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Games in Schools conference // opening session

Here is a selection of comments and keynotes speeches from participants at the Games in Schools Conference which just opened at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg.
Some 100 experts gather today at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg to discuss the issue of using Electronic games in schools.

The event can be followed live at http://tv.coe.int/webcast.

-Jan Figel, European Commissioner for Education and Culture gave the opening keynote of the conference. He thanked the organisers (EUN and ISFE) and the Council of Europe for hosting the event.

One of the point made by Commissioner Figel is the close link existing between learning and play, a link which has forever existed and which makes this event meaningful.

Commissioner Jan Figel' (Right)

"Schools are the workshops of humanity," said Commissioner Figel'.

Commissioner Figel' highlighted that curiosity and play are prerequisite for motivation, which are one component games can offer to learners. We have to remember that before going to schools, playing games is our primary way of learning. Games create a meaningful context, encourage students to learn from their mistake and to go beyond situation which may trigger fear in a non-virtual context.

The Commission has put forward key competences which young people have to achieve and become autonomous learners. Digital literacy is one of these skills linked to the broader theme of media literacy. Another issue is while we find many positive aspects to the use of games, we have at the moment to also protect young people against the inappropriate use of games, which is why we support age labeling scheme such as PEGi as well as meaning descriptions of games, which are now EU regulations. EU countries apply PEGI, on a voluntary basis, we welcome this initiative and call for member states to bring this initiative further.

this year is year of creativity and innovation and would like to finish on this point. The added value of games creates a learning environment, teachers and pupils can use games to achieve creativity and bring innovative thinking and innovation in our schools.

-Toine Manders MEP and rapporteur on a European Parliament resolution on video games. MEP Manders is a politician but also the father of two children and this is why he decided to look at the impact of video games on kids, the European Parliament did a large research. We found out that games have a very positive effect on young people in schools who use games to learn or leisure. We have studied with experts the impact of games, in our view most of it is positive, and nevertheless in some cases there are some instance of abuse of the system. How can we go about protecting young people when it is possible to download some games inline circumventing any controls on the market. With internet it makes things more difficult.

Toine Manders (right) with Patrice Chazerand (centre from ISFE) and Elda Moreno (Left, Council of Europe)

Maybe it could be possible to include a 'red button' on the screen which can allow parents to prevent downloading of violent harmful games for young kids and also send an email to PEGI to track this download site.