The EGTV Show: The Videogames Election - Episode 3

Education, Education, Education.

Hang on, wasn't the election five months ago? Well spotted! Indeed, when we began this project some 10 months ago it was initially intended simply to chart the UK games industry's relationship with Westminster in the run up to 6th May, 2010.

But the scope of the work grew organically and dramatically over the months, as events led us in new directions of focus and research leading to today's publication of the final chapter in the series.

And though the election has long since passed, the full impact of the resulting Coalition and the nature of the new administration's relationship with Britsoft is still to a large extent being worked out. Now more than ever, gaming needs votes of support from parliament and the public.

Watch "Education, Education, Education" below and read on for more on how the programme came together.

The EGTV Show: The Videogames Election - Episode 3

As the echo of Tony Blair's '97 election soundbite suggests, Episode 3's target is education in three distinct senses.

First, the standard of games courses at UK universities and how that relates to the so-called 'skills crisis' in games development considered serious enough for the Government to launch an independent review into it.

Second, the potential of games and gaming technology as teaching aids to make learning more engaging, fun and in-line with the way kids consume information outside of the classroom.

And third, educating a wider public raised on a crude diet of scaremongering drivel by the Daily Mails of the world on the many positive and amazing ways in which games are being used to improve lives.

On the skills debate, the games industry argues that of the many 'games' courses on offer in the UK, few are producing graduates who are able to hit the ground running without extensive and costly retraining.

Meanwhile, games programming is a numbers game, and the generally dire standard of numeracy in Britain linked to the volume of students taking on core subjects computer science, is an ongoing concern.

The irony is, far from being "Satan's Sudoku" as a spectacularly idiotic column in the Times once had it - videogames themselves can play an important role in the teaching of maths, particularly with younger children.

And that's children who ought to be told that having ninja number skills could one day lead them to make the very videogames they love playing today. But that isn't happening. Yet.

Gaming is a medium children exploit and understand instinctively, regardless of platform. While many educators remain stuffily and stubbornly Victorian in approach, others are increasingly clued-up and using gaming in the classroom.

Outside of it, meanwhile, the BBC's Children's department has long understood the role games can play in fulfilling its educational remit, just as, for an older teen audience, Channel 4 is demonstrating through its innovative range of interactive experiences.

The film and the series ends with a look at just a few of the many inspiring people using games to make a difference. The Wii Fit-fuelled fitness craze and notion that games can keep you healthy is a well-worn theme but the Rotherham Institute for Obesity is taking it one step further, with gaming a vital feature of its pioneering work to tackle the 'obesity epidemic'.

And while you're never too far away from someone blathering on about how your granny throwing her Wiimote at the goldfish is proof gaming is now truly 'accessible', this ignores the many thousands of people with physical disabilities who can't share in the fun.

Or couldn't without the incredible efforts of organisations like GameLab, which produces games specifically for the deaf and blind, and children's charity SpecialEffect, which uses cutting-edge technology (which some of you may have checked out at Eurogamer Expo) to help even the most severely disabled to enjoy gaming. The results speak for themselves.

Featuring contributions from MPs and business leaders to gaming luminaries including Molyneux and Miyamoto, plus the unsung heroes of the industry, if Episode 3 has a message, it's that not only is gaming a fast-moving, exciting and challenging medium to work in, it's also one of which we can all be proud.

You can watch the film right now. Do let us know what you think.

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