Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Video Games

I played a lot of videogames as a kid (mostly on the Apple II, and then later on the Mac). At the time, of course, I just thought of it as fun, but now I realize I learned a lot doing so. Problem solving and resilience/determination are high on the list. You can't get anywhere in this world without being willing to try and fail and try again. Video games are great way to instill that instinct.

Of course Caitlyn has been playing games on the iPad for years now, but computer games are a different beast. In the past, we've focused on puzzle games; they make you think, but there's no time pressure, and not much need for eye/hand coordination. That was good for when she was younger, but now she's ready for more of a challenge.

We started with Return to Dark Castle, which is a remake of one of my favorite games from when I was kid. Now we're playing FEZ, which is delightful. Platformers seem like a good point on the videogame spectrum at the moment. They provide exploration and puzzle solving, but with an added level of arcade action, but not too intense yet.

I'm on the lookout for the next game. Any suggestions?

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Have you looked at minecraft? It's like legos plus problem solving.
Yes, one of her cousins is really into Minecraft, so we've been given a thorough introduction. Seems like a great game, with a lot of classic gaming elements, plus this whole world building (and even programming when you get more advanced) aspect.
Call of Duty Black Ops. Playing as a team and communication.
Yes! She's not quite ready for that level of game, but one of these days she will be.

Speaking of which, maybe instead of the ratings we have now, games should include a list of the skills they help you practice.
As a math teacher, I would suggest DragonBox http://www.dragonboxapp.com/ , it is an excellent way of stealth teaching algebra skills. It also (rather nicely) teaches some advanced topics without the need for the scaffolded structure from lessons.

Another really good problem solving/educational game is SpaceChem, which has a tiny bit of chemistry and a whole lot of spatial and timing puzzles.

On the idea of higher level puzzle games, try the secret world, which is an MMO structured around the idea that puzzles can be built into everything.
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