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#LWF11 David Braben – Frontier Developments & Legendary Games Designer

David is one of our greatest games designers, I was excited to hear him talk as I’ve been playing his games since the 80s!

What motivates kids today?  Fame, money, instant gratification.  Not hard work and days of graft.  So are today’s kids doomed?

Games are a great weapon for education, as Dawn greatly pre-empted.  Games motivate kids in small easy steps with a real sense of progression and feedback, linking back nicely to Derek’s first talk of the day.

Ironically kids will do the hard slog ‘grinding’ in games, and di get the ‘secret learning’ that Dawn spoke of.

There is great learning even in ‘violent’ games, e.g. creation of content within Halo.

Crucially games are accessible. On consoles rather than PCs.  There are not huge learning steps needed to produce something with the game creation tools.  The motive and learning is there already as kids have played the games.

Most of the more raw tools are not easily accessed by teachers and pupils, e.g. XBox

David learnt on Acorns etc when programming was more accessible and ‘cool’.

How hard can it be to create something?  Not that hard.

David and a group from Cambridge have come up with Raspberry Pi, a device and open source framework to help take things to the next stage and look at Programming.  HDMI, ARM CPU, Linux, Wireless but made in small indestructible capsule.  Could you give one to every pupil?  Looking to trial this year.

Always had a problem with ICT, as every kid he talks to says ICT is dull!  Focussed on MS tools.  Such a far cry from the self-driven learning that happens and the skills needed for the industry.  Turned interested kids off and confirmed to those with little interest and experience that it wasn’t for them.  Showed UCAS data showing Computer Science applicants crashing with the first ICT students going through school.

Wants to give kids with no home PC’s access to the Web and to programming and all that it includes.

David showed a real passion for re-engaging our young pupils with computing rather than ICT and a good understanding of the issues that the discrete subject of ICT faces.  I think Dawn & co’s work shows that we need to move away from ICT as a discrete subject sooner rather than later.  And in it’s place push Computing as a more viable and interesting option.  Interesting take on the access to traditional PCs in the home.  I really need to accurately survey our pupils and find just what technology they do have available in the home.

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