(Mis)Uses of Technology

by Timothy Geigner

Filed Under:
education, pollution, simcity


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?

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    out_of_the_blue, 13 Nov 2013 @ 8:39pm

    Can YOU nuance? This is good -- and yet GTA is still BAD.

    They're not both good, see? That's nuance.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    Wally (profile), 13 Nov 2013 @ 10:11pm

    Toughest version of Oregon Trail...the Apple IIe version...also, it's the only one where you can write your own epitaphs ;-)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    PaulT (profile), 14 Nov 2013 @ 12:42am


    Do you honestly have to derail everything into fanboy gushing about Apple?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    McCrea (profile), 14 Nov 2013 @ 12:52am


    I cannot yet handle any positive spin regarding SimCity [2013].

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2013 @ 3:23am

    Fuck EA they banned all of my games because I charged back I couldn't even get into the game to play and when I did it was only a few minuets.
    What did they expect from me? I'm not into paying for shitty service on a game they couldn't even properly balance the load.

    It will be a cold day in hell "I'm an Atheist " before I ever buy one of their fucking games. I lost so much shit and a fuck ton of money.. :(

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Geno0wl, 14 Nov 2013 @ 6:16am

    I don't want your lemones

    ďWhen life gives you lemons, donít make lemonade. Make life take the lemons back! Get mad! I donít want your damn lemons, what the hell am I supposed to do with these? Demand to see lifeís manager! Make life rue the day it thought it could give Cave Johnson lemons! Do you know who I am? Iím the man whoís gonna burn your house down! With the lemons! Iím gonna get my engineers to invent a combustible lemon that burns your house down!Ē

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Guest, 14 Nov 2013 @ 6:47am

    F*** EA. I don't see the agent simulation lie from this game being used to make a true population educational tool that is worth any educational value.

    Unless you mean value like DOOM, in the computer science class room of your high school football coach, kind of value.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    michael, 14 Nov 2013 @ 10:53am

    "besides the point"?

    TFA said: "but that's besides the point."

    It's not "besides" the point; it's BESIDE the point.

    Think about it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    Paul Renault (profile), 14 Nov 2013 @ 3:06pm

    Re: Re:

    Apple][ fanboi does not equal modern-day Apple fanboi.
    Nope, not yours.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    PaulT (profile), 15 Nov 2013 @ 12:33am

    Re: Re: Re:

    You haven't read his other posts have you? When he's not waxing lyrical about how his basic entry level certifications make him an expert on everything related to I.T., he's gushing about Apple (and to a lesser extent Nintendo) in both its past and current incarnations. It's tiresome.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Jessica, 15 Nov 2013 @ 8:09am

    Awesome Post

    Way to make me literally laugh out loud at work. Great article!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Nov 2013 @ 5:11am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    To be fair the NES rocked. SNES was a bit of a let-down, though the N64 almost made up for that. As for the Wii... I guess if you like bowling...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: Techdirt Logo Gear
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.