Jump to content

  • Log In with Google      Sign In   
  • Create Account


Using games to educate


Old topic!
Guest, the last post of this topic is over 60 days old and at this point you may not reply in this topic. If you wish to continue this conversation start a new topic.

  • You cannot reply to this topic
13 replies to this topic

#1 waffletart   Members   -  Reputation: 116

Like
1Likes
Like

Posted 12 June 2013 - 04:07 AM

Greetings

 

Educational games are usually quite awful, there gameplay mechanics aren't engaging and its questionable what somebody would learn from them after playing.

 

There have been various maths and word games, games with simple sciences like physics (quite a few turn out to be a puzzler or something), games about animals, geography (Carmen Sandiego?), brain training, zombie spelling etc. Most educational games aren't that entertaining, and the more entertaining they get, like word rescue, the less they probably teach.

 

Apart from the gameplay of the majority of these games being simple, learning about something like maths is generally boring no matter how you package it.

 

Are there any games that manage to educate while being very fun?

 

I was wondering about how abstract you could be with a subject and still have it apply to the real world. For instance, if you had an FPS where enemies are weak to certain things, like a monster who is weak to gold, and you had a weapon that you had to input the number of protons, electrons and neutrons your gun chamber contained to change to a certain fire mode, so you could fire gold pellets, would this be too abstract to teach anything? Would it be too annoying and ruin the games tempo?

 

Simple actions you do in the game that would hopefully be committed to memory after a while. Instead of committing to memory that pumpman is weak against the whirlwind cutter, could you instead remember that some kind of fungus is weak to some kind of medicine?

 

Is this too abstract to help with education at all, too stupid, etc?

 

 



Sponsor:

#2 Zennoya   Members   -  Reputation: 177

Like
0Likes
Like

Posted 12 June 2013 - 04:55 AM

Its not a problem about an idea of nice education game, but its just that they are mostly low budget, because not many people will buy them. Same problem with some simulation games or games for young kids. Game companies want to maximize their profit from game selling so they are targeting biggest/richest audience, so at the market 90% of games are for 16+ with a lot of voilence, abusive language etc. Thats the stuff that sells. Imagine f.e. Skyrim, where to forge steel axe you need to write what is temperature needed to melt iron, and what proportions of coal/iron are required to make steel. First player that would play it would say that "it sux" and 1/3 less games would be sold. Its not acceptable for game company, so each year games are dumber and dumber (check f.e. new X-Com, where they decided that limited ammo concept is too hard for players).



#3 Deallo   Members   -  Reputation: 171

Like
0Likes
Like

Posted 12 June 2013 - 07:59 PM


"Are there any games that manage to educate while being very fun?

 

I was wondering about how abstract you could be with a subject and still have it apply to the real world. For instance, if you had an FPS where enemies are weak to certain things, like a monster who is weak to gold, and you had a weapon that you had to input the number of protons, electrons and neutrons your gun chamber contained to change to a certain fire mode, so you could fire gold pellets, would this be too abstract to teach anything? Would it be too annoying and ruin the games tempo?"

 


With that specific example, yeah it would DEFINITLY ruin the game's tempo, since it's an FPS and all. FPS's are quick, fast-paced, and devoted to making the character feel like a bad-ass (not always the case on that bad-ass part but it's a general thing). However, under the proper circumstances, it doesn't mean there can't be a situation where you can't divulge some knowledge.

 

Take in for example, an FPS where you meet a character boss that wears gold armor like a self-righteous knight or rich ass-hole. When you shoot/stab/attack him, his armor would be easy to break through. When the boss is defeated or when his armor comes off, and he asks how this is possible, the protagonist could simply respond: "Gold is soft, dumbass." Then proceed in interacting/finish/whatever the developer has made possible for the protagonist to do for the boss.

 

See? This is a good example of how a game could be used to educate without sacrificing gameplay. This is an example of a subtle, yet memorable moment. It could easily have been unveiled through a conversation between two characters or a pratagonist and an ally. Of course, there are more simple ways....

 

"Simple actions you do in the game that would hopefully be committed to memory after a while. Instead of committing to memory that pumpman is weak against the whirlwind cutter, could you instead remember that some kind of fungus is weak to some kind of medicine?

