Educational Games Inspired by Noble Prize Winners
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Musings and findings about teaching with games. Created by the learning community of EDTEC 670 at San Diego State University.
Quia is a educational game site that makes creating games easy. I used it a few years ago. At that time I had 15 computers in my classroom. As students finished working on their classwork, they had the option of going to Quia and playing a game I created. Creating the games was easy, I picked the type of game I wanted to make and then entered the questions and answers that I wanted the students to see. Sometimes I out in the upcoming test questions, sometime I just gave them practice at what we were working on. The kids loved to play the game and didn't realize that they were learning stuff! They had a battleship game that your "hit" would only count if you could answer the question correctly.
There is good new for game developers! Interest in games and their use in training has spread to the US military. According to an article in the November 23, 2008, online Stars and Stripes magazine the Army has received approval to invest $50 million in a “games for training” program starting in 2010. These games and gaming systems are designed to train soldiers for combat.
Third World Farmer Game
I found a few educational eGames this weekend that I wanted to share with you.
They are all related to science/physics, which seems to lend itself well to eGames. Using simulation software makes it possible to play with lasers, put bowling balls on levers, and launch counterweight trebuchets- experiments that wouldn't be possible in most everyday middle school science labs.
I had fun playing with each of these games, and learned a bit in the process too. Give them a try when you get a chance. Have fun!
When a child discovers and completely comprehends the horror of nuclear weapons on their own, it is a difficult matter for any parent to address. My seven year old daughter saw the nuclear explosion scene in the new Indiana Jones movie and instantly became terrified of nuclear weapons. I have been distracting her from it with lots of hugs and by giving her other things to think about, but telling her we probably won’t ever be nuked in our lifetimes was just not working.
INNOV8 is an interactive, 3-D business simulator designed to teach the fundamentals of business process management and bridge the gap in understanding between business leaders and IT teams in an organization. This type of serious gaming - simulations which have the look and feel of a game but correspond to non-game events or processes such as business operations - has emerged as a successful method to train students and employees and accelerate the development of new skills.
In the Garbage Game, http://www.gothamgazette.com/games/garbage.php, you decide what to do with the garbage of New York City. The purpose of the game is to showcase how decisions made by both individuals and city officials will affect the overall garbage situation. Each decision made by an individual to throw something in the trash or recycle it can cost the city and its taxpayers money and affect the environment. In addition,the decisions made by the city on how and where to process the garbage and recyclables can also cost money and affect the environment.
Reason: While perusing the site, www.gamesforchange.org, I encountered the title of an online game that I had seen people playing on Facebook (or at least a very similar game). The name caught my attention, which is why I decided to review it for this assignment.
Game: FreeRice at http://freerice.com/
Premise/Cause: The premise and cause behind the game is simple: the average person can do something to assist in the fight against world hunger. This educational game purports to teach a variety of subjects, but the main topic highlighted on the front page of the game is English vocabulary. The site states that “For each answer you get right, we donate 20 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program.”
Background: Some fast facts about hunger (from World Hunger and the American Obesity Association–
First Impressions: Though not as complex as some of the games shown to us in Bernie’s and Karl’s lectures, the simple user interface has an elegant appeal. The main color theme are two earth tone colors, green and brown, with a picture of what looks like grass or wheat as the dominant graphic. From the time the site loads, the game’s objective is obvious, even without reading the instructions and game objective that appear on the screen. The “ease of play” contributes to the feeling that players of this game can do something simple to fight against world hunger. I like that.
Variations: The game has other topics, including “math, science, geography, art history, other languages and more.” Assuming a similar mode of play, in these subjects, players would just choose the correct answer to the question posed. Below is a screen shot of the simple Chemistry topic, in which players choose the element represent by the chemical symbol displayed.
Another variation is the ability to choose your difficulty level. At higher levels, the questions are more difficult. Changing levels is easy to do. There is a Change Level hyperlink at the bottom of the play window.
Game play is so simple that it’s almost painful. No, I take that back. It actually makes it more enjoyable, especially because of the immediate feedback the player receives. Feedback is given at two levels:
Another aspect of this simple game is that the simplicity and immediate feedback make it addicting. It’s difficult to break away from racking up the rice donated. The player score is given in terms of a benevolent donation of rice grains. This is truly gratifying.
