Video games have been credited with everything from school shootings to divorce, but with their ability to wield such great power in our psyche, can they also do good? Can they make us smarter? A whole class of games is set to debut at this year’s E3 which claim to do just that, and I’m going to decide if they make the grade.
First we’ll start with an easy subject, physical education. Can games make you better at sports or at least get you to fit into your high school PE uniform again? Game scholar Konami has partnered with UnitedHealthCare and schools to bring their newest “Dance Dance Revolution” to PE classes everywhere, in an effort target the childhood obesity epidemic in America.
Called “Classroom Edition,” the smartened-up game goes to school with the ability to hook up 48 Dance Mats to one computer, a student metrics tracking system, the ability to pit student versus student in a body image-fueled, competitive Olympics of foot stomping and current hits that “have all been screened for content,” according to Konami.
Wicked Smart Part: Trying something new, something digital, something from the 21st century to get students involved in their classes can never be wrong. Who knows if the “bigger boned” kids will be more inclined to shake that baby fat away, but I’m sure they’ll all stop ditching long enough to watch.
Classroom Cons: While I’m sure that there is a tiny dancer in even the most self conscious teen, I’m also pretty sure that a chubby kid forced to dance in front of the whole class is a new and especially horrific form of high school hell, of the most permanently-traumatic type.