One of the things I like the most about my work on The Escapist is that I get to read all the articles. It's led to some interesting personal examination on the nature of gaming and what games I like to play, among other things. More recent articles, and Alex's blog posting from a few days back, got me to thinking what the industry and gamer could do to help promote ourselves as a positive force.
Out of left field, an inspiration dropped into my lap.
Like many of the people reading here, I'm sure, there's a little corner of the internet I like to hang out in. A micro-community so to speak - it's a lot like Cheers. You know, "Where everybody knows your name...." Two days ago, one of the other inhabitants set about inspiring the rest of us to do something good for the holidays, which involved a website called DonorsChoose. The concept is that teachers ask the public for support for projects they can't accomplish through normal means, and the public can choose whether or not to support the endeavor. As a group, we completely sponsored four small projects - it's no Child's Play, but it felt good.
Afterwards, I looked around a bit, and found this one. This was the inspiration. Schools are the key. Schools reach students, teachers, and even more importantly, parents.
Dance Dance Revolution. Guitar Heroes. EyeToy Play. Donkey Konga. At an elementary school level, these would be wonderful, amazing tools for physical and musical education. Civilization. Total War. For older students, these contain a remarkable amount of knowledge about history and government. This doesn't even go into games intended to educate, like Carmen Sandiego and Oregon Trail.
But this isn't going to just happen. The government and school system aren't just going to bust out the corporate Visa and order up gaming systems all around. Microsoft and Apple and Dell know this - they're constantly reaching out to schools with computer equipment and software, providing them with the tools that will build the market later on. It's no coincidence that, years after computers started appearing in schools of all levels, we have a populace of computer savvy youth and their maybe-not-so-savvy-but-interested parents. As an industry, and a community, we could be doing the same for gaming - reaching out to parents in a positive way through the children, instead of only the negative through the media.