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Posts Tagged ‘Obama’

I’ve been critical of President Obama’s attitude toward the industry in the past, so I have a responsibility to point out that the administration seems to be getting it.  Last week, he announced the National STEM Video Game Challenge.  It’s the latest in a line of very worthy programs that challenge young students with designing an educational video game.

With some brilliant minds behind it and an excellent group of sponsors, it’s a great program with national scale.  I just hope there’s more where that came from. It kills me to hear about the plummeting interest level in math and science among school-age children, and then hear “these darn video games” blamed for it in the same breath.  Game development is not only the most sought-after career for young people in this country, it’s also a very demanding pursuit of math and science based disciplines.  Harnessing the passion for this industry should be a no-brainer for educators.

My own alma mater, Michigan State, launched an ambitious game design program only a few years after I graduated.  Of course, I’m envious of the lucky Spartans that came after me. Many, many other universities are currently offering or exploring a similar program. We still haven’t seen a University establish itself as THE game design school in the US, so there is certainly some work to do in marketing these degree programs to prospective students.  And it’s up to high school and middle school administrators (throw in K-8 while you’re at it) to make sure their pupils are prepared for them.

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Considering Seth Schiesel didn’t write it, there is a surprisingly good piece in yesterday’s Times about the gaming community’s reaction to President-elect Obama.  Just to be clear, I absolutely love the guy and only wish I could have voted for him more than once, but I’ll admit I was a bit taken aback by him saying that we need to “put away the video games” in every stump speech over the last few months.  My knee-jerk reaction was, “oh man, a politician is talking about games, and that’s never good.”

Taking a closer look, these are comments on parenting, not on the state of our industry or even its audience.  And I couldn’t agree more.

One conversation I’m finding myself in more and more (as more of my friends become parents) is how video games fit into responsible parenting.  There are the obvious questions, like “what system should I buy for my kid?” and “how much time is too much?”  The question I ask that really gets to the heart of every parent/gaming conversation is “how much time do you spend (or plan on spending) playing games with your kids?”

Unfortunately, there are still some parents that think it’s ok to let the games entertain their kids, and stay out of it.  Perhaps they’re intimidated by the technology, or just didn’t play video games growing up and don’t “get” it.  But how is that different from taking your kid to the park, giving him a quick push on the swing, then going back home alone?

Last week, the missing persons case of Brandon Crisp came to the end I think we were all dreading.  A lot of less-than-stellar journalists jumped at the chance to throw the industry under the bus.  I’m not going to give them the dignity of a link, but Google it if you’re curious.  Just like Obama’s comments, this is a parenting story that happens to involve a gamer. 

My heart certainly goes out to Brandon’s parents, and I can’t possibly imagine what they’re going through right now.  But his father’s comments early in the case stuck with me: “My personal feeling is that he’s met someone online through this game…(Kids) play these games and it becomes an addiction. It becomes their whole life.”  I wonder how many times he tried to play “these games” with his son, or at the very least asked him what he was playing with even a little bit of interest.

Whether it’s playing catch, coloring, reading, hiding and seeking… love for your children is spelled T-I-M-E, and video games can be a great outlet for that.

In case you haven’t read it, be sure to check out Sam Kennedy’s piece over at 1Up that explores just what the Obama presidency could mean for gamers.  I’m actually a bit surprised to see something like this in 1Up – it reads more like an article from EDGE or Gamasutra.

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