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Education

Video Games Assigned as Homework 158

joestump98 writes "I wish that my teacher had assigned video games as homework. Videogame makers are working on making educational games that are playable. The criteria for a good game, not surpising, kids say is an interesting storyline and unique characters."
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Video Games Assigned as Homework

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  • Does this mean you could get away with playing Medal of Honour: Allied Assault or Return to Castle Wolfenstein and claiming it is for a History assignment? Or The Sims for Social Studies?

  • I had a history professor who gave the class the asignment of watching "Monty Pyhton and the life of brian", "and the holy grail", and "Bill and Ted's Exelent Adventure" on three seperate weekends. Coolest professor EVER. Back on track, sounds like a good idea, but i dont think that UT2003 could easily be turned into a math game... Maybe a history campaign for war3, but i dont think joan of arc had to fight zombies. AOE2, on the other hand, did help with my history class, both with its acurate sets of events and database of what REALY happened (I doubt that machine gun cars destroyed that much of the japenese fleet...)
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Sure, UT2003 could be turned into a math game. Just have a quiz afterwards,

      1. If 1_0wn2_j00_5Ux0R frags you 5 times, and EatMyFrags frags you 3 times, how many times do you have to frag Noob to keep from being a total lamoid?
    • i dont think that UT2003 could easily be turned into a math game

      Sure it could, or at least highschool physics.
      Your opponent is running across the screen at rate A, X feet away from you, and you are turning at rate B and have a forward velocity of B and upwards velocity of Y and downward acceleration of Q, knowing your rocket launcher fires with a n millisecond latency and the speed of the rocket is Z, at what trajectory do you have to fire your rocket to hit your opponent?

      Seems much more complex than the simple ballistics/projectile motion we did in gr.12 physics.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    It boggles the mind. They're not even pretending to educate any more. It's right out in the open.

    I'm sure we all recognize the kind of student this will attract: Those unbathed, ill-groomed term-room troglodytes we knew in college, who gave out the terminal room phone number as their own and slowly, lumpishly flunked out.

    Some of them stayed on anyway, parasitizing an institution that was no longer willing to tolerate their presence.

    Now I guess we won't be flunking them out any more, we'll be giving them A's in "Self-Justification of Incompetence", "Advanced Parasitism", and "Stinking Like a Corpse". I can see it now -- UC Irvine will attract every drug-addled adolescent imbecile in the United States to this "program". Academic standards, already lowerd beyond all human tolerance, will sink beyond all nadirs previously imagined.

    They're trying to produce a generation of young Americans so dismally uneducated that they'll fall for any idiotic junk-science and pseudo-philosophy that comes down the pike. A nation of perfect suckers to do as their told, a nation of drones incapable of thinking critically. The "recycling" industry will take off like a rocket (I'll be investing tomorrow, believe me) because these sad excuses for "college graduates" will be incapable of finding out where the "recycling" trucks actually go with the trash that the suckers have carefully sorted through (like bag ladies in their own homes, or slaves assigned as punishment to the garbage heap). Where do those trucks go, you ask? The dump, same as the other trucks. It's just obedience-training. The liberals always do what they're told, because they haven't the imagination or strength of will to create their own freedom.

    I'm sorry if I'm ranting here, but I'm watching my nation get flushed down the toilet at the taxpayer's expense, and it's a bit hard to take.
    • Funny, some of those unbathed, ill-groomed troglodytes dropped out of college, started companies, wrote software, and took over the computer industry. Why again is a college education so important? To play devils advocate for a minute, have YOU ever play educational video games? When I was young it was "Where in the World is Carmen SanDiego" "Oregon Trail" and "Logo" (although not a game technically, it was taught as one). I learned about our geography, history, and programming from these three simple, mediocre games. As for our nation of drones who fall for junk science, how long did we believe in those two elements that were fakes? How many people know, for sure, if milk is good or bad for them? If science is experiencing a downfall, it is the scientists fault, for not thoroughly checking their results before publishing them. I'm sorry if I'm ranting here, but I'm tired of people who don't really think through what they say. Here's an idea: how 'bout we stop all progress whatsoever. We can go back to the old ways of teaching that apparently didn't work, turning out mindless corporate slaves, who don't know how to think for themselves, who have no problem solving skills, and who will be miserable for the rest of their lives in a crap job, all because we've decided that the old ways are the best. Let's not adapt with the times at all. I think I'll return my computer tonight, and get a Commodore 64. Or maybe I'll just go back to pencil and paper... If we refuse to adapt to the times, we will be destroyed by them.
    • This is one of the most interesting, well written posts I have read on this site in the last two years.

      Its a lovely retort to the huge misconception that all things geeky somehow make you more intelligent (Since they don't make you physcially stronger they must have some value, right?).

      Education in North America is at a dismal low. Why is it that every educational contest seems to produce a home-schooled student as the winner? This tells us that a lay-person who actually cares (mom or dad) is capable of producing far better students than our dismal system.

      • Very insightful. One guy who doesn't read the article and goes off on a misdirected rant. And then another guy who praises him. I think it is Slashdot that is going down the tubes. Oh wait, it was always like this.
      • How is this surprising? That one on one training works better than mass class training?

        Also lets not just assume the teachers of the home schooled child are necessarily a lay person. Many are unusually intelligent. Hence the decision.

        My child (and yes, I have one) will not be taught at school much at school, except the important things I cannot teach.

        Like how to get along with other kids. How to pull girls hair. When to accept, and when to challenge. How to be your own person.

