Education Through Games, Or How SimCity Finally Became Useful
from the sim-school dept
Someone once told me that when life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade. I personally always wondered whether you should then expect life to give you vodka to put into said lemonade, but that’s besides the point. We all know that the SimCity roll out was an unmitigated disaster the likes of which had never been seen (if gaming blogs were your reference point, anyway). Fortunately, we have some very talented lemonade-makers in this country that are turning the game into a useful teaching tool for children.
Glasslab Games has worked with EA to make a modded version of the commercial game, called SimCityEDU: Pollution Challenge. While the primary use of the mod is to teach children about the dangers and solutions to citizens making everything smell like battery acid, a wonderful secondary use is to track how children apply what they’ve learned to problem-solving. The game also teaches logic-application beyond the pollution problem.
One neat change that’s been made is the addition of a number of 10-minute challenges to the game. An example given in this Fast Company report is “Can you use fewer bus stops to get all the kids to school?”, and at the conclusion of each everyone gets feedback on what they did right and what they did wrong.
Now, I realize that we’ve all been told that video games have no part on a child’s life beyond simply making them want to go on murder rampages or eschew the providence of playing sports, but it’s very nice to see some forward-thinking teachers applying some fun technology as a teaching method. It’s a far cry from the days when I went to school, when I was introduced to educational programs like The Oregon Trail, through which I learned how to shoot every animal I ever met, or the original SimCity, where I learned how fun it is to unleash tornadoes on an unsuspecting population.
Can we start having a nuanced view on video games and children yet?