This side of the Geeky had a gaming conference for educators. I attended the Games for Change conference with about 30 or more educators in and around the metro-Atlanta area. Games for Change #G4C is a competition that promotes game design in major cities around the US. It is a non-profit organization that helps provide curriculum and game design tools to those that are willing to compete. For more information, please check out: http://www.gamesforchange.org/studentchallenge/ The conference was hosted at Georgia Tech and the Tech staff was extremely helpful and gracious.
What struck me as the most intriguing was that I was one of three self described gamers at the conference. This fact made me reflect on the core of gaming and could non-gamers facilitate game design. I think an instructor will have to be inspirational and willing to learn without a gaming background, but could find success by harnessing the gaming passion of his/her students.
Now, I am a first year computer science and gaming instructor. I have a huge learning curve in programming and design, but have been a gamer since 1978. I know what makes a game fun and what makes a game marketable. That is what I saw missing from the conference was an in-depth gamer perspective, but and I shudder, too much talk of educational games....NO! A game should be designed for fun and if you learn: great side bonus! Once a game is labeled educational, it quickly loses the appeal for the audience and then becomes another worksheet or exercise.
However, some positives that come out of this conference. One was the diversity of the crowd. It was good to see teachers of every background willing to reach out to the interest of students. The challenge itself lends to innovative thinking and can provide a good, safe arena for discussion on possibly heated topics.
I think #G4C has a ton of potential and with some recruitment of gamer-teachers could provide a much needed depth to game design and education. As with anything, this needs support and the gaming community needs to step up and help others realize how this medium can be used to make all better and to improve education with edutainment!