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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."

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Latest comments (13)

Development of game related media and design has multiple crossplatform applications, and with the uptake of 3D related applications, it is not far of that these will help pave the way towards augmented reality, and branchoff into informatials combined with haptics, home and smart building applications, transport and information logistics, user interface and data preentation, etc.

Let us be far sighted in collaboration and thought at this great exportable technological skill, reearch & development.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 10 years ago
Product placement in classrooms without real educational value, that's what it is. It is not good if schools are complicit in pushing entertainment products onto kids. Show me one $60 game that can teach a kid as much as a $60 schoolbook.
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Petr Tomicek Intern Programmer, The Creative Assembly10 years ago
Getting student interested in games is the first step for future generation of game developers. However, what I am willing to see is much more close knit relationship between game studios and their local higher education establishments, especially those who already teach courses in Games Development or Games Programming.

Giving consoles to schools where a lot of children already own one is not as beneficial as giving schools who teach games development development kits and support, because there is no way for graduates to have any relevant experience programming for consoles is they don't have the tools the professionals use them selves.
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Show all comments (13)
Peter Caddock Head of New Technologies, Studio Liddell Ltd10 years ago
Aside - 'Predicting that 50 per cent of UK homes would have a 3D-enabled device by 2014' - get serious, that is simply advertising under the guise of education, and 'no chance' if the current tech is anything to go by. Few want them, less can afford them, and how does that in any way affect what's taught in schools? !!!!

To the Point...

Most schools are, and have been, aware of Flash for many years - but nearly all schools would have no idea on how to teach using this ubiquitously available software to produce more than jsut a series of simple animations, let alone any kind of game. Let alone understand what a game is.

There is almost as huge a deficit in knowledge in this area in school and education generally as is facing the coalition govt. in financial terms. David Brabens comment re: ICT = dull is more than commonplace, because of a lack of understanding on how to teach IT and how to make it relevant to the age we live in.

I am sorry to say, that if games design is to be taught in schools as part of the curriculum, who is going to teach it? I'm afraid the last people qualified to teach it are those who are actually the only ones in a position to teach it!

So at best, there's going to be tears!

I guess the question is really how do you go from thinking the World is flat and that the Earth is the centre of the Universe to understanding that the actual fact is the Earth is not flat and it is just one of many of the gazillion of planetary bodies which simply revolves around another cosmic body. It took a while but we sorted that one out so maybe there is hope...

Don't get me wrong I'd love to see 'Games' on the curriculum (not just the Physical Education type), but I fear for the terrible state that pupils will be left in from a complete mis-use of poor knowledge which currently exists around the educational sector where games is concerned.

It would need some really, really serious planning to get this right - it certainly isn't something which can be done quickly and it would rely heavily on professionals from the industry becoming part of the solution, and that works in some cases in Universities, but its not an overwhelmingly positive case where most University courses are concerned.

Now, what may be more relevant and valuable for schools to begin with is how to interest the kids in the delivery of key components for a game such as the back story (Geography, History, English), the scripts (Drama), the character development(Personal and Social Studies), the musical score for a scene and sound effects (Music), the graphical concepting (Art and Design), the design of the user experience and interface, and other many 'in school already' subject with related aspects, which could be used to focus on game related development.

Just my personal thoughts...

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Peter Caddock on 11th January 2011 5:36pm

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Jim Perry Programmer, head geek of indie studio Mach X Games 10 years ago
"Show me one $60 game that can teach a kid as much as a $60 schoolbook."

Just my opinion, but how about a $5 game - [link url=
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Private Industry 10 years ago
"Aside - 'Predicting that 50 per cent of UK homes would have a 3D-enabled device by 2014' - get serious, that is simply advertising under the guise of education, and 'no chance' if the current tech is anything to go by. Few want them, less can afford them, and how does that in any way affect what's taught in schools? !!!"

Looks like a possible number to me as it is 3D enabled devices and not only TV`s, so TV`s, 3DS and probably 3D enabled mobile phones.

The whole thing might scream "product placement, marketing", but it`s still better than doing nothing it`s at least some sort of effort. Things like LBP2 can be a good way in doing some early education in game and level design
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Simon Humphreys Computer Science Education 10 years ago
Folk here may be interested in the Computing At School working group (CAS) formed 3 years ago from a small group of 20 teachers, lecturers, researchers, industry reps (inc David Braben). The group now has over 500 members, most of whom are teachers; teachers who are concerned about the state of ICT in schools, teachers who want to engage with computing as a dsicipline in schools.

