It’s not all fun and games

“Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.” Winston Churchill

    It is not often that Friday brings a new perspective on things but, perhaps because the sun was shining I have been influenced to alter my perspective.  Whether this morning’s pleasant sunshine has lulled me into thinking that Spring has sprung I’m not sure, but what I do know is that yesterday’s lunchtime lecture by Mr Nic Ho Chee on computer gaming has probably influenced this newly receptive mindset.

I don’t really like computer games.  I am not very good at computer games.  There is probably a connection between these two statements. Some at home would be less charitable in their analysis.   What I hadn’t really taken the time to appreciate is that computer gaming design is having wider benefits in society. Mr Ho Chee is a senior research engineer with Microsoft. He has worked in the games industry ever since his parents told him that he spent too much time playing games.  He met with Senior School students yesterday lunchtime and also spent time with classes and our own ICT committee explaining what’s new in the world of not only gaming but in the wider universe of computing.  Such glimpses into the near future are invaluable for us as a school in shaping our thinking about what we will be able to do with our tech in years to come.  Where games push the boundaries of computing educational tech will surely follow.

I probably understood about 10% of what was said but from this meagre understanding some points were evident.  It was made clear, once again, that we involved in education, be it as teachers or parents, are preparing our young people for careers that don’t yet exist.  The importance of knowing a little about coding was clear and most of all we learnt that it is important that we develop resilient characters.  The games design world is one in which the financial stakes are high, the revenue from games is now greater than that of cinema. It became very clear that most great ideas for games fall by the wayside even after much work and investment has been made in them.  I would equate it to the beautifully crafted project that has taken the weekend to complete that does not get the mark that was hoped for or indeed expected. Both are crushing blows to the creator.  Therefore the ability to react to constructive criticism and to develop through “failure” is one of the most useful lessons we as a school can pass on to our students.  This isn’t something new.  Edison memorably said “I have not failed I have simply found 10,000 ways that don’t work”. In a world in which society is forever pushing children to be perfect, I hope that here is still room for constructive learning failure. Without this, education loses its challenge and its excitement.  If we can support children through what can be a difficult process we as adults involved in their learning process will have gone a long way in developing the resilient and creative individuals that are required to build a more tolerant and understanding world.

I don’t think that I will be spending much time in front of the Xbox this weekend, but perhaps my view of gaming has shifted just a little; perhaps there is more worth there than I thought.  Might I be admitting that I was wrong?  Well maybe.  But please don’t tell anyone.

Mr Nicholas Hammond

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