Always worth a look: http://www.marcprensky.com/blog/
While Prensky is a true advocate for computer gaming technology and it's impact on society, what continues to strike me is his ability to engage the audience as to the need to re-think the disconnect between learning/education/schools and video gaming.
He makes a mention of a 6.3.05 blog entry on the "Terra Nova: Exploring Virtual Worlds" site of a 'contradiction' between those who watch kids play video games and the fear that its negatively affecting their ability to learn and those who intuitively know that something more powerful is happening in terms of technology and learning:
Here's something that's been bothering me for a while about computer games in general and virtual worlds in particular.
For many years, suggestions have been made by politicians and in the media that there is a link between the playing of computer games and the committing of acts of real-world violence. They feel that if you play a violent computer game, it teaches you to be violent in reallife. Game-savvy people like us will typically regard these opinions as founded on ignorance, and argue that they should not be given credence.
One of the larger sub-branches of game research concerns educational gaming. Its premiss is that kids don't always like traditional teaching methods, but they love games, so we should design games that help teach them things. That way, learning will be fun, so children will want to learn.
Now, isn't there a contradiction here?
Prensky responds on his own blog with the following:
Here is my answer, from my upcoming book, Don't Bother me, Mom -- I'm Learning.
The answer, I think, to Richard’s “contradiction” is context.
Of course exposure to media, including games, influences people, and it is no surprise that studies isolating certain influences show that they are there (at least temporarily.)
The key point though, is that in order to seriously affect our ongoing, everyday behavior, media effects (and any effects) have to be both strong and unmitigated.
Of course, if someone heard nothing but English with a particular accent all his or her life, or heard nothing but country music all his or her life, or read nothing but romance novels all his or her life, or saw nothing but “Gone With The Wind “every day of his or her life, we could – and should – expect his or her behavior to be influenced. We could reasonably expect them to talk with that accent, prefer country music, have romantic expectations, and act like Scarlet O’Hara and Rhett Butler. And, by the same token, if someone did nothing but watch violent movies all day every day, or did nothing but play violent games all day, or saw nothing but daily violence in the situation where they lived, one could reasonably expect their behavior to be violent. We do model what we see…
…UNLESS, of course, there are counterbalancing influences.
And that is precisely our job, as parents, teachers and society: to provide those counterbalancing influences. Our kids, like the rest of us, are surrounded by a huge variety of impressions and messages. They come from the media we see, but also from our families, our friends, our schools, our jobs, our reading, our clubs and sports, our religion. Some messages are violent, to be sure, but a great many more are not. Kids receive social messages, parental messages, religious messages, and even some media messages telling them daily that violence is NOT the way to go or to solve problems. So when images or experiences come into their lives that are violent, perhaps in some of their games, they take them in (how could they not), but they balance them against all the other messages they receive in life.
I put my money on Prensky in the final debate.