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Educational Math-Based FPS Ignites Protest

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 47 comments
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Parents are protesting against an educational PC game funded by the Department of Defense.

Currently Albuquerque, New Mexico parents are in an uproar over a PC game designed to teach math to students at Madison Middle School--one of three Albuquerque Public Schools that's using the high-action PC game which is fully-funded by a grant from the Department of Defense.

According to the school's science department head Gary Bodman, the game--DimensionM (multiplayer) from Tabula Digita-- is "something that [is] just like a 21-century flash card," covering math subjects ranging from basic properties to algebra.

Doesn't sound harmful, right? After all, it's backed by the government. It's also not designed to replace the teacher, but rather to reinforce what the students have already learned in class. They get to use jetpacks, shoot a green goo gun (ripped from UT series), and endure plenty of math-charged action that is apparently doing the trick.

But local Albuquerque parents don't see it that way. They're complaining about the game's action-oriented content, and are starting a crusade to get it banned from the schools.

"We are feeding the addiction of these children to video games," said one parent. "They were all excited … because of the violence."

One comment from a student could be a prime example of the parents' concern. "I don't like to leave," the student said. "If I could have a choice to play this night and day, all summer, I would play it every day." On the other hand, the student also said that he had no idea what prime numbers were until he got a chance to play DimensionM.

"What the recall is, is not the prime number they were talking about, but rather getting through to the enemy," the same parent retaliated.

Despite recent protests, DimensionM has been around for many years, played by students all across the nation. There are even large-scale tournaments where students get together and battle it out in the name of math. Starting a crusade against the game may be a little moot at this point.

"Anything we can do to meet the kids on their own grounds and educate them is to our advantage," Bodman added. Interested parents and educators can download a demo that is playable on the Internet.

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  • 47 Hide
    bearracuda , June 8, 2010 11:15 PM
    Without DimensionM:
    "I love recess mom, I got to hit timmy with a stick!"
    "That's nice dear."

    With DimensionM:
    "I love school, mom, I know prime numbers now, and I got to shoot a goop gun in the computer!"
    "THOSE MONSTERS! HOW DARE THEY CORRUPT MY CHILD!?"
  • 31 Hide
    sliem , June 8, 2010 11:13 PM
    Parents don't know what they want let alone what their kids' wants.
  • 27 Hide
    jomofro39 , June 8, 2010 11:12 PM
    This is sad. Poor children. Keep them on lock-down now and they will rebel in the future.
Other Comments
  • 27 Hide
    jomofro39 , June 8, 2010 11:12 PM
    This is sad. Poor children. Keep them on lock-down now and they will rebel in the future.
  • 31 Hide
    sliem , June 8, 2010 11:13 PM
    Parents don't know what they want let alone what their kids' wants.
  • 47 Hide
    bearracuda , June 8, 2010 11:15 PM
    Without DimensionM:
    "I love recess mom, I got to hit timmy with a stick!"
    "That's nice dear."

    With DimensionM:
    "I love school, mom, I know prime numbers now, and I got to shoot a goop gun in the computer!"
    "THOSE MONSTERS! HOW DARE THEY CORRUPT MY CHILD!?"
  • 13 Hide
    jacobdrj , June 8, 2010 11:15 PM
    We all know that the DoD is just programming sleeper agents for future use in the US' battles with the un-free world... Project Christmas...
  • 22 Hide
    jacobdrj , June 8, 2010 11:21 PM
    I had an 3rd person, umm, eater(?) when I was in school. NUMBER MUNCHER FOREVER!!!

    Man that used to get competitive: Who competed for computer time, who competed for score etc...

    I have fond memory of those 8-colored Texas Instruments cartridge-based computers... Good times...
  • 19 Hide
    Glorian , June 8, 2010 11:22 PM
    God forbid these parents actually practice discipline in their homes and monitor their game playing or habits. The school actually does something the students like and these parents want to all over it. Hell instead of modernizing education lets keep it old school and bring back the paddle!
  • 23 Hide
    beckstrom12 , June 8, 2010 11:23 PM
    If I had a FPS to learn math in middle school I believe whole heartedly I would've scored higher on test and also it would reinforce what I learned.
  • 10 Hide
    CoryInJapan , June 8, 2010 11:23 PM
    Man, if its getting kids this enthusiastic about learning.Im all for it.I see no harm in it as long as they Keep PE in school and the importance of a healthy body.

