How video games can change the world, one child at a time

April 24, 2014

Erin Hoffman, lead systems designer at GlassLab:

Learning is not broken. But testing is pretty broken. The way that we measure learning has been pretty broken.

A lot of game developers are parents now, and they’re starting to see their kids learn. They’re starting to see what their kids are encountering in the education system. The education system is starting to realize, we feel like we’re competing with this barrage of entertainment that’s around kids, nonstop, all the time. I think initially that was shocking to them. TV is the enemy. Heavy metal is the enemy. Video games are the enemy. They’re starting to ask, what if we could harness that instead of making it the enemy? So it’s actually a parallel maturation. Both the education system is maturing into not seeing video games as the enemy, and game developers are maturing into seeing that there are things we can do with games other than just pure entertainment.

Due to their highly addictive and engaging qualities, I’ve always felt that video games have “magical” potential to foster critical thinking and teach skills on a profound level. The ability to quantify various attributes over simple interactions has an insane amount of potential. (ie. how long does a player’s finger hover over a particular object, how many Hearthstone cards did they analyze before making a play, etc.)

I recommend reading Sir Ken Robinson’s “The Element” for more on standardization’s inability to encourage an individual’s potential. Similar to GlassLab, take a look at Knack.