Player Controls: Other than the basic browser commands and site men tabs, the player has four basic controls during game play:
*Click to enlarge images!*
Then a small training is given to allow players to become accustomed to the game settings. This section even provides practice in the quiz that follows each stage of the game. The answers are shown to be correct or incorrect. If incorrect, a voice will tell the player that there is “error in the data.” This could be improved by providing explanations for why the answer was wrong but the instantaneous feedback is nonetheless helpful to the player’s learning.
Learning does not just take place in the quizzes in this game. Players collect numbers to break codes in the technology of the antagonists’ lab in order to open gates and gain entry to their bases. Players also fight with creatures and others in the game using numbers and equipment such as EMP’s to do damage to enemies.
With great visuals, a good story line, math application and quizzes, I would recommend this game to any student of pre-algebra.
See the site: http://www.tabuladigita.com/
See a brochure for the company: http://schools.nyc.gov/NR/rdonlyres/4C71F275-FE47-4C20-8268-BDA4B56936F1/0/TabulaSoftExpoFlyervFINAL2.pdf
Against All Odds is an online game created to increase players’ awareness and knowledge about refugee situations by putting players in the position of a refugee. The game was created by the UNHCR, A United Nations Refugee Agency and is accessible to players in multiple languages.
The game starts out informing you that you are living in danger and must flee your country to survive, immediately submerging the player into the experience of being a refuge.
Next you go through three stages,
Borderland: This section contains information about who is considered a refugee and descriptions of the different options they have for finding a safe haven.
Throughout each stage players will encounter several obstacles. Along the way players can read profiles of real people who left their homes to escape political persecution, profiles of people who are trying to find new homes, and read stories and watch personal narratives of individuals describing the refugee experience. This game is very engaging and interesting to play and while it is designed for school age children, adults can also benefit from the experience.
To learn more about the UNHR click here
To play click here
Labels: serious games
Free Rice is an educational quiz-type game. Players answer multiple choice questions. Immediate feedback is provided in the form of 20 grains of rice for correct answers. Incorrect answers are corrected and repeated later until answered correctly. This shows the player that they are learning something. The player can select among categories to be quizzed including vocabulary, grammar, art, chemistry, geography, languages and math.
In addition to seeing the growing amounts of "rice" earned for correct responses, players can take satisfaction in the fact that their earnings will be distributed to hungry people around the world. The sponsors of the Free Rice game aim to provide free education to everyone everywhere and to help end world hunger. Rice is paid for by sponsors shown on the page and distributed through UN world food program.
This is a very simple game but it is engaging and fun. The questions keep coming so it hard to stop. Seeing the amount of rice adding up for a good cause motivates the player to continue. Check out www.freerice.com and help feed the world.
The game, Mission: Migration, by the National Audubon Society is a game intended for young audiences although I have to admit I was entertained for a bit trying to perfect my score. In this game, the player chooses a bird to lead the flock in their migration. It begins with an easy flight over a rural area where the player has to steer the flock clear of airplanes and thunder clouds. These hazards will cause the flock to loose energy. In addition, the player has to flap the wings at the right time to conserve energy and catch jet streams to reach the finish line faster. Once you reach the finish line, the player has to land the flock to re-energize and it is here where the learning begins.
Peter Packet is a game for children to become aware of world poverty. It is an entertaining game that has great visuals and music that kids would enjoy. You go with Peter on missions around the world, you may for example go to Haiti to help build a water filtration system. Along the way you are taken through a journey through
There are missions such as helping Haiti get clean drinking water.
The game is very simple to play, arguably too simple. All the player has to do is move his character around a neighborhood grid using the arrow keys.
The player causes things to happen by moving his character over them, such as over the knife and fork to eat at a cafe (if you have money and the cafe owners are actually willing to serve you).
What's good about this game is that the player gets to experience, though in a very simple way, the difficulties homeless people experience. In the game, it's impossible to find a restroom to use in the middle of the night, even when you have a little money people aren't always willing to let you spend it at their establishment, and your money-making opportunities are extremely limited. The game allows the player to see that a homeless person's biggest concern is making sure basic bodily needs are met.
However, the pace of the game is frustrating because the character moves VERY slowly. Also, periodically throughout the game, the player is told through a small blurb of text that something is happening to him, such as a police officer harrassing him. It might be more effective if these things could actually happen to the character rather than just presenting these occurrences via text.
The game I chose to review is "Darfur is Dying," found at http://www.darfurisdying.com/.
