11/01/2010

Election politics: Fun and games

With election day one day away, and local television stations filled with political ads, accurate and not-so-accurate, I'm lead to wonder how students K- college are learning about elections and politics. It's not surprising that many are turning to simulations and games.

An article in the latest Chronicle of Higher Education entitled "College students develop video game to spark interest in voting", describes a game created by students in the program at Becker College in Massachusetts. Players of the game, Race for the Ballot, act as one of Massachusett's four candidates for governor, racing to win the election amid pitfalls such as government red tap, attack ads and the like.

Don Jansiewicz, a former professor at Carroll Community College created the Game of Politics in the late 1990s with revisions each election cycle to simulate the political process. Schools across the country are using it in the classroom to inform and educate their students.

Several other organizations, including the National Student/Parent Mock Election (The Road to the Capital) and Cable in the classroom, CNN Student News, C-SPAN, History Channel (eLECTIONS ) have created simulations for younger students to better understand the political process.

And, of course, UB's own Simulation and Digital Entertainment program recently joined the political fray with its own Maryland Budget Game, designed to sort out the issues surrounding Maryland's state budget and alternatives fro balancing it.

With the inundation of political information coming from the candidates and political pundits, perhaps these simulations and games can help students make informed decisions when they enter the voting booth.

Happy Election Day tomorrow!

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