Videogames could help students learn about technology says Sony UK boss Ray Maguire, not to mention make a little extra scratch for console makers.
Maguire is pushing to make videogames part of the national curriculum for British schools, and wants it happen sooner rather than later. Speaking at the Learning Without Frontiers conference in London, Maguire said government, educators and the businesses would all have to collaborate in order for the idea to properly take root.
Maguire thought that games could make a meaningful contribution to technological progress in schools, something he felt would be threatened due to new austerity measures. He said that Sony was "deflated" following cuts in education budgets, but was still looking into opportunities for teachers and students alike. He warned that rising prices could make it difficult to proceed however, and urged the government to move as quickly as possible.
Sony hopes to introduce PSPs and the PlayStation Move into classrooms, and is also working on teacher packs for LittleBigPlanet. Maguire noted that as well as raising the profile of videogames, becoming a fixture the education sector could become a significant source of revenue for videogame hardware manufacturers. Maguire added that Sony also hoped to promote courses in videogame creation in British universities, and hoped that videogame developer might become an aspiration for more young people.
Unfortunately for Sony, no one from the UK department of education attended the conference, although Ed Vaizey, long-term supporter of the industry and Minister for Culture, did. Maguire seemed unfazed by this however, and noted that it wasn't entirely clear what government department would actually be responsible for the measures Sony was proposing.
It's not hard to see how videogames, and especially games like LittleBigPlanet, could become invaluable teaching aides. Teachers aren't going to be swapping textbooks for the complete works of Cliffy B any time soon, but by making lessons more interactive, the students would find it easier to retain what they'd been taught, making the lesson more effective overall.
Maguire clearly isn't worried about admitting that Sony's motives aren't entirely altruistic, but they don't really need to be to have a positive impact on students. It may already be too late for Sony though, as in this time of belt-tightening, it's hard to see PS3s as anything other than a luxury.