Games for learning

Discussion in 'General Discussion Forum' started by AskWazzup, Oct 20, 2012.

  1. AskWazzup

    AskWazzup Sonny, I Watched the Vault Bein' Built!

    Aug 21, 2008
    Today, while searching for some math practice software i started to think about the possibilities of video games as tools for studying... and having fun doing it. These thoughts crept into my mind, because i'm studying for the second time and this time it's heavily math related, the skill that i lacked and thought i didn't have talent for since the 1st grade. Now, since i started from virtually zero again, i often feel completely lost from where i should start to catch up, when i open up a higher maths course book. To add to the "fun" part of this situation our lecturer and books were around since the soviets, so i get old treatment with it, which is not something i enjoy. I want to learn math, and am doing it, but i think i would benefit very much from something that wouldn't make the subject of mathematics a dreadful and unsafe place for the mind.

    So now, i have two questions:

    1) Is the video game industry overseeing this huge niche of games directed at learning disciplines like math, physics etc.?

    2) Where the hell can i find some good mathematics practice programs? (i have searched but didn't find all that much)

    As for the first one, kids, grown ups and basically every gamer sinks more and more time in video games, but the curve of their complexity is decaying by the day. Now i know that sometimes people just want to relax and not think about anything, but many also play games for the challenges they offer. Now, since they are putting time into something that apart from being a fun leisure time, isn't all that useful in the real world, so why not merge both of the benefits? This of course comes with many obstacles and problems, but from my perspective it's huge underdeveloped niche. Just think about it, playing and studying at the same time! You spent many hours creating your rpg character builds and tactics, now enhance that with creating your own spell trajectories using physics, solving algebra problems for opening up a dungeon door, trap etc. Wrapping all that with well developed tutorials that fit the game world and levels of complexity ranging from basics to serious problems.

    How do you feel about this?

    P.S. Would appreciate some tips from the mathematicly inclined, for ways and tools to study math in a more organized way.
  2. TorontoReign

    TorontoReign Level 27 Wizard Staff Member Moderator

    Apr 1, 2005
    I think it would be easier to teach History through a video game format. I always liked Mario in Time although it was a lot more simplistic than what I would like in a game. I remember one educational game where you had to answer questions before you could open certain doors. I forgot the name, but I think it came with an Encyclopedia disc. A Game similar to Portal could maybe help with Physics related stuff. More than that, I couldn't say...
  3. AskWazzup

    AskWazzup Sonny, I Watched the Vault Bein' Built!

    Aug 21, 2008
    As i see it, the game wouldn't be just about doing math (or the subject that it leans on), it would incorporate the learning with the rest of the game, meaning story, action, dialogues. Of course it's easier said than done, with all the things that you have to weigh and experiment with until you get a decent product that does both things, but i don't see any fundamental obstacle for such a game to come to fruition...
  4. Matthews

    Matthews It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Aug 29, 2012
    While there be many fun games about history, most math games tends to be puzzles. And people do get lazier nowadays and don't want to think overly much on things.

    I do however remember a math game from my childhood for computer, something about "Cheffren's Pyramid" or the like. Player gets trapped inside a pyramid, and you have to use your math skills to find the way out basically through mazes and traps.
  5. donperkan

    donperkan Vault Senior Citizen

    Aug 4, 2011
    A game about advanced mathematics would be very difficult to develop, even harder to sell. A game about basic mathematics is easier and i believe there are some children's games that do that. Natural sciences would be a better candidate for a that medium.
  6. UniversalWolf

    UniversalWolf eaten by a grue.

    Aug 28, 2005
    I'd love a good game that caused you to learn math without knowing you're learning math.
  7. AskWazzup

    AskWazzup Sonny, I Watched the Vault Bein' Built!

    Aug 21, 2008
    Well, advanced mathematics is not that hard, at least if you don't major in math, it's the basic stuff that gets you (when you have to apply it to higher math), the stuff you had to learn in school.

    I don't see how it would be that hard to sell with a good marketing plan; would you ever believe people would actually buy a game about cleaning streets? I think not, but there are a bunch of games like that on the market and there is market for that. A game that would increase your math skills, if done well, not in the studying point of view (meaning it would teach you, but teach you while you're playing and having fun), but something that would glue you to the monitor, would sell pretty good i reckon. Also, parents would gladly give money for their teenage menace to buy some educational tools, also part goverment funding is a slight possibility.

    So what i'm talking about is not a game that follows the usual teaching game formula, but a normal game, that you can play anyway you want (something of a rpg). You would need to at least do some basic math, or physics but could chose not to pursue the road of a genius wizard who dabbles with numbers. In my mind i see a sort of a DnD appeal game that employs using and learning to use real life sciences.
  8. Hassknecht

    Hassknecht For hate's sake. Staff Member Admin Orderite

    Aug 16, 2010
    How does one do advanced math if they don't major in math?
    Math != calculating stuff. Actual math is mostly about proofs.
    A game about sets and groups or maybe sequences, though... It could work. Or using an imaginary part of the world to integrate around a singularity.
  9. Yellow

    Yellow It Wandered In From the Wastes

    May 23, 2007
    idk about Math, but I recently came across a good language-learning game.

