Jeremy Wagstaff from Wall Street Journal elaborates on the rise of edutainment or serious gaming. Below some quotes.
Tell me, I forget. Show me, I remember. Involve me, I understand....that's what comes to mind.
"The world is waking up to the power of games, both on the computer and off, as a way to convey complex ideas, engage and influence. "Serious games" now have their own summits (the second annual Serious Games Summit, held Oct. 30-31 in Washington, D.C.), think tanks (such as Singapore's Mixed Reality Lab, www.mixedrealitylab.org), and even university courses (Michigan State University is recruiting students for the 2007 launch of its Serious Game Design masters degree program). They can be found in fields including education, assisting emergency staff working at hospitals and dealing with fires and natural disasters (www.incidentcommander.net), and helping activists plan the overthrow of undemocratic governments (www.aforcemorepowerful.org/game).
Games are getting so sophisticated, in fact, that it's no longer just a case of learning about the past, but of improving on it. A game about World War II called Making History: The Calm and the Storm is so historically realistic that historian Niall Ferguson concluded that it offered a chance not just to make history relevant to today's kids, but to "play -- or rather replay -- the great game of history for themselves," as he wrote in New York magazine in October. Making History (www.making-history.com) was originally made for schools but will be released as a commercial product early next year. It's impressively hard: I felt like I struggled to save China from Japan just as much as Chiang Kai-shek or Mao Zedong did.
This is just the beginning. Games will get so sophisticated that everything we do, from naming streets to invading countries, will be run through a simulator first. Then we'll gradually come to accept that a six-year-old can figure out the mechanics of these games quicker than we can, and we'll grudgingly hand over the reins of government/disaster relief/environmental planning to our kids."