Educational Game Jam Held at the White House
With news that an educational game jam was held at the White House this past weekend, it seems that perhaps our government may be through with using video games as a scape-goat for all our current social problems and starting to look at the medium as a solution.
The 48-hour game jam asked developers to create games in various subject areas that adhered to the Common Core standards of children's education. Studios like Rovio (they created Angry Birds) and Ubisoft's Red Storm joined in the event, along with smaller independent studios.
You can search the #WHGameJam tag on Twitter to see the event through many od the developer's perspective, or check out this Storify which has collected a majority of relevant tweets.
Judging from the sheer amount of pictures, the thing most people were excited about was the cupcakes featuring the presidential seal.
There are also several amusing pictures of game developers, not known to be the most conventional-looking group of people, awkwardly sporting mohawks in the White House. Maybe I just think they should feel awkward.
Of course, the games look fantastic. "Land Grab" by Filament Games takes the abstract concept of the tragedy of the commons, and puts it into concrete practice by demonstrating the negative consequences of depleting shared resources.
Taking a look at history, Kristen DiCerbo and team "PearBat" use the familiar mechanics of point-and-click adventures games to make Abraham Lincoln's death a whodunit game for children to solve in "Who Killed Lincoln?"
"Function Force 4" the submission from the American University Game Lab reminded me of Counting Kingdom. The user pilots a space-ship, and must use mathematic functions to fire a giant laser. If the developers spend more time on this game, it might make our top math games list next year.
While learning games have been around as long as I can remember, it's great to see the White House calling on developers to experiment with news types of education games. Plus, the whole industry feels a smidge more dignified now.