Speaking at Parsons School of Design as a keynote during the Games for Change Festival, Matt Dalio shared what inspired him and what he has learned from his work as the creative visionary behind Endless Studios games and the Endless Mission. “This tension between education and entertainment seems like an ever-present challenge,” he explained to an audience brought together by a shared belief that games can be critical tools for educational development. “This talk,” he said, “is about how games allow for those two things to become one.”
Here are three of the big ideas on educational games that Matt shared at the Games for Change Festival.
Educate skills, not just subjects
Math Blaster may have corned how we imagine subject-based learning. But games-based learning can be so much more than that. “Games have the ability to teach kids deeper than just math,” said Matt. “They have the ability to teach, for example, values.” When breaking the mold on how games can educate, don’t forget to think outside the box on what should be taught.
Cultivate the next generation of creators
When it comes to educational game design. It’s important to leave space for players to exercise their own skills. Matt harkened back to one of the greatest creativity generators of all time: Legos. “Look at one of the most popular genres right now: sandbox creation genres,” he said. “Roblox, Minecraft—like Legos—at the end of the day, are about the delight of that creative instinct, the joy of building something, imagining something and then creating it.” Just like with Legos, code should be seen as a powerful tool that a child can use to create anything they can imagine.
Have the community tell you what they want
At the core of Endless’ mission is a belief in human and community-centered iteration. Having traveled to classrooms across the world, Matt knows that the success of a philosophy based on hackability lives in creating space for the community to turn his project into whatever it wants. So, he encouraged the Games for Change audience to do the same. “Jump in, give us feedback. We want you to get your hands in the code and build the thing with us,” he said.
Watch the full keynote here starting at 36:45