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Posts Tagged ‘game’

  1. Video Game Level Design Reflects Challenges in Education

    May 5, 2011 by Josh Caldwell

    Thanks to my PLN, I scan through a ton of education articles every day, parsing much more information than I could hope to encounter on my own. Sometimes, though, the best finds come when pursuing my other interests. Sometimes I just can’t help but view everything in my life through my teacher-glasses.

    Case in point, Shaun Inman’s post about video game level design.

    Good level design coaxes a player into first discovering then utilizing their abilities in a variety of situations. It requires balancing revelation and repetition.

    Mentally I replace “level” with “course” and “player” with “student” – all of the sudden I’m back to thinking about my students (how do they get into my head like that???).

    Shaun goes on to discuss the process of introducing and reinforcing basic skills and game parameters before presenting the player with tasks that require more sophisticated interactions. So, by gradually introducing new obstacles, players (students) are allowed to experience successful mastery of a skill before moving on to another. Then, just as players master the core skills, they’ve got to discover how those skills interact with other game elements. All of these building blocks have to be mastered and reinforced before a player can beat the game. You fail to master a skill, you don’t move on, you don’t win. The game doesn’t keep going without you, instead it ask you to practice until you’re reading to progress – at your own pace.

    What does this approach reveal about the learning aspect of games? Game design necessitates a balance of success and challenge; games that are near-impossible to succeed are no fun (except to the die-hards) and games that are too easy provide no engaging challenge. You can’t think about the final goal without deeply considering how to build in the frequent, achievable-yet-challenging goals that take you there.

    The message to educators – we need to spend more time on the level design. We need to teach players to run, jump, and shoot before we toss them at the final boss. We need to allow players to discover the parameters, reinforce skills, and make their own way through the levels. We can’t force a student a student onto level 2 when they haven’t mastered the skills to beat level 1.

    The article ends with some questions that will be very familiar to educators.

    How long should each level be? With what frequency do I introduce new concepts and threats? At what stage do single threat introductory screens become patronizing rather than educational? Repetition is necessary for learning but at what point does the lesson become too repetitive?

    I have a feeling that trial and error is the name of the game from this point on and a hope that experience will eventually start answering those questions before the handwringing sets in.


  2. MIT’s “Vanished” Game Asks Middle Schoolers to Be Scientists

    April 25, 2011 by Josh Caldwell


    Saw this pop through on Twitter and I knew it needed a little more than just a RT. MIT has created an interactive game that combines science, anthropology, and mystery to get middle school students engaged in scientific problem-solving and critical-analysis.

    “Vanished” is a two-month-long game, which debuted the week of April 4 and stems from an initial scenario revealed in recent video messages on the site. The premise is that people living in the future have contacted us in the present, to answer a question: What event occurred between our time and theirs that led to the loss of civilization’s historical records? Students must decode clues in hidden messages, and in response find and provide information about Earth’s current condition, such as temperature and species data, to help people in the future deduce what wound up happening.

    I kinda want to play this myself – I just hope this is the first of many such realtime games from MIT (how about something I can use in my LA classes, please).

    [via MIT]

  3. Education Should Be More Like Video Games

    April 14, 2011 by Josh Caldwell

    Achievement Unlocked

    Differentiated instruction, intrinsic motivation, meaningful rewards, achievable challenges, corrective feedback – sounds like a laundry list of traits associated with Good Teaching. It also sounds a whole lot like video games. Neurologist Judy Willis makes that case that video games can be not only powerful learning tools, but also a model for classroom instruction.

    Video games with levels of play allow the player to progress quickly through early levels if the gamer already has the skill needed. Gamers reportedly make errors 80% of the time, but the most compelling games give hints, cues, and other feedback so players’ brains have enough expectation of dopamine reward to persevere.

    Try, fail, learn through feedback, succeed, achieve reward. So why are kids willing to persevere through a challenging game, but not through a challenging school assignment?

    Good games give players opportunities for experiencing intrinsic reward at frequent intervals, when they apply the effort and practice the specific skills they need to get to the next level. The games do not require mastery of all tasks and the completion of the whole game before giving the brain the feedback for dopamine boosts of satisfaction.

    Who has the time to provide the kind of constant, and automated, feedback and reward we get from video games? Willis suggests individual goal setting based on incremental level progression.