 

Is this too abstract to help with education at all, too stupid, etc?"

 

 

You could, but in case you haven't noticed, fungus names and medicines are pretty long, and that sorta thing is sorta hard to commit to memory if you have different fungus' and different medicines at your disposal.

 

However, if you were doing, say an RPG that took place in the present (like Earthbound, I guess), and had a protagonist that was afflicted with various illnesses, that protagonist could go in his inventory and sort through various medications that could treat his illness. Whenever he had a medicine highlighted, there would be a description below that could say which status effect (illness) it could treat.

 

Games are best for tangetial learning. Tangential learning is best when it references knowledge. For example, take my gold armour example above. A simple google search for "is gold soft?" or "why is gold soft?" brought on because of that moment in the game allows the player to educate themselves rather then have information rammed down their throughts in a completely uninteresting, academic way.

 

The magic of games is that they make genuinely interested in the subjects that are part of games. Introducing the information "gold as soft" with the aforementioned boss fight or in a conversation with an ally are far more engaging ways to make the player interested in whether or not "gold is soft" rather then someone standing up and telling the player in front of a class: "Gold is the chemical with the atomic number 79, representied by Au and has the properties of blah,blah,blah,blah,blah."

 

Games makes knowledge engaging, and when knowledge is engaging, players can just dive into knowledge themselves. 

 

For example, when I was young, I played a lot of FPS shooters, which at that time, were mostly based in the settings of WWII. In the sixth grade, I knew what a M1 Garand, BAR(Browning Automatic Rifle), and an MP40 was. I also knew why WWII was started, who Hitler and who the nazi's were and when Remembrance day(Canadian veterans day for WWII) came along, I was the only one in my class who know what the Normandy Landings were (D-Day) because they were (mostly) the first mission to every WWII shooter game.

 

When Call of Duty: World at War came along, I found out that Russia was involved in the conflict (it was the year before I would get history classes in school) when they were first invaded and then pushed back to regain their land (with millions dead for the russians because I found out they were so disorganized, not through games but through research. Also found out that when Napolean invaded Russia, the Russians burned the crops so whatever of France's troops left alive from the tough winters would starve out. Those russians are tough.)

 

However, if the game takes place in a fictional environment, you could always merely reference the information. for example, Sephiroth in Final Fantasy 7. Sephiroth is also the name of the ten atributes of God in the Jewish Kabbalah. If even a small fraction of Final Fantasy players google Sephiroth and stumble onto the information, Square Enix would have facilitated the learning of thousands of people.

 

Of course, it often gets difficult to determine what is a reference and what's just made up video game gobblty goop. One could either make the game chock full of references, a time consuming process. One could just add references and video game gobity goop and hope the player could find sort out what's a reference and what isn't. Something I like a lot is when videogames have an ingame wiki. I've seen examples of an in-game wiki in Mass Effect 2 whenever you interect with objects, and in Assasins Creed Brotherhood which updates with information on ladmarks and the real life Borgias.

 

The point is, you must present knowledge and let the player come towards it. Although you're in a step towards the right direction, it seems you still want to sacrifice gameplay and the flow of play for the sake of cramming knowledge in a player's throat.

 

I think learning from games is a lot like eating a sandwich. You gotta eat it yourself, at your own pace, and you'd be no matter displeased if someone was ramming a sandwich down your throat saying that it's good for you.

 

Phew. Oh, and Assasins Creed. If you've ever played that game and run around in any city, you'll come across the heralds and when they don't have information pertaining to an assasination, you can always hear them shouting about how a war can be holy and how they mention the name "Salahaddin" (which comes to Saladin for westerners) The Sultan (leader if you will) that fought back against the holy crusades of the church. Bam, google, info, and done.

 

Also wanted to say why they haven't made a game about Joan of Arc. That shit would be historically accurate and awesome.


Edited by Deallo, 12 June 2013 - 08:03 PM.


#4 ActiveUnique   Members   -  Reputation: 822

Like
0Likes
Like

Posted 13 June 2013 - 12:07 PM

Well I don't want to write long so I'll make this short. Educational games aren't games, and they don't educate. They're currently a fiction, to children that's a lie.

