Michael Gove Has Heard Of Videogames


A man from the government doesn’t hate videogames. It’s a news story. It’s more of a news story when that man is sinister Pob-lookalike Michael Gove, admittedly. He’s taken time off from shitting all over British education to say that he thinks videogames are a useful means of teaching. Which is a bit like Jack Thompson saying he likes to relax of an evening with a game of GTA IV.

As reported by CVG, he was at the Royal Society last week, speaking about maths and science teaching, when the crazed outburst occurred.

“Computer games developed by Marcus du Sautoy are enabling children to engage with complex mathematical problems that would hitherto have been thought too advanced. When children need to solve equations in order to get more ammo to shoot the aliens, it is amazing how quickly they can learn. I am sure that this field of educational games has huge potential for maths and science teaching and I know that Marcus himself has been thinking about how he might be able to create games to introduce advanced concepts, such as non-Euclidean geometry, to children at a much earlier stage than normal in schools.”

Ignoring that computer games have been teaching maths, science and all manner of other subjects pretty much since they came into existence, it’s certainly interesting to see this potential being noticed. Gove now intends to begin a pilot programme for using games as teaching materials, via the Li Ka Shing Foundation and the Stanford Research Institute. Rather than, say, looking at how it’s been used as a medium inside and outside of schools for decades.

“The Department for Education is working with the Li Ka Shing Foundation and the highly respected Stanford Research Institute on a pilot programme to use computer programmes to teach maths. We have not developed the programme – we are just helping them run a pilot. Stanford say it is one of the most successful educational projects they have seen.”

du Sautoy is the Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science and a Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford, as both CVG and I copied and pasted from Wikipedia. His website scares and confuses me. But it is his work that seems to have finally woken Gove up to face the possibility of the existence of gaming. You can read the script for Gove’s speech here, in case you can’t believe your eyes. He hasn’t previously exactly been encouraging.


  1. KikiJiki says:

    Get the whipper-snappers playing Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth. That’ll teach them about non-Euclidean geometry.

    It may also give them a healthy lifelong fear of fishing towns and hotels.

  2. Alaric says:

    Why must you bring Thompson up? He wasn’t mentioned by anyone in over a year and probably had almost dissipated by now. Your directing of people’s thoughts towards him is giving him a weak channel through which to hold on to the mortal realm. 600 years ago we BURNED people for summoning (or aiding) demons!

    • iniudan says:

      What are you talking about 600 years ago we burned them only hafter a proper judicial check to know if they were made of wood.

      Now John Walker, would you please step on the balance please, while I go get the weighting duck.

    • Shuck says:

      Actually I think the recent Supreme Court decision finished off old Jacky. Using a vampire movie metaphor, numerous crosses had long ago forced him, hissing and impotent, into a corner, but the court decision was the opening of the shutters, letting in daylight that reduced him to a fine ash. Sure, there will be the inevitable sequel, but the starring role will be played by someone else at this point.

    • Dozer says:

      Mr Walker is a fully-equipped demon-slaughterer. Jack Thompson is no match.

  3. brian says:

    Horror game makers are getting it all wrong, you don’t need deformed clowns with chainsaws or nurses without jaws, the most visually horrifying things i’ve ever seen all seem to be tory politicians photo’d mid speech. Seriously that image is nightmare inducing.

  4. TillEulenspiegel says:

    What was the game on the Apple IIe where you solved a screenful of multiplication problems (or as many as you could within the time limit), which then affected the sidescrolling fighter jet section you were allowed to briefly play?

    Personally, I think that’s a terrible way to do educational games. But maybe it’s best for a certain age group.

    • LionsPhil says:

      There were bunches and bunches of educational games for the 8-bit era, in particular the mighty Beeb, at varying degrees of good.

      I remember one in particular on the Atari 800 where you had to pick an odd-word-out or something along those lines which had been pluralised incorrectly. A train would then drive along that line, plowing through the word if correct, and crashing into it if wrong.

    • Danorz says:

      > POD JUMP
      > POD DANCE
      > POD SHIT

      (you all did it)

  5. Skystrider says:

    “that’s right sonny, this here’s a video game called Duke Nukem. It will teach you how to survive an alien invasion. It’ll show you how to treat women, beer and steroids too.”

