Sony: "The time is now" to bring games to education
"There has to be a public and private partnership" – Maguire
Sony UK boss Ray Maguire has urged the government, educators and the private sector to adopt games into the national curriculum "relatively quickly."
"The time is right now to do it," he told the audience at the Learning Without Frontiers conference in London today.
"We shouldn't wait too much longer. A collaborative effort is absolutely required, it needs endorsement at the highest level, it needs someone in government to say we will do this."
Maguire was concerned that austerity measures and the recession might slow down technological progress in schools, which he felt games could contribute usefully to. "We are deflated after the cuts," he claimed, [but] "we're looking for relevant opportunities for students and the teachers."
While predicting that 50 per cent of UK homes would have a 3D-enabled device by 2014, he argued that "adoption of technology is constrained by how much we can spend. The delta is getting bigger, which is why we need to do this stuff relatively quickly."
He felt that "There has to be a public and private partnership. Promote digital content creation as a career choice – it shouldn't' be 'I want to be a doctor or a lawyer', it should be 'I want to be game designer' as well."
Earlier in the day, there had been surprise that the government's education department had not appeared at the conference. While culture minister Ed Vaizey was in attendance and emphasised his support for the games industry, he did not give a reason for the no-show of Michael Gove's office.
Observed Maguire later, "What body is ultimately responsible for the introduction and delivery of a digital national curriculum? I don't know."
He also claimed that Sony was actively in discussion with Westminster on how to improve games' standing in the UK. "We're doing work with government to help make game design courses for universities."
He also added that "we're clearly still in discussion about tax credits, it's a conversation that still continues." This is in stark contrast to EA's argument on government tax relief last week.
Maguire felt that becoming more ensconced in the education sector could also be to game technology companies' direct financial benefit, observing that if progress could happen rapidly enough there may be "the ability to make revenue out of this in the same way a textbook manufacturer does."
Sony is hoping to employ Move and PSPs in schools, as well as creating teacher packs for LittleBigPlanet. "We've already started courses for teachers, student side and school side," he said. "We want to hear from schools and local authorities interested in tackling the issues in front of them."
Earlier in the morning, Nintendo UK general manager David Yarnton had been less sure about active involvement in education. While he hailed the adoption of DS and Wii in some classrooms and quasi-educational titles such as Brain Training, he claimed that "We do not produce products designed for education."