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White House Office Studies Benefits of Video Games

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Office of Science and Technology Policy's Constance Steinkuehler

Constance Steinkuehler is on an 18-month assignment at the White House, studying the civic potential of video games.

Credit: University of Wisconsin

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has assigned senior policy analyst Constance Steinkuehler to study video games for 18 months to determine if they have significant value as educational tools. The Entertainment Software Association estimates that almost 66 percent of U.S. households play video games, and since 1999, the percentage of gamers older than 50 has increased more than threefold. Last March President Obama said he wanted to create "educational software that's as compelling as the best video game."

Steinkuehler says her mission is to develop "big, save-the-world games" across a wide range of subject areas and platforms. Another focus of her research is how well current games operate and which agencies already employ games.

A highly lauded educational gaming experiment is Foldit, developed at the University of Washington's Center for Game Science. The game challenges players to learn about the shapes of proteins and compete online to fold them into configurations that boast maximum efficiency, and the solutions they arrive at could help researchers devise cures for various diseases. "It has basically shown that it is possible to create experts in a particular domain purely through game play," says Foldit co-creator Zoran Popovich.

From USA Today
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Abstracts Copyright © 2012 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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