Video games and education, a symbiotic relationship
The fact that digital technology has disrupted public, private and work life, even the society in general isn’t a novelty. Maybe what it is paradoxical, despite the world’s deceleration, it’s that the digital technology industry doesn’t seem to stop its growth.
According to European Commission, in a not too distant future, 90% of the jobs will need a certain degree of digital aptitudes. Knowing that, the Commission launched in 2013 the “Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs”, a partnership among public and private actors to take action by attracting young people into technological programs. Insights from that initiative, managed by the Commission, show a decrease of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) disciplines. That demand of STEM profiles together with the decline of graduates may be an opportunity of job-placement for future STEM students.
May videogames relaunch interest on STEM?
Private initiatives has also set as a target the access of young people to STEM disciplines. In the case that we are concerned, through video games.
Code.org is a non-profit organisation dedicated to expand access to computer science. Its vision is that every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn computer science, without barriers caused by their class or social position. Code.org promotes computer science to be part of the core curriculum, alongside other courses such as biology, chemistry or algebra. The organisation has more than 300K teachers who have signed up to teach into courses and more than 10M students enrolled. Code.org courses are available in 45 languages and used in more than 180 countries.
CoderDojo. Knowing the growth of new jobs that will demand technical education, volunteer-led based CoderDojo movement shows that creativity, experimentation and fun can be the foundation of STEM interest. Thanks to that vision, CoderDojo has achieved that young people between 7 and 17 learn how to code, develop games and explore mathematics, engineering and science in general.
kidsCODEjeunesse teaches computational thinking and computer programming among Canadian students in schools and community centers. Their 3-stage Education Development Plan follows children from 7 years old to 13, and it ensures that children assimilate learning from one stage to the next. kidsCODEjeunesse believes that coding is a basic literacy as important as reading, writing or math and that everything that surrounds us is mostly virtual.
The education through video games, a democratizing tool.
Those non-profit organisations also have initiatives whose main aim is to help the integration of the least favored groups in the video game’s world.
Traditionally it has existed a gap between men and women in new technology sector. As an example, nowadays only ? of the admissions in Digipen Europe-Bilbao are women, a fact that has been celebrated as a success. As Kate Edwards, executive director of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) said, “Gaming culture has been pretty misogynistic for a long time now’’. A Next Gen Skills Academy survey of the UK industry’s female workforce, has revealed that 45% of the UK industry’s women feel that gender is a “barrier” and 33% have been harassed or bullied.
Despite that inequality, the gap is decreasing due to the mentioned programs and their fight against injustice. Code.org has in their priorities, increasing participation of women in the computing industry. Nowadays, 43% of the enrolled students are women, a figure notably higher than the job market.
In spite of its scope isn’t exclusively in the United States, Code.org tries to resolve local problems, like social exclusion due to racial discrimination. Together with gender issues, the representation of the misnamed “racial minorities” in the United States is one of the main worries of the organization. Black and Hispanic students represent 45% of their students and 33K of them showed aptitude solving and developing algorithms. Nevertheless, only 4,7% of them gained access to the AP course.
Video game industry demands qualified workers.
In spite of a general decrease in all Europe of the number of graduates in STEM, companies demand more and more qualified workers. In Spain, the Spanish Producers and Developers Association (DEV) says that 63% of the companies have some troubles finding the right employment profile.
The main request of the companies is programming (80%) followed by monetising experts (55%), design (48%), marketing (39%), business administration (26%) and others (2%).
Regarding the employment rate of those profiles, the same association predicts a continued growth of 21% until 2017, being programmers the most demanded, almost the half of the positions (44%).
WiMi5’s role in education.
Where is WiMi5 placed in the educational area? How can we contribute?
In WiMi5 we are proud to have developed an easy tool, perfect to start developing games. These are our main highlights:
- Developing with our online game engine is easy, there is no programming required. We show in an attractive way the friendly side of game development.
- Simple drag-and-drop controls and visual scripting let users know basic rules of video game development.
- The tool is entirely free, so there is no economic segmentation. Everybody who wants can access to our online game engine, to the tutorials and every single kind of information for free.
- WiMi5 is HTML5 based, so video games can be played on any device with an internet browser: desktop PCs, laptops, tablets, mobile phones, smart TVs, etc.
But we are not contributing just with our game engine, we are also involved in educational activities and programs:
- CoderDojo. Raúl Otaolea, CEO of WiMi5, is a pioneer in Spain, he founded the first CoderDojo in Bilbao. Nowadays its activity is focused on two points. On the one hand, every two weeks there is a meeting with young people to teach programming through video games. On the other hand, CoderDojoBio is involved in the European project Erasmus+, working on a document with the best practices of all the CoderDojos.
- Aulamentor initiative, promoted by the Spanish Department for Education, has set WIMi5 as the main substitute for Flash in game development.
- Vivelab Bogotá, they have organised WiMi5 classes for audiovisual entrepreneurs.
- The German Swiss International School in Hong Kong uses WiMi5 in their classes as an educational tool to do games like this one.
- At the national High School of San Martín de San Salvador kids developed an educational game about human skeleton.
- In udaTIK workshops, young people aged from 9 to 14 years old use WiMi5 to create video games.
- Deusto University.
- University of Wales.
- Colegio Bizkaia.
In summary, the future seems promising in technological industry, and more specifically in the video games industry. This can be a way to make a living in a difficult economical and social global situation. A strategic move must be done in that sector. As in other cases, education must perform a main role, setting it up as a democratizing tool.
In WiMi5 we want to be part of that future and through our game editor, we are involved in a very active way.
12/04/2016 / Markel Orozko / 0
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