Turns Out Virtual Worlds Teach Players The Scientific Method

from the well,-how-about-that dept

With so many articles trashing video games all the time, Clive Thompson (who continues to consistently write the most interesting articles for whatever publication he's writing for at the time) has a report about a new study that notes that kids playing virtual world video games are basically learning the scientific method, without even realizing it. That is, in order to achieve certain goals and milestones, groups work together to put forth a hypothesis and data on how best to tackle a problem -- and then when it doesn't work, they regroup, and change the hypothesis based on the new data. In fact, the research found that when looking at forums discussing the games, rather than a bunch of juvenile trash-talking (though, there was some of that too), much of the conversation would mimic the process of scientific discovery and understanding:
Someone would pose a question -- like what sort of potions a high-class priest ought to carry around, or how to defeat a particular monster -- and another would post a reply, offering data and facts gathered from their own observations. Others would jump into the fray, disputing the theory, refining it, offering other facts. Eventually, once everyone was convinced the theory was supported by the data, the discussion would peter out.
The researcher then takes this a step further, suggesting that one way we could revive sagging science education in this country is to embrace this aspect of video games, and get students to recognize that what they're doing is the basic process of scientific discovery, so that they don't think of science as being boring and irrelevant to their lives.

Filed Under: coordination, gaming, hypotheses, science, scientific method, video games

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  1. identicon
    Ajax 4Hire, 9 Sep 2008 @ 5:26am

    Art imitates life

    Art imitates life or is it Life imitates art.
    I have know for years that Video Games have a very excellent benefit in training and learning.

    Ask your surgeon how much video-gaming he/she does. If it is not much, look for a new surgeon. Video-Gaming is an excellent way to learn tele-operation/remote-operation. That is control of instruments thru a microscope. The physical connection between our actions and the results are getting more and more virtualized. Think of driving a car, nothing about the actions you do provide any power to moving forward.

    We are teaching a new generation to manipulate and control vast worlds outside the local realm. That virtual world may end up in a physical space or not. This message will stay virtualized until it is reproduced on a physical media (like a computer screen).

    The expansion of our universe and the sharing of imagination is becoming easier and easier. Video Games are only a part of the expansion, the physical human interface. Soon they will all be coupled to a network. Just as today you cannot imagine using your computer without a network, so too soon, you will not be satisfied with Video Games that are not MUD(Multi-User-Dungeon).

    If civilization can maintain the infrastructure, the future is exponentially expanding. I glory at the thought.

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