As the result of his research of the brain’s bases of emotion, Richard Davidson, the William James and Vilas Research Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, has called on manufacturers of video games “to develop games that emphasize kindness and compassion instead of violence and aggression. According to the Science Daily article, “Educational Games to Train Middle Schoolers’ Attention, Empathy,” Richardson has received a $1.39 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to take advantage of the fact that most middle schoolers spend much of their leisure time on smartphone apps, video games, and computer games.
Richardson plans to enhance players’ mindfulness and kindness skills—two important college-readiness skills. Davidson believes, “Mindfulness, because it cultivates the capacity to regulate attention, which is the building block for all kinds of learning; and kindness, because the ability to cooperate is important for everything that has to do with success in life, team-building, leadership, and so forth.”
The first phase of his project is to design two kinds of games. “One will focus on improving attention and mental focus, likely through breath awareness…The second game will focus on social behaviors such as kindness, compassion, and altruism.” Further research will determine if the games will change players’ behaviors and ultimately their academic performance.