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Educating kids with video games - a laudable, but doomed, id

Last response: in Video Games
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August 1, 2006 5:16:41 PM

Didn't see an official thread for this. Good article.

But did anyone else ever use some of the old Apple2 learning games growing up? I did at school. There was one where you had to like spell words right or a monster would come eat you or something. Your character was a frog and you had to like jump to the right spelling or something. Was a great game for a kid growing up and made learning fun. Granted this was in the day when Super Nintendo was the best thing out there. We didn't have graphics powerhouses like Xbox360 or dual core PCs with 4GB of RAM and SLI/Crossfire.
August 1, 2006 9:08:39 PM

Link to the article in question:

http://www.tgdaily.com/2006/08/01/opinion_educational_games/

I managed to actually miss this thread, and posted my own, though I've deleted it now.

At any rate, I must warn that at the bottom of the article, it notes that it was originally posted on Fringe Drinking, the TwitchGuru blog. (Fringe Drinking Link)

However, through a typo, the link actually leads to bogspot, not blogspot, and hence isn't terribly helpful.

At any rate, I must applaud Aaron on echoing the exact same sentiments that I've held for years; I grew up during the main original "rush" of making education games, starting with Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? to Number Munchers to Mario is Missing!. Titles were hit-and-miss; like today, most makers hadn't quite gotten what it was that made them good. The last of those three titles was absolutely abominable; it was poorly made, and felt like a cheap, amateur Mario-clone with some rather poorly done geography factoids tossed in.

What was not understood is that games, unlike, say, books, are one of the "highest," as in most complex and compound, forms of expression; (note: this does not intone which is "superior") while books are effectively a compilation of text, and possibly diagrams, illustrations, etc., it remains a simple, static visual input. Games, on the other hand, combine art, science, and math in extreme degrees to produce a form of expression that covers multiple senses, and is interactive.

Hence, while you can learn facts from a book, as they fit the format well, you need a different approach for learning in a game; as games are an application of art, science, and math, it only makes sense that learning come through application of the knowedge and skills it attempts to teach. Aaron mentions the possibility of making an educational The Sims, but he neglected to mention that Will Wright's whole trip into fame began with Sim City, that was nothing if not educational; to play well, the game's player needed to learn and understand the processes at work in the public sector at a local level, from economic growth and balance, infrastructure design and maintanence, fiscal management, and desaster preparedness; all of these are at work in real cities, and here it was the knowledge that was the key to actually "winning."

I've found numerous titles of a similar vein; somewhere on the Internet, for instance, I found a "nuclear reactor simulator." It presents the user with control of a nuclear power plant, and charges them to man the controls through the simulated life cycle of a reactor. To sucessfuly produce a good quantity of electricity from the plant, the player had to learn how the whole process of a nuclear plant works, (which was taught by the game) and apply the knowledge to what they did.

Quote:
Didn't see an official thread for this. Good article.

But did anyone else ever use some of the old Apple2 learning games growing up? I did at school. There was one where you had to like spell words right or a monster would come eat you or something. Your character was a frog and you had to like jump to the right spelling or something. Was a great game for a kid growing up and made learning fun. Granted this was in the day when Super Nintendo was the best thing out there. We didn't have graphics powerhouses like Xbox360 or dual core PCs with 4GB of RAM and SLI/Crossfire.

You mean WordMunchers? That game went between words and letters. However, the real one I remember was NumberMunchers.

The real problem with "educational games" is that many people think that it means that they should have both education and entertainment. As the article correctly pointed out, the way it should be to actually WORK is for it to be both at the same time; NumberMunchers and WordMunchers is an excellent example of that; it is indeed a game, with controls that work, and graphics and sound that fit; it offered serious gameplay, to avoid the monsters, (as well as different monsters, and their patterns, to recognize) but it also involved actual education at the exact same time, as that determined what moves you should go for.
August 2, 2006 11:09:54 PM

...stupid, goddamn piece of... right, the TwitchGuru bog can be found here.

Sheesh, everyone has been agreeing with me these past two weeks. I'm gonna go light a cute kitten on fire and then piss on it, this is creeping me out.
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Anonymous
August 3, 2006 4:15:45 PM

Quote:
...stupid, goddamn piece of... right, the TwitchGuru bog can be found here.

Sheesh, everyone has been agreeing with me these past two weeks. I'm gonna go light a cute kitten on fire and then piss on it, this is creeping me out.


Wowey aaron; calma compagnero! Is it that bad? 8O
August 4, 2006 11:03:35 AM

Wait, no, some abusive feedback just got sent to me. All is well.
Anonymous
August 4, 2006 1:46:17 PM

Don't you get accustomed to abusive feedback over time?
August 4, 2006 3:37:47 PM

Quote:
Don't you get accustomed to abusive feedback over time?

I get hooked on it, that's the point :wink:
!