Puzzle Shooters? (spoilerish alert)

Jump to the bottom to see the pretty videos, if you’re like me and have no patience…

I just wanted to point out some new games that have come out in the last two weeks that defy standard catergorization, by being creative and putting new twists onto an old game:  the FPS.  You see, I’m not really taken in by the “novelty” of being more real.  COD?  How is Black Ops REALLY that different from the first COD?  How are the newest sports games REALLY different from past ones?  How are the newest fighting games REALLY different from the old ones?  More real, more complex.  (Though I have to say that I found the insanity of the combat and storyline in COD:BO, to be rather… unrealistic, and the people I know who spent time in the Army agree.  I mean, really?  One or two people versus a hundred – or more?  I don’t think so. Special ops only works in real life when they don’t know you’re there!)  Anyways, one way that “new” game types are created is by combining genres.  In this case, FPS and puzzles, as in the two games below. 

In case you haven’t been inundated with the ads yet (I’m sure most computer gamers already know about this, at least) Portal 2 came out yesterday.  Portal 1 was what I have best seen summarized as a “glorified tech demo” in which the developers played with the idea of having a gun that can create a portal you can walk through on (almost) any surface, to (almost) any other surface.  It’s a FPS, but only in that you have a gun that shoots something – but not people, just portals.  In fact, in the entire game, you character is the ONLY human you see the entire time and then almost only through the portals (see about 1:25 in this vid where the character is literally chasing themself through some portals.  Worse than a dog chasing its tail!).  It’s really a puzzle game, in which the goal is to get through multi-dimensional mazes.  The premise is that you are a “test subject” in an Aperture Labs facility, and you learn more and more sophisticated ways of using the portals (and learning about 3D thinking, momentum, velocity, frames of reference, gravitational acceleration, etc.).  You then use this new knowledge and your convenient portal generating gun to escape from GLaDOS, the evil supercomputer AI that is trying kill… ahem… I mean test you.  Spoiler alert:  You DO escape (assuming you win) and leave GLaDOS in a sorry state.  (Destroyed?)

Nope.  Not destroyed.  Portal 2 brings us back to the lab, where we find ourselves as test subject AI robots, that can now work cooperatively to pass the tests… and then what?  I don’t know.  It’s also cool because there is a cooperative mode, where two people have to work together to get to the end.  Finally, there are challenges, for time, fewest steps taken, etc.  Motivation to earn them all, I would say.

Sanctum is the newest and most interesting Tower Defense game I have ever seen.  Again, the developers add the 3D FPS aspect to the game, and learn by trying the puzzles over and over again.  This game has a fair amount of “just in time” info provided, and again, in a first for tower defense, I believe, there is a cooperative mode.  There is also an “infinite” mode in which you try to last as long as possible against wave after wave of alien destruction, which of course is tied to the leaderboards… motivation, anyone?

Both games meet more of Gee’s principles than you can shake a stick at, opportunities for Flow, ways of “cheating” (or is it?), problem solving, identity issues, motivation (intrinsic and extrinsic), reflection, and enough other “educational” aspects that you could make a career of studying them… or at least until the next big thing comes out…

realistic videogames vs. videogames in reality

This music video will rock your “what if” world.  Bonus points if you know the game.  Double bonus if you actually played… (no, bonus points do count towards your grades.)

Augmented Reality

So, Eric K. spoke about how we can use mobile phones to augment reality and learning.  There are other groups working on this, not necessarily from a K12 educational standpoint, but from an everyday use and just-in-time / need-to-know learning standpoint….

Google Science Fair

Really??? Google doing online science fairs?


Yup.  This was advertised on the edutopia.org website, and while I don’t normally follow advertisement links, this was intriguing.  Since it’s a competition with rules, a clear outcome, and a “space” it operates in where people are willing to change the rules of reality and take on a new role – that of scientist – I consider it a form of a game, although not a video game.

Students learn not only the science of their project, but also digital publishing skills since they have to post either a 20 slide powerpoint, or a 2 minute presentation online, or even make android or web applications!   For some students, this gives a meaningful context to the learning  – their work is displayed beyond the classroom.  YOU could apply to be a judge!  They have lists of links for advice, and even give tips for motivating students.

It’s still science fair… but it seems pretty darn cool, to me.

Motivational Montage


More Motivation…?

How’s your team doing? :-p


(courtesy of: http://www.marcofolio.net/imagedump/top_40_demotivational_posters.html  And no, the Ed 222 Instrucitonal team does not condone the words and actions you will see if you follow this link.  But one of the posters does offer hope to those of us with level 12 paladins…)

Amd… still more (de)motivation.

Professional football, and video games

This is the Wired article Barry was talking about.

In fact, a quick google search shows that Wired is actually fairly interested in learning from video games…

(thanks to the people who posted this on the live question tool!)

Intuitive multitouch… or…What??? Over 9000???

One of the things that can make or break a game, or even an entire gaming console when it comes to market, is the interface.  Thinking back, I remember when the interface question for gaming was simply how many buttons do you have?  (Think NES vs. SNES vs. Sega Saturn vs. PS2); but then with the XBox and N64 generation, the ergonomic nature of the the controllors came into play.  Some innovations I have found to be less than stellar (ie, EPIC FAILS.)  For computers, you can now get mice with 18 buttons, 12 just for your thumb.  But how do you even use that???  You can get lost on that thing!   I’ve also seen that mobile games are now using motion sensing and touch screens.  Really?  You want me to turn the entire device to aim and then press buttons on my tiny 3.5″ screen to shoot?  FAIL.

The link below is for an new advanced multi-touch screen, with some examples of how a it can be used as a gaming interface.   This reminds me of the interface in Minority Report.


Ok, so it doesn’t take 9000 inputs…. but 50 is a lot – more fingers than I’ve got, for sure.   (And I’m so sorry, if you get the >9000 referece… sorry that I used it, and sorry that you get it.)

Do you think this could change gaming?  Do you think this could make complex educational games, with simulations, models, and labs for example, better? Or easier to use?


Video Game selection

Having troubles deciding what game to play for the semester?  I’d recommend taking a look at these roundup of the best games of 2010:

http://gaming.hexus.net/content/item.php?item=27881 (the editor’s choices)
http://gaming.hexus.net/content/item.php?item=28149 (the readers’ choices)

A lot of these games are available through Steam, a quick and easy download and game management tool.  So… you don’t even have to go out to the store to buy a copy, and you can redownload it onto any computer, forever.

If you know of other good lists like this, feel free to reply and post them!