Alice Taylor on commissioning educational games

Alice Taylor at Wonderland has posted some thoughts about her role at Channel 4, where she commissions educational content aimed at UK teenagers. Most of her remit – and the aspect I’ve heard her speak about at BETT and Games Based Learning conferences – involves online games, although in her post she refers to comics, browser widgets and web video as well.

I’ve commisioned many educational games myself, but they’ve always been strictly tied to specific curriculum learning objectives. Alice details the difficulties of producing meaningful educational games that are not tied to a curriculum:

This usually means: sex, drugs & alcohol, relationships, careers, mental & physical health, money. Sometimes these topics are just amazingly inspirational. Sometimes they’re brick walls. It’s not easy. You should see the developers’ faces when I ask for a game about sex. It usually goes from a smile (rich topic!) to a frown (wait, kids, porn?), to confused (digital penises??), to horror (avatars having sex!), and back to laughing. Usually.

Alice also raises the issue of getting content noticed on the internet once it has been completed – and her web marketing plan is a good reminder that without this kind of comprehensive promotion, great content can easily slip between the cracks and become lost online.

See also this post where Alice gives reasons why making educational games in difficult.

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