Benefits of Playing Video Games

Here is a current article that talks about the different benefits of playing video games.

The Office of Naval Research posted an article about its program officer Dr. Ray Perez and his research discussing the benefits of playing video games.

If you’re interested in the subject I found a great paper from 2005 about Learning Games.

The Academic Advanced Distributed Learning Co-Lab members David Williamson Shaffer, Richard Halverson, Kurt R. Squire, and James P. Gee wrote an amazing paper about how video games may be the future of learning. They discuss how video games can teach us so much more than how to use a gun. They discuss how video games can teach a 14 year old politics, a normal person complex modeling, and help kids with cancer take better care of themselves. To find the paper use this link and scroll down to Joint Papers and find the working paper titled “Before every child is left behind: How epistemic games can solve the coming crisis in education.”

Don’t forget the FAS National Summit on Educational Games Report. The summit brought together more than one hundred experts to examine how to harness the power of video games for learning. This report is widely cited and contains a collection of the reasons in favor of using games and simulations in education as well the issues that need to be addressed if industry and education are to be able to collaborate on learning games.

Immune Attack in the press.

Cell Article on Video games 2010

Amy Maxmen wrote an article about Immune Attack for Cell!  Maxmen keeps you up to date about the push from the President and First Lady to make sure we are using video games and all learning technology to their fullest potential.   And then Maxmen summaries what scientists think of video game about science and then what DATA there is suggesting that they work!

The data that is quoted in this article will be published this fall semester.  We are in the final round of evaluations this semester.

Exercise while gaming!

Paul Ballas, OD, of our own Science Advisory Group, wrote an excellent opinion piece for Wired.

Paul thinks that video games that require us to be more active might help us actually become more active.  People exercise more when they can do something fun for exercise, he writes.  Paul suggests that if we rated video games for how active they made us, that the game companies would have a motivation to make their games meet higher standards.

http://www.wired.com/gamelife/2010/08/exercise-ratings-for-games/

Video games really do capture our attention.  But can they really provide effective exercise?  Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) did…  maybe a starship that you control with the DDR pad could be another fun game… if it isn’t already out there.

The Wii, and now Sony and Microsoft have motion sensing controllers that are making exercise games more popular and potentially more powerful than ever before.

Read the article and let us know what you think!

Interpersonal skills learned in a video game?

I believe that video games have the power to teach us many things.
Math (See Lure of the Labyrinth, and DimensionM)
Biology (MedMyst, CSI: The Experience, Cellcraft and Immune Attack)
Ancient History (Discover Babylon)
And the many games that teach social awareness and facts about current events at Games for Change.

But can a game teach interpersonal skills? Can a game teach problem solving skills? What do you think? Leave a comment and give me an example of a time when something you learned from a video game came into play in real life? Perhaps in World of Warcraft or some other multiplayer game you convinced another player to join you, and you have tried the same tactic in real life? Perhaps in Whyville you have learned something about getting people to agree with you? Must a game be multiplayer in order to foster interpersonal skills? What about Mass Effect? Have anyone learned any negotiation skills that have worked on humans in the real world?

I’m keeping my eye out for my own experiences. I know I have started to be more experimental and to take more chances in the video games I play. But I’m wondering what effect that will have on my real life. Maybe I’ll post more often on my blog. That would be a nice effect.

Cellcraft puts you in the driver seat of a cell

So, how do cells avoid viruses? If you wonder, try playing the game CellCraft.  It is a terrific game for middle school students or anyone.   Check it out, give the Cellcraft team some props on their forum, and then tell me what you like about the game.

cellcraftgame.com

www.kongregate.com Play Cellcraft here!

Immune Attack address more molecular detail, but we are trying to do essentially the same thing: teach people how cells actually operate at the molecular level.  The world of the Cell is frankly a fascinating huge place and it should be explored in as many ways as possible, games, stories, videos, it is a rich place for storytelling with many many points of conflict… between cells and viruses, human cells and bacteria, DNA vs damaging radicals…There are endless stories to tell!

Congratulations to the Cell Craft Team!  And thank you!

Mice Needed

Dear Faithful Blog Readers. I need your help! Immune Attack the video game is best played with a mouse, but many schools have laptops with trackpads. Do you have an old two-button mouse laying around? If you send it to me, I’ll put it to good use! I’ll give it to teachers who are evaluating Immune Attack and don’t have mice for their laptops. Roller ball mice are fine!
The mice will get used for many applications! Send your mice (please pay for the shipping) to me at
1725 DeSales Street NW
6th Floor
Washington, DC 20036

Thank you very much! Your help bring technology to schools is appreciated!

