Archive for the ‘education’ Tag

The classroom as a game

Lee Sheldon teaches game design at Indiana University.  His methods are a bit unconventional.  His class on building massively multiplayer online games is itself structured like an MMO.  Students work in teams called “guilds”, grades are awarded with experience points, and exams are boss fights that guilds work together to complete.  He’s recently started a blog on the class.

One of the themes I’ve been developing is that many things we do in everyday life are indistinguishable from games, but we’re just not used to thinking of them that way.  There’s real value in that insight, because interfaces that cater to those activities can benefit from the same design principles that make games so compelling.

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If you Love Warcraft, but Wish it Were Nerdier

NASA has issued a request for information for development of an MMO to serve as a training platform for aspiring space scientists. The RFI leaves the details open to the submitters, but suggests that it might make use of realistic physics and chemistry to simulate experiments. While the home page shows a bunch of very young and poorly compressed children, the FAQ sets the target player age as high school through college students.

What’s really interesting to me here is the serious educational goal that NASA’s pursuing. This is more than just trying to show the kids how hip you are; they’re positioning it as a way to learn real science and try out various careers in the field. The website goes further to say:

MMOs help players develop and exercise a skill set closely matching the thinking, planning, learning, and technical skills increasingly in demand by employers. These skills include strategic thinking, interpretative analysis, problem solving, plan formulation and execution, team-building and cooperation, and adaptation to rapid change.

I think that people who play these games know this instinctively, but it’s startling how widely this sentiment is being echoed these days.