"Video games are now more popular than film, television or music. How will this affect the way people use media and expect to learn?” That’s the challenge that event organiser Graham Brown-Martin has placed at the heart of the inaugural Game Based Learning 2009 conference taking place at The Brewery, EC1 on March 19-20.
“We are just a few years from cinema-quality, thinking and speaking characters,” he adds. “And they will inhabit gaming devices less expensive than the current slew of netbooks that can barely run Windows Vista."
The line-up of speakers is impressive. It includes the Consolarium's charismatic and award-winning Derek Robertson (Learning and Teaching Scotland), Terry Deary, author of Horrible Histories, Alice Taylor, commissioning editor for education with Channel 4, Tom Watson MP, minister for transformational government, and a number of key games industry figures.
One of them is Nolan Bushnell, who founded Atari in 1972 and hired the then unknown Two Steves - Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak . A seminal figure in the computer games industry and soon to be played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the movie Atari, he says: "If we can integrate games within learning across the curriculum we can make education the proper competition for our children's minds."
Someone who is doing just that in schools across Scotland is Derek Robertson who runs The Consolarium for Learning and Teaching Scotland. "The informed application of game based learning in teaching has the potential to enrich, enhance and in some cases transform the educational experience of learners,” he says. “Our work in schools has shown how a range of commercially available games can have a positive impact on attainment and the social dynamic in the classrooms. Take a closer look at the world of computer games, think about the demand they place on the player, have fun but remember to give the controller back to the kids!"
At Games-based Learning 2009 teachers will join games gurus, policy makers, innovators, education leaders, developers and publishers for two days of keynotes, discussion and seminars. Visitors from the worlds of education, entertainment software and consumer electronics will explore how video games and social media are offering benefits for learning and teaching. Other confirmed speakers are Ian Livingstone, co-founder of games publisher Eidos, and Dr Richard Graham, clinical director of the Tavistock Centre.
The event will present real-world examples of games and social media use in formal and informal learning, along with discussion of the latest market data, trends and behaviour.
The Game Based Learning 2009 conference takes place at The Brewery, London EC1, on March 19-20, and MJO is delighted to be a media partner. Registration is now open and you can qualify for a free computer game and a 10 per cent discount by quoting this code on registration - merlingbl09.