Moral Combat: Why do liberals play computer games like conservatives?

Here’s an interesting bit of musing on something I hadn’t thought much about before. When a game is blatantly political or take a blatant point of view (the Rapture-themed games where you have to run around saving people come to mind), at least I know where it is coming from. But do games in general encourage or shape political thought? Do game designers have an agenda?  Hmmm….

http://prospect.org/cs/articles?article=moral_combat

Mature Games

http://kotaku.com/#!5782792/just-5-percent-of-games-were-rated-m-last-year-says-esrb

According to the ESRB, only 5% of all games last year were rated “M” for mature. Over HALF (55%) were rated at E for everyone. I find this interesting because almost everything you hear about games is how bad they are, how much violence they have, etc., when a lot of games are actually rated lower than M.

There’s also been a battle going on in Australia over “mature” games; Australia currently has no game rating for 18+ (they only have an MA15+ rating), so games like Mortal Kombat and Manhunt get banned because they can’t be classified under the Australian rating system. Other games, like Left 4 Dead 2, the GTA series and the FEAR series, have to be modified to reduce the violence/gore/language in order to be rated.

There’s currently a battle going in in Australia over this: the federal government may step in over the Attorney Generals or the State Representatives to get an 18+ classification approved.

http://www.kotaku.com.au/2011/03/oconnor-and-r18-im-not-going-to-let-this-matter-end/

I’ve been reading about this issue for a while just because of the gaming blogs I follow, and it’s nice to see Australia’s federal government stepping in to actually do something about it.

Students running their own schools

This past Monday, the New York Times had an interesting op-ed article titled “Let Kids Rule the School”, which caught my eye. The article’s author, Susan Engel, writes:

I recently followed a group of eight public high school students, aged 15 to 17, in western Massachusetts as they designed and ran their own school within a school.

Apparently, the students in this program “designed their own curriculum,” and “critiqued one another’s queries, but also the answers they came up with.” Of course, this reminded me of Ender’s Game. The author of the article concludes: “We need to rethink the very nature of high school itself.”

The article also reminded me of a book (which I have seen referred to in several places over the course of the past year or so, but have not yet had a chance to read): The Ignorant Schoolmaster: Five Lessons in Intellectual Emancipation, by the French philosopher Jacques Rancière. The book seems very interesting, and I mean to read it this summer, when I have some free time. This short wiki page about the book suggests that Rancière’s argument in the book is that “all people are capable of learning, without explication by a teacher.” While the total absence of a teacher may be rather extreme, are not initiatives such as Quest-to-Learn pushing education in this direction, at least to some extent?

On a (only somewhat) related note, there is the Ann Arbor Free Skool (sic), which consists of groups of people teaching, and learning from, each other. And apparently, in the 1970s, Ann Arbor Public Schools did some  experiments on its own in this direction, opening a school that ran on the basis of a “schools-without-walls” philosophy, in which students assumed responsibility for their own learning. But the legendary UM campus personality, arwulf arwulf, who himself was a student in that school, says that the experiment “didn’t work out for everybody.”


 

 

 

 


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