    Free bar graphs downloaded from the Internet can be filled in by students as they record and see evidence of their incremental goal progress. In contrast to the system of recognition delayed until a final product is completed, graphing reveals the incremental progress evidence throughout the learning process.

    Forget gold stars, I think I’ll start providing Xbox Live style Achievements…

    [via Edutopia]

  4. Really Good News About Your Kid’s Video Games

    January 20, 2010 by David

    Article from Marc Prensky about our student’s “Digital Native” brains and how our “Digital Immigrant” ways might be slowing them down. Kids learn quite a lot from video games whether they know it or not (see “Ninja Instruction”).

    Best quote from the article:

    video games are not the enemy, but the best opportunity we have to engage our kids in real learning

    Why fight it? Video games have been around for a while and will only grow bigger.

    [Image from TheCurrentGamer]

  5. Investigating the Impact of Video Games on High School Students’ Engagement and Learning about Genetics

    January 20, 2010 by David

    That’s quite a title. But look! Someone’s doing actual research on video games and their impact on students!

    From the abstract:

    This quasi-experimental study evaluated a teacher created video game on genetics in terms of its affective and cognitive impact on student users. While statistical results indicated no differences (p greater than 0.05) in student learning as measured by our instrument, there were significant differences (p less than 0.05) found in the participants’ level of engagement while interfacing with the video game.

    There’s more if you want to pay for the article from ERIC.

  6. Sesame Street video games are back!

    January 20, 2010 by David

    What happens when you grow up playing video games? Well, for one you think of them as just another part of your life and secondly, if you start having kids you probably make video games that your little ones will enjoy.
    From ABC News:

    “There’s a big open hole in the market,” said Russell Arons, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment senior vice president of marketing. “This is the first generation of parents who grew up as gamers. Unlike prior generations where people weren’t sure of the value of video games, these are people who know there’s value and fun for the whole family.”

    So maybe all it’s going to take for more big name educational video games to be made is for gamers to grow up and have kids.

    [Article on ABC]

    [Image from Family-123]

  7. Lure of the Labyrinth

    January 10, 2010 by David

    Lure of the Labyrinth
    Lure of the Labyrinth

    Kids need help with proportions, variables & equations, or numbers and operations? Try Lure of the Labyrinth. Play the game where your pet has disappeared and you’re in a world full of monsters trying to rescue it or skip straight to the puzzles.

    Lure of the Labyrinth is a digital game for middle-school pre-algebra students. It includes a wealth of intriguing math-based puzzles wrapped into an exciting narrative game in which students work to find their lost pet – and save the world from monsters! Linked to both national and state mathematics standards, the game gives students a chance to actually think like mathematicians.

    Put out by a group at MIT you know that this material is no slouch. There’s even a professional development video for prealgebra teachers. It is also a flash game so no download needed!

    Lure of the Labyrinth

  8. Cogs: A Steampunk Puzzle Game

    January 10, 2010 by David

    You know those maddening puzzles where the puzzle is made up of tiles the same size but there is one missing so you can rearrange the tiles in order to put everything back the right way? Well, what if the answer to the puzzle wasn’t obvious since it didn’t show a picture when it was finished but you had to figure out how to power certain items by attaching cogs in a certain order?

    That’s the game Cogs by Lazy 8 Studios in a nutshell. Download the demo for PC and give it a try wait a little bit for it on the iPhone. From the site:

    Cogs is an innovative new puzzle game where players build an incredible variety of machines from sliding tiles. Immersed in a steampunk world with stunning visual design, Cogs is pure eye candy. And with 50 unique levels and three gameplay modes, we’ve packed in hours of entertaining, addictive fun.

    Challenge a friend to beat your time or finish in fewer moves or try to beat your own record.

    Cogs game

  9. Have fun with Scribblenauts

    January 6, 2010 by David


    Scribblenauts is a puzzle game similar to many others where your character must collect an item, in this case a star, to complete the level and move on to the next. Where Scribblenauts gets interesting is that you can use just about anything you can think of to help you get that star. Just write in a word with the stylus, the game has a vocabulary of over 20,000, and that item will come to life.

    Need to get a star down from a tree? Why not use a wood chipper, or a wood chuck, or an axe, or … well, you get the picture. Solving puzzles was never this fun until you could use 22,802 possible items in a game.

    Scribblenauts the game