A Call for Jewish Education Through Gaming and Game Design

by Owen Gottlieb

What will “Jewish” look like as today’s new media evolves into tomorrow’s new media? Learners are increasingly Gamers, Designers, and Builders (Tinkerers). New media landscapes allow learners to develop and hone their affinities, teach themselves, and mentor their virtual peers. They collaborate in problem-solving online and offline, and their design skills are increasingly important. How does the formation of identity morph as game spaces allow us, through role-play, to try on a variety of new possible selves? What do Jewish educators and leaders need to know as print shifts to digital, the role of teachers increasingly becomes that of guide, and games become a new language of learning?

In the secular world, Games for Learning are receiving a great deal of attention. This inter-disciplinary set of pursuits combines the learning sciences, media studies, design, performance studies, linguistics, and other fields. In particular, Games for STEM Learning (STEM refers to Science, Technology Engineering, and Math) have received attention from the White House and funding from MacArthur Foundation, AMD, Microsoft, and others. But Games for Learning reach beyond STEM (now, some add an “A” to STEM to make STEAM – adding “Art” to the mix). Games for Learning are being built to teach civics (Sandra Day OConnor’s iCivics.org), environmental awareness, and social entrepreneurship (GlobalKids.org and its student designers). 

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