 

On the otherhand there's the straight method.  Tell someone if they want to be seen as intelligent, they need to know things other people don't. Here's an application that contains centuries of facts.  You should start from the beginning and maybe if you do ~ 5 minutes each day you'll be done in 100 years.  If you spend more time you can finish sooner.

 

Most people can tell when you lie to them.

 

Then I'd throw this at them and go away: https://www.khanacademy.org/


I've read about the idea guy. It's a serious misnomer. You really want to avoid the lazy team.


#5 DigitalDreamDom   Members   -  Reputation: 123

Like
1Likes
Like

Posted 14 June 2013 - 07:28 PM

I disagree with OP. I find that there are plenty of educational games that can be fun and engaging for children. I myself loved Reader Rabbits Interactive Math Journey, along with Math and Knowledge Munchers Deluxe.

 

I would admit to there not being a lot of educational games targeted to adults. Most educational games I played/have seen are point and click or typing. I would say Typing of the dead is an adult educational game, it being an exercise in learning to type without looking at the keyboard and it being a rail shooter.

Another problem is that the aesthetics that draw children might not draw you or other adults in like, Dora the explorer, The Magic School bus, Schoolhouse rock, Reading Rainbow. Unless they tickle a bit of nostalgia for you I wouldn’t expect adults in mass to watch it.

 

So in short educational games for children exist, educational fun games for children exist (fun being of one’s opinion), and educational games for adults exist that can be fun. The large problem I’m hearing from you are there aren’t ENOUGH educational games geared to adults or to educational subjects beyond elementary school level, which I would agree with. But to say educational games are fiction and dotn educate i'd have to disagree with you on.

 

Links:

Math Journey : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86-eLTxNjyg

Knowledge muncher: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rtZsPPKXxCE

Math muncher: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eeNTU9tZ8U0

Typing of the dead: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Typing_of_the_Dead



#6 powerneg   Members   -  Reputation: 1444

Like
0Likes
Like

Posted 15 June 2013 - 05:45 AM

When you want a game to develop the player's mind further, i recommend against learning  them facts(education) in favour of stimulating(training) their brain.

There are a bunch of games who take realism to a high level, and they should off course present facts, and a player can pick up a thing or two from them, but it will not be very much.
While a lot of games challenge one's mind in various ways, be it in reaction-speed, strategic decisions, psychological analysis of an opponent's moves, or some other way.

 

for example, compare a quiz with a game of memory.
 

(memory-game)
Memory-Game-Final.jpg

 

A quiz can teach somebody specific data(though most are used for trivia) and thus become almost the same as conventional learning.
 

A game of memory can be configured to any number of cards and for example let someone search for trios of matches instead of pairs.

 

Hmm, looking back, i guess my original point only stands when considering a quiz less of a game, which might be perspective/taste tongue.png



#7 jbadams   Senior Staff   -  Reputation: 17921

Like
0Likes
Like

Posted 15 June 2013 - 07:58 AM

Ernest Adams thinks that "Educational Games Don't Have to Stink!", suggesting that one of the keys to a successful educational game is learning that games don't (or shouldn't)  necessarily teach, but are an excellent way to illustrate.

 

 

I think you can definitely be aiming for more of a niche audience with these sort of games -- they certainly aren't something for the mainstream AAA market -- but that there's no reason you can't still make a great product and potentially even make a profit selling it if done correctly, and I do actually remember really enjoying certain educational games as a child -- there were a few Magic School Bus games that were both fun and educational, and even a maths and spelling game that I quite enjoyed for a while.



#8 Matias Goldberg   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3128

Like
0Likes
Like

Posted 15 June 2013 - 08:31 AM

Two words: Assassin's Creed
 
While a fictionalized version of history, it's actually very accurate, and I've learned more from Renaissance in that game than I did in school and high school combined.
Often I ended up with some questions, so I ended up in Wikipedia & Co.; learning the "differences" between the fiction parts and the real history (and several "HOLY SH** this was true" moments)
 
What's even more curious, is seeing pictures (or even flying there) from Venezia, Istambul, Vatican, etc. and having a deja vus "I've been here" and then thinking "D'Oh, NOOO you haven't!... Too much AC", because you don't just recognize the general place, but rather the details (particularly well-recreated places like the Ducal palace)
The game in-story presents itself as playing/reliving a simulation of actual events in history in a Matrix-style environment, which I guess helps selling to the real life player the experience that he's playing an actual simulation, which is not that far from the truth (he is playing a simulation, just with a keyboard and a mouse using 2 senses: vision & hearing, instead of plugging your head into a machine and having all 5 senses live the experience).
 
