"The multitude of books is making us stupid, " wrote Voltaire (1694-1778).
Suzanne Seggerman, during a Pop!Tech Pop!Cast conference,opens her talk with choice quotes from famous thinkers who were surethe popular media of the day would ruin us, from the written word tonovels to television to film. In the 21st century, digital games arethe latest misunderstood new media, but Seggerman's brief historysuggests that this too shall pass.
Her talk reminded me of Cathy Davidson' blog post on Youth in Humanity's Fourth Information Age:
"Every bit as much as blogs, social networks, and video games today, thenovel was vilified. The novel was accused (I?m not making this up) ofleading to solitariness, promiscuity, vulnerability to predators,laziness, hostility, mental distraction, psychological overload, andobsession. It would lead to anarchy, rebellion, and also (yes this iscontradictory) hermit-like withdrawal from responsible democraticparticipation. It would lead to disrespect for parents and authorityfigures. It would prevent one from full maturity and deter one'sentrance into adulthood as either a respectable wife and mother or afully responsible worker, breadwinner, and citizen (women, of course,couldn't vote then so citizenship was "moral," raising patriotic sonsto vote and fight to defend their country). Novels, it was thought,impeded all that was good, ethical, and productive."
Seggerman is founder and President of Games for Change, a HASTAC/MacArthur Digital Media & Learning winner, and she has been a visionary thinker about the power of games to affect serious issues of the day. Her task, and the work ahead for anyone convinced of the power of games, is to show us what the future looks like, with games playing a major role in how we learn and live.