I’ve just returned from a 2 week trip to Chile where I taught, along with game producer Eddie Yoo, about the importance of protecting intellectual property through workshops using Gamestar Mechanic. We taught six workshops total in 3 cities in Chile to about 150 middle schoolers. Below is a fun video (in Spanish) that gives some clips of the workshops.
In teaching with games, we often use the creation of games to teach about other subjects like earth science, math systems, or storytelling. In contrast, these workshops in Chile focused on the artifact that the kids produced – the game itself, not the creation of it – as a component in understanding the subject matter. Our students created Gamestar games, and then bought and sold their same games as products in a commercial economy role playing simulation. They practiced buying and selling games in an economy without intellectual property pirates, and in an economy with them. Because the students were buying and selling games that they themselves created, we hoped for them to feel a sense of ownership and pride over their products.
Intellectual property is an abstract and important subject, especially in our digital world where material can be easily downloaded illegally. Often kids don’t understand the similarities between physical and digital property, and how pirating digital goods is akin to stealing physical ones. Using video games as the example of intellectual property was particularly relevant because the kids in our workshops were super gamers! I believe the strongest lesson that these students took from the workshops was that responsibly making games is a real career choice, and it’s one that will help the economy grow.
If you’re interested in teaching about copyright and intellectual property, Common Sense Media has some great lesson plans. Here’s a favorite of mine that teaches about copyright through music.