Barack Obama, the President of the United States, has launched an initiative called “Educate to Innovate”, aimed at getting more people interested in topics related to the so-called STEM, which is science, technology, engineering and math. And it seems that big companies with a presence in the videogaming world are interested in joining him and proving the educational capabilities of their products.
Sony Computer Entertainment of America is set to cooperate with The MacArthur Foundation, the ISA, and the ESA, in order to promote a competition powered by LittleBigPLanet which encourages players to create levels with the powerful editor which can then be distributed and used to promote the STEM goals.
Meanwhile the ESA, ISI, Games for Change, E-Line Ventures, and The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop are collaborating on the STEM National Video Game Competition, which will be creating browser based videogames aimed at those aged between 4 and 16. At the 2010 E3 trade expo, winners will be announced and the 300,000 dollars budget will be distributed. It's not yet clear how Microsoft is involved, but as a member of the Entertainment Software Association it will be indirectly part of all the project mentioned above.
Michael Gallagher, who is the president of the ESA, has stated that “Computer and video games are one of the most effective ways to reach America's children and encourage them to stay interested in vital STEM principles. We are honored to have President Obama recognize the unique ability of games to act as a catalyst in generating new areas of growth in education”.
It's a good idea to tie videogaming with something so lofty as promoting mathematics and science, especially given the band press that regularly surfaces around the mature material which is depicted in videogames like Mass Effect, Modern Warfare 2 or the upcoming Heavy Rain.