NYC School Adds Games to Curriculum

September 18, 2009 -

A Manhattan, New York-based school is taking a new approach to teaching its kids, one that introduces videogames to its curriculum.

Quest to Learn (Q2L) located on East 23rd Street, will use games such as Spore and Little Big Planet, alongside other tools such as PhotoShop, Flash, Google Earth and Maya, in a bid to leverage digital and interactive tools to foster the learning experience. More conventional board games and card games will also be utilized according to a story on

The Institute of Play, a nonprofit, came up with the idea, and is supported by the Parsons School of Design. Financial backing comes from the Gates Foundation, Intel and the MacArthur Foundation.

Katie Salen, a Professor of Design at Parsons and Executive Director of the Institute of Play commented:

There has been a cultural shift in the past few years. Parents and teachers recognize a kind of engagement children have with games and digital media that could lead to a new way of learning.


Re: NYC School Adds Games to Curriculum

When I was in the Chicago Public Schools back in the early 90s the school was backed up with old Apples and then around 95 transitioned to macs.

The school mainly focused on learning games but eventually we were allowed to play games like the Oregon Trail which blew my mind. It was really what got me into computer gaming because the experience was so enriching. Eventually Paul Vallas took over CPS in 96 and instead of teaching children the Chicago Public Schools started to teach to the test which standardized testing would become the focus in everyone’s life. We had to do good or we failed and went through summer school in which tons of kids sadly had to go through.

Eventually the Computer classes became nothing more then an extension to get people to teach to the test. Which meant no more computer games, no more fun education games. It was all about the test, they even stopped teaching us grammar and typing skills to, ‘Teach to the Test.’

Eventually I went to a Private School because learning was impossible and then my school turned into a College Prep school which only meant it was another form of Teaching to the Test to pass College Admission Tests. To where my old private school Brother Rice used to focus on skills and work place skills they replaced courses to mainly teach to the test and focus on getting into College rather then teaching us the basic skills we need.

If anything school departments don’t need to focus on ‘Music’ to learn about some dumb stupid folk song instead we should be teaching our children the basic skills they are going to need in the work place. Typing, Basic Programs like Excel and other programs to help them to survive in the work place.

We have an entire generation out now who was taught to Teach to pass a test rather then to learn. And we have so many people who cannot balance a check book, good grammar (Like me), can’t spell correctly, and does not have the basic skills there parents gained in school to make it on there own because we sacrificed those courses and those skill classes for a group of peoples political ideology in what Parents and Teachers thought would help people in life.

Right now 75% of people who go to college don’t graduate and the rest and those 75% often find themselves screwed for life because they took out Student Loans and those who graduate often find their skills or degree useless or makes them over quailed.

I lost count now on how many people with people with masters in business and marketing that I make the same or more. Then some people keep hope alive by going back to school and spending more money thinking it will lead them to a better job with another degree....right.

Most states have upped Child Support laws to the age of 23 because parents after running out of funds and seeing how expensive it was and some actually got a clue that college isn’t going to get most people a good paying career stopped funding their adult children’s college career.

Now in states like Illinois an adult student can collect child support till the age of 23 from both parents which is 20% from each parent on what they make. This whole generation is pissed and its hard for most to believe what they were told there whole life was false. That college would open doors and that’s all you would need and when you get out you’ll be making big money with a full time job with benefits. Head over to The Consumerist you got people writing in talking about open law suits against there colleges because they can’t find a job or a good paying job at all.

Re: NYC School Adds Games to Curriculum

I was also a student of the CPS all the way to high school. So I remeber very well using the Apple IIGs which then were replaced with PowerMacs later, and that also blew us away. Paul Vallas stepped in when I was in 7th grade. We were still taking computer classes as usual to the year that I graduated.

Still, though, I never got a private education. The high school I went to went from technical to college prep as well, but that was a while after I finished high school. I heard that shop classes (which were mostly fun) got turned over and replaced with social science related academia. Even some drafting classes were taken away. 

The "drill and kill" method of teaching is adopted by lazy, inept department boards, so no wonder it creates lazy, inept students. Somewhere at the source they wanted to directly quantify education, so it is easier to translate to other quantifiable things such as the number of dollars given to schools as a government subsity.

But the education system isn't something you should play around lightly with. At least when other industries get screwed around by government pressure, correcting it is like nipping it in the bud when compared to correcting the education system. It's because education is a is an industry centered around helping people get into industries, including future educators. The more people realize this the more consideration will go into education plans, and teachers will be less underpaid and undervalued. So if education is poor, the growths of other industries growing on that education will also be poor.


