I read a short article online today about educational video games.  The Federation of American Scientists released a paper suggesting video games can have real education value.  From the article:

Capping a year of study, the group called for federal research into how the addictive pizazz of video games can be converted into serious learning tools for schools.

The theory is that games teach skills that employers want: analytical thinking, team building, multitasking and problem-solving under duress. Unlike humans, the games never lose patience. And they are second nature to many kids.

The only reason I noted the article, since I’m not a huge gamer, is that I have a friend who works along these same lines and I thought I’d give his efforts a small (since my blog is small) shout-out.  Benjamin Stokes works for the non-profit group Serious Games Initiative in their Games for Change branch. 

Games for Change (a.k.a. G4C) exists to, “provide support, visibility and shared resources to individuals and organizations using digital games for social change….Today, G4C acts as a national hub to help organizations network and develop videogame projects beyond their traditional expertise.”  If you’re interested in that kind of thing then head on over and join their discussions.  It’s interesting stuff that covers a lot of ground within a social-change framework; from decision-making techniques and resource optimization to outreach strategies and negotiating.

While I haven’t had time to read the FAS paper, I suspect the biggest hurdles to mainstream educational video games will be making them fun and being able to meausure how much good (or not) they contributing toward the game’s educational goal.

Perhaps they can take tips from the US Army’s new strategy game: Future Force Company Commander.  What’s interesting, to me, about this game is that it’s potentially training the next generation of strategists using tools they will likely have in 2015.  How’s that for forward thinking?

F2C2 is a real-time tactical strategy game that allows you to learn about the Army’s FCS program by giving you command of a Mounted Company Team in the year 2015. Through gameplay, F2C2 shows how FCS is designed to give the 21st Century Soldier unprecedented situational awareness and the ability to see first, understand first, act first, and finish decisively.