        These lessons are valuable. I would certainly expect my child to be able to read long before he hits school. Not by forcing him to learn, or by "teaching" him. But by reading with him. Watching Discovery channel with him. Talking about things, answering his questions. That's one of the major roles a parent plays, I feel.

        Teaching should not be the job of schools. It should be the job of parents, especially early on.
        • > How is this surprising? That one on one
          > training works better than mass class training?

          Not surprising at all. The significant difference is not the level of attention the teacher can pay to the student, but rather the fact that a teacher can plan for that student rather than trying to hit either (1) the lowest common denominator or (2) the bestest for the mostest. Individualized educational direction and plans seem to me to be the real benefit of extremely small class sizes (of one or two).

          > Also lets not just assume the teachers of the
          > home schooled child are necessarily a lay
          > person. Many are unusually intelligent. Hence
          > the decision.

          My experience with home schoolers has been that they are largely ordinary people with singular dedication, concern for their children, and involvement in their lives. They are ur-parents, for whom the PTA is a bunch of ineffective pussies. Brain-wise, I can make no real effective generalization.

          > My child (and yes, I have one) will not be
          > taught at school much at school, except the
          > important things I cannot teach.
          > Like how to get along with other kids. How to
          > pull girls hair. When to accept, and when to
          > challenge. How to be your own person.

          (1) I am not sure whether you mean that your child will go to public school or not. Mine will not.
          (2) You most definitely will be able to teach your child how to be his own person. What that person turns out to be will be less determinable, but teaching critical thinking, logic, self-reliance, and independence are certainly within the scope of things kids learn from parents.

          > These lessons are valuable.

          I agree.

          >I would certainly expect my child to be able to
          > read long before he hits school.

          Ditto. Everyone in my family learned to read before kindergarten. I have a vivid recollection of being asked to read an excerpt from the World Book encyclopedia about Columbus on Columbus Day to my class in first grade. I remember stumbling a lot and being extremely self-consciouus about not being able to read very well. I didn't realize that I was being put on display to show the rest of the class, none of whom were readers, that little kids could read.

          > Not by forcing him to learn, or by "teaching"
          > him.

          I've often felt that true "teaching" cannot be "force feeding" -- it is more like being a guide. The absolute best education results from a love or affinity for the subject matter. There are things you must learn which are not enjoyable, but the things you learn the most easily and stick with you the best (other than not to touch hot stoves) are the things that you enjoy.

          Learning should also be taught as a process and an end in itself (to an extent) rather than as an obstacle that needs to be overcome. Anyone working in a knowledge business who stops learning these days, at any point, is asking for irrelevance in five years or less. If you are not working in a knowledge business, you are simply betting that you can make a decent living for long enough that your pending irrelevance doesn't cast you into poverty (that sounds sort of biblical in a most anti-biblical manner). Knowledge is power, and that trend is only accelerating.

          > But by reading with him.

          The most important thing you can do. No question in my mind.

          > Watching Discovery channel with him.

          Throw out your tv or turn it on only for things you specifically plan to watch. TV is one of the most enormous wastes of life that ever existed. If I had it to do over again, I would, as a kid, have watched Bugs Bunny but I would have passed on pretty much everything else and gone out and played outside. Youth is too precious to waste on TV.

          > Talking about things, answering his questions.
          > That's one of the major roles a parent plays, I
          > feel.

          Ditto, except I "think" that instead of "feeling" it. I really hate that phrase: "I feel..." I'm guilty of it as well, but it just strikes me as anti-intellectual and sort of gooey.

          > Teaching should not be the job of schools. It

          Teaching should be the job of schools. That's what my taxes pay for. I am not paying for daycare. If those kids have to be under lock and key for 6-8 hours, they'd better be learning something other than how to peck an order, fuck, fight, do drugs, and slither through life doing the minimum.

          That schools should teach (what an amazing idea!) does not mean that parents should not teach their kids or that kids will obtain most of their education from attending public school. It simply means that the public school (safety net that it is) should be able to provide some sort of basic fundamental education appropriate on some level to each kid that is compelled by law to serve time there.

          Bleh.

          guac-foo
    • Wow. So recycling is just a government conspiracy to placate the commie-liberal-environmentalists? That's pretty insightful. Or wait -- actually it's just stupid.

      It's just obedience-training. The liberals always do what they're told, because they haven't the imagination or strength of will to create their own freedom.

      Your rant was at least a little bit valid (despite the completely pointless part about recycling) until you got here. EVERYONE does what they're told. Liberal and conservative alike. If you think it's any different, it's only because your conservative leaders are TELLING you to think that.

      Open your eyes, man. You bitch that it's "them" that's screwing up the system. It's always "them". Until people realize that it's ALL OF US, TOGETHER, screwing things up, it ain't gonna get any better.

      You obviously like to complain, but do you ever do anything about it? I doubt it. (And, no, I don't either, but I accept the fact that it's my OWN DAMN FAULT and don't try to blame other people)

      --Jeremy
      • A mite offtopic, but food for thought anyway: [cantrip.org] [cantrip.org]
  • "Kids use PlayStation for high-tech homework"
    I guess in future Sony will be using that in their ads... =)
  • What better way to turn kids away from videogames than by tainting the existence of their favorite console with edge-oo-kayshonal "games"? ;)
  • but then I'm not a gamer.

    Medieval: Total War [techtv.com]

    My sister will soon be a history teacher in rural Illinois. She is a gamer, and would gladly assign the right game as homework. There are equal access issues to consider, however. If the school doesn't have a nice big computer lab, you've just assigned homework that only the relatively rich kids can do.

    • _Europa Universalis 2_ would probably be better, if slower, for European history.

