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Monday, May 15, 2006

Video Game Aims To Engage Students

This interests me greatly. Video Game Aims To Engage Students I've been thinking about this kind of thing for a long time. Imagine a video game, of the type popular today, where saving the world required objects or characters to acquire certain attributes of chemical, historical, literary nature, for example. An atom seeks to acquire an electron, Henry VIII a wife, Lady MacBeth sees a dagger.

Now consider Nicholas Negroponte's $100, hand-cranked, PC intended for every youngster in the developing world MIT Media Lab & $100 Laptop. What if such educational games were available in multiple languages, to meet the needs of developing countries? In developed countries, children grow up integrating technology into their neural networks just as they do language - it becomes second nature to them, as was the television to us. Unless children in the developing countries have the same opportunity to assimilate technology as they are growing, they will be persistently delayed and disadvantaged.

The big commercial game companies like EA have not seen a market opportunity in education. Could this become an attractive opportunity for the open source development community? How might Chemists Without Borders promote and catalyze such a development? Whom do you know who knows someone who knows someone .... who'd be interested in this?

Cheers, Bego

4 comments:

  1. Bego, our EduFrag project uses the first person shooter Unreal Tournament (both the full commercial game with weapons and the free educational version without weapons). I have been using the free version to run organic chemistry races in my classes. All maps are posted to the blog as open source and their use is encouraged.
    http://edufrag.blogspot.com
    http://edufrag.wikispaces.com

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  2. Jean-Claude, This looks fantastic to me! What if games like this could be made available to the young people in developing countries who are to receive Nicholas Negroponte's $100 PCs? A propos of today's conference call, I was planning to contact Negroponte about this. Do you have any relationship with him already? Do you have an opinion about how best to pursue this? I am often concerned that I have ideas that are old hat, which others have been implementing for years, etc., so please tell me if I'm barking up the wrong tree or stepping on anyone's toes (how's that for a weird stream of metaphors?).

    Is there a lot of good content available? Could curricula of all sorts be included? I am familiar with the economist Paul Zane Pilzer. Among other things, he designed a large library of high quality educational CD-ROMs. I imagine content like that, in its current form or in game form, being available to hand-cranked-computer users in Somalia, say, through satellite connection. There are large numbers of expatriates from developing countries, educated and living abroad we can invite to translate or create content in their native languages. Does this make sense? If so, would you like to help figure out what to do about it?

    Best regards,

    Bego

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  3. Would development of such games be an interesting chemistry education project, whether a project for chemistry students or a project for teams of chemistry and video gaming students?

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  4. Hey,

    It's a fantastic idea! The best genre of games to utilise would be strategy games. Eg. Rise of Nations where you build up your country, advances and military forces. With regards to chemistry, a strategy game could involve improving a country like Africa. Eg. If the purpose of a stage is to improve the soil quality, the player would have to test a sample of soil. In doing that, the player will be provided notes on the properties of the soil and he/she learns from there. Not only about soil, but the state of Africa and such. Its just an example. It would be a great challenge to actually prepare such a game as it would involves many components but it would be fantastic to have a game that involves improving the world rather than conquering the whole world to be a winner =)

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