Gaming for empowering and inclusive online education
USING GAMING FOR EMPOWERING AND INCLUSIVE ONLINE EDUCATION
Our co-founder Christina has been engaging at a policy, academic and local level to ensure that the future of game development and online education are based on diversity and inclusion for over 4 years. Games have huge potential to induce learning and provide empowering education to people who don’t have access to schools/universities.
Many online education initiatives, such as Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) have described university costs, geographical access and time constraints as the main barriers to education. However, research shows that the most transformative innovations in online education are not likely to come from techniques to promote access alone.
According to her, the answer on how quality education could be channeled to online spaces relies on gaming technologies. Games are interactive; fun; engaging; they allow players to explore different environments and to have agency over their decisions; to collaborate; to practice over and over again; to develop a sense of identity with their characters; players can experience the consequences of their actions; and they can also build relationships and communities. Most importantly, players are active instead of passively listening and memorising lectures or online videos.
Globally, women, people of color, and minority groups are underrepresented in game design, for example in the UK 14% of people working in the games industry are women and 4% are from ethnic minority groups. As we know, the ideas, knowledge and experiences of people who design games are directly represented in the games they create, and without diverse teams of game designers it’s unlikely we can create effective, empowering and impactful educational games that center all potential players and learners.
After three years of research at the Open University (Knowledge Media institute) and participatory studies involving 300+ people, Christina created the first grassroot initiative that enables anyone to design educational games in 2 days. Participants are mostly first-time game designers from underrepresented groups in the gaming sector; women, people of color, people with disabilities, and members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Games have potential to be used as powerful tools to share experiences, stories and knowledge. They create opportunities to engage with people in a way that gives them a voice. Christina’s ambition is to show that making educational game design open and accessible to anyone unlocks this potential
Images: Some of the games created during grassroot initative with first-time game designers
Christina has enabled the creation of 190+ games on social topics. She has now taken this initiative to rural Colombia where she is implementing, with local leaders, the first online gaming school for marginalised women, which is supported by UN Women. Christina has been working with Viviana Palacios for over three years through the ‘Leadership in Action’ programme that she created and launched together with Omnis Latin America regional’s team and in collaboration with multinational Unilever.
Her work is being recognised as an initiative to create social change by diversifying the gaming sector and by using gaming as a tool to induce learning and raise awareness of social issues. She is ensuring that anyone can use gaming as a tool to share their stories, experiences and knowledge. Her work has also been used to make the point, through Academia, that in order to create effective, inclusive and empowering educational games, more diversity in needed in groups who design them.
For her work Christina has been awarded the ‘European Women in Games Hall of Fame’, the ‘Rising Star’ award by Inclusive Tech Alliance, was given the prestigious title of ‘ Women in Game Ambassador’ by WIGJ (part of the Google tech maker initiative), and was shortlisted for the ‘Diversity leader of the year’ by TLA and ‘Diversity star’ by Develop: games. She also spoke at key conferences for example during GDC in San Francisco and at the Purple nights organised by the WOW festival in SouthBank Center.