E3: Catching the Eye of Education

Over the last 24 hours each of the big three video game companies (Microsoft, Nintendo, & Sony) held press conferences at E3. Major gaming sites like Gamespot, IGN, and 1Up all streamed the events for free. The conferences were full of upcoming games and hardware, but very few surprises. I was able to watch some of each conference, but read most of the coverage through live blogs from Kotaku and Wired's Chris Kohler.

While I wasn't overly excited about anything at the event, there were a few items that I feel hold some educational possibility:

Handheld Systems:
1) More educational / brain games on the Nintendo DS like Flash Focus: Vision Training
The DS is a great platform for kids and casual players. If more people are picking up education-lite video games and playing in general, the audience of people interested in gaming and education will grow. Someone picking up a Touch Generations game, may have a more open mind to gaming and learning in a larger context.

2) The PSP Slim with an improve battery life, faster loadtimes and lighter weight. There are already schools starting to use PSPs in education and this hardware refresh makes the system more versatile in a classroom setting. (I'm personally excited about the PSP Slim as well)

Console Systems:
1) Sony's PS3 Home will connect and integrate mobile phones.
EDUCAUSE just released a podcast on using mobile phones to create a more comprehensive learning environment inside and outside of the classroom. Sony's Home social networking will tap into this "take it everywhere" mentality and may provide examples of successful applications. Connecting with our players/students in the classroom, virtual through course management pages and even through cell phones or text messages give us the potential for very rich student shaped learning environments.

2) WiiFit for the Nintendo Wii looks like an excellent application of the motion controlled technology. The balance board controller (which looks like a step pad) is a great addition to the causal gaming market. The board has a low barrier for use and by the looks of the videos the gameplay is designed for everyone. With reports like this out of the UK that fit virtual exercise just as healthy as traditional, WiiFit is nicely poised to tap into that market. If schools and nursing homes are already using Wii Sports for activity and fitness... WiiFit should be quickly adopted as the next step.

Both the PSP and WiiFit photos are via Kotaku