Dr. Gentile Goes to Washington

Update: We have added a brief statement from Professor Douglas Gentile below.

Next week Iowa State University psychology professor Douglas Gentile will be at the White House to discuss how video games can be used to enhance and improve education. He will lead the discussion on a special policy conference to be held at the White House on Wednesday, August 22. The policy conference will examine how games can be used effectively in the broadest sense to improve health, education, civic engagement and the environment.

"Games are natural teachers and since children spend so much time playing them, we have an opportunity to use them to enhance children’s well-being, especially if the researchers and game industry can work together. This conference is an important step in that direction," Gentile said in a statement.

We caught up with Professor Gentile to ask him what was on the agenda next week when he visits the White House. He was kind enough to provide us with the following statement:

"We've been talking in the US about using technology to improve learning for decades – certainly since the big 'computers in the classroom' push of the 1980s. I've been disappointed that despite this, we really haven't found a way to live up to the potential yet. It's particularly disappointing since video games are such natural teachers, and we have good evidence that they can achieve the gold standard of education – transfer.

Furthermore, when we do discuss video games in the public arena, the so-called "debate" always seems to get distracted and bogged down on issues surrounding violent games. Although the serious games community has been around a long time, the public discussion still hasn't been able to make serious progress.

I'm hopeful that this Presidential conference will help to break through many of the barriers, by bringing together scientific researchers, game industry executives, and public policy people to see that we can make much more progress by working together than by staying separate."

Gentile is teaching Psychology 101 this semester and leads a media effects seminar for students participating in the Media Research Lab at Iowa State. Gentile has conducted numerous studies on the effects of violent video games on children, which is often cited by policy makers as de facto proof that video games needs to be better regulated. Nevertheless, this particular discussion could prove to be productive in encouraging policy makers and agenda setters in Washington to support game-based learning…

We look forward to hearing more about what comes out of this conference next week.

Source: Des Moines Register

Douglas Gentile photo © 2012 drdouglas.org.


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