      But "Balance of Power", the /really/ old empire-management games like "Hammurabi" (which was all about budgeting), "Lemonade Stand" and so forth might be better.

      And /well-written/ (that is, not "guess the verb" or "try everything because we left you no clues so you're just supposed to do things completely randomly") text adventures, in general, might be helpful for reading comprehension and problem solving.
    • Europa Universalis is definitely better by far, in this regard. It focusses totally on the strategic side, which is does better than Medieval. It has more of the history, more of the cunning planning, more of the diplomacy than does Medieval.

      Of course, it doesn't have the epic battles of Medieval, with thousands of warriors ready to obey your commands (or not), which is what makes M:TW great.

      Europa Universalis II and Medieval: Total War. Two fantastic games.
    • What about Shogun TW? Same company, but original... this one's just a _Lords of the Realm II_ clone.

      I already knew about morale, military maneuvers, etc. before playing Shogun, but that was the first game I ever played which really tried to emulate them. Flank attacks out of forests, double envelopments, charging cavalry down a hill, even just psyching out the enemy's conscripts, all worked just like in the history books... That game did a great job.

      I know you're not a gamer, but try to hunt down a copy of Shogun. You'll probably like it more than Medieval. :)

      FWIW, I wanted a Shogun sequel in the same time period, but in Europe. Imagine a Gustavus Adolphus campaign like those in Shogun, or the Thirty Years' War fought with a Shogun-like engine, only in Germany...
  • The epitome of the 'educational game' and I have to be honest, I learnt nothing from it...Maybe pattern recognition...Play it long enough, and you can remember the questions. I can't remember any of the facts, and even if I did, it would be that sort of trivial pursuit type of knowledge, not the actually useful underlying concepts.

    The only thing that could possibly be gained is to generate some sort of interest in geography in the player...and to encourage them to read some actual books about it. Failed for me, but that's about the only area I can see this being useful.
  • I start back at Uni tomorrow, one of the first semester projects is to write a game with DirectX, so I guess games will be homework for me too.
  • by trims ( 10010 ) on Sunday September 22, 2002 @08:06AM (#4306485) Homepage
    ...this actually looks like a very useful tool. Originally, I was going to write it off as another feel-good kowtowing of the modern world to kids' micro-second attention span, but the article actually makes it sound truly useful, especially the parts where they find it helps Mom and Dad who don't speak English as well as they would like.

    I'd even go so far as to say that it can replace a major chunk of "homework" for these kids. Even better, it seems to eat up time normally occupied by traditional video gameplay, which is basically useless (other than purely mindless entertainment). All-in-all, sounds like a good thing.

    My sole complaint here is this: the more we try to package learning as entertainment, the less we seem to emphasize that learning for its own sake is fun and interesting. And we also seem to be reinforcing the concept that it has to be FUN in order to be worth doing. Sadly, the world doesn't opperate this way, and I think we're doing a great disservice to kids if we get them thinking that learning has to be somehow immediately entertaining.

    I realize this is for younger kids, where we don't have this problem so much, but I want to make sure that at some point, we start reinforcing the notion that learning for knowledge (and problem solving) are their own rewards, and don't have to be wrapped up in some entertainment package to be worth doing.

    -Erik
    • I agree with this wholeheartedly. Unless the kids have to bring in their high score from a certain "Math Mission" in order to demonstrate that they understand the material, the teacher is left without an indication that the student is having difficulty until the student does poorly on a test. Homework is supposed to help the teacher identify problem areas before they seriously affect the student's progress. My neighbour's son has Reader Rabbit on his computer and if there were some real penalty to getting wrong answers, I'd think it was a great way to teach Math and English. But getting wrong answers only reduces your score. So the little boy picks up as many wrong answers as he wants. He doesn't really care what his score is. He just wants to get to the end of the level. Hopefully the software this school is using puts a little more pressure on the student to improve, or else the game is not demanding that the students learn. It is using learning as an incidental occurence to the fun the students are having.
      • I disagree.

        I don't even want calculaters in the class room until grade 8, much less video games. My kids go to school to LEARN, not to be entertained. I don't want them to be misreable of course, but learning without video eye candy should be stimulating and interesting all on its own. Any teacher that is considering video games as an education aid should stop and reavaluate how they are teaching.

        I did try out a couple of "education" games with my kids at home. The kids thought they were ok games, but they didn't stick at them long enough to improve any math or reading skills. I had much better success with flash-cards and reading together. The kids like the one on one time, and the much more flexible and intuitive 'DAD' interface. That's right - I can much more quickly answer the kids questions and adjust to the pace they are learning at than any video game. I can handle changing subjects if something we reads brings up a question about atronomy or history.

        So put away the games and spend some time reading with your kids, helping with the home work, doing flash cards (my daughter actually has a favorite question that I have to keep re-insterting into the deck over and over until its last question).

        Don't become a parent unless you want to spend a lot of time being a parent. The TV is not a baby-siter, the computer is not a teacher.

    • School are perpetually complaining about a lack of funds for computers. In a way the PS1 is a really cheap computer that the schools can afford to buy in quantity and loan to kids. What does a PS1 go for these day $50? Need a monitor but most families have a TV. If a school buys enough of them I'm sure the price would go down. Media... CD based. School buys a general license on a piece of software/buys a package to author their own and prints a hundred copies using an off the shelf CD burner. Add one of those chips to allow any CD to be used and you have a really cheap computer solution for students. Granted the input (gamepad) is a bit limiting, but I imagine a keyboard already exists or could be built if there was sufficient demand. Alternatively, could one just come up with some sort of converter for a PS2 input? Probably not.