    I've been in Korea for 2 months and I have been trying to bone up on my Korean. I am using the usual methods (books, tutor, practice) but there's this guy coming out with an RPG made to help people learn Korean and it looks pretty amazing.

    You will have to speak Korean to cast any of the spells and the whole game will be in Korean, from the bare-bones-basic of learning the alphabet to full sentences with advanced grammar.

    It's actually currently being crowd-funded on Kickstarter and although it has already met its goal, additional money goes into making more ready-made scenarios, putting more people on the project and a hack-pack to change things in-game.

    This all sounds really awesome to me so I think (at least for language-learning) making a fun RPG-like game aimed at learning is definitely possible.

    Here's the link if anyone is interested in the article:
  10. zegh8578

    zegh8578 Keeper of the trout Orderite

    Mar 11, 2012
    I remember one could get educational programs back-in-the-day.
    I had a dinosaur encyclopedia on floppy disks :D But it was good, it had alphabetized lists, the artwork selection was above average.
    Altho the genre is dead, I've had the nostalgic honor of voluntaring some of my dino-art to such programs.
    I also played the game Eco-Quest (by Sierra)
    in fact, I posted a screen in the remember-what-game thread, and nobody guessed :D

    Today this game would be - not only dismissed - but lynched and hung as "too damn gay", but for a curious kid it is awesome, it is sprinkled with trivia about the rainforest, animals, indian tribes, etc.
  11. Ben

    Ben Look, Ma! Two Heads!

    Oct 6, 2011
    Koei does a damn good job at teaching History if you get games like Kessen/Kessen III, Dynasty WArriors and Romance of the Three Kingdoms
  12. UniversalWolf

    UniversalWolf eaten by a grue.

    Aug 28, 2005
    I could see how games could make learning languages much easier and, more importantly, more fun.
  13. Atomkilla

    Atomkilla Hazel Hegemon oTO Orderite

    Dec 26, 2010
    Well, in a way. Lots of stuff in the actual games are made up, but I think some, if not most of them, come with a sort of an Encyclopedia in them (I know Dynasty Warriors 4 do - I really love that game, though I'm not fan of the genre).
    I remember going through that Encyclopedia more than once. It's easy to learn history that way, when you still have vivid images from the battle you'd just played. Of course, historical battles weren't fought that way, but it still makes the whole process a lot easier. Similar like when you're watching a good history documentary and reading a history book.

    Tangentially on topic, I've just seen a trailer for the game called Rocksmith. It's more-or-less a standard guitar game, except with this one you plug in a real guitar, not a Guitar Hero controller. Available songs are somewhat limited, but it seems as an interesting way to learn and play a guitar. Guess it's perfect for those who have a Fender, and have only strummed it twice.
  14. Hassknecht

    Hassknecht For hate's sake. Staff Member Admin Orderite

    Aug 16, 2010
    This looks damn interesting.
    It's a game that shows the effects of special relativity.
  15. iridium_ionizer

    iridium_ionizer Mildly Dipped

    Jul 24, 2007
    If you are trying to learn about history or geopolitics there are a huge number of games that could be used to incidentally teach about it the Civ series, Age of Empires (or similar), Total War, etc. There are also the games from Paradox: Europa Universalis, Crusader Kings, Hearts of Iron, etc. which cover various periods of European history from Middle Ages to WWII.

    There are also tons of political/economic simulations: Tycoon games, Capitalism, Tropico, Republic: The Revolution, DEFCON.

    Unfortunately most of these types of games have subtle biases in what are the best gameplay strategies to use. Of course an even larger issue is that if you don't like the game's particular gameplay you may not play it long enough to really learn anything. Paradox games can be overwhelmingly complex with very little graphical payoff. RTSs can be a challenge to younger players because they are clickfests or rely on precise strategies.

    Other games that might teach about the Earth and biology: Spore, SimEarth, SimLife, Evo(SNES), Ecco (SegaMast), Afrika(PS3), WildEarth African Safari (Wii, PC), Endless Ocean (Wii). Again how much you learn might not just depend on the game's content but also how much you enjoy the simulation or photosafari style gameplay.

    Lastly for the hard sciences. Physicus and Chemicus are MYST-like games that try to utilize science puzzles. I've heard that they are slow and not as compelling as you might want them to be. The Independence War series has some Newtonian physics in it. Weird Worlds doesn't really do science but uses particle physics like buzz words in the spaceship upgrades (which admittedly most Sci-Fi themed games do).

    One I can't say enough good things about indie game Armadillo Run. It's like World of Goo but without the wobbly and imprecise gameplay. Meticulously create a Rube Goldberg device with multiple materials to transport your rolling armadillo into the goal. Maybe I found it more compelling than most because I had already taken University level Physics and Strength of Materials courses, but you might give it a try.

    Lastly I would probably say no matter what you think you might like check out a youtube video and try to download a demo. Nothing will be more disappointing then trying to instill knowledge and it being rejected because the gameplay isn't their thing.