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Cabinet Minister Urges Kids to Play More Games

| 15 Dec 2008 17:40
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Minister Tom Watson is telling kids across the UK to go forth and game, extolling the educational virtues of everything from the Wii to Runescape.

"Basically, I think playing games is a good thing," Watson, who is in charge of implementing new technology into the government, said. "I'd rather my boy be playing on his Wii than passively watching telly."

No offense to the telly, but games are an active and, moreover, educational experience, Watson asserts, and that doesn't just make it good for the kids, but maybe worth some serious cultural weight. "Most games are educational," Watson said. "They make you think, focus, challenge and change - 500 years ago a medium that did this would be called art." Watson's son learned to count from a Telly Tubbies game, Watson said, and his friend's eight-year-old learned some elementary alchemy (copper + tin = bronze) from playing Runescape.

Watson's perspective, however, flies in the face of some of his political cohorts. The British government, facing rising child obesity rates, has increasingly urged kids to go outside and play (even if they're cool with Wii Fit). "We all have a role to play in encouraging young people to get out from behind their computer games and playing sport," Richard Caborn, the former sports minister, said.

Nobody is denying the urgency or import of that issue - a quarter of five-year-olds are overweight or obese in the UK. But might the problem be bigger than the kids these days being glued to their Xbox 360s? Maybe if Watson's point of view can gain some pull, we might see less scapegoating of videogames and a bigger focus on tackling the culture of obesity at large.

[Via CVG]

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