      Pretty clever really. Thinking back, I wrote all my high school essays on an Atari with 512k and a decent word processor, I think the whole thing may have booted/run software off a 3.5" floppy and an internal ROM. Didn't have a spell checker or anything but considering I was writing for highschool I think spell checkers may have been a bad idea at the time.

      As far as the 'edutainment' gripe is concerned, how about having a seemingly meaningless code output at the end - similar to the old NES games continuation codes. Student writes it down and gives it to teacher, teacher uses conversion program to find out that the student has missed 65% of the questions, mostly the hard ones.

      What would be really, really cool is if there could be a way of hacking together a cheap solution for the output problem. Student has CD with Linux port - exists for PS1 if I recall - some mini gui and a small office solution. Student writes essay. Are they SOL if they want to say print/email the text to teacher? Is there an obvious output solution I'm unaware of? I can think of that wouldn't at least triple the cost of the system.
    • My sole complaint here is this: the more we try to package learning as entertainment, the less we seem to emphasize that learning for its own sake is fun and interesting. And we also seem to be reinforcing the concept that it has to be FUN in order to be worth doing. Sadly, the world doesn't opperate this way, and I think we're doing a great disservice to kids if we get them thinking that learning has to be somehow immediately entertaining.

      I don't really agree that it's a disservice to kids to connect learning to immediate entertainment. On the contrary, I think this is a useful thing to reinforce, as it makes learning a pleasurable activity.

      I don't think that kids should expect that Lightspan will necessarily do a game for everything they should learn. However, via concepts such as Mind Maps [mind-map.com], immediate entertainment (and the association of it with "all learning") becomes a Good Thing.

    • "Even better, it seems to eat up time normally occupied by traditional video gameplay, which is basically useless (other than purely mindless entertainment). All-in-all, sounds like a good thing."

      Maybe you haven't sat down and observed people who've played a lot of video games vs. people who haven't.

      When you're gaming, you're right in the action! You have to keep everything in your mind, solve puzzles, memorize things quickly, watch for key frames to strike on, and more! It brings many skills into play, not the least of which is learning and memorization. You can always spot habitual gamers because they only have to go somewhere once to have memorized the route (this is especially noticable in people who play FPSes competitively enough that a path to a weapon from any point on the map is the difference between winning or losing). They're also quick to pick up on things, like how to operate a particular program (if they're good gamers), because they will explore the interface the way they'd explore a dungeon. Games also introduce new skills in an easy form that people can absorb at their own rate (like the car maintenance sense and knowledge of how upgrades/repairs work in general in Sega GT, or the communication and socialization habits in Animal Crossing).

      Gamers of the sort I mention tend to be more alert, have quicker response times, and have an active imagination. Exactly the kind of people I'd like the world to have more of.

      (Note: that paragraph is part of an article about the costs of entertainment, comparing music, DVDs, and video games for the gaming section of my website).
  • by BaShildy ( 120045 ) on Sunday September 22, 2002 @08:08AM (#4306487) Homepage
    "Kids say the key to good software is a compelling story and interesting characters.."

    I thought the criteria for a good game was fun gameplay. Storyline and Character Development have their places in game making, but shouldn't be of primary concern unless the game is story-centric. A great storyline is not going to save a game if its not fun. A great game can still be fun with a craptastic or non-existent storyline (Tetris).

    If you want great graphics, watch a movie or animation. If you want a great story, read a book. If you want to have fun, play a game. Chris Crawford (Atari and GDC founder), one of the original game developers, discussed this several times with me. I now keep that in mind every time I consider adding a new feature to one of my games. I've never heard of players refusing to play a fun game because the story sucks; so who cares if my game worlds and characters aren't comprable to Fiction writers?
    • "f you want great graphics, watch a movie or animation. If you want a great story, read a book. If you want to have fun, play a game."

      Hmm, this is where we differ. Why can't you have all of these in a game? Final Fantasy (when it first came out) combined all of these, anbd there are others through the years that do as well. Games these days just seem to suck. Are all the original ideas gone? I'd like to think not, but then again, I'm just a cusumer :)
      • 1) Limited resources for design and implementation, and

        2) Detailed stories are much harder to combine with flexibility and a truly responsive world instead of one with a fixed, linear story arc.
      • Hmm, this is where we differ. Why can't you have all of these in a game? Final Fantasy (when it first came out) combined all of these, anbd there are others through the years that do as well.

        You can have a good storyline in a game without ruining the gameplay. If the development team is weighting the storyline as an equal to gameplay, its very likely that the game is going to suck. Final Fantasy is a very story driven game, and thus is acceptible for them to allocate a large amount of resources to story and character development. This comes at a price, because they forgot that people are playing the game and not reading a story. For example Final Fantasy's interface is horribly slow, which is completely unacceptble. A large portion of the game is spent wading through text that is scrolled. Why can't it appear instantly? There is no gain by having scrolling, whatsoever. This forces speed readers to spend large chunks of time waiting, which is the greatest no-no in games. If they just allocated 1 full time guy to making a more functional interface than artistic, the game(s) would have been more enjoyable.

        Games these days just seem to suck. Are all the original ideas gone? I'd like to think not, but then again, I'm just a cusumer :)

        Personally, I think originality is overrated. Why does it matter if its been done before if its still fun. Originality is a bonus that will make your game more enjoyable for the first few hours of the game. After that your game is going to be redundant in some way, and so will your game's biggest selling point if you bet the farm just on uniqueness. Look at some of the most popular games sold this year. Grand Theft Auto: 3, Warcraft III, Both Medal of Honors. They're all sequels! Each of these games are not original compared to their predecessors, yet successful. They found a formula that works, and tried to make it again with better graphics, story, and most importantly gameplay.

