Considering that there's literally a game jam almost every weekend, no one would fault us for not covering each one in great detail. However, when the White House holds a game jam session, people start paying attention.
To be fair, this wasn't a game jam session in the traditional sense; groups of indie/professional developers were not brought together to flex their creative muscles and socialize. Rather, this White House-led game jam had a noble cause in mind: education.
The game jam in question took place last weekend, and was focused on developing better ways to educate children through video games. The White House brought together 100 top game designers in the hopes that these creative individuals could come up with new ways to get kids learning. Books may have done the trick decades ago (even that is debatable), but when there are so many entertaining distractions like Destiny or Super Smash Bros. around it's time for education to step up its game.
Attendees of the game jam had until Sunday to create a rough video presentation detailing their game's central premise. Members of the White House staff is now judging those ideas, and the winner(s) will eventually become real games.
Although we don't have the full details on the jam, one example game helped kids learn about ecology by simulating how predators and prey affect populations. Another group delivered a project called Rare Earth that serves as an astronomy simulator.
For the White House to be able to gather developers from companies like Electronic Arts and Red Storm Entertainment (Far Cry 4), and on their own dime no less, says a lot about this game jam and the cause of improving children's education. Even though some government officials malign video games for being negative influences on younger gamers' lives, leveraging games for educational purposes could be the key to motivating those who avoid learning.
More importantly, with industry veterans leading the charge, the White House can hopefully bypass the stereotype that learning games are dull. Bravo to the White House for doing this.
Do you think a game jam to improve education is a good idea? Would you have been a more active learner if there were better learning games around?
Source: USA Today