Academics go back to school to get serious about gaming

The event will focus on how games can improve interaction and learning levels in the education system

Academics will challenge the notion that they are all fact and no fun when representatives from over 30 institutions across Europe gather at Heriot-Watt University on Monday 20 June for a week-long programme of events dedicated to gaming and its place in the modern day classroom.

Our role is to produce better and more engaging games which inspire participants and ultimately improve learning

Brian Clark, Learning & Teaching Scotland

They will be joined by serious games designers and educators in the first ever technology-enhanced learning project of its kind, bringing together a diverse group of professionals with a wide range of knowledge and expertise in the technical, design, application, research and commercial business of Serious Games.

The event will focus on sharing ideas on how to develop better learning experiences and increase the global competitiveness of European 'serious games' companies to ultimately improve interaction and learning levels within both the education system and other fields such as health and tourism.

The five day summer school is the first major event of a four year, €5.6 million collaboration and networking project funded by the European Commission, officially known as the Games & Learning Alliance: Network of Excellence for Serious Games (GaLA).

Producing better games to improve learning

This will be a seriously challenging but highly rewarding week and it is exciting that the first major event of the GaLA project will be held in Scotland

Dr Alasdair Thin, Heriot-Watt University

Dr Alasdair Thin, researcher in health and fitness games at Heriot-Watt University, who was responsible for organising the event, said: "This will be a seriously challenging but highly rewarding week and it is exciting that the first major event of the GaLA project will be held in Scotland."

Brian Clark, Development Officer at Learning & Teaching Scotland, keynote speaker at the event said: "Scottish schools have been using commercially available computer games in classrooms to help create appealing, purposeful and challenging contexts for learning for a number of years now. Our role is to produce better and more engaging games which inspire participants and ultimately improve learning."

Mary Matthews, Strategy & Business Development Director of TruSim, a division of Blitz Games Studios, and another keynote speaker at the event said: "Developing a community of interest and support around Serious Games in Europe will be an important step towards developing a robust market."

Jim Piggot, CEO of Team Play Learning Dynamics (TPLD) added: "Learning in the 21st century is collaborative, online and innovative; producing new ways of learning and sharing knowledge. It is our hope that through identifying ways to expand what is already available, we will see a common language and understanding about the potential for Serious Games in a wide range of application fields, begin to emerge."

The week-long event will include a range of keynote speakers, workshops, lectures, pitches, game demos and a challenge day involving working in teams to run a Serious Games company for a day.

This is a collaborative event for Heriot-Watt, with staff involved from three academic Schools:

  • School of Engineering & Physical Sciences: Dr Theodore Lim and Professor Jim Ritchie
  • School of Life Sciences: Dr Alasdair Thin
  • School of Mathematical & Computer Sciences: Dr Sandy Louchart and Professor Ruth Aylett