Re: NYC School Adds Games to Curriculum

I have to agree with you on this.  I never bothered with college and I make more than most college grads do. And I am not paying for boat loads of school loans.  I think the education movement had good intentions but ended up failing horribly because the whole idea of goal setting was skewed by the "test" as you put it.  I learned more from Mr. Wizard on TV in the 80's than I did going to school with 40+ kids packed into a classroom with an old withered teacher who just wants to retire and get their pension.  Sadly, I think the generation of free thinkers is over.  A lot people seem to be stuck in this mentality that they need to go to college to succeed. This is not the case.  It takes a combination hard work, dedication, and a love for what your doing.  How many college students end up ditching thier majors to pursue other majors halfway through?  You got school counselers telling kids what they should be doing rather than promoting a free and intuitive learning experience.  Let the kids make up thier own minds.  Pave the road in front of them and let them drive.  I have no qualms about letting kids use games to excel their learning ecperience.  Lets face it, we need a big change in our classrooms if we are to shape our future in the right direction.  I could go on all day about this topic but I think I have said my 2.5 cents already.

Re: NYC School Adds Games to Curriculum

Seems like a good idea. Hell, in 8th grade in my computer class we used Flash. I made my own flash game over the course of about 2 months. It was such a great game for a kid my age...*sigh* I miss that class.

-If an apple a day keeps the doctor away....what happens when a doctor eats an apple?-

-Optimum est pati quod emendare non possis-It is best to endure what you cannot change-

Re: NYC School Adds Games to Curriculum

Now to wait for parents to get pissed off and threaten to remove their kids from the school.

One, because they don't want their kids gaming in school, two, because if they play spore they're learning evolution, and no ,we can't have tha,t HAVE to teach creationism.

Re: NYC School Adds Games to Curriculum

Hate to say it, but Spore is about as creationist as it gets. You are basically playing God, choosing what the best way to put together your creature is.

That being the case, they shouldn't be teaching creationism in schools. :)

Re: NYC School Adds Games to Curriculum

For a physics class, we watched Armageddon and had to write a list of 25 physics errors in the movie. The teacher might challenge the class to write about the ways Spore's evolution is nothing like real evolution.

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Re: NYC School Adds Games to Curriculum

And Creationism is already being taught at parochial schools. I would think that the last place some devout Christian parents would look for a Christian child's education is in the very secular public education system.

Re: NYC School Adds Games to Curriculum

Spore doesn't teach biology if they are using it for that

Re: NYC School Adds Games to Curriculum

In my high school Sim City 4 was used in the environmental studies class to show human impact.  It's cool to see that video games are no being used for more than just their amusement potential.

Re: NYC School Adds Games to Curriculum


Something with more Mature Theme in some ways since most Student grew up playing it and I feel there are more mature themes in this period that should be addressed

The Oregon Trail was the first simulation I have ever played and it’s still one of the best games I have ever played. I played the updated CD version in the 90s but it was too cheesy with fake actors but I would really love to see an updated version come out.

Re: NYC School Adds Games to Curriculum

Wow, how i would have LOVED to have had an early start in Maya back in high-school, those kids are extremely fortunate

Re: NYC School Adds Games to Curriculum


All right, so this school is not looking at video game as the "devil".  The good news is that some of our old vide game like number muncher may return, I hope other educational video game will make a appearance.  All right, looks like there are less video game scapegoating this year then the other past few years.


Re: NYC School Adds Games to Curriculum

Does this mean Number Munchers gonna have a comeback? SWEET!

Re: NYC School Adds Games to Curriculum

Oh CRAP!! That was the game I used to play in school!  Number munchers!  I rememeber now!  Thanks for this, now im going to find it!!!

Re: NYC School Adds Games to Curriculum



He was dead when I got here.

--- With the first link, the chain is forged.

Re: NYC School Adds Games to Curriculum


It's about time schools got serious about the teaching potential of games and even software programs like Photoshop.  30 years late, but at least they're getting there now.

In 1978 my school's computer education program consisted of a handbook on the querty keyboard.  It's only taken 30 years for schools to get their act together while the computer revolution left them in the dust.

Maybe at least my daughter will get taught how to keep up with technology rather than having to struggle through with the DIY attitude that I had to adopt.

Re: NYC School Adds Games to Curriculum

Time to load up The Oregon Trail once again onto those PCs. :D

Re: NYC School Adds Games to Curriculum

You have shot 420 pounds of meat. You can only carry 20.


Good times!


I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

-------------------------------------------------- I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

Re: NYC School Adds Games to Curriculum

Grab dosbox and find a classic games torrent.  Your set!

Re: NYC School Adds Games to Curriculum

Sadly, you need a DOS Emulator if you have Vista.....:(

I want to play the old Yukon and Oregon Trail but sadly its too much work.

Re: NYC School Adds Games to Curriculum

Ah, Oregon trail... where failed attempts to Ford the River and dysentary are the order of the day. ^__^

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