Congressional Caucus for Competitiveness in Entertainment Technology, or E-Tech was formed in February by U.S. Representatives Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Kevin Brady. You can read about the Caucus and see which members of the House have joined it on the Video Game Voters Network. You can watch Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz speak on Technology and Education HERE at the Atlantic Forum on Technology in Education.
Why does Entertainment Technology need a caucus? Why is there a Network of Video Game Voters? Well, video games are big business, and the US is a big market for video games. From The VGVN Blog: In 2010, computer and video games contributed $24 billion in sales to the U.S. economy. The computer and video games industry employs 120,000 Americans in high-paying jobs in 34 states. Computer and video games help soldiers rehabilitate, keep seniors active, and educate our children. For more information on the roles of video games in our lives, see the Entertainment Software Association’s website.
Like any big business, everyone working and investing in it needs to anticipate growth in the future. For growth in the video game market we need freedom to create and sell the games that will grow the market and we also need a local workforce trained for the jobs required. Therefore, limiting regulation and enhancing education are key to increasing the strength of America’s video game industry.
Limiting regulation: Limiting what video games can contain is very similar to limiting what a book can contain, extremely similar. Limiting the content of our stories and our speech should be resisted, regardless of the economic considerations.
Who is trying to limit what video game contain? The State of California has had a law since 2005 that could be used (but never has) to restrict the sale of video games. The Supreme Court will rule in the next two months on whether this law is constitutional. The VGVN has an excellent FAQs page about the case. You can download the Supreme Court filing on the VGVN FAQ page, too. And here are the direct links: Read the summary of ESA’s Supreme Court filing
Read the full Supreme Court filing.
Enhancing Education: We will need trained workers to keep up with the world video game and other technology related industries. Rep Debbie Wasserman Schultzspoke about the E-TECH caucus at the Atlantic’s Forum on Technology in Education,March 30, 2011, see minute 4:30. Rep. Wasserman Schultz spoke mainly not about regulation but about how we can use technology to enhance our education system. For example, US students could debate with students in other countries. It is easy to see how technology can enhance the education of student in every topic, not just technology related ones. Rep. Wasserman Schultz’s example is simple: debating economics with students in another country could enhance our students’ understanding of the topic. Imagine learning about Roman ruins from students in Rome or debating the finer points of baseball vs cricket with students in India. These kinds of interactions should be common place.
Moving forward locally… To make the innovative use of technology common place in our schools we need to speak up and demand it. I suggest for starters, that we all go to your local middle school and see if their network allows access to Wikipedia. You may be very surprised. We could start by simply that our local tax dollars be used to give this free service available to curious 10 year olds. See Wikipedia’s FAQ about Wikipedia in School. Then we can turn our attention to down loadable video games like Immune Attack, and blog sites where students could contribute to discussions on current events and science.
Additionally, their many opportunities for teachers, students and parents to get involved in projects that involve technology. See our Science Games post for updates.