An awful lot of current academic study of online gaming seems to be focused on identifying what is actually being taught by popular offerings. Do Minecraft and World of Warcraft develop and exercise certain cognitive abilities? Of course, you say. But do they culture the same skills and knowledge we usually seek from a formal education? Probably not so much, you might admit… not exactly the Common Core Standards, right?
Yeah, but how could we ever make the Common Core Standards as much fun as blowing stuff up? Good question, Skywalker…
Ever proliferating electronic workbooks slap Candyland graphics on drill and practice math problems and pass them off as “educational games”. They have not exactly created chess or poker in the process… (even if one occasionally gets to blow stuff up.) At the same time, modeling instructional gaming after popular consumer programs usually falls short from an instructional efficiency point of view. (Spending a lot of time rooting about in an “adventure learning” dungeon to occasionally solve a story problem riddle in order to open the magic treasure door is not really a concentrated, high yield teaching method.)
Aren’t there any great games whose constant, primary activity teaches the very things we want students to learn? Games that focus as intensively on academic subjects as chess does on strategy? And that are really FUN to play? Where are the games like that?
This is a loaded question… coming from me, given the household I grew up in, and the many decades of academic game development that we are still attempting to foist upon the world. Yes, Virginia, there are such games…and if the adults in charge of the schools will help… we can all play and learn more, faster than a soggy old textbook will ever teach anyone.
We may never know exactly what Grand Theft Auto teaches you (except that running over the hooker is always worth 25 extra points) but…do we really care? If instead you learn to employ advanced math concepts as game winning strategies and become adept at scanning available resources in real life problems to select the most relevant ideas to apply for the most economical solutions, should anyone care what you might have learned becoming a Level 200 Dungeon Master? Really? I don’t think so.
So check out Online EQUATIONS and Math Science Quest at: http://gamesforthinkers.org
These are Resource Allocation games that teach real life problem-solving skills with mathematics and scientific reasoning in a more engaging and intensive way than sitting for the SAT test. And these games are as much fun to play as chess or poker for the right reasons. They are classic blends of strategy, bluffing, and the triumph of superior knowledge through flashes of intuitive insight. Sound like what you want your kids to grow up doing?
Contact me, Layman G. (Buzz) Allen at: email@example.com (641) 919-2466.