President Barack Obama recently hosted a “Fireside Hangout”, a Google hangout that follows the tradition of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “Fireside Chats” over the radio. The only difference between FDR’s fireside chats and Obama’s fireside hangout, is that people can ask Obama questions, which makes it more like a chat than the original fireside chat. Of course, Google had hand picked the people who would actually be chatting with the president, but notable names in the chat included New York Times bestselling author John Green.
One of the questions that popped up during the fireside hangout came from a pink haired entrepreneur that asked about getting high schools to add programming languages. He mentioned that he had talked to Mark Zuckerburg a couple years back, and that Zuckerburg had told the president that he was encouraged to pursue programming through his interest in video gaming at around 28:00 in the video:
“Look at Mark Zuckerberg. I was sitting next to him at dinner a couple of years ago, and he said he taught himself programming primarily because he was interested in games. If we set programs in high schools that engage kids because they get it, they won’t be just sitting there slouching in back of rooms while someone is lecturing.
Given how pervasive computers and the internet is now, how integral it is in our economy, and how fascinated kids are with it, I want to make sure they actually know how to produce stuff and not simply consume stuff.”
It’s only a small mention from a bigger answer, but it seems like gamers are seeing this as some support from the executive branch of the United States, especially from a president who’s much more tech-savy than his predecessors. However, I can’t help but feel a little skeptical. Just one small mention of gaming from the president isn’t enough to say that he supports the video game industry. Yes, there’ll be arguments about context and what not, but I think we need something a bit more solid than a small mention like that. On the other hand, Obama goes on to say that he would support technology education in schools, and that he would like to see more tech education such as programming and the like to be introduced in high schools. This is great news for aspiring programmers in any kind of field, not just gaming. While it’s nice to think the president is on the gamers’ side, we’re just going to have to wait to see how this will pan out in the long run.