Game Theories

I am by no means any kind of expert in game theory. There are many brilliant people in my field that study gaming and game theory, and I've been very lucky to have met a few of them, and to have discussed digital gaming with folks from other disciplines, such as Steven Conway from the New Media Research Group.

These conversations have essentially changed my perspective on digital gaming and its role in childhood educational development. I played video games as a kid (hello Atari 2600!), but I also spent an inordinate amount of time outside, breaking things, making things, and pretending to be a sports superstar. Like many parents, I have at times suggested that my kids don't do enough of this kind of play, and too much of the gaming that is now ubiquitous and digital.

But there's a preponderance of evidence which suggests that gaming in digital environments is actually good for the kids, and combined with my own research interests in digital media, I have relented on how much time my kids spend gaming. In fact, I'm even promoting it, within reason.

There have been some interesting recent developments in applied game theory and primary education. The Institute of Play, for example, promotes "gaming literacies" and seeks to "build new domains of knowledge connected to gaming, digital media, and learning." In fact, a new(ish) public school in NYC called Quest to Learn admitted its first 6th grade class in the fall, which "uses the underlying design principles of games to create highly immersive, game-like learning experiences for students." And a recent NY Daily News article looks at the transition from pencils to joysticks.

All of which leads me to share a short video of my five year-old's first attempt at playing FIFA (my all-time favorite game) on the Xbox 360:


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