produce games that will have a lasting impact on the STEM skills our nation’s students so desperately need."