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
    Research God, 9 Sep 2008 @ 9:18am

    People! Stop and READ the article

    Some of you need to slow down and actually take the time to READ the original article linked to in Mike's post. Then, for those who can appreciate it, read the actual published research article.

    Too many people talking about Halo, pac-man, etc - that is NOT what the researchers were looking at, rather, as some folks have correctly pointed out, MMORPGs. The process involved in these types of games are different and the researchers focused only on one type of game - thus you cannot generalize to all video game play genres

    The fact that some seem to want to apply the findings or fault the findings as they apply to Halo and other similar games indicates that they do not understand the implications of the actual study.

    Please read the original article, and even better yet, read the published study before posting.

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