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Education Games

Researchers Make a Case For Learning Through Video Game Creation 68

Posted by Soulskill
from the now-third-graders-get-to-experience-crunch-time dept.
ub3r n3u7r4l1st sends along this snippet from Science Daily: "Computer games have a broad appeal that transcends gender, culture, age and socio-economic status. Now, computer scientists in the US think that creating computer games, rather than just playing them, could boost students' critical and creative thinking skills as well as broaden their participation in computing. ... 'Worldwide, there is increasing recognition of a digital divide, a troubling gap between groups that use information and communication technologies widely and those that do not,' the team explains. 'The digital divide refers not only to unequal access to computing resources between groups of people but also to inequalities in their ability to use information technology fully.' There are many causes and proposed solutions to bridging this divide, but applying them at the educational and computer literacy level in an entertaining and productive way might be one of the more successful. The team adds that teaching people how to use off-the-shelf tools to quickly build a computer game might allow anyone to learn new thinking and computing skills."
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Researchers Make a Case For Learning Through Video Game Creation

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  • Re:Gamers grown up (Score:5, Interesting)

    by b4k3d b34nz (900066) on Monday January 25, 2010 @05:18AM (#30887568)

    I suppose you're correct if you look at it as teaching kids how to program video games, but it looks like they're trying to get them to learn critical and creative thinking in a broad range, rather than xor'ing pixels all day.

    If you compare it to art class, where students liberally steal ideas and style from Van Gogh and Matisse (and Bob Ross) yet still learn the basics of how to paint, I think that in the same way students will be able to pick up some basics of the thought processes involved in designing something from scratch, in a variety of disciplines. Even with off-the-shelf software, they will still have to think on the surface of how to render out an environment, build characters or puzzles, and create some sort of user interface and menu system. It'll likely be slapped together and a horrible program, but it could definitely build computer skills for those with a penchant for problem-solving and creative thinking.

    I think it's a good idea overall, but the implementation will probably completely fail in the US due to lack of capable teachers.

  • Re:modding support (Score:5, Interesting)

    by daid303 (843777) on Monday January 25, 2010 @06:08AM (#30887782)

    Indeed. Modding is great. I learned loads from UT modding. It makes understanding OOP much easier as when you start you can relate 'objects' to ingame stuff that you can see, while later you find out that there are many 'objects' that you cannot see at all. It gives a base for AI, it teaches programming of course, it learns you about debugging and performance.

    You don't have to create the next countersstrike or whatever, just make something fun. And it will teach you a lot more then sitting in a classroom.

  • Re:Gamers grown up (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sourcerror (1718066) on Monday January 25, 2010 @06:23AM (#30887864)
    Well, you can use some open-source engines, like Apocalyx or Panda3d, where you can do everything with a scripting language (Lua or Python) and no C/C++ skills are required. Of course this only takes care for rendering and physics, you have to do the AI yourself. (But that's the most intresting part anyway.)
  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Monday January 25, 2010 @08:53AM (#30888640) Homepage Journal

    Not funny, but it does raise a point; the ideal environment for this might well be some sort of graphical MUD. I would personally begin with Sauerbraten, and add a nice LUA interface or something, at least as a proof-of-concept. I'm envisioning something like Second Life, but with content creation tools that don't hurt your brain. Why is it that Open Source software nearly always has a shit interface? Even FreeCiv, which gives you tons more control over units and cities than the games on which it is based, makes sophomoric errors resulting in clutter and a minimum window size that won't even permit it to be played on small displays on which Civ, Civ2, and Civ3 at least all work fine on and in fact even remain playable! At least The GIMP has a decent interface... if you compare it to photoshop, the level of confusion and complexity is comparable, people are just used to photoshop. Too bad about that name.

  • by mdwh2 (535323) on Monday January 25, 2010 @10:23AM (#30889482) Journal

    In any job I've worked at, as well as anything I do in my spare time, my "programming" also involved developing the algorithm to do a certain task.

    I can see that some simple programming jobs might not need you to develop algorithms. But for those companies that need that - are there really companies where they hire separate computer scientists and programmers, where the former explains the algorithm than the programmer simply does the laborious work of translating algorithms to code?

    If you want to talk about maths professors, it's like suggesting we have one guy who works out the maths, and another one who translates that into the mathematical notation...

  • Re:Gamers grown up (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 25, 2010 @11:06AM (#30890168)

    There's always 'Construct', a free and open-source 'game constructor' at www.scirra.com, but it doesn't do Android or iPhone yet...

  • Re:Alice? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 25, 2010 @01:37PM (#30892822)

    Seriously, don't half teach people how to program. If I can teach myself to program in 6th grade, on my own, I'm sure anyone else who has the motivation can learn to program, especially with someone helping them. Teaching them "beginner" languages is just dumb. Teach them an easy language, but one with actual uses. Not some "programming language for girls!" bullshit.

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