While this sounds really nerdy, I've been talking with a few friends who also played the game and they too had those deja vus; so it's not just me.
 
Unfortunately when it comes to edutainment AC is more an exception (and something very hard to pull off), but still a very interesting example to study. Most edutainment games, like the OP said, suck.

 

Commandos is really good at teaching part of WWII history, but I can't say I learned much from it, as WWII is a topic covered everywhere and seen in detail in school, movies, books, documentaries, etc.

 

Age of Empires tried to teach history but IMHO it failed as the "history narrative" was just at the beginning of the campaign, something you just wanted to skip (at least when I was a child). Though I do know a friend who loved to stay and hear all of it, and then further look up on that history outside the game, and now his knowledge about Classical & Middle age is quite vast.

 

World of Warcraft is definitely not edutainment, however it's still worth noting that the Corrupted Blood incident attracted scientific interest. Though not aimed at kids; I thought it was interesting to mention.

 

However, if the game takes place in a fictional environment, you could always merely reference the information. for example, Sephiroth in Final Fantasy 7. Sephiroth is also the name of the ten atributes of God in the Jewish Kabbalah. If even a small fraction of Final Fantasy players google Sephiroth and stumble onto the information, Square Enix would have facilitated the learning of thousands of people.

+1 to that. I learned about Sephiroth as "in the Kabbalah" for the first time by googling the FF VII character a very long time ago.



#9 ActiveUnique   Members   -  Reputation: 822

Like
0Likes
Like

Posted 15 June 2013 - 08:53 AM

I played Hide and Speak before I could understand value, it didn't stimulate my brain enough for me to even remember the Sesame Street puppet names.

 

Now I'll do a 180 from what I said earlier.  Games exist to educate, games aren't fun unless you learn or reinforce something while playing them.

 

You may question "what's a first person shooter doing to educate?" Well think of the first time you played one, what happened to be new then may have been how a gun sounded, how the ammo clip slides into the gun and all the cool noises and hand movement, picking up ammo as you go so you won't run out, the distracting explosions and graphics, and how you have to point at things you want to interact with before pulling the trigger.

 

After you already know something you're reinforcing it. So what's a first person shooter doing to reinforce? The exact same things which we learned already, only now we don't need to be reminded from the ground up anymore and all those fancy clicks and explosions are ignored, we can always challenge ourself to see how fast filter out details and the speed we point and click.

 

Now think of your least favorite game. You either don't want to learn it (yet), it is possible something can even be too difficult to understand (Sudoku without a tutorial anyone?), or it's something so simple you'd be bored from the reinforcement "drag green circle to green square and win."

 

Here's one MAJOR business problem: when you sell something is it meant for the buyer or for the person who's going to use it?


I've read about the idea guy. It's a serious misnomer. You really want to avoid the lazy team.


#10 AltarofScience   Members   -  Reputation: 933

Like
0Likes
Like

Posted 15 June 2013 - 11:53 AM

I once won a certamen game in my latin class because I played so much Civilization. And Crusader Kings is another super good example of historical shit. All your NYT crosswords are belong to me.



#11 ActiveUnique   Members   -  Reputation: 822

Like
1Likes
Like

Posted 16 June 2013 - 12:23 PM

I saw this TED talk and I think it's relevant. The speaker explains a few things about how games can be poorly percieved without research. The statistic evidence from the learning study wasn't backed up much but the rest of it seems on the level.

 

If anyone's read prior articles about affects of games on the brain then it's probably just a refresher.

 

http://www.ted.com/talks/daphne_bavelier_your_brain_on_video_games.html

 

Note the average age at the beginning. Mind poor effects of some high demand technology around the middle. Take that bit at the end about chocolate covered broccoli. Somewhere in there the reason educational games don't always work is revealed.


I've read about the idea guy. It's a serious misnomer. You really want to avoid the lazy team.


