From empathy to employability: what students can learn from video games

Vincent Trundle, Digital Education Producer ACMI, and organiser of this year’s Education in Games Summit is forever amazed by games.

“I’m passionate about using new and exciting games technologies in educational environments,” he said reflecting on the focus of his work.

“People would not necessarily think that teaching empathy might be a focus of a game – yet, it’s a theme of one of our talks this year.”

Games have been used to entertain and teach for time immemorial and this week’s Education in Games Summit presented by ACMI, the Department of Education and Training and Creative Victoria aims to inspire educators with ideas and strategies to create positive classroom outcomes using video games.

In a world increasingly influenced by technology and its applications, educators are required to embrace deeper levels of screen literacy, to engage new generations of digital natives and to prepare them for success in future job markets.

At this year’s Summit, STEM (science, technology, engineering, maths) teaching theory will be a focus, as will developing the array of skills required to create games and understand how they interrelate with other disciplines taught in the classroom.

Keynote speaker, Eric Jordan, from Canada’s Codename Entertainment will focus on how profoundly applicable game development skills are right across today’s jobs market.

The closing panel will also focus on future employability and the role games will play in the lives of future generations.

Caro Llewellyn, Director Experience & Engagement Museums Victoria, believes “that digital games can be a powerful educational experience. Games get people working together in teams, learning and problem solving together.”

This collaborative, inquiry-based and problem-solving focus is one of the main drivers of STEM teaching theory which aims to equip children of today with transferable skills which will assist them to navigate the changing job markets of tomorrow.

As well as talks on teaching empathy and resilience through game play, the Summit offers educators the opportunity to explore teaching children how to develop and create their very own games.

Girls are still significantly under-engaged in STEM subjects and, in 2013, according to The STEM Labour Market in Australia report, Australian women represented only 14% of engineers and 25% of information technology professionals.

photo of two girls using VR headsets

Helen Sultana, Girl Geek Academy, will present #MissMakesCode, a program that introduces young girls to technology at the same time they learn to read and write.

“When girls are younger, it’s easier to engage them in technology before they have been exposed to any gender bias.

“When girls make their own games and build the internet, they become creators and not just consumers of technology,” she said.

Jenni Tosi, CEO Film Victoria, which funds local game development, noted “We’re seeing an increasing number of games that have an inherent educational value and the potential to stimulate discussion about socially important themes, such as inclusiveness, equality, the environment and other issues that affect us all.”

“A great recent example of this is the game Joko’s World by Cultural Infusion, in which children are tasked with discovering global customs and traditions – with the aim of boosting cultural awareness and understanding.”

Seb Chan, Chief Experience Officer ACMI, says “ACMI is focused on building three key literacies: screen, digital and media literacy with the aim of creating a more literate, more democratic and creative population – and games are a huge part of that.

“It’s really exciting that Melbourne has an International Games Week. It brings lots of people into town and a lot of people out of the woodwork. This seeds future collaborations and grows momentum,” he said.

Vincent Trundle agrees. “There is a great line up. Speakers from education and industry; from across Australia and around the world.”

 

To book your ticket to the Education in Games Summit, Friday 27 October, visit: https://www.acmi.net.au/events/education-games-summit-2017/

Melbourne International Games Week runs 22–29 October 2017 in venues across Melbourne.