        I'm not saying that you should just scrap plot and storyline. It adds a lot to a game if done right (unintrusive...). No matter what you have in your game, its just not worth playing if its not fun. Make the game fun, and then you can worry about your storyline. If you don't, noone will care about your story because nobody is playing your game.
      • Games these days do seem to suck. The last real good one for me was Final Fantasy Tactics (they don't make 'em much dorkier than that). Occasionally there's that diamond in the rough that makes me keep my eyes open, though.

        IMHO, that Stuntman game for PS2 is kinda original. Even though it was based on plain 'ol driving elements of racing games, the concept of being an employed stuntman is a decent idea. One of the coolest things is that they explain how some stunt type things are done in movies (i.e. American stunt drivers that have to drive right-hand cars actually drive a tiny, unseen wheel on the left side while a person on the right pretends to drive the other wheel. Whee!).

        Sadly, can't think of any others off the top of my head...
      • I don't think games these days tend to suck. Sure, the same ideas pop up over and over again, but I think that's just another sign of the video game industry's maturity. After all, you don't hear people complain so much about one action movie being the same as all the rest, but with video games, people expect something new and different every time.

        And I love Final Fantasy... but after playing Kingdom Hearts yesterday, I really think Square should consider making a platformer ^_^

      • Heh, yes, Final Fantasy was a great game when it first came out. The plotline and writing were SUPERB, eh? About the only thing that stands out in my mind is the insulting fountains. "How dirty! You wash your face in the sparkling water." And great graphics? The introduction screen is a simple text printout! At best, a good story and plotline is orthogonal to a great game; that is, its irrelevant. What makes games fun is the combination of three things a) challenge b) rewards and c) punishment if any of the three are missing then the game fails to operate on its most basic appeal. A plot can work to tie these together but often it merely subverts itself to a single master, rewards.

        As far as original games go, the real problem is that consumers can be picky. Ico was a pretty good game but it wasn't a sales demon. If I took a standard game genre and turned the plot into a tree structure, you stand a good chance of alienating players. Even if its only a binary split, the number of events per play through is going to be hurt. Even a 4 level path takes up 15 levels worth of data. 15 levels/missions is a lot to make, but 4 isn't many to play. So while there's many possibilities, knowing which ones the unwashed masses will enjoy is difficult. Shiney brought many fresh ideas to the market but they lack the stability now they once had.
    • pretty fantatic article in latest Develop magazine... "why games should be pointless" many of the most pointless games are the most entertainin and give much better replay value. Why go to the effort of makin things non linear when they can be just utterly without aim. what was i sayin? oh yeah, pointlessness, ideal. fits my experience of education down 2 the ground.
    • But you have to agree, a good story with good gameplay does wonders. Case in point: Final Fantasy X.
  • Homework Assignment. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DarkHelmet ( 120004 ) <[ten.elcychtneves] [ta] [kram]> on Sunday September 22, 2002 @08:11AM (#4306490) Homepage
    Yes, this *could* work.

    Problem 1:
    Load Quake3. Examine some of the textures along the walls. Point out whether or not maps in dm1 use:

    1. Texture Maps
    2. Detail Maps
    3. Bump Maps
    4. Specular Lighting.
    In the case of all four present, determine the formula for determining a pixel color with light magnitude .5 at angle 60 degrees to its normal, and 0 degrees along its x axis.

    Problem 2
    Load Warcraft 3. Notice the design of some of the landscape. What would be the most effective use of storage for generating map material (e.g the landscape). Exclude objects such as trees since they are objects within the level. Explain why in your reasoning.

    1. BSP
    2. Height map.
    3. Triangluar Mesh.
    4. Quad Mesh
    Some of the high hills in War3 look "boxy", meaning that there aren't enough polygons within the hill. We wish to implement a grid system that also stores a third point between grid points. This point in space will be the basis for creating Bezier curves.

    Write a program that takes a 100x100 array of height points, and a 100x100 grid of bezier height points, and write a program that creates a 200x200 array of height points. Remember to generate ALL height values.

    Part 2: Try tesselating further into a 400x400 array.

    Part 3: Render this into the API of your choice (OpenGL, Direct3d). Create a program that tesselates the grid runtime based on the distance to each key point on the grid. Derive your own reasonable equations to determine this.

    Extra Credit: You'll notice some "popping" as new vertices are generated. This is because as new vertices are created between height points, the old ones are shifted over. Write a routine based on the previous problem that forms new vertices along the old position, and then morphs to the new position.

  • Educational games (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Heynow21 ( 573910 )
    I think games that are games first and educational second would do a better job at teaching. For instance, what if in order to level a cleric in Everquest you had to pass a real medical test (anatomy, biology, whatever). The Sims would also be well suited for this. Maybe harness some of all that wasted energy and put it into something useful.
    • Text adventures naturally teach typing - I think thats pretty much how I got fast at it.

      And then there was always oregon trail - quite a fun game, I think. That taught a lot about...the Oregon Trail - the wildlife, what had to happen, etc.

      I don't think that as many people would know how a rail-gun works without FPS (although I'm not sure most people know what they actually look like).
  • by tedDancin ( 579948 ) on Sunday September 22, 2002 @08:19AM (#4306497)
    Back in my day, we didn't need any of this "realism" Sims crap. We had games like Leisure Suit Larry to teach us social interaction skills.

