Gaming - C.S.I, The Krypton Factor and Gaming in Education

CSI Computer Game

Non gaming Steve Taylor-Bryant,takes a look at education changes over the years and how gaming has picked up the slack...

Education in the United Kingdom has been failing our children for decades. In the 1950's and 1960's, children were taught correctly and schooling was a place of learning, a place of discipline and a venue that created the bright minds of the future. Through the 1970's and certainly in the 1980's the state of education started to fail our young people. Teachers unions started striking, educational staff were fighting the authorities and the government, exams were changing and, all along, some basic educational needs of young students were being eradicated.

I witnessed this from three very unique angles. I was a student in both primary and secondary education in the 1980's, my mother was a teacher and a non-union member, leading to abuse that made her think twice about her employment but her love of educating children won through, and I also moved abroad and studied in both primary and secondary education on military camp, away from the government’s slipping control. It was here that I noticed the biggest difference. The teachers still had control of the classroom, mainly due to the students all have military parents, so a sense of discipline installed from an early age, and the class sizes were smaller, no more than 20 children in any one class, allowing for the vital part of education that is long forgotten now to be taught - Observation.

From spot the difference in playschool, through to watching The Krypton Factor with my parents, observation has played a large role in my development. If you can't spot a problem, how can you learn from it? If you don't test your brainpower how can you be expected to grasp learning that will actually help you in a developed society? Many years later I was living in staff accommodation with my 2nd chef, a young 19 year old lad who passed all his G.C.S.E's and yet knew nothing (don't ever tell me the exams aren't easier now, I know through experience they are) and could barely survive a shift. After exasperating my usual ways of teaching my young brigade, I decided to go back to observational education with my protégé and we sat night after night watching C.S.I on the television, with him taking notes and trying to second guess the outcome. We then progressed to the PC where the CSI games couldn't and wouldn’t let you move up a level until you had completed the tasks. Titles like CSI:Miami, CSI:Dark Motives, and the original CSI:Crime Scene Investigation from Ubisoft involved all parts of your brain power. Moving through crime scenes (including a crocodile with a hand in its mouth on a golf course) you had to use your initiative to search the scene and save to your notepad things you think were relevant. If you found a fingerprint on something, for example, you moved to the lab scene where your senior agent (someone from the show) would guide you through what to do with the evidence and then you could start to put the evidence together with the interviews etc and come up with a motive, hopefully solving the case and moving onto the next one.
The observational skills and mind skills that my 2nd chef learnt from gaming allowed him to better himself, not just as a chef, but as a man and he now runs a very successful restaurant in Surrey. Had it not been for my need to show him the importance of the education he lacked from poor schooling and his love of gaming we may never have discovered the C.S.I games, he may never have realised that the most important lesson in business is the ability to see what is going on around you, he may never have progressed and our friendship may not have lasted nearly the 15 years it has so far. The people who design games, whether they be your arcade style, or the more brain orientated ones like C.S.I, are the new generation of teachers. They are being forced by society's failings to pick up the slack that our education supremos can't contend with.

The importance of all forms of education is severely lacking in the present day. We live in a modern society, reliant on technology to get through the day, so why don't we all use the games that are on the market for the same reason? Instead of moaning at your children for spending 10 hours on the games station or PC, let's as their parents and societies moral compass, change their gaming habits to include titles that are not just fun to play but have some educational value as well? Try titles like Junior Brain Trainer on the Nintendo DS, a DS brain training product, designed to improve reading, writing, spelling, maths, geometry, logic and problem-solving skills for ages 6-11, possibly the most important years in education as after that the brain is taken up by exam revision. Brain Training For Dummies from EA Games is another fun yet resourceful tool that helps cognitive speed and memory...the list goes on.

I am not the biggest gamer in the world. I bow to others knowledge and skill when it comes to all things gaming, but this doesn't mean that I can't see the important role that gaming has to offer to save our crumbling education system. Never take the teachers out of the classroom, give them some authority back, and give them these precious tools to educate with before we end up with generation upon generation of drooling morons that can't even spell GAMING.

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