Over the weekend the The New York Times Magazine featured a story on the pretty much the luckiest bunch of middle schoolers ever. The students at Quest to Learn. a digitally focused academy on East 23rd, spend their days playing video games, hanging out in a giant virtual reality laboratory and occasionally receiving “video messages from space aliens.”
The conceit of the article is pretty simple. Kids are spending more time than ever playing video games. A Bill and Melinda Gates commissioned study on why so many Americans don’t graduate high school discovered that many of them found classes pretty boring. If you can’t beat em’, join em’.
“Game design is the platform that we can hook them into because this is where they live,” says teacher Al Doyle, a 30 year veteran of NYC public Schools. “Video games are more important to them than film, than broadcast television, than journalism. This is their medium. Games are this generation’s rock and roll.”
So far test scores at Quest to Learn have turned out to be no better or worse than average. Which isn’t encouraging, considering that the school has received substainial additional funding from the MacArthur Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Still, one has to image graduation rates will be higher, and prospects for future employment bright.
“Everything in the future online is going to look like a multiplayer game,” said Google CEO Eric Schmidt at the beginning of this year’s G-20 summit. “If I were 15 years old, that’s what I’d be doing right now.”