#12 Krohm   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3040

Like
0Likes
Like

Posted 17 June 2013 - 11:23 PM

I greatly enjoyed CellCraft.

Much less detailed but somewhat in parallel with real story: JamesTown (sorry, no link, my youtube is borked today). What it made me is to get curious about history, and so I point my browser at google and find some interesting pics of this place. And maybe I could even get there a day I guess. Considering I considered history a waste of time and an insult to intelligence I'd say they have accomplished more than all my teachers combined ever did.



#13 mippy   Members   -  Reputation: 1002

Like
0Likes
Like

Posted 19 June 2013 - 07:12 AM

These are my experiences about learning from games.

 

Good educational games

  • Piano game - you had this bird or whatever who first played a melody, and then you were supposed to repeat it. Fun not only for memory but also because you actually memorized how to play a tune. Error/failure was handled by the bird saying "oh no, try again". Clicking with the mouse was hard, but it would probably work better on a touch-screen.You did not have to do as the bird said, you could just play your own thing too. I usually started practicing the birds melodies and then made my own thing out of them. The bird did not protest that. 
  • Age of Kings and other historical strategy games - they try to work with historical facts while twisting them a little. I especially like these "impossible to win" type of games. 
  • Sim city - the newer versions are way too complex but SimCity 2000 was pretty ok. You could get into it pretty quickly and get an idea of the problems that a city manager had do solve: sanitation, security, education, business opportunities, dept, distaster management etc.
  • Assassins Creed - great exploration of architecture since you can run around on/in the buildings. I'm too poor to travel to these places myself so I had a really great time. I think Ubisoft should release a "non-combat" educational version of these games. Would be awsome! The student could run to some place and make sketches of details of the buildings on physical paper and then do a presentation about it. 
  • Sandbox puzzle building games - you have a ball which should be put into a basket and some obstacles. Then you shuold use a stockpile of various mechanical things to make it happen. I enjoyed these games when I was 8 and I enjoy these games when I'm 28 tongue.png
  • Hypercard DIY games - my first experience (about 7 years old) in game-making. I put together a stack of pictures i painted and clickable areas which represented if-then branching.
  • Driving simulators - I'm not talking about grand tourismo games here. Car drives in normal or dense traffic and then the student (me) has to answer questions about how to behave. Great since you can switch perspectives between different cars and see why they cant see you. Thus you will learn WHY it is so important to behave in a certain way. 

Bad educational games

  • Memory - so boring. I guess it trains memory but it's so brain dead. I think the piano game above was much nicer since you "create something". 
  • Snoopy math game - the child would type in a answer to a math problem and when answering the correct number there would be cheers like "good job (hands clapping)" and when failing there would be "aww, try again". This destroyes the inner motivation of the child in learning. When sitting in front of a math test or book there will be noone telling you to try again.
  • Word and spelling games - just typing in words in a foreign language and you get a yes/no answer. Perhaps these types of games are good if you have problems with spelling, but they are so uninspirational. Typing becomes associated with boredom and agony.

Conclusion

  • Having a historical backdrop can teach you a lot - since you have to know about the technological limitations of that time to solve a problem. 
  • Sandbox simulators are great educational games - forces child to think and facing "impossible to win" scenarios which are hugely educational.
  • A game that tells the child in a emotional way when they have done something right or wrong is bad destroys self motivation. 
  • Most important: whenever you turn education into a game there is a risk that the student will try to win more then learn and thus tries to game the game (learn AI patterns and cheating).

Edited by mipmap, 19 June 2013 - 07:16 AM.


#14 ILoveJesus   Members   -  Reputation: 166

Like
1Likes
Like

Posted 22 June 2013 - 05:59 PM

Aren't good realistic simulation programs in and of themselves a great educational teaching tool? Some examples of what I am talking about are Microsoft Flight Simulator, Rail Works Train Simulator, Universe Sandbox and maybe even Americas Army. I understand that the OP is talking about the genre of educational games, but I believe it is still worth noting that we learn more from games than we think. Before I played Gran Turismo I knew absolutely nothing about cars, but now I know at least some things.






Old topic!
Guest, the last post of this topic is over 60 days old and at this point you may not reply in this topic. If you wish to continue this conversation start a new topic.



PARTNERS