This week on the podcast, I was joined by returning guests Charles Amis, Zach Barth, along with first timer Matthew Burns who works at the Center of Game Science at the University of Washington to talk about educational games and their role in education.

SpaceChem1 2 560x200 Examining Educational Games and Game Design

I let Zach start things off as he was the one who originally put the topic forward for the first round table. The first question I posed to the group was on defining what is an educational game in today’s market? This also brought up a stroll down memory lane as we talked about the 90s and some of the popular education games that we played and the market for them.

We then moved on to talk about the big challenge of getting games into the classroom and that is providing positive results catered to the course curriculum. This led into a discussion on the current model of schools and education. As another great topic, we talked about alternatives to curriculum based teaching such as games that are about a topic or historical setting to get people interested in the subject matter. This also led into talking about how great Civilization was both from a design standpoint but also in terms of getting people interested in learning about history.

Moving on, we talked about how games could be used in the classroom as a way of giving students a task or project based around an interesting subject or setting such as Kerbal Space Program or Minecraft.

Another important point was talking what regular games can learn from the educational side in terms of providing quick and immediate feedback to the player so that they can improve their knowledge base and understanding of what’s going on. This also led into a comparison of Spacechem vs. Infinifactory in how they were different in the ways that someone could learn how to play them.

One of our topics was about the craze of gamification that happened a few years ago and why none of us on the cast thought that it was really going to do much in terms of education and getting people into video games. Lastly, we talked about why it’s difficult to get accurate results from studies on whether or not video games are helping kids learn.

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