    Yep, video games can teach a lot of useful things! :D

    • Lukasz says:

      That’s right sweety, this here’s a book called Lolita. It will teach you how adult men should treat you when you are older.

      yep, books can teach a lot of useful thing! :D

    • Alaric says:

      LOL, Lukasz! +1

  6. CaspianRoach says:

    He’s so cute when he’s kissing the camera :3

    • President Weasel says:

      He does look like Pob though… and Pob’s Program hasn’t been on telly for a while either. Hmmm

    • banski83 says:

      I read that as Pob’s Pogrom…

      Pob used to mildly disturb me, back in the easier early days of my life.

  7. Coins says:

    Games are actually useful for games. Way(way) back, there was this game which was actually fantastic for teaching young kids maths. I can’t remember what it’s called for the life of me, but it was so much better than most ‘educational’ games.

    • UnravThreads says:

      Discovery: Maths? That’s the game (series) I had when I was a whipper snapper.

    • Rane2k says:

      Maybe Math Blaster? A buddy of mine and I played that in 4th grade or so… on the same PC that we played DooM on. :-)

  8. misterk says:

    Michael Gove saying something vaguely sensible… world view… shaken….

  9. Ginger Yellow says:

    When children need to solve equations in order to get more ammo to shoot the aliens, it is amazing how quickly they can learn.

    Differential Equations of the Dead!

  10. Flobulon says:

    Oh my god, he does look like Pob. Why have I never noticed that before.
    Also: “He’s taken time off from shitting all over British education” – oh John, you rascal, you.

  11. Alfius says:

    In other news John Walker dislikes Tories, everyone surprised barring Rum Doings listeners.

    • ReV_VAdAUL says:

      johnpeat I understand and agree with your sentiment but it might be wise to think what you think, but say something different. Like when the Tories said the NHS was safe and that they wouldn’t cut front line services. If you can’t do that then the next best thing is to highlight you have a Tory relative, just as Cameron mentions how he had a disabled son in the same breath as how disabled people deserve their benefits to be cut.

      If you can’t do that then maybe the best course of action is to not say anything, like when the Tories omitted to mention that 20 000 families might be made homeless by their slash and burn reform of the benefits system.

    • Crimsoneer says:

      Yes, tories are fundamentally evil people. Every one of them likes killing kittens, as opposed to your political party of choice, which is filled with genuinely heart-warming people.

    • John Walker says:

      In the interests of balance, you should have heard what I said about that prick David Blunkett.

    • ReV_VAdAUL says:

      That’s a nice strawman crimsoneer. Do you deny the Tories are doing any of the things I mentioned? Do I have to support a different political party to highlight the Tories, who are in government, doing very unpleasant things?

      How about if I point out the flaws of other parties? Will my assertions be less strawman worthy?

      New Labour stealth privatised the NHS and other public services with PPPs and PFIs in a manner that racked up huge public debts that didn’t appear on the books. They also hugely eroded civil liberties in this country and squandered billions on two pointless wars. Among other things.

      The Lib Dem parliamentary party have merrily gone against their alleged core principles and the will of the national party in order to pursue power. Prominent Lib Dem MP David Laws committed massive fraud and then used the fact he is gay as an excuse, damaging the cause of gay rights in this country.

      The Greens believe in homeopathy and otherwise question scientific facts but then get really annoyed when people don’t accept the science behind global warming.

      UKIP’s euroskepticism would either leave our economy in tatters by taking us outside of the Eurozone tariffs (theres a reason foreign companies have factories in the UK) or at the very least lose us control of our economy by keeping us in the tariff zone but outside of the political process that controls it.

      The BNP is a fascist and racist organisation that is also absurdly corrupt, with Nick Griffin and his cronies having stolen huge amounts from the party treasury.

      So Crimsoneer, can you puzzle out how to strawman that? Maybe I’m a huge and unquestioning backer of the SNP or Plaid Cymru because I don’t know enough about them to criticise them? Who knows!

    • Crimsoneer says:

      Oh no, worry not, I can more than agree with you on pretty much 90% of what you said. I just get eternally frustrated with people referring to the tories as fundamentally meaner than everybody else, when in reality it’s just a massively flawed political system we live in.

      Not that I can come up with a particularly better alternative, other than dictatorship. Preferably by me.

    • Edgar the Peaceful says:

      I think we should have a pop at John Reid whilst we’re at it.

    • Alfius says:

      News Flash: John Walker in taking the piss out of blind man shocker. Does this represent a new low for the much loved video games pundit?

      Addendum: RPS readers in off topic one sided flame attack on Gove, coalition survives battering nonetheless.

  12. Wizardry says:

    In before statistics heavy turn-based RPGs are revived as educational games.

