Hurrah! The other day the New York Times feature “Learning by Playing: Videogames in the Classroom” was the big talk among many of the Twittering teachers I follow. While many edu-gamers have long known the value of games for learning (and I’m not talking “educational” games), the really interesting story for me is the sudden reversal in perspective from non-gamers now ready to adopt. Synthetic worlds and gaming scholar Edward Castronova also remarked on the article’s “gee whiz” factor and challenged some of the biases and misconceptions that inform it:
“the article is interesting for other reasons too. It begins with “Intrigued by the willingness of millions of consumers to pay real money for things that do not exist…” and ends by referring to “pretend items.” Joining the spirit of the article, then, I’d like to say that while I read this pretend piece of news, and I did notice that it doesn’t exist, I am not willing to spend real money on it. The article is just a goofy, unreal plaything produced for people who waste their days in the fantasy world where the New York Times is treated as if it is were a source of unbiased information.”
Given the mainstream acceptance of tech panics that preceded this development, I think we need to reflect on an educational culture of deference, legitimacy and authority that prevented us from getting here sooner. But we also need to ask whose voices and perspectives really matter when it comes to understanding games and gaming cultures.
Gaming beyond tech panics
Like social media adoption, which initially inspired fear and worry among those in traditional professions (i.e., corporations, big media, PR, publishing and education), game culture is undergoing a similar approval process by those who formerly embraced Big Media tech panics rather than exploring these cultures for themselves.