The article and comments above reflect on teachers, yes, we need training, support and resources. How can the Games Industry help?
1. CAS run a number of local hubs for teachers - an excellent opportunity to meet with teachers and provide such training and support.
2. CAS are running a series of one day conferences for sixth formers (and interested Year 11s) - we are actively looking for speakers to inspire and motivate these students with a passion for computing.
3. CAS has an active forum. Join us and share your insights and perspectives
4. The STEM ambassador program is looking to recruit more folk from Computing and IT. CAS are connecting schools with such ambassadors for one-off talks or perhaps running whole-day activities or perhaps running an after-school programming clubs.
5. CAS are increasingly getting involved with activities to influence the future direction of the school curriculum e.g. the new GCSE Computing pilot. It is early days but join CAS and lend us your powerful voice.

The door is open. Are there volunteers from the Games Industry to walk through the door and help the teachers?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Simon Humphreys on 11th January 2011 9:33pm

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Dean Reilly Journalist 10 years ago
Happy and quite proud to say that I'm doing what he's calling for already - at my college we offer Games Development as a pathway to post-16 students, and just this year started offering the same to the 14 to 16 groups too. And I've found that while it has been a long journey to get the games industry directly involved in what we do, it is do-able as long as people within both industries can identify how it can be mutually beneficial for them.

The ideal is that educators (like at my place) have got industry experience prior to going into teaching, but it's true that - generally speaking - some teachers might need to skill up or develop their understanding of what the games industry actually is, the skills they need and so on before trying to take such a course on. But once that's happened and industry standard software and practices are taught, it's a win win.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Dean Reilly on 12th January 2011 8:54am

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Mike Spence Course Leader for Game Art BA, South Thames College10 years ago
Clearly there are two discussions here.
1) How can we use games in schools to aid education.

and more on topic with what Ray was discussing;

2) How can we develop the skills and attitude early in the curriculum to enable pupils to have a serious career in game art or games programming.

Teaching games development at uni, I often joked that I'd be teaching it in primary schools one day. Well, it isn't far off a reality anymore. Peter Caddock is right on the money, it's about providing the students with the skillset that they can develop through college and uni. Art class doesn't have to be just about careers in print, but showing the relevance of life drawing in game art. Schools do not even necessarily have to be running PC's with PhotoShop and 3D Max/Maya at this stage, but certainly giving the students the traditional skills with a view to applying them to digital work at post 16. It's about providing the students with vocational options, and giving them the right information and a space to develop the appropriate skills.
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Thiago Vignoli Creative Director, Fan Studios10 years ago
Government in some countrys are interessed in buy games for public school and things like that. In Brasil we have working in some games for public school in the last months.
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Rick Cody PBnGames-Board Member 10 years ago
My school has a Game Scoring (music) minor and it's taught primarily by a guy who has worked on Xbox 360 and a number of other platforms.
If we're talking grade school, I think the idea is absurd. If we're talking college, maybe. Grade schools need supplements to their cirriculum. How cool would it be if your homework was to play a web game about a war RTS style? It seems like they'd have to be linear and have an obnoxious amount of text, but maybe not.
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Nikki Navta President, Zulama10 years ago
In conjunction with Faculty at Carnegie Mellon University's Entertainment Technology center, my company developed game academy curriculum that prepares students for a career or college experience in the game industry. The courses are available in a web-based collaborative learning application, and they can be experienced in a classroom with an in-person teacher or online.
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Lee Jones Studying Biology, University of Miami10 years ago
I invite all who say that games are not as effective in teaching students as textbooks to look at a little company in the US called J & J Educational Boot Camp. They have a series of curriculum based science games called "Science Boot Camp". The Science Boot Camp line consists of a board game, a bingo game, a drawing game and a jeopardy style computer game. This series of games have consistently doubled science test scores in schools with the worst test scores in the state of Florida. With games, this company has done what traditional teaching methods haven't been able to do and neither have big text book companies. Maybe Sony ought to form a relationship with this small company and join forces to combat this wide gap in technology and science!
Check out their site at
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