    • Premium User Badge

      Joshua says:

      Like that will ever happen. I see more in stratagy games where having a solid grasp of history will really be an advantage.

  13. Fede says:

    Marcus du Sautoy is awesome, I had a chance to see one of his lectures in Italy.

    • Deano2099 says:

      Yeah, I saw him do a bit at one of Robin Ince’s Lessons and Carols for Godless People nights last year. Great stuff.

  14. Mr_Initials says:

    But how does this help me get more ammo to destroy the alien menace?

  15. ReV_VAdAUL says:

    “In order to save money for the next bank bailout we need to make cuts to education, poors can make do with computer games.”

  16. Danny says:

    The picture really, really, does hurt my eyes. What an odious little man.

  17. Icarus says:

    DISREGARD THAT I suck. (and the irrational class hatred has since been stealth-baleeted so no need for my comment.)

  18. Ginger Yellow says:

    Of course, in the next version, Bioware will “streamline” the ammo system so that the equations are already solved.

  19. TheApologist says:

    Given his utter contempt for decades of educational and social research evidence in his policy making, all this means is someone waved a gimmick under his nose that might make maths scores go up in international tests. Nothing wrong with kids getting slightly better scores in a maths test, but no one should think Gove is anything other the dangerous, manipulative, irrational reactionary he was before before this speech.

    • Jamesworkshop says:

      Yes, I’m sure he was making a tactical political desicion to ingratiate himself to RPS readers.

    • TheApologist says:

      Well, that’s just being a bit silly. Effects are not the same as intentions, and nothing I said in any way implies that Gove himself gives a shit about, or even recognises the existence of, ‘gamers’ and certainly not subsets of that group such as ‘RPS readers’.

      Edit: the potential effect anticipated in my comment being readers of this article interpreting it to suggest that Gove is in some way not a raving ideologue

  20. clive dunn says:

    Can we please stop beating around the bush people. He’s a CUNT. There i’ve said it.

  21. Crimsoneer says:

    It still shocks me as to why people still have this image of the tories as “the nasty party”. Because everybody else are such saints.

    • John Walker says:

      The old man who lives opposite me is incredibly rude and unpleasant. That doesn’t make Josef Mengele a better person to hang out with.

  22. Monchberter says:

    It still doesn’t make him any less than an utter c***.


    • John Walker says:

      You kept mistyping “cunt”.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      No, he clearly meant C***. Under the new exam marking system, like A* but with a finer granularity.

      Unfortunately, under the new marking scheme, only 1% of the population actually get less than a A******.

    • phlebas says:

      Sixteen of them is quite impressive though. Does it include General Studies?

  23. DrugCrazed says:

    Come on Govey, do it for us Govey

    #nowShowReference #iCamelCaseMyHashTags #hashTaggingOutOfTwitter

    • Malibu Stacey says:


      I don’t know which I hate more, that or people replying with fucking @ all the fucking time even on forums where there’s a button labelled “quote” or “reply” which does all the hard work of making it obvious who you’re replying to pretty fucking obvious unless you’re a complete moron.

      @fuck off with “twitterisms”

      Oh and don’t get me started on people using “txt speak” on the internet.

  24. plasmaman says:

    He is indeed a complete twat, but I do agree- one of my friends is a history teacher and uses video games to teach the kids about famous battles (I think he uses Total War)… They enjoy it and pick more up than they would if he were just talking about it.

    • JB says:

      I believe there are some schools stateside that use Making History, too. Sounds like a plan to me.

  25. Carra says:

    Let them all play Spacechem and we’ll have plenty of geniuses.

  26. Tams80 says:

    That website. Well what can I say… errrr… yeah.

  27. Edgar the Peaceful says:

    Can I call him a Wanker?

  28. Icarus says:

    To pop back in and be constructive for a moment, Assassin’s Creed 2 has quite a bit of genuine history in it if you check the database entries on characters, places and buildings. Granted it’s Wikipedia-skimming history, but still. Quite a bit of it is interesting.

    • MajorManiac says:

      I think the danger with that, is Assassin’s Creed 2 mixes commonly believed historical fact with fiction.

      It’d be like learning history watching Hollywood movies.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      The majority of my knowledge of history comes from playing games like the Civilization & Total War series but that probably says more about the curriculum in first & second year history when I was at school than anything else.

  29. Eukatheude says:

    Because learning is fun!

  30. Bullfrog says:

    Gove is also a fan of Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer, who’d have thunk it.