gov guyGrand Challenge for Game Developers rm132 – 4:20pm – Kumar Garg (GDC summary)

lots of nervous nods to the idea that they’re the first administration to approach the gaming community.
talking about how he played games. and what the first family plays.
we’re apparently challenged to build innovative games to help kids eat better and be more active. – announced today.

His appearance, and the challenge, is part of open government initiative.

listing capabilities that they recognize in games. engaging, social, mobile, driving tech, built in assessment, keeps player in zone (a lot of focus on “level1” being good easy hooking etc.), safe failing (a lot of education is a success-only model), stepping into other shoes, market share (tons of people playing). … i guess the idea here is to let us know that they get it?

8 bullet points on this slide. kinda like microsoft flight simulation ppts of old. Too many bullet points on these slides!

talks about trends they see that make them interested. cheaper dev costs, broad distribution. andnnnndddd: games as service- which is interesting to them, as it lowers expectations for first experiment to really nail it.

This is a unique moment for socially impactful games – he is wondering how games can be “skill building” pieces of the puzzle (beyond just promotion). “first principle – don’t make something that nobody uses.”

Throws out idea of America’s nurses or America’s entrepreneurs instead of America’s army. Mentions MacArthur foundation. federation of “am” scientists (?) tower defense example… I didn’t follow just as slide ended…

he’s asking “what does a all-hands-on-deck effort look like?”
suggests letting AAA devs take a sabbatical to develop public interest game, between bigger projects. (good idea. subsidized?)

university relationships – “expand mandate to include serious games.” suggesting focusing more on other aspects of STEM so people don’t think it’s all lab coats and boring.
suggests making media assets more available to educational game efforts (w: lordy I hope this happens!). ditto: tools.

They are leaning towards “prizes” to motivate people (like first lady’s announcement today). they don’t like RFPs that are rigid. prefer spitballing for prizes.
fun rigorous research on impact (e.g. learning) – get it into academic journals – bridge the link between engagement and impact.

“So, how did they come to see games as part of the solution set?”
His example is president’s focus on improving math and science foundation (purportedly a personal passion for him).

“Race to the top” – state by state initiative to focus on renovating education approach. (w: wha?) … “Educate to Innovate” – started in november. (W: … where do i look at all these things?) … “we don’t teach football by lecturing about it for 9 years. so why don’t we take similar approach to math and science” … over 500 million in public and private investment.

?- W: my question is: how can people sort through the flood of information?
… these government initiatives need sites like joystiq and kotaku to mention their efforts… (note: they did get the GDC awards show organizers to agree to start off with a taped speech from some White House guy. Which many people thought was a joke for several minutes. the culture is so different!)

he mentions “National Lab Day.” what is that?

– Alan Gershenfeld, former SVP of activision, will talk on public interest gaming 9am on Friday (watch video later?)
– his twitter @WhiteHouseOSTP
– There are several interesting epilogue questions: ideas for iTunes-like service just for educational games (w: overlooking problem of who will will decide criteria).
Tim Holt gets up and asks about something like steam. but notes steam and iTunes will never be allowed in classrooms due to their inclusion of other kinds of games. (w: but this overlooks the need to merge educational games with more mainstream games!) (which is kinda what the white house rep mentioned, i think. When he said “Why separate them?”)

After Thoughts:

I wish there was a way to get kids excited about making games like donky kong jr. math. how overcome this stigma? … maybe instead of sabbaticals, they could tie prizes into landing a job/project at big game dev houses? or offer tax incentives to big development houses to offer their own project prizes?…

… it seems a lot like proposing a white house department just to make hollywood epic movies to promote STEM? yeah? which sounds retarded. … I guess it isn’t purely promotional/propaganda. hmmm.

Very interesting and inspiring presentation, surprisingly.

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