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Experiential Education through Gaming


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#1 Tutorial Doctor   Members   -  Reputation: 1571

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Posted 03 January 2014 - 01:47 PM

So, I have this crazy idea that games can be successfully educational without being a boring multiple choice game with a few game mechanics throne in to make it more game-like. 

 

I think the way to do this is to teach through game design and gameplay. Creating an experience for the player will help them learn more than just asking them multiple choice questions about a place they've never been to. 

 

This is where I think games have a major potential in education. There are bunches of educational games that I don't find very educational at all. I think that NASCAR games are more educational in how to drive than a multiple choice game of the state drivers license  manual, beefed up with a few sound effects and neat characters. 

 

I learned the mechanics of a car from driving games. I learned problem solving from Tomb Raider and chess. These games created an experience. They didn't throw a textbook at me about problem solving and algorithms about solving problems. They presented problems, and I had to solve them (no help for the most part in the older Tomb Raider (you know how I feel about that already though. hehe)). 

 

Once again, it takes good game mechanics. Things like Risk and Reward etc. 

 

I have actually used chess principles to catch thieves in the act. 

 

Have you heard the story about the boy who saved his sister from a wild animal by using a tactic he learned in WOW? I think it was wow, where you have to pretend to be dead in order to trick someone. And it worked (hmm, sounds like an interesting mechanic for a war game).

 

I think that level design is a form of storytelling, but instead of using words, you use visual cues. For instance, when writing a story, you choose a location for the story and you describe the story. This leaves the actual image of the story up to the reader, but in level design you get to create the location and describe it through texturing and lighting etc. Same thing with characters.

 

The design of the game, if done right, should be what educates the user. Game design is a visual art, so it should speak in a visual language. 

 

I have a dilemma though. I am looking for game design techniques that make games more visually educational. I know location is already apparent when you design the location. The posing of characters tell you something about the characters, even the texturing and modeling can, but I am talking about all around design, and how it can be used to teach something, without having to use much text. 

 

I am thinking of a historical game where history plays out, and you partake in real historical events to help you understand them better. I think that should be a whole new genre of gaming. 

 

So, anyone can list any examples or uses of design to teach or educate the player?


Edited by Tutorial Doctor, 03 January 2014 - 01:48 PM.

They call me the Tutorial Doctor.


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#2 Adam Moore   Members   -  Reputation: 326

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Posted 05 January 2014 - 02:26 PM

Every game teaches the player.

 

Do you read the manual cover-to-cover before playing a game, or does the game teach you how to play it?



#3 Tutorial Doctor   Members   -  Reputation: 1571

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Posted 05 January 2014 - 08:53 PM

I mean intentionally designing the game as an educational game, yet using the game design itself to teach a specific topic. Like say I wanted to teach people physics, I could make the game in such a way that it teaches physics without feeling like I am watching lecture, or doing a multiple choice quiz (which most educational games feel like). 

 

I once read a book called "Trigonometry the Easy Way." It was actually like an adventure novel about these guys who uncover the principles of trigonometry through experience with different issues that arise in their town. It is a very good way to teach math through a book (even a complex subject as trigonometry) to a child. 

 

I am thinking about something like this in a video game.


They call me the Tutorial Doctor.


#4 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 9574

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Posted 05 January 2014 - 09:00 PM

tutor, what you're talking about is serious games, educational games, training games. There's a whole field of endeavor there, and it's been around since the 1980s. All you have to do is look.
For starters, you should read "Serious Games: Games That Educate, Train, and Inform," by Michael and Chen. And read the books by Bernie Dekoven, like for instance "The Well-Played Game."
-- Tom Sloper
Sloperama Productions
Making games fun and getting them done.
www.sloperama.com

Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice.

#5 Lemino   Members   -  Reputation: 103

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Posted 13 January 2014 - 01:15 AM

I am also exploring the field of learning games right now. And I prefer to call them "learning games" rather than "educational games". I think the difference is that while educational games are created with the intent to transfer a curriculum-specific contents to the players, learning games are designed with the ultimate task of "fun", and if there are elements or features in the game that contribute to players' learning and knowledge - hey, that's a great added value.

Nearly all games can teach something.

My youngest son, when he was only 5, insisted on playing Farmville which was particularly popular at that time with his elders. No one had the time to teach him anything. While playing he learned to read a language he doesn't know (not an English speaker), learn new vocabulary and also make rather complicated calculations of percentages on time to know when his crops will be ready. I don't think anyone has designed Farmville thinking this will award kids with either language or mathematical education.

And don't even get me started on Minecraft or Maple Story and other MMOs.

I think we're walking a very fine line when we start out by thinking about the added value of the game instead of the actual fun factor that makes it a game.



#6 Tutorial Doctor   Members   -  Reputation: 1571

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Posted 13 January 2014 - 08:28 PM

Exactly. The examples you gave about your 5 year old is what I am talking about. They are learning problem solving skills and management skills. I see just how fine that line is though, and perhaps that is the hard part, and the reason why there aren't that many learning games worth playing. 


They call me the Tutorial Doctor.


#7 J. Faraday   Members   -  Reputation: 426

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Posted 13 January 2014 - 10:46 PM

One thing I'd like to share related to this topic is something I'd heard on the news a couple of years ago. There was some sort of puzzle that scientists could not crack. It was something having to do with decrypting some sort of DNA strand. They had worked on it for years. Ultimately, the science group released the DNA strand as a puzzle that people all around the world could play to try to crack it, without knowing that they were actually solving a scientific problem. It turned out that a gamers had discovered the solution to this problem through playing a game. I wish I had more details on this, but it is an example of how gaming could be utilized to solve intricate problems.



#8 Tutorial Doctor   Members   -  Reputation: 1571

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Posted 14 January 2014 - 09:05 PM

Wow. That's cool. I'm sure that gamers can solve a lot of stuff, so many brilliant people in the world. I have a friend whose two year old solved a rather difficult puzzle on the nabi tablet. I was shocked.

And I can't tell you how many times I'm playing a game and getting whooped, only to find out later it's like a 5 year old bearing me ol' fashioned-like.

I think games can be far more valuable than traditional education.

They call me the Tutorial Doctor.





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