    Boy didn't it hurt when you tried out the ol' "Kiss" command on a random girl in the schoolyard (:
  • by Em Emalb ( 452530 ) <ememalb@@@gmail...com> on Sunday September 22, 2002 @08:20AM (#4306498) Homepage Journal
    Cool. And my teacher(s) did assign games as school work. Oregon Trail was the main one. Got that one in US history class in like the 5th grade. (This was New Mexico, so take that for what it's worth. Not exacly the best trak record for edukashun in NM)

    The best thing about Oregon Trail from a teacher's viewpoint is it taught us basically without supervision, we learned to work as a team (had to double-up on the machines), taught us what it was like for them back then, and made me a deadly shot when we needed venison. :)

    Were they as good as the games people have today to play? Yes, IMO, because it was new and exciting, and all the ideas weren't already out there and repeated 50 times.

  • by dmiller ( 581 )
    I wrote my third year critical studies paper on the semiology of early arcade games (especially Missile Command and Space Invaders IIRC). My second year cinema studies paper was on the sound design on Tron.

    Benefits of being an arts graduate :)
  • finally (Score:1, Interesting)

    by hfastedge ( 542013 )
    this is serious evidence of the saturation of computers in society. It helps u bridge the gap between now and the science fiction novels.

    I've always thought (well before i knew how to program) that good video games were true pieces of art, to be appreciated with much respect. For those that still don't play them: as much respect as a painting. I'm sure that because u're reading this here on slashdot, you've played a video game before, the odds that u have are far higher if u were a kid in the last 20 yers. But, notice, that there are lots of people that choose (for whatever reason) just not to have technology like this in their lives. This tends to cause a lot of tension between them and their children. I think its interesting how some people are just never going to interact with tech, no matter how much its at their fingertips.
  • I actually learned a good deal of basic history, before I was supposed to learn much of it at school, from video games. AOE and AOK, for example, taught me about ancient military leaders, some details of Joan d'Arc's life (I had heard of her, but had no Idead what she did or why it was significant) and a good base in medieval military units and structures. When I went on a trip to France, this summer, I was the only one who knew what the statue of Charlemagne, outside Notre Dame, was. Throughout the years, I have gained a generally good reputation, among my teachers and peers, for my general knowledge (mostly in history and english) of many subjects before we have learned anything about them in school, and I owe much of this to video games. Of course, I also owe my enormous, gelatinous 16 year-old body and painfully arthritic fingers to video games. Oh well, give a little, take a little.

    On a related note (moderation note: of recreational activities not usually tied with education, but, nonetheless, contributing to it), a fundamental rule for speaking well in English, that being to never end a sentance with a preposition, I learned from, and continually refer back to, Beavis and Butthead Do America.

  • Edutainment.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Paersona ( 176868 )
    ...is neither.
    • I agree. Either they're fun and you learn nothing. Or they're not fun and you learn nothing.

      I don't think educational games are necessary or even useful teaching tools.

      Though some learning is fun, a lot of the learning process is work. I think kids should be disciplined to get used to the work part so it doesn't seem like such an effort to *gasp* go to the library and read books and articles.

      How do you think the people who write these games learn the material?? Cut out the middle man and read the books yourself.

      -Kevin

  • I saw something on TV where they showcased this brainwave device. You put a 1 pound helmet on your head, and play games. Each game has a certain task you need to accomplish, and you can accomplish it faster simply by concentrating. The more you concentrate, for example, the faster a character on a bicycle will cross a finish line. They think this type of technology may help kids with ads/adhd (attention deficeit syndrome and attention deficeit hyperactive disorder). No more ritalin for me, just pure video games.
  • by wackybrit ( 321117 ) on Sunday September 22, 2002 @09:16AM (#4306591) Homepage Journal
    The criteria for a good game, not surpising, kids say is an interesting storyline and unique characters.

    What BS.. one of the most popular games at the moment is Dance Dance Revolution which has no storyline, and the characters are overdone anime types who are there for no reason at all.

    A lot of kids are getting fit from playing Dance Dance Revolution, and even a school in Los Angeles bought a DDR machine for Phys Ed class. [cbsnews.com]

    Okay, it's not educational, but it's in a school, and the kids love it.

    Games do not necessarily need storylines (see almost any multiplayer game) to keep interest. They just need to be addictive. For example, Tetris, DDR, Tetrinet, SimCity.

    Talking of which.. anyone remember Sierra's 'Castle of Doctor Brain'? Great educational game, and I even played it a few months ago to bring back the memories!
    • But as you said, Dance Dance Revolution is not educational. The kids are saying that an educational game would need a great storyline, Oregan Trail is one from my youth. Dance Dance Revolution doesn't have a story so it doesn't need a great storyline. Presumable a game whose purpose is to teach WOULD have a something to say. That something should be wrapped in a great story, is what the kids are saying.
    • by lommer ( 566164 )
      The only "educational" game that I've ever played really, i mean truly, enjoyed, is civilization (I, 2, and III). Why? Because it was not designed to be educational! It was designed to put the player in a fun, challenging, situatation that happened to be educational. The other games mentioned on the site like Carmen Sandiego and Oregon Trail managed to keep my attention for a few hours sure, but I played civilization for days!

      I'd be really interested to see an article posted that interviews every single one of the students in that class regarding their opinion of the games. Then see if you still get the impression that these games are still as wondeful as this article says. I mean, all the evidence they present here is an interview with 1 student/family and a bunch of people who are either making or deploying the game.
  • During some of the math drills they said the music got a little stale, and they sometimes just turned it down. Some said they'd prefer a little rap or a little jazz to go with their calculations of mean, median, and range.

    Queue RIAA...

  • The criteria for a good game, not surpising, kids say is an interesting storyline and unique characters.

    What?!? I thought it was l33t gr4ph1X that you can turn off to get 120fps. And railgun jumping.

