PAX East: Gaming Will Change How Kids Learn

Game designer Steve Swink explains what's wrong with our education system and how gaming can help.

“5 paragraph essay is bullsh*t,” said independent game designer Steve Swink at his PAX East presentation titled “Saving Education with Game Design.”

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A veteran game designer and an educator of 8-years, Swink believes that there’s a lot wrong with the United States’ current education system – and he’s set to change that. This is what we learned from his presentation:

  • Education is failing us.
  • Games are really good at teaching us things.
  • Games can save education and solve some problems the world is facing.

“Teachers are in a bad situation,” Swink said. They want to teach kids like they’re memory sticks, force-cramming information for the sole purpose of succeeding in standardized tests. “Having the expectation that knowing a bunch of facts and learning how to regurgitate them” is not the end all-be-all.

Swink thinks that video games can help students actually absorb what they’re learning and apply it to real-world situations.

Swink and his team of developers have designed two educational games that he hopes will be adopted in classrooms across the country – Talga and The Doctor’s Cure. Both games are designed for students to learn how to problem solve and understand the impact of their decisions through trial and error.

“Programming is the literacy of the digital age,” said Swink, and he ended the presentation with a quote from Steve Jobs.

“I think everyone should learn how to program a computer, because it teaches you how to think. I view computer science as a liberal art, something everyone should learn to do.”
– Steve Jobs

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