Child’s Play Future Potential
Let me just preface this by saying I tried searching for any topic regarding Child’s Play, but the search function wasn’t working, so I don’t know if this has been discussed before. I had an idea after watching the first Child’s Play Hire episode, and thought about a solution to a problem that has bothered me for years since I had a short stint in pursuing a degree in education. In my opinion, why will it be nigh on impossible for education to ever truly be reformed for the better? Because to see true change would take the time it takes one generation to grow to adulthood, and trying to get that sort of societal change without interference from politics and politicians would be nearly impossible over the span of 18+ years. How can education, overcome to restrictions and problems inherit in an educational system that is tied to politics? How can children begin to see immediate changes in their lives? For children who are born into poverty, they have little chance to rise above the poverty line, and the resources it would take to help these children are hard to muster from charities and schools. What would be an effective way to give children, on an individual level, the education they need to improve, and rise above, the hand dealt to them?
Well like I said, after watching the Childs Play New Hire episode, when the interviewees were asked a question about what they thought could be the future of Child’s Play, something hit me. What if instead of just giving video games and toys to children in hospitals, it branched out into helping impoverished children? I can’t say this idea is really mine, but stolen from a book, Neal Stephenson’s “Diamond Age”. In it, one of the characters is a girl, Nell, who was born into poverty. Without going into too much detail, this girl stumbles upon a “Primer”, essentially a computer in the shape of a book, developed by a scientist, to educate his daughter. This computer actively assesses and tests, continuously, Nell. It creates challenges, and educates her not through rote memorization but by engaging her critically. As she grows older, it evolves with her. It is similar to the game in “Enders Game”, but in what is essentially a tablet pc. How does this relate to Childs Play?
Here’s where I can see a future of it branching out, beyond children in hospitals. How many gamers, and game developers realize the potential of education in gaming? I recall on The Colbert Report, or possibly Daily Show, an interview of a game designer who was creating games for children in third world countries, to educate them through gaming itself. From an educational psychology standpoint (granted I’m not expert as I only took a few years to pursue education), when you get a child to actively and critically engage, through play or by any means, they learn much more than from much of what education is focused on now, standardized testing and memorization. Now since schools are unfortunately locked into No Child Left Behind, without a real resolution being made anytime in the near future, most children must have means outside of school for education in which they are engaged critically. The problem arises in impoverished children, as children from more wealthy families can afford more opportunities for creative engagement (arts, private schools, sports, etc). How could Childs Play help?
I’d begin by saying I don’t think Childs Play could do this on its own, in fact I’d guess there’d have to be a new charity created for this, but with the connections Childs Play has to the gaming community, and the desire of gamers and developers to truly give something back while utilizing their talents, what if a free video game was developed that would actively engage and educate students? If there was a game that would tell a story, that would allow a student to learn and be challenged, it could be mass distributed through different media. Tablet pc’s could be donated, and simply have the game downloaded.
Now I will concede there are plenty of “educational” games out there, for all different formats. But this would be on a much grander scale. Most games are educational for certain ages, and even then do not evolve to accommodate a student’s level. You can change difficulty like a Sudoku puzzle, but it reacts to you wanting to be challenged more, not through an understanding that you yourself are in fact ready, or needing, a challenge to progress. What I’m talking about is a game that can be given to a child, say at age 5 or so, and can evolve with them as they mature into adulthood. Imagine a game that a child can play, that continuously assesses their strengths and weaknesses, and pushes them further throughout their life.
I know this is a huge idea, and something that would take years, and a lot of manpower to achieve even a most rudimentary or fundamental beginning, but the potential I think is incredible. Imagine if twenty years after the first of these games are distributed, children who are born into poverty have the ability to attend college by what they learned in a video game, created by people that care and have unique talents that could directly affect the world instead of leaving it to the government and politicians.
This is why I think Childs Play, or some other form of the gaming community, has the potential to achieve something like this. You have thousands of developers who want to help give back, and shed light on the potential of gaming as not just a frivolous hobby, but a true medium of art and communication. You have people who can develop projects together from all over the globe, who could work with educational psychologists, game developers, teachers, and create something can be simply downloaded. Finally, we’re reaching a point where a tablet pc is becoming common, something a child could easily carry and fit into a backpack that has more potential than just one book. Something that is open ended to thousands of possibilities. Say if this game, in its earliest form, was ready in ten years, think of by that point all of the tablet pcs that would be sold or given away? What if they were refurbished and used solely for these games, then given out free to impoverished children?
I know this is a lot of long winded idealism, and there’s so much that can go hinder this sort of idea, and more than enough difficulties. But I’d love feedback on what people think of the feasibility of something like this. As far as I’m concerned, true change in society begins with education. It doesn’t matter if we’re in the year 2011, if there isn’t proper education there will always be poverty, racism, hate, etc etc. With something like this, if it could truly be developed, the ability to educate and give hope to those born into poverty is great. What are your thoughts on this? Have I just read too many sci-fi books? Also, if I have written something that’s already been discussed, please forgive me as the search function wasn’t working. I’d love to hear peoples thoughts on this, especially coming from the gaming community.