SimCity is coming to the classroom.
The nonprofit GlassLab has released its first educational game based on Electronic Arts‘ SimCity city simulator, the genre-defining title that Will Wright first launched in 1989 and has become one of the biggest names in video games. The SimCityEDU: Pollution Challenge! is aimed at teaching children about growing cities while managing environmental impact at the same time.
The idea is to use the engaging entertainment of games to get kids excited about learning what could otherwise be a dry subject.
GlassLab is a project of the nonprofit Institute of Play, which is supported by funding from the MacArthur Foundation and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It was created in partnership with Electronic Arts, Pearson, the Educational Testing Service, and the Entertainment Software Association.
“When we launched the reimagined SimCity, we always knew it had the potential to be used in a capacity beyond entertainment,” said Peter Moore, EA’s chief operating officer. “Seeing SimCityEDU: Pollution Challenge! come to life in the classroom and encouraging the next generation of leaders to solve today’s real-world challenges is truly inspiring.”
Students become the mayors of their own cities while trying to maintain employment and citizen happiness. Teachers get immediate feedback on student activity and can easily assess how they’re moving through lesson plans. GlassLab has added a system that provides instant data access.
GlassLab is based on EA’s headquarters campus in Redwood City, Calif. It’s receiving a showcase on Nov. 14 at the Washington Ideas Forum in Washington, D.C., where U.S. policy makers will be in attendance.
Designed for middle school students, this education-based SimCity encourages students to think critically about the challenges facing modern cities and the world around them. The tools provide dashboards for both the teacher and students with easy-to-understand instructions. The teachers also have access to an online community.
“There is a significant engagement gap in today’s classroom – students spend 10 hours a day consuming digital media but only four hours a week on homework,” claims Jessica Lindl, the general manager of GlassLab. “Taking the essential elements of games, we’ve created an educational tool that will keep students excited and engaged in real-world problem solving, while providing teachers with actionable reports aligned to standards.”
“Video games are empowering and educating today’s youth by harnessing their excitement for the medium. Today’s launch of SimCityEDU: Pollution Challenge! underscores video games’ potential beyond entertainment. The American classroom is transforming and games are emerging as a critical and effective tool in educating tomorrow’s leaders and innovators,” said Mike Gallagher, the president and CEO of Entertainment Software Association, gaming’s big trade group.