One of the sociological benefits of games is their ability to create temporal spaces for play. They benefit from the confluence of game media and culture which swirls around the metaverse and unleashed once the game loads and “you’re in”. No other media can provide a corporeal and hyper real immersion like this. No only are you immersed in a synthetic world, but you are liberated from the mental neofactories created by Google and other monolithic advertising and retail messages which proliferate the textual world of the Internet.
Kids should not learn to become the labour of Google as a result of unproven educator belief that typing on the cloud is better than holding a pen or pencil. The mass adoption of Google by schools in particular is deeply concerning given Googles unique position to information filter and service political and industrial data collection agendas. They are unaccountable to anyone except themselves already.
Games are many things, but predominantly post structuralist in their ideological design, playing by their own rules and filled with values we once associated with community and cultural literature. As a parent I refuse to allow my children to believe learning and using Google/Apple products are connected in ways other than retail. I’d rather they had zero access to technology in school if this is all that is on offer. Kids either have a media education or they don’t. I’d rather they learned to build an argument than a google (anything). They seem to have no issue navigating the metaverse, and I see no reason to try and regulate it though brand values.
While schools insist on narrow application of media (brands) towards the same structuralist goals, games provide a useful cognitive disruption to the consumer, mass messaging of a few industrialists. Ten years on, public education has an information filter which is intended to create inequality, yet those inside the fence have accepted it. Welcome to District 12.
I’m not a fan on the neoliberal ideology when it comes to education. The winners and losers agenda is morally bankrupt, yet also accepted. At no point do I support the use of neofactories of child labour, presented as digital learning. This is simply a move towards market-driven reproduction — and at best ignorant and worst, deliberate. There seems to be very little critical analysis of corporate agendas in education, but then again, if functionalism and structuralism in your meal ticket, then the this might appear to build a better learning machine for the existing paradigm and negate the need to consider the brandification of education is yet another form of class war where most kids are born to lose.
What schools need to get their head around is that there are some great models for Critical Games, and that these are built around the things that schools are supposed to offer. Until then, let them play. Let games disrupt their mental models of how the world could be. Let them learn.