Before you lump all video games into one category and before you dismiss the pedagogical potential of the genre, read this recent interview with Henry Jenkins at GameDailyBiz -- "the industry source for video game professionals." (We've previously posted on Henry Jenkins' recent book, Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, the ideas of which he builds on in the interview.)
Jenkins has students or knows of students who are "modding" popular video games for educational purposes.
Just as fans attach themselves to television shows and rework them to reflect their fantasies, serious games advocates can attach themselves to existing commercial games that have pedagogical potentials and rework them to serve their own agendas. In my own work, we have been modding Neverwinter Nights to create a new game, Revolution, which re-enacts the culture and politics of the American Revolution.
Other examples might include the "universities" that have grown up around [Sid Meier's] Civilization or simply the development of teacher's guides to get students to think critically about the models of society in Sim City. A student has modified The Sims and Grim Fandango to turn them into tools for mastering foreign languages in a particularly engaging and immersive way.
Uh, thanks. Now that's a brave new world I could live in.
This entry is cross-posted at PopPolitics.com