iPad, the future of Serious Gaming?

Let’s be serious now: serious gaming has made HUGE strides in the gaming development sphere. Not only has it rapidly jumpstarted the Graphics Processing Unit market, but set the bar for acceptable games far beyond what petty flash games have provided. But there’s something very special about serious gaming: serious gamers don’t take casual gamers, especially iPad gamers seriously. And because of this attitude, there has been a divide between the two communities, at least in terms development.

With this in mind, Kotaku has recently published an argument stating that the gap between the two types of gamers is slowly dwindling down. “Deep, original games like Chaos Rings and Sword & Poker 2 have stolen quite a few hours of my time. Ports like Final Fantasy Tactics and Secret of Mana prove that even the classics can work well on touch screens.”


I think this is serious. If we can combine the quality, community, and long-term use of serious games with the attractiveness, expedience, and social networking abilities of non-serious games, I’m confident that we can create a very powerful, and more importantly, ubiquitous product. Following this, one can imagine the huge consequences that these types of games could have on education. Would it be possible to create a ubiquitous, fun, engaging, standardized, AND educational? Maybe. And if that game ever comes into fruition, we could live in a world where videogames are an extremely powerful tool for mass education.

Online dating… better in WoW


I think this goes along pretty well with the concept that gamers can be quite social… and willing to get it on!

“According to the study, a whopping 75% of Warcraft players are dating someone else playing the game, and of those, another 75% actually traveled over 100 miles to meet their current partner. Wonder if they used a mount?”

I think this has a lot to do with motivation… but less so in the learning sense! Cheers guys.

CSMonitor, the media, and videogames

Hey guys, if you aren’t a regular reader of Christian Science Monitor, you should definitely check it out. It’s a great news magazine that has very little to nothing to do with Science or Christianity, but instead provides (what I believe) to be very objective news. Well, yesterday, they posted up a very long article about the reasons and motivations behind why videogames are so ubiquitous to our culture.


One of the big points that this article talks about is the fact that 25% of American gamers are over the age of 50, and the motivational tools used to push usage of these fun endeavors. Among the explanations they use, the idea of “fiction is life with the dull bits left out”. The author of the article talks about the fantastic aspect of videogames as a large motivating factor. In addition to this, he mentions completion (much like the same way one completes a book) as a source of pride and motivation.

Furthermore, the article addresses some common views about violence and video games, as well as the issues of pirating that often surround these video games. In the end, there were two universal principles that motivated the main player: having a good time.

Throughout the course of our class, we have focused heavily on the detailed explanations behind why gaming is so important for both learning and the classroom. However, this article focuses on a very important aspect of what makes videogames so ubiquitous: the sheer fact that they are very fun and satisfying to play.

I think the lesson to take form this is that “if something is fun, people will do it”. And I also believe this is the lesson that education wants to go toward, that is “being fun”. Though obviously a tough challenge, making learning fun seems like a reasonable goal for educators.

Games and memory

During class, we talked about how BrainAge was shown by a study to help children increase their knowledge in learning. Well as a person who has gone through school, I can say with certainty (now), that elementary and middle school never increased my memory, video games did!

If you’ve read my previous posts, you know that I used to be a pretty hardcore Neopets player. And the biggest part of Neopets was knowing prices of items and the flow of the market. To give you an idea of how many items there were (and there is more now), check out this site: http://www.neoitems.net/search2.php?Name=A&submit=Go!&Special=&Sort=Name&results=20&Checklist=no&Description=&AndOr=&Category=&Rarity=&IDNum=&SearchType=5

Obviously, there was a common set of items that everybody used, but it was still a huge amount. I never really enjoyed memorizing what I thought was monotonous tasks (French words, provinces, capitols, etc.), but I really liked collectibles like Neopets items, Pokemon cards, and what I believe contributed most to my memory abilities, Magic The Gathering cards.

To give you an idea of how many cards there were approximately 12,000 (each with a name infused with SAT level words, type, effect, picture, and mana cost) cards at the time I played (15,000+ now). And like a bundle of SAT flashcards, I meticulously memorized all of them. And I didn’t memorize them for the sole reason of memorizing the cards, but instead for the reason of gaining knowledge about the game.

I think this is gamefication of a horrible task, and I think that it honestly did help me in the long run. Because to this day, I still hate blunt memorization, but if I want to learn something to expand knowledge on it (like learning about the full view of the MtG multiverse), then memorizing the knowledge because very enjoyable and natural for myself. So hmm, perhaps I should make a medical school knowledge-version of these games….

By the way, prof Fishman, need a new video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0x4mCd5xrlo

This is the lamp I want

Happy spring break everybody! Not much about education in this post, but I thought I should share this with fellow gamers like yourselves:


As a huge Paper Mario / Mario 64 / Mario Party fan, I sincerely believe that this lamp could make turning on lights fun.

