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Fun & Serious Chronicles: Ian Livingstone

When a speaker takes the stage and in his first five minutes he is able to show a photo of himself with Gary Gygax or Steve Jackson (among others), you know that you are living a special opportunity to listen new ideas and insights.

If the speaker is also called "Livingstone" and if, at the year you were born, he was opening a store called Games Workshop (does this clues ring a bell somewhere in your brain?). Or if, while you were "living la vida loca" (more or less), his name was attached to projects like Dungeons & Dragons, Fighting Fantasy Books or Tomb Raider, you should be sure that you can spent the rest of the presentation applauding to the speaker and the time would be worth it. Because he deserves it.

Last week, I was lucky enough to share stage with Ian Livingstone at the Fun & Serious Festival Bilbao, and watch him exposing (with that British-ness mixture of seriousness and fun, honoring the name of the festival) about games and why we should embrace them in all areas of our life as a natural way to learn, freeing them from obsolete prejudices that keep them relegated to certain ages or enclosed to some areas (the more distant from educational and industrial world, the better).

Let's use the "informal" learning in "formal" areas!
In the brief conversation that I could share with him at lunch (excellent organization of the event, excellent attention at the restaurant and excellent food, by the way) the most fascinating thing was that his arguments convince you the same way a game does: he doesn't use his experience or past successes for lecturing on how games should be used (even if he could :P). Only few minutes of conversation with him shows you the world of possibilities behind his ideas, and those words make you eager to taste that "not-so-far-in-the-future gameworld" were games are a respected way to learn. And those insights invite you to expand his ideas with your own, to contribute... and finally to draw conclusions from the experience. 

Who said "Show, don't tell"?

In his presentation, Mr. Livingstone invited us to regain confidence in our students, to redesign our schools (and I may add : our jobs) as a place to do "the fun stuff", to strengthen the processes of social learning,  to enhance the autonomy of learners... to blur the role between "content provider" and "content receiver".

Games as an "innate" way to gain skills
It wasn't the first time I had heard those ideas. But the difference is that, with his projects and his presentations, Ian Livingstone is acting as a catalyst, facilitating an upgraded educational paradigm where playful criteria could have one important place besides the efficiency criteria .

Ian Livingstone could be doing this simply because he can be an influencer on his own by their experience and former successes. But the best thing is that I suspect that he shares those ideas maybe because he cares. And because he believes in them.

On behalf of everyone of us "believers": Thanks for inspiring us, Mr. Livingstone.