    Kids these days.

    Erik
  • by May Kasahara ( 606310 ) on Sunday September 22, 2002 @09:37AM (#4306624) Journal
    1) Working as a TA in an elementary school where I had to test out some Reader Rabbit games and an "Adventures of Lolo"-style puzzle game for use in the classroom.

    2) Doing a science fair project back in middle school on video games and hand-eye coordination. The project won first place and went to county, where it won second place.

    I'm all for more gaming in the classroom, as games can teach basic skills like critical thinking and logic.

  • What a poor proposition in general. Sure, players do "learn" while playing, in terms of improving their game-playing skills. They also remember details reinforced through multiple plays. However, video games present an environment too distracting for educational purposes. The already overstimulated kids would be receiving multiple aural and visual inputs from the game, applying some cognitive decision-making, then producing outputs on the game controller. Since this would ostensibly be done in a game-playing environment, there would probably be other distractions as well. Human Factors research shows that cognitive performance decreases rapidly with the number of inputs, the number of input modalities (aural/visual/etc...), and the complexity of the outputs. In short, you can not expect to really learn while playing a video game.

    I agree with a previous poster that video games should only be assigned as homework for courses in Computer Graphics.

    The quality of education in this country has become abyssmal. People 10 years younger than I have to reach for a calculator to multiply two two-digit numbers or to compute a 20% tip (double the bill, move the decimal one tick to the left). The average incoming freshman at my uni had a high school GPA of 3.7 or higher, but the research papers written by them--even as sophomores and juniors--would have earned me a "C" back in 6th grade. Have any of you "older" (30-40 y.o.) readers seen a contemporary textbook? They resemble USA Today with slick, meaningless graphics, horribly slanted and inaccurate "facts", and so little depth. Kids today are already being crippled by their shoddy education. Don't cripple them by expecting them to learn from video games.

  • "And, if you have any questions at all after you leave here, just ask your kids," said consultant Adelma Stanford. "They know these things inside out!"

    Tech Support = Kids.
    Assignment monitor = Kids.

    No forging notes from parents to teachers, it will be the other way around;
    "Dear Mr(s)Horshack,
    Due to budget cutbacks, we are unable to provide Horshack with his latest "chapter" in social studies.
    We would appreciate it if you could purchase "Frag'em to Hell" so he may continue this valuable portion of his education.
    Thank You,
    signed, Horshack's Teacher"
  • GTA3? (Score:3, Funny)

    by NineNine ( 235196 ) on Sunday September 22, 2002 @09:58AM (#4306670)
    So does this mean that the inner city kids have to play GTA3 for "homework"? Possibly for their preparation for the real world classes?

    Economics 101:

    Now notice, that when you crack a brotha' in the head with a bat, he drops his money. Now, other people will rush up to see what's up to see what's goin' down, and then you can clock all of those suckas, too.

    Law 101:
    When you have to steal a cop car, keep in mind that the doors are all locked. So, try to open the passenger side. When the punk ass bitch gets out to try to git ya', he unlocks all of his doors! So then slide in the passenger side, and take off while that fool is still runnin' around to the other side of the car!

    Sociology 101:
    Be careful when you're in a gang controlled 'hood. Taking one connected guy's car id gonna make all of his brotha's try to gat yo ass.

    Foreign language:

    After you piss off the Italians, NEVER go back into their neighborhood. They be gunnin' for ya with sawed-offs that can take out ANY vehice.

    Driver's Ed:

    Do your best to get a tank. Nobody casn stop yo ass in a tank. Those motherfucka's be solid!
  • One possibility... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by aking137 ( 266199 )
    I look after the IT for a school, and spend most lunchtimes in the library helping the kids with their homework and the computers. The Headteacher isn't mean't to be best pleased with the fact that the kids are always using the computers to play one or two of the fairly mind-numbing puzzle games on there instead of doing "research".

    Once I've actually got their network sorted out, I plan on writing a 2D platform game where they earn time in the game by solving Math problems, and where the problems that require more thought are rewarded with more time (so, for example, solving a few simple multiplication/division sums might get them thirty seconds, whereas solving a trig problem might get them five minutes). The whole thing will be completely voluntary, the prospect of shooting bunnies will hopefully be enough to spare them on a little, and they'll be spending their time doing something a little more worthwhile than clicking on pretty pictures (which seems to be the theme of a lot of so called "educational" proprietary software out there right now).

    The only problem is that unless they find someone else to do the library shifts every lunchtime then I'll have probably moved on to another job before I've had chance to sort their IT out and write the game. But then my attempts to get this through to management will probably only surface when they're asking why I left...

    --
    Andrew
  • I don't mean to flame the educational system, but mod me down for it cause i believe what i write.

    The entire educational system is in the crapper as far as i'm concerned. The larger problem is that we have teachers that don't give a darn about teaching and students who would rather be doing something else. Albiet that the latter has almost always been true, i mean, when did a kid *want* to go to school? I know many who do and the only reason is that from birth their parents have told them that to get somewhere in this world, they must go to school. Teachers, on the other hand, get paid less and less. That is the crux of the problem. I don't know many teachers who wouldn't bail for another job. The third issue is the idea in the American psychology that the school should teach everything from math to table manners to ethics (in other words: the school should be parenting). The fourth issue is our governments desire to fund murderous foreign goverments (read: Israel and a hundred others) with billions of dollars that could be going to our schools. All of this thrown together and we end up with teachers experimenting with tomorrows youth by playing video games. Did the generations of the 18 and 19 hundreds that got the ball rolling to have the technology we have today rely on a playstation? No, they relied on a pencil and a stack of paper. That is the only way to learn basic skills. That is way it should be. No video games in this household.
  • I quite often get video games for homework. We try to explore the narrative possibilities of video games. So for that we analyse games. Quite boring often when you are forced to play a game and get stuck in you're homework because you're not able to kill that one big mutant whose in your way. Well anyway videogames are another medium to tell something to another. FYI The study I'm occupied with is this one:
    http://dvtg.hku.nl
  • Ok, class...tonight you have to go home and really kill that big demon in Resident Evil.
  • I remember when Civ was assigned in college social science classes ...

