'Games like Shrek Should Be Taught in Our Schools'; ACADEMICS REJECT VIEW THAT ROLE-PLAYING ADVENTURES ARE BAD FOR CHILDREN

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Byline: DOMINIC HAYES

COMPUTER games are good for children's educational development and playing them should be part of the school curriculum, researchers said today.

The common wisdom is that the games are of no benefit to children, that the very young might be traumatised by violent or gory scenes, and that outdoor activities are far better.

But a Government-funded research project has concluded that computer games are actually a huge untapped educational resource.

Its report - to be unveiled at a conference at the Institute of Education today - recommends children are taught how to play them at school and that they should be encouraged to programme their own games.

The study was carried out by London University's Centre for the Study of Children, Youth and the Media.

Associate director Andrew Burn said: "We want to reassure anxious parents and teachers that games are a legitimate cultural form that deserve critical analysis in schools just as film, television and literature do.

"But we also want to argue that full understanding only comes when children have the tools to create their own games."

Dr Burn admitted that parents would take some persuading of the benefits of computer games but likened fears about the effect on young minds of the most bloodthirsty games to earlier moral panics.

He said that people in 19th century England and Germany believed romantic fiction was "poisoning" the minds of young women, and he pointed out that not all games were violent or frightening. …