Everything I Know I Learned From Carmen San Diego

from the trade-wars-taught-us-finance dept

Coming from a generation which honed its problem-solving skills decades ago sitting at an Apple IIe and playing Oregon Trail, it’s a little strange to see a professor in 2006 having to argue the merits of educational video games as a learning tool in the classroom. The professor argues that video gaming can teach children innovative adaptation skills, assuming teachers are using the right games: his. Dubbed “epistemic games,” the professor’s titles teach kids adaptive thinking while they tackle simulated occupations such as biomechanical engineering, journalism, or graphic artistry. We’ve discussed studies claiming that games help kids to multitask, improve their confidence, or just make learning more interesting. Of course there’s been quite a few scientifically dubious studies as well, many financed by publishers who argue kids should be gaming in class, well, just because. Many of these studies and articles seem to lump games into one massive category, and obviously there’s a huge difference between Doom and city simulators — or skill building games like Math Blaster. Of course the media’s obsession with Grand Theft Auto may have left parents and teachers game-phobic, making them unreceptive to new educational gaming ideas. Whatever the reason, the educational gaming industry has been hard hit, and has been facing a consistent and significant drop in sales since 2000. It’s a shame, since trying to find Carmen San Diego made us who we are today.

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Comments on “Everything I Know I Learned From Carmen San Diego”

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Anonymous Coward says:

oregon trail in a nutshell

you’ve died from dysentery.

honestly, computer games helped me a lot as a kid. i remember putting in those huge 5.25 inch floppies and playing games like Blackout or random trivia games. i’d be excited to get to play ’em cause i didn’t have my own computer so sometimes i’d look forward to it at school. it made learning fun because kids like games. if you make learning a game, it’ll appeal to them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Cop: “Son, why did you rob that bank?”

Young Boy: “Well, my math tutoring software taught me how to figure probability and with $20 million in the bank and a 1-100 chance of success, I could make $200K. Plus, the future value of money proves that it is better to steal the same amount of money today than five years from now.”

Cop: “Damn video games!!!”

PhysicsGuy says:

everything i know

i’ve seen some good titles for “articles” here, this takes the cake. it’s so true. it’s also nice to see nintendo stepping it up in this field with brain age. games like doom (in particular cs) do have their merits though, they promote hand eye coordination and greatly improve your reflexes (even if the effect only lasts a short time after playing the game); and as misanthropic pointed out, it’s useful to know that when it comes to zombies your best bets are a shotgun or chainsaw.

heh… and as qyiet points out, without games in general it would have been a lot longer (if ever, i still think oses should be first and foremost command prompt based) before i learned about editing my autoexec.bat because my soundcard wasn’t working…

oh, and there is some economic merit in teaching your kids that you can stay up as long as you kill the hooker and steal the money back AFTER services are rendered.

Demian says:

learned english from games

I also learned a lot from videogames, for instace, English, I’m from mexico and mote fluent english by just playing videogames than the rest of the people (who learned in traditional english classes) and now I have a better job than them =D, not just thanks to english language, but that alone is a very important part of my skills set

Celes says:

Re: Re:

I think Roger Wilco was my first crush… ^_^

I loved text adventures as a child – I remember begging my parents one Christmas to just buy me anything by Infocom. I was into Carmen Sandiego, but I only played Oregon Trail at school. It’s a shame to see these kinds of games starting to die out. Plus, most of the educational games I’ve personally seen recently don’t actually seem to be any fun…

Lutomes (user link) says:

Story of my life

I remember in primary school I was king of Oregon Trail, Carmen SanDiego and Incredible Machine. Maths Blaster was good too, but I wasn’t the best at that (Still good though)

It was games like those that developed my problem solving skills and set a great foundation for the rest of my life. Of course Carmen gets easy once you know every single clue in the game…

Greenbird says:

Critical Gaming

It’s kind of ironic that the most critical and important vocations have been embracing gaming as critical to becoming competent, some for a century or more, yet it’s merits aren’t really recognized by educators at any level. Gaming is the only way to become competent in politics, military leadership, economics and flying just to name a few. Kind of reinforces the old adage that those who can’t, teach.

chris falco says:

I have fond memories of my 8088 and Apple ][ games.

I saved up all my birthday $ to buy Where in the USA is Carmen Sandiego after I got into the TV show which used to air on PBS stations in afternoon hours.

I learned more about the US form that game than probably any other source. There are still things form that game the follow me to this day. Such as where the Sioux indians came from.

I also played Math Blaster….alot…..infact I remember convincing my dad to pay me to play it, 1 penny a point. So I’d play for a few hours and print out my scores and make enough $ ($1-2) to ride my bike downtown and buy some baseball cards.

Ah the good old days.

At the same time, i remember getting a copy of Mortal Kombat from my friend in Junior High and playing it for a few hours when I first got it, and my parents sat me down and told me they felt it was too violent of a game and didnt want me playing it. I kept the game disks but I didnt play it.

I seemed to have fairly well informed parents (which is maybe uncommon?) but they seemed to steer me in the right direction.

And while I love playing M rated games, like Grand Theft Auto today, I’ve never carjacked or shot anyone, but I sure as hell remember my multiplication tables.

It all comes down to the parenting.

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