    I'm kinda surprised that no one has mentioned that yet ...

    Just a little plug for FreeCiv [freeciv.org]

  • my nit pick is, "Interesting and original characters and story."

    Since when did DDR have a story?

    Since when was Marvel Vs Capcom2's characters original?( granted, given that MvC2 is a huge money maker at arcades and home alike, it must be doing something right... )
  • From the article:

    "The kids love it. They're interested in it, and if you can get students where they think they're learning and they're playing, it has hit the magic mark," said Joy Davis, assistant principal at Summerour Middle School in Norcross, Georgia.

    Freudian slip? Government conspiracy?
    You decide.
  • Bah! Kids these days have it so easy!

    Back in the stone ages when I was a kid, the only way we were assigned video games was as a programming assignment for our Assembler class! And not just any old ASM, but it would hours of dealing with that segmented 80n86 crap just to eek out an MS-DOS version of pong!

    And it was uphill both ways with holes in our shoes!
  • The other [ufl.edu] end of the spectrum.
  • Let's set aside for a moment the question of whether these games teach what they're intended to teach and take it as a given that they do. I still have an issue whis this: what the hell is wrong with the time-tested pencil-and-paper homework assignments? The students will tell you that they're boring. Students will find homework boring for one or both of two reasons: either it's too easy or the student isn't interested in learning what's being taught. In the former case, changing the format of the presentation isn't going to help anything. The latter case can be broken down into two subcases: either the material really is trivial, or it's valuable but the student is too indolent to bother learning it. In the former subcase, changing the presentation format still doesn't help. In the latter case, changing the presentation _may_ get the student to learn the material, but this has one nasty side effect: it teaches them absolutely wretched study habits. It tells them that it's okay not to give a damn about learning and that if we want them to learn something that they're entitled to a dumbed down presentation laced with eye candy that costs millions of dollars to put together. And as soon as they don't get that, they'll rebel.
  • ...l33t5p34k as a second language now?

    3y3 0wn3rz j00 0r3g0n tr41l!! ph34r my m4d v3n1son hunting sk1llz!
  • kids are idiots (Score:2, Insightful)

    by erikdotla ( 609033 )
    Interesting storyline and unique characters?

    What we need are UNIQUE STORYLINES and INTERESTING CHARACTERS, not the other way around.

    Most characters are either a serious cliche knockoff (Max Payne) or are unique but completely uninteresting and lack personality.

    Most storylines are cliche "save the world" rehashing to the extreme. They do need to be interesting, but the first step to making it interesting is to actually try to make it unique in the first place.

    And most gamers care more about SOLID and NOT ANNOYING gameplay and control. Counter-Strike's graphics are seriously outdated, it has templated characters, and no storyline, and it has no storyline, but it's popular because of it's rock-solid gameplay.

    Rant over.
  • ...and America matriculated in the school of the blind...
  • about a decade ago, I played sid meier's civilization and colonization a lot... they did not bring me straight A's all by themselves, but while learning, I had the "hey, I heard of that"-effect, and also had a rough idea what combustion, feudalism and unions are, and what happened in America between 1492 and 1776. That was quite helpful, and a lot of fun, because you learned stuff on the move, instead of getting it shoved in.
  • I remember my grade school class rooms use to have a full stock of Sierra adventure games. They were perfect because they were educational without education being there actual focus.

    It's a shame they stopped making games like the King's Quest/Space Quest series (I mean before they dummed it down and went with the icon interface).
  • ...in an English course at Georgia Tech. The theme of the course was literature and media depicting and relating to war; we of course read things like Crane's The Red Badge of Courage and watched Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket but we also had to play Falcon 4.0 and the Close Combat trilogy.

    It was an interesting course, not only in the subject matter but also that it drove home that where literature is classically just the written word, it's important to look at other forms of media when you're trying to get a view of how things are portrayed.
  • I have friends who were studying Urban Planning who were assigned homework in SimCity -- back in 1993!
  • When I was at the Media Lab's Visual Language Workshop we had an assignment to play a few video games. As it turned out, it was my first exposure to Civilization (the original, back in 1993). It was the most fun I'd had with a game to date - no manuals given, just figure out how to play the game and play it. I don't even remember the other games.

    IDRTA (I didn't read the article), but for comparative interface studies getting video game assignments can be a good thing. Other posters' bad-mouthing other things like language programs and such are almost right - the computer could be an excellent way to teach/learn many things including languages.

    Most things just haven't been done right, though.

    :PP

  • Is the point here to educate kids or to sell videogames? Setting aside those rare good games (eg SimCity, The Incredible Machine), most games with pretentions to 'educationalness' are just flash cards dressed up with animation and other distracting excitement. Though I do remember I owned MathBlaster Mystery when young, and it was a pretty good game, not in the cheesy animation way (it ran on our old DOS machine) but it had some pretty good logic-puzzle-ly games which also exercised math skills, one of them was like Mastermind meets multiplication (instead of a row of colored peg, you had to guess some two-digit muliplication problem).

Two percent of zero is almost nothing.

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