I had the genuine pleasure of 2 days at the Games-based Learning 2009 conference in London last week. I emphasize ‘pleasure’ as so many conferences of late have lacked that quality. ‘Perfunctionary’, ‘efficient’, ‘well-organised’ they have been but  ‘passionate’, dominated by ‘heated debate’, and ‘thought-provoking’ they are rarely. GBL 09 was different. Yes, the usual suspects were there – Jim, Kam, Graham and Chris – but it was refreshing to see 300 new faces and to find myself in abstract discussions with teachers, programmers, translators, academics, politicians and all manner of people whom I had not met before.

For a while it felt like a Serious Games Summit from 5 years ago (“Are games useful for learning?”), and yes, there was quite an initial concentration upon using COTS games for schools but the topics changed and the audience sure stirred things up.

The Twitter streams were very busy and this was, I confess, the moment I first really ‘got Twitter’ (#gamebl)

Highlights for me were seeing Nolan Bushnell in the flesh (even if the message was hard to agree with), Tom Watson, UK government Minister (you get my vote!) and “the legend that is” Derek Robertson of LTS Scotland.

So, great conversation, very slick event, great location, fantastic turnout, interesting applications on show and all round positive buzz.

Thanks go to Graham Brown-Martin at Learning Without Frontiers.