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  • Writer's picturePattie Umali

Inter-Ed Game: a working definition

Updated: Jul 13, 2018

I have had the privilege of receiving a first-rate education at a public K-12 school system and an undergraduate degree at an excellent university. Thanks to the boundless resources and opportunities with which I was blessed, I have gained a well-rounded, global perspective and have had the privilege of travelling to different parts of the world to enhance my knowledge and personal development. After my study abroad in Amsterdam, I was able to fully realize that I cared most about teaching young Americans more about the modern world and peoples that inhabit it.

Despite the fact that my school districts were well-funded and staffed with quality teachers, I still felt the topics covered in my social science classes were highly centered around Classical and Western European thought and history. It is an affront that U.S. students are taught limited and slanted versions of their ancestral history, if any, when the majority of them are now non-white.

Thus, I propose the conscious creation of a certain type of game, which I will heretofore refer to as an inter-ed game. I use "inter-ed" to mean both "international education" and "intercultural education" because an inter-ed game could teach about the culture of a nation, a subculture within a nation, or a completely fictional culture that instead challenges the player to apply cultural analysis. I have no solid boundaries of the qualifications or features to be fairly inclusive of the many shapes and forms in which it could take. But the concept is fairly simple: games that showcase modern peoples and cultures of the world and/or games that teach intercultural competence and global citizenship. These games do not have to explicitly focus on serious topics, as a culture and characters representative of a culture can be woven into most fictional stories.

While there certainly could be inter-ed games that are more explicit in their learning outcomes, I want to stress that inter-ed games could also be of the fantasy, action, role-playing game (RPG), or adventure genres. What traditionally has turned children and especially older gamers away from educational games are the clunky game mechanics and/or the lack of an interesting plot. In other words, many think they're "just not fun." Inter-ed games should be different; they should have a very immersive plot and game world because an intercultural learning outcome depends on it. Think about it. When a person studies abroad or participates in some other form of exchange, they become completely immersed in a foreign environment, similar in some ways to stepping into the Super Mario or Final Fantasy universes. In the same manner that you simply learn in study abroad through, frankly, "living," a player can learn much about a culture as they traverse around the game world on a quest and talk to different characters. They need not play a word-matching exercise or reading comprehension mini-game that feels disconnected from the overarching storyline.

Whether played in the classroom or out, inter-ed games would jump-start the beginning of a child's global education, and hopefully inspire them to seek out opportunities for travel and exchange earlier and more often throughout their lifetime.

This is just a little "primer" entry to paint a picture. I plan on expanding much further on many of my statements in future posts. Want me to focus on a certain topic first? Please comment and let me know! Constructive feedback is always helpful.

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