Can emotional and social skills be taught through video games? The founder of EA Games, Trip Hawkins, thinks so. Hawkins has raised more than 6 million dollars in funding for an educational game startup called the 'If You Can Company.' The company aims to create games for children that can teach kids how to develop necessary life skills.
The first game to come from the If You Can Company was released this week on the iPad. The game is simply titled 'If...' and includes things like team work, building through working with others, and working on projects to complete a specific task. All along the way, throughout the game, are little anecdotes to help teach children to develop social and emotional skills.
Additional Kid Games in the Works
It has long been proven that video games help kids learn by opening up the learning portion of a child's brain. What kids play will determine the skills that they learn, so it's important to put games in front of kids that develop necessary skills. Hawkins hopes that his games will help kids grow both in school and in life, and that his games will also become immensely popular with kids.
The current game 'If...' has been released via iPad, and it's free for kids to download at the time being. The game will be followed up by additional chapters, but there's no word right now on whether or not those chapters will be free as well. The news of Hawkins' startup comes at an interesting time - other tech news today centers around an EU video game warning for parents.
Parents, Watch Out
More than once, I have been asked by Facebook friends to play silly games. These bothersome notifications pop up on my iPhone screen regularly, and it got to the point where I had to yell at one of my friends (tell her that I do not play such childish games). Well, as it turns out, that was the issue. Her child was requesting friend game adds in order to increase his points.
It's not uncommon for video game developers targeting kids to trick kids into inviting people to play games, or to get kids to purchase items involved in a game. If you buy something in one game, that item will jump you to the next level - which is all fine if you aren't the one paying for it (as most kids aren't).
There's no real word yet as to whether or not Hawkins plans to add 'store' items to his games, or whether kids will be asked to buy other things. But, this gaming company has to make profits somehow, so it seems like Hawkins has found a new market that's quite lucrative - but, that might not be the motivation at all. It's hard to tell.
Either way, the If games are coming to a child near you. The question is: will you let your kids play these games? Or, more importantly, do you let your kids play video games at all?