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EDUCATION REPORT – Electronic Games in Education - 2004-05-26

Broadcast: May 27, 2004

This is Steve Ember with the VOA Special English Education Report.

For some educators, there is nothing wrong with fun and games. A group called the Education Arcade recently held a conference in Los Angeles to discuss the future of educational games. The Education Arcade brings together international game designers, publishers, teachers and policymakers. They say they want to lead change in the way the world learns through computer and video games.

The conference was part of E-three, the Electronic Entertainment Exposition. This is a yearly trade show where companies show off new games and educational products.

The Education Arcade started at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, near Boston. Professors worked with the Microsoft company to create what they called the Games-to-Teach Project. The group began to explore ways to use technology in teaching and learning. They worked with game designers to develop ideas about how mathematics and science could mix with game playing. The Education Arcade is the research part of this Games-to-Teach Project.

The group recently announced that a “Games for Learning” statement will be placed on some products. This should begin to appear in American stores in about six months. The goal is to help people find games that are fun but will also teach. The Education Arcade says it also wants to get businesses to produce more games that teach.

The Entertainment Software Association says fifty percent of all Americans age six and older play computer and video games. Sales of such games in the United States grew eight percent last year, to seven-thousand-million dollars. The industry group says the average age of a game player is twenty-nine years old. And it says thirty-nine percent are women.

Experts say developing a successful computer game can take millions of dollars and years of work. They say many companies are not willing to invest that much money and time in educational games when other kinds sell better.

Still, companies have been creating systems like hand-held educational devices made by LeapFrog. And new educational role-playing games are being developed. M.I.T. and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in Virginia are developing a game called “Revolution.” Players will get to experience the American Revolution online.

This VOA Special English Education Report was written by Nancy Steinbach. This is Steve Ember.