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Games manual lacks a little PC

Getting pupils to shoot Nazis on a computer game in class then inviting German pupils to watch is one of the lesson ideas suggested in a new handbook for teachers.

Games and Learning is produced by Futurelab, a Bristol research centre set up by the lottery-funded National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts, which advises on how computer games can be used in schools.

The handbook says teachers could discuss cultural stereotypes in best-selling games, such as the tendency to portray females as sexy or make the heroes white, male and Western.

Examples could include Second World War shooting games such as the Medal of Honour series in which players shoot and blow up German and Japanese soldiers.

"Having a Japanese or German student in the room while playing a WWII shooter produced in the United States may prove to be an excellent learning experience if the teacher wishes to focus students on that game's ethical and cultural values, its biases and its exploitation of stereotypes," the handbook says.

But most games ideas discussed in the handbook are less controversial. They include using the PC fantasy-exploration game Myst to promote literacy, a practice which has proved successful at Chew Magna primary in Somerset.

Professor David Buckingham of London university's institute of education said in an inaugural lecture this week that schools were appearing increasingly unexciting to children because of their failures to embrace new technology.

Games and Learning available at: www.nestafuturelab.org

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