You are thinking of something else. Scratch is free and open source. It's very accessible for newbies. A good path for a group is to start with Scratch, where you can make a little arcade game in an afternoon without any prior programming experience. Then some kids can move to more advanced platforms, like Pygame, but some will be happy to stay with Scratch for a while, in my experience.
Replacing teaching and learning functions of schools with computer tools is easier than replacing babysitting functions with computer tools.
There are studies confirming that people with emotional problems are more predisposed to play some types of games. Moreover, video games can be therapeutic, helping players cope with their problems, especially where other support isn't available.
Piaget published his first paper, also on biology, at ten. He could not get into the local scientific library without being a scholar. He asked what it takes, and the librarian said "a publication" - so he did just that.
I wonder if his early problems led him to study what children are capable of later. Ironically, his developmental theories were often misinterpreted to mean that children should be restricted from some studies, especially in mathematics. There are some videos of Piaget yelling at people for that, at conferences. He has fun studies on toddlers doing proportional reasoning and what not.
How did schools get into this conversation on learning?
Speak for yourself, please. I find both funny. There are among (very few) things I read as soon as they update, checking several times a day. At any given time, there are probably several printouts of each pinned around my house.
What Garridan said about symbolic manipulation and rock-solid algebra is probably true about the majority of current calculus courses. However, I like to take a different approach to calculus. You start with general ideas explored somewhat qualitatively. The ideas include limits, series, convergence, and manipulating "infinities of different sizes." Once the ideas are in place, you gradually fill in the computational apparatus for them.
I do this with kids in Math Clubs, and they can be as young as six when we start. You can find parent descriptions of some of our meetings at the Natural Math email group: http://groups.google.com/group/naturalmath/topics There is also a good book about this approach, called "Calculus by and for young people" by Don Cohen: http://www.mathman.biz/html/chapters.html If this approach makes sense to you, consider getting Don's book from the library.
Are you claiming all ROLEPLAYING activities are not games? In this case, your definitions are not widely shared.
There are many classes of games that don't involve losing, and some that don't involve winning either. Cooperative games, roleplaying games, artistic games are some examples of genres that don't involve winning or losing.
EVE does have instances (for solo), or at least it had something similar back when I played. Also, EVE can't accommodate ten million people on one server. Maybe some years down the road, with some technology advances (cloud computing?) and significant game redesign, it may somehow become possible... But not yet.
Different people focus on different aspects of the game as large as WoW. I believe your experiences are valid - within the set of playing activities you experience yourself. Please don't over-generalize it to everybody, though. PvE and RP servers (or players) won't be affected as much, because world PvP has never been a big part of their gaming. Guilds raiding progression content will still raid together, because it takes consistent grouping - and their realm-specific social networks will stay within realms because of it. Arena teams, as well, are realm-based. Wintergrasp is a rather popular, successful way to make outdoors PvP meaningful and concentrated in time and space, and it won't get any worse.
The only minus I see for my style of playing is the inability to form Friends list cross-realm and to chat with friends from other realms. I usually add to my Friends list from groups I pick up. I hope Blizzard implements these options soon. They already made a step toward it with cross-realm Ignore list.
How can people call something that works "not viable"? What is wrong with getting support from people who like you and your work, directly? As you said in your last sentence, it would work for almost ANY endeavor.
Well, there are certain mayhem and killing urges in young men, probably biologically mandated - even best and brightest engage in such activities. One may argue that we are better off if such urges are channeled into fake worlds, rather than bringing death to real people and destroying real constructions and nature.
It is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT for game mechanics to be intrinsically connected to the content. "Solve an exercise, reload a gun" demotivates the content of exercises, because they are seen as obstacles to some (other) prize. It takes a bit more thought to figure out how to make your content a necessary part of the game play, but it's worth it.
For a good math example in particular, try Zoombinis.
This is a scary slippery slope. After some nasty atrocities, major international conventions now protect the rights of individuals to decline medical procedures.
As for scientific evidence, huge monetary conflicts of interests tend to erode people's trust. Can you blame people for that? Take the story of thimerosal (thiomersal). Even after it was officially prohibited in baby vaccines, the old ones were not recalled. How can one read this? If it's safe, why prohibit it? If it's not safe, why not recall it? Stories like that undermine the trust.