Fifty years of games

It’s been fifty years since Baer invented video games. It has been thirty years since the days of coin operated arcades and parlors gave way to home consoles. To give some perspective here, video games consoles were bought in their millions and nothing has changed.

It isn’t sufficient for educators to tweet out”I am playing Minecraft Edu” to suggest they are now on board with THE new literacy – games. *Coughs*.

This lego-like environment is to literacy as one of its blocks is to an entire Minecraft world. The essential element that has been omitted (and still is) is that games have re-ordered literacy to become the most popular, diverse and complex media available to us – on a mobile and global scale. Despite this they are still at the back of the educator line and the order of which literacies matter in teacher culture is clearly shackled to the modernist school schematic that kids find so BORING and dull.

In our society – the one being over run by consumerism and fake news – games are an important cultural commodity  essential to the how children experience the world around them and how their tastes, interests and expressions are formed and reproduced.

If you want to let children watch endless “Trump” and want them to share your outrage, go ahead … games are perhaps your child’s sanctuary from other media. Children have a hard time processing adult-views of the world and I seriously doubt the concepts involved do anything that fuel their concerns about they lack of control in the world.

Why do games matter as a culture? Videogames exploit all of the four key affordances of digital media: procedural, participatory, encyclopedic, and spatial. They don’t carry the adult current binary themes of mainstream media, nor do they support the kind of hate and bullying in ‘social media’. But games are bad. Let’s ban them – but you over there Minecraft Edu, you’re okay. This is dumb.

Teachers using Minecraft seem to base almost all their opinions about why they like it on spacial and participation. Having said that, participation isn’t happening within games as culture, but within school culture. At best, this is half the potential of games and far from understanding them as a literacy.

That’s why Rooster Teeth convention in Sydney today is sold out – and I doubt many teachers would know what it is, let alone why it will give them more insight that a years worth of teacher to teacher Minecraft Edu ^brofisting.

**goes back to playing Overwatch**