Media and Information Literacy Joins Games for Learning

13/11/2019
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UNESCO organizes a Media and Information Literacy (MIL) Games Bar during the 40th Session of the UNESCO General Conference, with the generous support of Samsung and the UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (MGIEP), and in partnership with the Government of Finland, the Government of India, and Hatch. The Games Bar was officially opened on 12 November 2019 and will be ongoing until 22 November 2019. It is taking place at Hall Ségur of the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.

A Media and Information Literacy (MIL) Games Bar is organized as an integral part of the exhibition of the 40th Session of the UNESCO General Conference. Taking place at the UNESCO Headquarters, the Games Bar provides a space for people to play a series of digital games related to MIL and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), on a set of mobile devices, virtual reality headsets, and computers.

On 12 November 2019, the first day of the General Conference, the Games Bar was opened by Moez Chakchouk, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, Linda Liukas (Finland), Finnish children book author, Sophia Hamadi (France), youth representative on MIL, and Robin Sharma (India), gaming curriculum developer at the UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Institute for Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (MGIEP).

The strong link between MIL and games can be easily demonstrated. “We must recognize that most game-based learning is not happening in controlled environments like a classroom. It is taking place independently online and through digital mobile devices.  In this environment, there are risks of game design promoting addiction, and there are also risks of games being intended to foster hatred, violence and aggression, rather than peaceful competition and co-operation…”, Moez Chakchouk highlighted at the opening ceremony, “people’s learning experience through games can be significantly enhanced if they have skills to reflect critically on their gaming experiences”, he continued. Mr Chakchouk’s full speech can be accessed here.

Ms Linda Liukas compared MIL to a box that encompasses a great variety of components but often remains closed. One mission of MIL practitioners like herself is to open the box, present the magnitude and power of MIL, and disseminate it from different angles for the empowerment of people everywhere.

A youth representative from the Sorbonne Nouvelle University, Ms Sophia Hamadi stressed the importance of MIL learning for youth. She also presented “Agent 001”, a game developed in the framework of her project aiming to counter online hate speech and disinformation, as a good practice of MIL-integrated game.

Games are an important part of citizens’ social activities. We learn and interact with others through play. Technological growth has transformed traditional games and educational games. Today, people, especially youth, spend a significant amount time playing digital games.

For us to interact effectively with digital games, we need to be aware of how we are affected positively or negatively by visual elements, messages, and general information transmitted to us. This awareness and understanding forms part of UNESCO’s work for MIL.

In line with the overarching theme of the exhibition – “(Re)generation”, the various games at the Games Bar were mainly selected from youth-led game companies based in Argentina, Finland, France, and India. They were developed with an aim to equip players with MIL for critical thinking as well as social and emotional competencies, familiarize them with the SDGs, and further foster tolerance, dialogue and peace.

Participants of the General Conference and others are invited to immerse themselves and enjoy these games, to improve their skills to detect disinformation, counter gender stereotypes, protect their online privacy, know more about climate change, migration, and health information, and build empathy and compassion.

The Games Bar takes place from 12 to 22 November 2019, at Hall Ségur of the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. It is co-organized and co-financed by UNESCO, Samsung and MGIEP, in partnership with the Government of Finland, the Government of India, and Hatch.

The Games Bar is connected to a Ministerial Roundtable entitled “Media and Information Literacy and Games in the Digital World”, which will be held on 14 November at 1:00 p.m., in Room XII of the UNESCO Headquarters.

Both the Games Bar and the Ministerial Roundtable are open to the public. Interested stakeholders can register here to attend. For more information, contact Alton Grizzle (a.grizzle@unesco.org) or Xu Jing (ji.xu@unesco.org).