Labels: serious games
I browsed and briefly played quite a few games from the Games For Change and Social Impact Games sites, but will describe only two here in this post. As I explored those sites, it became very clear what was meant by Serious Games. These are certainly not fun topics. Those that are well-made are certainly engaging and I could find myself getting involved in them, even experiencing the concept of 'flow', but I don't know if I would call myself entertained. This was almost certainly the purpose of many of them.
3 mini-games, placing the player in a situation of disability: motor impairment, sensory impairment and learning difficulties.
An earthquake has just taken place. Put yourself in the shoes of a doctor or a volunteer and help the victims as quickly as possible!
You may have good eyesight but how good is your memory? You can test it by learning the different letters of the Braille alphabet.
Have you ever thought of the difficulties deaf people have to face when lip-reading?
Discovering a variety of serious games on the web was an easy task, playing some of the games was the difficult part, especially if you aren't a gamer!
Free Rice is a vocabulary game I found through the Games for Change website. FreeRice is a sister site of Poverty.com and their partners are the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and the United Nations World Food Program.
FreeRice has two goals: To provide education to everyone for free and to help end world hunger by providing rice to hungry people for free. The Free Rice game gives people the opportunity to expand their vocabulary while at the same time donating grains of rice for every word they define correctly.
While the game is not very high tech, it is something that can definitely be used in any classroom. As you progress through the game, the words get harder to define. The levels range from 1-60 and they even offer the option of changing the level or subject at any time. You can choose from Art, Chemistry, Geography, Language Learning, and Math. Each time you answer correctly, the bowl starts to fill with rice, which I think the younger students would find interesting.
I really enjoyed this game because it was entertaining, educational, and it made me feel even better knowing that I was helping others out. I think this game sends a great message to anyone that would play it. I will use this game for my ELD students.
As a newbie, still trying to find out what’s so serious about “serious games”, I ran across a helpful site offering a Serious Games Taxonomy. Ben Sawyer & Peter Smith (U of Central FL Retro Lab) developed the slide pres for the Serious Games Summit in Feb 08.
Ben is also the author of Serious Games: Improving Public Policy through Game-Based Learning and Simulation Whitepaper for the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and was a contributor to Game Developer magazine. He’s co-director of the Serious Games Initiative found at http://www.seriousgames.org/ (Home page)
If you link to the Taxonomy PDF, Slide 29 offers a nice table of serious game industry segments cross-referenced with game objectives. Industries currently investing in serious games include Government & NGO, Defense, Healthcare, Marketing & Communications, Education, Corporate and Industry.
Game objectives include Games for Health, Advergames, Games for Training, Games for Education, Games for Science and Research, Production, and Games as Work. There’s a drill down from this chart for greater levels of detail within each category.
The presentation offers good information about precursors to serious games, the relative strengths of industry segments, levels of game play, and references to serious game projects. It’s a worthwhile overview if you’re into serious games.
Ben will be back at the 2009 Serious Games Summit March 23-27, 2009 in San Francisco.
Gum Beat purports to be about a teenage girl who stands up against the oppressive government. In the game, bubble gum is illegal, which is seen through many postings plastered across the city. So, naturally, your character chews bubble gum, which is used to attract followers, inspire happiness in others and derail police efforts. Even with this impressive set-up, the game falls flat. There isn't a heck of a lot of learning. It feels like a poor man's Legend of Zelda (minus the puzzles, adventure and fun). I would not recommend this game to anyone, unless as a practical joke.
The Peace Doves is a nuclear disarmament game, developed by the United Nations and can be found on Nobelprize.org
On Election Night, 2008, I was fortunate enough to stumble upon the Anti-Bush Game , a video game for the truly virulent Bush-basher. It seemed appropriate to explore "serious game" of this nature as a historic election took place in this country. Somehow, the phrase "from the ridiculous to the sublime" kept running through my head as I explored the game.
I found this serious game, Ayiti: The Cost of Life, on the Games for Change website. After playing Heifer Village Nepal, I found this game to be more interesting, entertaining and easier to follow. Ayiti can be played at your computer using this link: http://ayiti.newsfrew.org/globalkids/
While surfing the Social Impact Games website, I came across a number of interesting learning games on Health and Wellness. Since I work for a company that deals with Diabetes drugs and people who have Diabetes, I was drawn to a particular game – Escape the Diab. This game is due to be released in 2008, but had a Serious Trailer with amazing animation. View at: http://www.archimageonline.com/diab.cfm
Labels: serious games; diabetes