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From the Games and Learning Publishing Council’s National Survey of Digital Game Use Among Teachers:

Digital games are becoming a more regular part of the classroom, according to the nearly 700 teachers who responded to the survey.

Of those teachers who use games in the classroom (513 respondents), the majority of respondents (55%) use games in the classroom at least once a week and another quarter have kids play games at least once a month.

The GLPC survey found that a majority of teachers still use desktop computers to play games (72%) and a sizable group (41%) is using interactive whiteboards. But still, tablets have quickly grown to equal the whiteboard usage.

That’s a lot, actually, but I think it’s reasonable to expect a slight selection bias here, i. e., that teachers who use digital games in their classrooms are a bit more likely to respond to this survey than those who don’t.

Add to that another survey, quoted on GLPC’s website:

This growth of mobile technology was also highlighted in a new survey from the technology and education firm Amplify. That survey found that of those not using tablets 67 percent plan to invest in them in the next 1–2 years.

Again, quite a lot. Yet, “Interactive” and “mobile” don’t necessarily translate into “collaborative,” and I wonder whether tablets are particulary suited for collaborative game-based learning (which playing games in the classroom was all about in the first place).

Also, I wonder how those numbers would compare to a similar survey in Germany—oh wait, I don’t.


About two months or so ago, I threw a few remarks about LEGO’s new “Female Scientists Research Institute” into that Black Hole commonly known as Facebook, raining on the then-ongoing “LEGO finally gets it!” parade by reminding everybody that this set was not a regular product but a) fansourced as a winner of the annual “Idea” competition and b) a limited edition.

And so it goes. Shortly after the launch, from the New York Times:

Within days of its appearance early this month, the Research Institute—a paleontologist, an astronomer and a chemist—sold out on Lego’s website and will not be available at major retailers, including Target and Walmart. Toys “R” Us did carry the line, but according to associates reached by telephone at two of its New York stores, it sold out at those locations as well.

Lego said the set was manufactured as a limited edition, meaning it was not mass-produced.

So there’s that.

And the problem is…well, take one guess. Avivah Wittenberg-Cox over at Harvard Business Review (emphasis mine):

Why did it take until 2014 for the world’s second-largest toy maker to offer girls (and their toy-buying parents) products they might actually want? (After all, even Barbie has been an astronaut since 1965.)

Perhaps it has something to do with the profile of LEGO’s management team, comprised almost entirely of men. The three-person board of the privately-held company is all men, led by CEO Jørgen Vig Knudstorp. The 21-person corporate management team has 20 men and one woman—and she’s in an internally-facing staff role, not connected to the customer base or product development. When your leadership isn’t gender-balanced, it’s tough to have a balanced customer base. The new “Research Institute” range was proposed by geoscientist Ellen Kooijman on one of the company’s crowd-sourcing sites. But it begs the question, is there really no one inside the company who might have come up with the radical idea of having women scientists feature in a 21st century toy company’s line? […]

Don’t hold your breath, though. Despite its first-day sold-out success, LEGO has decided not to continue the Research Institute line. It was only a “limited edition.” So girls, back to the pool. The guys in this boardroom don’t seem to want to give you any ideas… let alone seats at the table.

Read the whole piece—LEGO should be deeply ashamed. But the exact same problem haunts the videogame industry, and the cultural expressions that attach themselves to it; under the protective cultural umbrella of predominantly male C-level execs, we’re not only stuck with equivalents of “limited editions” in the videogame market, but also with that howling mob of male gamers descending on everything that’s not sufficiently catering to their dicks.


From last August’s Serious Games Conference Kick-Off in Joburg, South Africa:

[Ernest W.] Adams mentioned “stealth learning” as a very effective way to convey a specific message in a serious game. He said Lufthansa has a game called Virtual Pilot that challenges gamers to fly to the designated city with increasingly fewer aids. They say “Land at city X,” and all you have to go on is a map of the region showing red dots (cities) within country boundaries, and you must choose the right city to proceed. Success then removes the dots representing the cities, and you must guess where the city in question is, and you’re awarded more points the closer your chosen spot is to the actual location. The final level removes country boundaries as well, stretching your memory and knowledge to the maximum.

While a fun game in its own right, what you don’t realise as you play is that you now know what cities Lufthansa flies to as the game doesn’t show cities the airline doesn’t service. Sneaky!


I have the greatest respect for Ernest Adams so I believe he mentioned this game as an example for the underlying mechanics in principle and not for its quality as a serious game in general. Where to begin: advergames as serious games? learning a brand’s flight destinations as an educational objective? flight destinations that—give me a sec—we can check out anytime anywhere on our phones courtesy of Google Search or Lufthansa’s own nifty app? the lack of an incentive system to retain the geographical knowledge gained (except for use in repeat games)? knowledge, moreover, that you need to succeed in the first place? the lack of any game mechanism that makes this knowledge relevant to the player beyond earning points toward a finite total?

You can check out Lufthansa’s Lufthansa to Europe Destination Game for yourself. Bring Flash.


Ready to Go, But Not Yet Publishing

just drafts is one part newsticker with commentary on game industry matters, and one part regular blog about game-based learning, education in general, and LLM/GPT/AI research in particular. Regular posts on other game-related topics you’ll find at my flagship blog between drafts under the categories collateral tales (narrative) or the one and twenty (everything else).

News ticker posts will feature quotes—like this—from an external source, only longer.

To these I will add commentary. The post’s headline will link directly to the source of the quote (a pattern I picked up from John Gruber’s Daring Fireball site), indicated by an arrow at the end; a blue permalink for the post itself will be provided at the end of the post (like below). Headlines from regular posts, in contrast, will have no arrow and serve as permalinks, just like in good, old-fashioned blogposts.

Yee-haw! See y’all soon.