    Wish they would have had this in my days in elementary/jr.high.

  • 25 Hide
    jaysbob , June 8, 2010 11:37 PM
    I agree with the parents, math related violence is really tearing our society apart!
  • 11 Hide
    Strider-Hiryu_79 , June 8, 2010 11:48 PM
    Love the old fogies who love to blame video games for all of life's problems.

    Bless your frail hearts.

  • 9 Hide
    thedreadfather , June 8, 2010 11:52 PM
    So the school district targets an aspect of these kids lives that they consider fun and entertaining and exploiting it for educational purposes to create a fun and educational game, the school district has managed to tick off parents? This school finally has figured out how to hype up kids up for middle school and learning (not easy, I believe) only to be shot down by a small group of ignorant parents. Disgusting.

    What the hell is wrong with these parents? The kids are not killing based on the story (OH NO! NOT THE GOOP SHOOTER THAT ONLY RUNS OFF BASIC MATH OPERATIONS! IT'LL RUIN MY HAIR AND HELP YOU LEARN! THE HORROR!). The kid even said he had no idea what prime numbers were before he played the game. Go take your wasted effort and apply it for stuff that really matters, like suicide or teen pregnancy.

    Just another case of one (or a few, there was no mention of how many parents) person ruining all the fun (and education) for everybody else. I guarantee that these parents have wondered/said: "You don't know X? What the hell is wrong with our educational system?"
  • 6 Hide
    gm0n3y , June 8, 2010 11:53 PM
    As long as the game is truly educational then how is this harmful?
  • 6 Hide
    Assmar , June 9, 2010 12:00 AM
    Math is the enemy, we must shoot it in the face like we would a nazi, or a dinosaur, or a nazi-dinosaur.

    But way back in the day when it was first introduced to the west, Algebra itself was regarded as useless abstract number games, until scholars learned how to properly apply it to the real world.
  • 11 Hide
    spunkymunky , June 9, 2010 12:05 AM
    Violent video games are only a problem if parents can't teach their children the difference between reality and play. I for one support learning through video games. FPS require full attention so mixing scholastic learning with it should mean higher retention rate faster.
  • 3 Hide
    omikron48 , June 9, 2010 12:44 AM
    When I read that the DOD was backing it, I was imagining kids being taught math by computing firing solutions for projectiles. LOL

    Not a bad idea too, since it involves, physics and trigonometry. Maybe a potential training tool for high school or maybe early college students. Kinda like what billiards is to engineers.
  • 6 Hide
    v1ze , June 9, 2010 1:16 AM
    These parents just want attention. I wish the media would stop giving it to them.
  • 1 Hide
    tharkis842 , June 9, 2010 1:36 AM
    Oh my god..are you fu**ing serious!? These parents should be grateful, their kids would probably be off playing GTA4 or GOW otherwise, atleast with this game they're learning valuable math skills. The teaching "games" i used in school were terrible, they made me want to skip class. I'd have payed more attention if they were more robust like this program seems to be.
  • 2 Hide
    falchard , June 9, 2010 1:45 AM
    Dungeons and Dragons is still the best tool to supplement math and english for elementary and middle schoolers.
  • 1 Hide
    beckstrom12 , June 9, 2010 2:08 AM
    Sorry one more comment. Games and school bring me back to memories, in high school I played drug wars all during math, if parents only knew what was on their own kids calculators.
  • 1 Hide
    lightbulbsocket , June 9, 2010 2:57 AM
    I think there's a much more important question that needs to be asked here. Why aren't today's youth being given the opportunity to have themselves and several of their inappropriately named friends hunt bears, ford rivers, and die of dysentery along the Oregon Trail? That's the real tragedy here.
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