Want to Design Science Video Games?

We need you!

FAS Educational Technology Program is collaborating with Muzzy Lane Software to create a series of video games that help middle school students and teachers prepare for middle school science proficiency exams.  The collaboration is intended to draw in teachers, students, game designers and anyone interested to contributing to the design of the games.  Since middle school science covers a wide range of topics (Physical, Chemical, Earth and Life sciences) there is something to interest everyone.  The collaboration is called The Clear Lab Project, and is funded by a SBIR grant from DARPA to Muzzy Lane.

To get involved, go to the project website, http://clearlabproject.com/

Soon, you will be able to access our very first draft of a game design.  You can also find a “Game Design Template,” which is a list of the necessary components of an excellent video game design draft.

I look forward to many rewarding interactions with many of you as we design games for science together!

Can we grade Video Games?

I attended Games for Change 2010 in NYC in May.  I was really excited to meet Bill O’Brien, Senior Advisor for Program Innovation, National Endowment for the Arts.  How about that?  The NEA is interested in Video Games, so they must be art, right?

I think of video games as art.  I always have.  Video games make me think and feel and someone made it.  Art.  The art is in the fact that video games affect our thinking, affect our way of looking at the world, the affect us in a way a conversation with another human being may affect us.  This is because art is a way for one human to contrive a way for another human being to have an experience, even when the two humans will never meet.

I wrote to Bill O’Bien at the NEA and told him how I thought of art.  And I wanted to share it here, because I believe that considering video games as means of affecting the mind of the player may make it more clear that video games can open worlds the same way books, paintings and conversations can.

I am sure someone else defined art this way before me, I don’t know who.   Tom Bissell just published a terrific new book called Extra Lives. I haven’t finished it yet, so I thought I would tell you how *I* would judge video games and we’ll see how Tom Bissell does it.   OK, here goes.

Video games are essays.  Video games are written by an author who, like the essay’s author, is not present when the game is played.  Therefore, the game and the essay must be self contained.  An essay is designed to make the reader think or feel something, and this is why we call it art.  An essay may make me weep and may make me laugh, it’s that change in my thinking that we recognize as art.

Video games are museum installations.  A video game is made to interact with the player just like an art installation interacts with the audience.  Perhaps the pieces are arranged in a certain order, so that people walking by in the museum are sure to see the pictures in the right order.  Or, the author may allow the audience to walk around as they see fit.  Video games engage in this kind of manipulation of what the audience sees and in which order.   Some games are more free form, and others are more linear, just like installations in a museum.

Video games are stories.  And just like many stories, they often effect our thinking.  After reading a story, we sometimes see the real world around us from the point of view of characters in the story.  As Wayne Booth wrote in The Company We Keep: An Ethics of Fiction the characters, occurrences and narration of novels affect our thinking even after we finish the book.  Additionally, Booth writes that racism can be presented in a book, like Huckleberry Finn, but the book is not condoning racism, because the characters which we respect in the book do not condone racism.  Many games, even some ridiculously violent ones, contain stories that make the audience think about the consequences of their actions.  Often the story frames the violence in a way that makes it clear that horrible circumstances are driving the player to make terrible choices.  Bioshock and God of War both contain stories that explain why the player commits the violence, and leaves space for the player to feel remorse and consider the horrible consequences.  So just like any other piece of fiction, the player identifies with a character in the game, and the way the story is told speaks to the ethics of the fiction.

I think it is clear that video games are art, because they are attempts to convey emotion and thoughts from one human to another using device created by the author and which the audience interacts with independently.  The quality and worth of video games can be judged by the same standards we already use for essays, fiction, and museum installations.

This email is not an elegant or comprehensive description of all the ways video games are art, nor all the criteria that we can use to appraise them.  I just wanted to get across the point that video games create an experience for their players and this entire experience is the work of art.  While video game graphics can be art on their own, even simplistic or otherwise unpleasant or meaningless graphics can be art in the context of their video game because of how they contribute to the experience for the player.

Get your Newsletter here!

Hello everyone!

Our newsletter will explain our hopes and dreams for Immune Attack, will link you to surveys that are important to us because they let us know what you like and don’t like about Immune Attack.  Our Newsletter will also give you information about educational video games, science games and molecular science happenings in particular.  So read it HERE.  And if you are not receiving it already, send us your email now! (Newsletter will be once a month.)

Thank you!

Melanie

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