Tj Host

Wedding Ideas & Inspiration

Kurt Squire on Civic Engagement Through Digital Games (Big Thinkers Series)


>>When you’re playing a game
there’s this natural inclination as you become better and
better to start engaging in the world in different ways. Now part of that is simply to recruit
other people to game with, right. So, if you’re playing something
like Civilization there’s a point at which you need to have
other players to kind of push your understanding,
push your strategy, same thing in Guild
or multiplayer games. What I’m most interested in though
is this idea that when you play through a game world, let’s say that
you’re playing as a roleplaying game and you’re a character who’s
shaped this entire world. We are starting to see some evidence
that players after playing games like this will start to kind of put
down the computer or look outside and say, “Well, why are
things the way they are? Why is the economic system or the
political system the way it is,” if you’ve been playing Civilization.” So, what we want to do with
educational games are design games that try to do that, but really
build them around critical, kind of current issues, and
then get kids to be motivated and have the skills to go out
and start to solve these problems as a direct result of
having played the game.>>I study video games and learning
and I’m particularly interested in how video games function
as learning environments, how game cultures around
them function, and then can we design learning
environments based on those ideas. So, partly what we try to do
is design games for learning, but then also design kind of
social organizations around them. So, a lot of this is more than
just taking games and trying to stick them, say, in a
school, but it’s really to fundamentally rethink
how we do education.>>One thing about games is they’re
really good at peaking your interest. They’re really good at taking
a complex sort of subject area and then giving you a hook into
it so that you find it intriguing and you kind of maybe
see the puzzle in it. And then they’re really
good drawing people in so they become engaged
and evolved. They’re very immersive.>>The next thing that games do
that’s really interesting is that they actually build skills,
you have to be good at a game. People who play games develop
pattern detection skills, they develop problem-solving skills. You don’t get very far in
a game if you just think about doing one sort
of solution path. You’ve got to kind of step
back when you reach problems, look at what is the most
ideal kind of solution, and then given what
you’re skills are, what is the best way to go forward.>>Kids in online spaces are really
having the opportunity to take on adult kinds of roles and
do a lot of complex sort of information management. If you ever tried to organize a raid
and get a hundred people from all over the world to show up at the
same time, on time, to be prepared, to have all the things they
need, to not mess up the group, to stay disciplined, it’s really
a complex kind of activity, right. And there are 13- 14-year-old
kids around the world who are doing that right now.>>In games you have the capacity to
do all these kinds of things, right. So, you can get involved in this
guild and help write the charter and kind of develop the rules. In schools, unfortunately, we
still have almost all of that on either the teacher or increasingly
the federal government, right. We don’t say that, as kids, alright
let’s build your own constitution, let’s build a charter, let’s
come up with your rules. Kids generally aren’t
running the school board, and that’s what’s happening
in games, right. Kids are, literally, they’re
getting to participate and shape their own social
futures, shaping the social future of their organization, and
they’re having a chance to do it.>>I think to me most
interesting is when you see spaces that are cross-generational, right. So, if you actually see guilds
where you have kids doing that, but then there’s also
grownups there too. And our society is really
bad about age degradation. We have to say all the ninth graders
can be in a room, not even ninth and tenth graders can be in the room. We unfortunately, if
you’re learning physics, there’s one physics
teacher and 30 kids. What’s great about games is that
there are all these matching of people of different
abilities, different interests, all working together in
this kind of ad hock way, which is how learning happens
everywhere except for school, right. That’s how learning has always
happened before nineteen hundred, it’s how learning will probably
happen from here on out.>>Listen to me, this
is a peace party. I want you to invite every man,
woman and child to our bueatiful city to protest and to rally against
taking away human rights.>>When most people think about games and civic engagement they think
those two things kind of have– nothing could have less
to do with one another than video games and
civic engagement. But actually there seems to
be a small, but important, relationship between them. And I think as educators we
can leverage what games do and really foster civic engagement.>>We have a game, for example,
called Citizen Science. And this is a game where you’re
roleplaying as an average citizen. It takes place here in Madison. And what you do in the game is that
you come to learn that the lakes in this area are very
endangered, which in fact they are. They may become eutrophic
in a few years to the point where you can’t swim in them at all. And so what you do in the game
is that you’re a kid who goes through a series of quests to understand what’s
happening to the lake. And then if you go through it
right you actually change the lake and change the future. Now, our hope is that you play the
game, you put it down, and you say, “Oh, well, why don’t we
do something about it?” So, we’ve basically taught you how
to do everything you’re going to need to do to change the lake. We’ve taught you what the root
causes are, how the science works, who you have to talk to
to get legislation passed. And so what we’re hoping is that by
the end we’ll have kind of a mass of students who are interested in
the topic, they feel empowered, they have the skills, and then
they’re actually motivated to go do something about it.>>Something that we’ve been seeing
happening here that’s really interesting is that a lot
of the media messaging and the organization is
being taken up, of course, by kids and they’re using media
to do it, things like Twitter. And because the social events
and protests and rallies that are happening here have
largely been driven by grassroots, it’s largely been driven
by participatory media, the mainstream media is not covering
it, so we have the largest rally in the history of Wisconsin
last weekend. And at best Fox News had one camera. CNN cut away for about
ten seconds, right. And as people are realizing
that okay, the corporate-owned mass media is
not going to get our message out, we need other ways to do it.>>Woman: I think I would try and
convince him to just negotiate and stop being so proud and stubborn.>>Man: I’d tell him to listen
to the people of the state.>>Man: If I had to say something, I’d
say, “As much as you want to deny it, these are your constituents.”>>Woman: I would tell him
he needs to stop and listen to the people of Wisconsin. Don’t get me started.>>You see things like
mobilization and using Twitter. You see people sharing–
producing videos and sharing videos to get their message out. That sort of instinct to do that
I think comes in part from growing up with participatory media
like games, but now a generation of kids actually has
many of these skills and so they’re starting to do it. And they’re starting to
kind of fill that void where other media aren’t stepping up.>>A group of our students launched
a website because they realize that information was really hard to
get and it was not freely available in the capital, so they launched a
website overnight that let you know where the protests were happening, what was needed, anyone
could post to it. It was featured on CNN by
the next day, and, of course, the capital had restricted access
to it because it was deemed to be perhaps a little controversial. And this is something, as a
gamer, people kind of actually do. They look and they say well where
are the weak spots, what do we need to fix, and they are inclined to kind
of jump in and apply their skills to try get something done.>>Well, a lot of the skills
are really related to design. Really good players, if
they’re playing collaboratively, have to form teams,
for example, right. So, they have to design
their own team, they have to design their own kind
of team rules, they have to guild, they have to write a charter. They have to build a website,
they have to recruit people. So, they’re designing their
own sort of social systems. Now, the skills that go into
that involve a lot of things. So, one is information gather
and information management. So, when you’re doing this kind of
gaming you’re having to monitor a lot of information streams, choose
which ones you think are relevant, and then make decisions so to manage
your own information flow coming in. So, if you’re playing something
like World of Warcraft, having to customize your interface
to get the information that you need to do better is a fundamental skill, it happens in something
like Starcraft as well. It’s very similar to doing
civic participation in the sense of what kind of information am
I getting, where can I get more, what don’t I know, what are other, if
you have a strong feeling on one side of an issue, do you know enough about
what the other side, say, is doing, do you know enough about
kind of what’s happening from different information sources. That’s part of why I think
games are such a key piece of what we call a participatory
media, the idea that you are
actually shaping the content, shaping the experience,
helping shape the world.

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