[Edu-sig] Playing games

Arthur ajsiegel at optonline.net
Thu Sep 21 15:23:00 CEST 2006

 From an article referenced (critically) in todays planet.python.org

Do the universities provide for society the intellectual leadership it 
needs or only the training it asks for?

Traditional academic rhetoric is perfectly willing to give to these 
questions the reassuring answers, but I don't believe them. By way of 
illustration of my doubts, in a recent article on "Who Rules Canada?", 
David H. Flaherty bluntly states "Moreover, the business elite dismisses 
traditional academics and intellectuals as largely irrelevant and 

So, if I look into my foggy crystal ball at the future of computing 
science education, I overwhelmingly see the depressing picture of 
"Business as usual". The universities will continue to lack the courage 
to teach hard science, they will continue to misguide the students, and 
each next stage of infantilization of the curriculum will be hailed as 
educational progress.

I now have had my foggy crystal ball for quite a long time. Its 
predictions are invariably gloomy and usually correct, but I am quite 
used to that and they won't keep me from giving you a few suggestions, 
even if it is merely an exercise in futility whose only effect is to 
make you feel guilty.

Austin, 2 December 1988

prof. dr. Edsger W. Dijkstra
Department of Computer Sciences
The University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX 78712-1188

Then from:


Support Includes Lobbying, Sponsorships and Enhanced Development Tools *

Microsoft’s and MSR’s efforts to promote new instructional methods and 
rebuild enrollment in computer science programs go far beyond the RFP 

In addition to funding, proponents of game-related instruction say they 
need help changing perceptions about computer games, particularly among 
veteran computer science faculty who never played computer games when 
they were growing up.

Microsoft and MSR have sought to take a leadership role in these efforts 
by promoting potential applications for serious games and lobbying 
government, academia and business about the benefits of game-related 
instruction in computer science, Nordlinger says.


As usual in these discussions, the Microsoft stance relies - at it s 
essence - on maintaining ambiguity about whether we are talking about 
playing games, or the demanding (I can't do it, for example) notion of 
writing them. And is in this respect is -at its essence - dishonest.

They are indeed playing games.

And mostly winning.


The Scheme community seem to me to take something of a stance on these 
issues. Perhaps that stance is a __built-in__ to the language structure.

Python is perhaps more flexible, perhaps multi-paradigm extends to these 
kinds of issues as well.

The best I seem to be able to hope for as a member of the Python 
community is that it not become identified with a particular paradigm. 
To me we are due for a different kind of PyCon keynote speaker on the 
subject of technology and education, in the interest of balance. Perhaps 
a leading Schemer.


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