The Entertainment Software Association (ESA), the video game industry's trade body, and the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) jointly announced an action plan today calling for comprehensive strategies that involve the use of video games to strengthen U.S. education and workforce training. These strategies would be developed by representatives of the government, education, and business sectors.
The action plan is based upon deliberations from last October's National Summit on Educational Games in Washington, D.C., which saw video gaming executives, game developers, educational software publishers, researchers, educators, military representatives, and government policy makers meet to collectively discuss “how to harness the power of video games for learning.” The Summit was sponsored by FAS, ESA, and the National Science Foundation.
The plan announced today identifies steps that the federal government, industry and education community can take to develop a comprehensive strategy to take advantage of the features of video games to address the increasing demand for high quality education and training. In addition, the plan also outlines methods on how to commercialize educational games to help students and workers attain globally competitive skills in demand by employers.
According to the ESA and FAS, the US spends nearly $700 billion on elementary through post-secondary education, and billions more on workforce training, though the organizations note that comparatively little is channeled towards research to “improve the productivity and effectiveness of learning.” Because of this, FAS aims to call for government research funding for the necessary research and development needed to help make headway in educational games and simulations, and to support meaningful evaluations of these efforts.
"Many recent reports warning about declining U.S. competitiveness point to an urgent need to improve workforce skills and our system of education," said Henry Kelly, FAS President. "Video games are engaging and can teach higher order skills, and they are especially attractive to today's young digital natives who have grown up with digital technology. This plan outlines concrete actions we can take to put powerful tools for teaching and learning in the hands of educators and students at a time when the need for education improvement is great."
Doug Lowenstein, president of the ESA, added: “These findings communicate what we in the video game industry have known for years – that video games are powerful teaching tools integral to the education and training of our workforce. Games are now being used to teach surgeons how to perform surgery, train military personnel, help individuals understand and treat potentially life-threatening diseases more efficiently – all in a way that encourages continual engagement and rewards and motivates the player to learn. We are grateful to the Federation of American Scientists for conducting this important study and look forward to working with them to help improve the education of America's workforce.”