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upersad

Mphil/Phd Simulation Games in Education

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upersad    122
Hi, I am doing my Mphil in electrical engineering at the University of the West Indies. The area is computer simulation games for learning/teaching purposes. I am looking for ideas in this area to implement, and of course I thought that expert games programmers could help me out. One idea I had was to implement a multiuser system where users can collaborate in groups to interact with an enginnering related simulation game ( in essence all games are simulations ... ) across a computer network. Maybe I am deriving too much inspiration from movies like The Matrix, The Thirteenth Floor and Existenz But I am really looking for some interesting and innovative ideas. Imagine that you were a student and you were offered the oppertunity to learn in such an environment. How would you want such a system to be? So, taking the view of game programmers, and as a user, I am really hoping to get some great ideas! Also if you know of any internet resources in this area ( sim games research and human computer interaction, cutting edge games programming etc. ) then I would be most grateful if you kindly let me know about them. Thanks a whole lot! Umesh Persad upersad@tstt.net.tt

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NuffSaid    122
Okay, here''s my take.

If you were trying to teach students physics, especially inertia, acceleration, trajectories, basically everything converning kinematics, you could try doing a FPS. The idea is that the student runs around with a handgun, and blasts his lecturers, or anyone else that students hate . He has a choice of bullets with specific weight, velocity, acceleration. Then when he shoots the target(i.e. lecturer, dean), model the target so that it behaves as if a real bullet had made an impact. That''ll teach them about inertia. Sick, eh? Other than teaching physics, you''ll get your students to improve on their hand and eye coordination.

But seriously, who are your target audience? If you''re targetting kids aged 3 - 10, games might work. But if you''re going to target older kids, or more specifically University students, I think a game isn''t the way to go. I''d rather have real simulations for chemical/physics reactions, graph sketching software (I enter a formula, the graph appears), CAD programs, electronic circuit design programs, you get the picture.

I''d prefer the real deal, as in software that I''ll probably use when I''m in the workforce, not games. Prescripted demonstrations of certain processes (like solving maths problems, geological processes) would also be helpful in aiding students grasp a subject better.

I hoped that helped you. If you need more info, post more stuff.

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upersad    122
To nuffsaid,

I understand your point. When I say simulation game, I don''t mean game as in the common sense of the word. For example business simulation games deal with real life stuff .. decision making etc. but I suppose it is called a game because it is not real. However it is based on real situations. Hence maybe I should be more clear ...

The educational and simulation part is easy enough to understand. I want to use computer simulation "games" to teach, "games" meaning not real but a mirror of a real world situation. Maybe the system can allow for students to interact and together in a group build a particular object, then insert this object into a "simulation game" and see how well it responds. I was given this idea in a posting as a sort of software mirror of the robot wars concept...

.. but the good thing with Mphil is that the topic can always be changed. If not a simulation game, then an implementation of a novel software learning environment or something along those lines. I am in the brainstorming stage so that all ideas are welcome ...

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NuffSaid    122
I think that simulating a business/political/economic environment and making it run something like a strategy game would be interesting, to say the least. Students would then be able to ''apply'' what they''ve learnt in a pseudo-world to see if it really works. People tend to learn better doing, rather than by reading.

On the other hand, I really can''t picture a game that would be able to teach you things about science (biology, physics, chem). When studying these subjects, I''d actually prefer some prescripted demos, or interactive experiments to a game.

For computer science, you might want to make a simple game that utilizes a scripting engine based on a popular language, such as C. Then, you ask students to write scripts to make the game do something. That way, the student gets to learn programming concepts, without feeling bored. (I know I did feel bored looking at text programs all the time way back when I was just learning).

Hope that did help.

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