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Thompson: Educational games will lose you money

By Matt Martin

Mon 27 Oct 2008 3:08pm GMT / 11:08am EDT / 8:08am PDT

Microsoft boss warns of "crossing the line" by trying to combine education and entertainment

Microsoft's Neil Thompson has warned developers and publishers that trying to create games with specific educational value will just lose a company money.

Speaking at the Games 3.0 event on the educational merits of videogames, Thompson said that although titles like Brain Training are both informative and fun, setting out to combine education and entertainment was a bad idea.

"We're in the business of producing fun, not education," offered Thompson. "It so happens that certain products we produce have educational value. We're in the business of creating fun entertainment and the moment we try to pretend we're in the business of education we've crossed the line and it's dangerous for us as a company and as an industry.

"We've got to concentrate on producing great quality commercial products that will sell, because it costs too much money to get that wrong," he added.

Thompson said he does acknowledge that games can be used in education, but it is not the job of the industry to push an agenda, rather let the government and educational systems figure out how to use videogames in classrooms.

"Educators and government should understand what great education is in order to look at the products we produce and ask can they be used in different scenarios that can benefit children in their educational process?

"Nintendo has done some great work in producing products that are both fun and educational, Brain Training is one example, but I think for us to quote this as an industry and say let's start producing edutainment type products – we'll lose a lot of money. I don't think it's ever been done in a clever and good way because you lose the focus of it being fun and involving."

He also said that as videogames become more mature, consumers will find more educational value in the experience on offer.

"With the move of platforms to wider experiences we're going to naturally move into those areas where people we have experiences that have some educational value," added Thompson.

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