Last Wednesday, former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor gave the keynote speech at the annual Games for Change convention at the Parsons The New School For Design in New York City. In her speech, O'Connor announced her project Our Courts, which she is developing with Arizona State University (ASU) and Georgetown University Law Center. For the project, O'Connor is collaborating with James Gee, a professor at ASU, to design an online game that teaches students civic lessons about the American judiciary.
Justice O'Connor got involved in part because of the potential she sees for online tools to promote youth participation in political life. According to Wired:
O'Connor said that she is "encouraged" to see young people becoming involved in political campaigns through the net. "E-mailing, blogging, networking on Facebook -- they can take leadership, make their voices heard through tools that belong to their generation. We need to give them ownership to allow them to interact with the material," she said.
The first game is designed to foster discussion on the First Amendment and will feature high school students who want to wear a T-shirt bearing a provocative message. While O'Connor did not provide more specifics, she did state that the multiplayer game would simulate the different arguments presented in a courtroom. According to the New York Times, Justice O'Connor indicated that the game will involve the players "arguing real issues, real legal issues, against the computer and against each other." Kudos to O'Connor for leveraging the online world to teach lessons about the American legal system.