From the most recent Scout Report on Engineering, Math & Technology:
13. How Games are Reshaping Business and Learning
This website features presentations made at a conference sponsored by eInnovate and held on January 20, 2005, on "How Games are Reshaping Business and Learning." The conference presenters discussed the "gamer generation" and explored the "profound ways in which 'games' are forever reshaping teaching and learning in the business environment." Other questions addressed through the paper and video footage from the conference include: "Why are video games setting a new standard for learning?"; "How, and why, do modern video games reflect cutting-edge research on learning?"; and "What are the implications for the workplace and learning?" The paper, written by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Academic Advanced Distributed Learning Co-Laboratory, describes "an approach to the design of learning environments that builds on the educational properties of games, but deeply grounds them within a theory of learning appropriate for an age marked by the power of new technologies."
The last couple of years I've been buying quite a bit in the game development area, telling myself that it's not frivolous, that game development is really at the cutting edge of what CS people do -- create environments. That those environments can have many different applications, including learning and entertainment, is really important to keep in mind. The CS students checking out books on AI game developments (and the books do circulate quite a bit) aren't just trying to program Jakked Doom of the Vice City, they're pushing the edge of virtual environments. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.