Gamification of protein folding… humans outsourcing supercomputers


Hey guys, last week, I wrote a blog on the Consider website about how gamification can play a role in creating novel protein crystal structures. This translates into “they can help cure diseases” in non-science English. As I explain in greater detail in the blog post, this is achieved by combining a large user base and getting them interested in a computer game which allows for protein folding simulation. This simulation is then used as folding algorithms on other better computers.

What this does is put gaming to ACTUAL use. That’s right, by playing a game, you could help a research group figure out the structure of their molecules of interest. This could eventually lead to more timely drug development and efficient cloud computing.

Check out the program here: http://fold.it

Gamification and satire.

Game theory, along with gamification often yields to very interesting outcomes. For philosophical thought experiments such as the prisoner’s dilemma or the tragedy of commons, a counter intuitive, but sensible response is the outcome. However, in dystopias, this can be a crazy thing:

(strong language advisory!)


Gang life is a lot like school, you learn essential skills that you apply to real life (thought gang activities tend to be a little more dangerous and unethical). So why shouldn’t they have some sort of videogame to supplement learning? As a matter of fact, what if the game itself was the gang’s method of settling disputes? No need to practice with that stolen weaponary, just go to the arcade!

Enjoy the trailer you guys, it’s quite entertaining.

Also a shoutout to XKCD for this sweet valentine’s day dilemma involving game theory.


Perhaps romance needs gamification as well…


First off, I’m proud of you LifeHacker. As a current blogger and previous WebMaster of the UM student organization Consider Magazine (http://consideronline.org), I think the point-counterpoint approach towards investigating these types of developing issues.

But with that shout-out to the sophisticated and intelligent publication on campus aside, I think Alan Henry brings up some very interesting points about the “entertainment” side of videogames. Our class focus is clearly on the side of educational value, but the fact that we actually play real videogames should be factored into their inherent educational value.

The article starts out by pointing out a recent Nature article which talks about how “brain-training” videogames have very little affect on actual cognitive abilities. I think the author is correct in stating that this should be VERY CAREFULLY looked at. Within several of his Counterpoints, he showed that there could easily be a wide array of affects that playing videogames could have, including learning a foreign language and helping with certain analytical skills.

For the most part, I think I agree with his overall conclusion. For example, in my quest for becoming a Starcraft pro, I have really increased my ability to balance juggle mental tasks while still consciously focusing on the major goal at hand (whether it be building an army, or crushing the opponent’s economy).

And even more pertinent than that, I started playing first-person shooters recently in order to improve my hand-eye coordination. Why did I do this? Well, I want to pursue a medical career and as any med student knows, medical school splits off into surgery and non-surgery rather quickly. With that in mind, if I happened to want to do surgery, I would need extremely precise and well-planned hand-eye coordination, very similar to the fast-faced jumping around and careful aiming seen in many high-speed first person shooters.

Perhaps later on in the semester, I’ll try to dig up some studies about how there has been correlational studies between FPS-playing surgeons vs. non-FPS-playing surgeons. If I remember the statistics correctly, the margin of proficiency is very eye-opening.

So all in all, do I think conventional video games have a place in day to day enhancement? Sure. But at the stage they are at right now, I think they will have to be part of the stress-management/having-fun category rather than vocational and skill-training stages.


In case you missed it in class…

Here is the Consider article I handed out during class:



The issue discusses the topic “does education need government intervention?” The discussion stems from Obama’s recent visit to the University of Michigan. Check it out to learn more about this issue!

FINALLY, after 6 long years, I beat “Fury of the Storm” on Stepmania!

I think there’s something said about persistence… For those of you who know me, you should know that I have been a Stepmania player for a long time. Stepmania is a rhythm based Dance Dance Revolution simulator that you can play on pad (like DDR) or on the keyboard (for much harder songs). I have been playing since early highschool and I have been on and off in college (mostly because this game is a HUGE time drain).

Throughout my Stepmania playing career, I have gotten pretty damn good, but I have never been able to beat a certain Dragonforce song “Fury of the Storm”. For those of you who aren’t metalheads out there, Dragonforce is notoriously known for their ridiculously fast solos and drumming (they recorded their demo completely on a drum machine, because no musician could keep up when they sent it in!) I’m not exactly sure which learning principle came into play for me when I beat this level, but I think the fact that I took a brief hiatus from the game actually changed my perspective on how to tackle several of the levels.

I didn’t Fraps the victory (I got a C, but I still beat it! Thaor, the player in the video, got a AAA, which is rather inhuman), but here’s a youtube video showing the level. Just FYI: This is at least 6x as hard as it is on Guitar Hero!:

My forearms hurt pretty bad right now.

Learning & Scribblenauts

Scribblenauts is an AWESOME DS game. It let’s you draw your way to victory in it’s fast faced and, oftentimes, multiplayer action. I want to give it a shout out to legitimatize this post… because I don’t play scribbnauts, I play DoodleInClass.

http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1882127,00.html, that’s right, Time Magazine has stated that doodling in class helps with information retention! I think this is important, especially considering that lecturing is the least engaging learning methods. I’m currently taking a drawing class, so hopefully these doodles will get better over time, but for the time being, Enjoy!