Advent Calendar 2009

19 – What Can We Learn From Computer Games?

As a natural follow-up to yesterday’s slide deck, we have Mary and Douglas Kiang‘s presentation on digital games for the body, mind and soul today. Their talk outlines 21st Century skills expected from this generation, such as creativity, innovation, problem-solving, communication, and collaboration. If that does not sound like the core activities you do in your favorite game yet – the slides are going to persuade you.

First, we get a glimpse into the current student demographic. One thing, our generation needs to be really good at, is making strategic decisions and filtering information to our basic needs. As information around us grows and becomes widely available, a core skill in my opinion will be to be able to chose what information to take into account for making a strategic decision and what to leave out. Since we are a generation of active builders and learners, we are harder to teach, because for acquiring a skill we need to have just the right balance between a too easy or a too hard task. Often teachers are not equipped to generate this level of sophistication for their students, which is where digital games come into play (pun intended).

The slides discuss some of the factors that make great games, such as constructive (e.g., LEGO Digital Designer, Junkbot, Bridge CS, MIT Scratch, Alice, Squeak, or Microsoft Kodu), creative (e.g., Professor Layton, Enigmo, Crayon Physics, etc.), complex (e.g., Caduceus and Spore [see video below]), and collaborative (e.g., Rock Band, New Super Mario Bros. Wii) factors that are all somewhat aligned to create the big mysterious phenomenon called fun. The slides end a bit abruptly in the middle of examples. A takeaway summary would have been nice. Nevertheless, please have a look at the slides and their wiki site with resources.

Will Wright’s talk on TED (Video)


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