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Edutainment? We Already Have It
Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 March 2010 08:38 Written by servbot_kill Wednesday, 31 March 2010 08:37
It’s what most of us already know: modern games take real themes and ideas and integrate them into their narratives and sometimes their gameplay mechanics. If you pay attention, you actually learn things from games that end up useful in other areas, particularly those concepts you encounter in academia.
The more obvious examples are how games can portray history in a fancified manner such as the portrayal of Renaissance-era Italy in Assassin’s Creed II, the battlefields of World War II in any number of WWII-themed games, or to a more extreme extent, the over-the-top portrayals of Greek myth in the God of War series. More realistically, the Metal Gear Solid series taught about the history of the Cold War and the resulting attempts at arms control and suppression of nuclear proliferation by world governments. I know I was well-taught by that game– as an 8th grader in 2000, I learned about the Strategic Arms Reduction Talks and the respective START Accords that came out of them (even the fact that START II never passed into effect). Despite the fact I technically should never have been playing that game, I aced the test the next day. Thank you, Hideo Kojima.
Certain games can even teach business and accounting principles. The X-COM series had at its basic level an inventory management system and balancesheet for equipment management, where you would watch your funding levels and then decide to either procure or sell equipment and personnel for your crusade against the evil space aliens.
Fact of the matter is that this movement to integrating more factual information into a broader entertainment experience is what leads to a compelling experience and consumption of that factual information just lying underneath the surface. Edutainment attempts by academia and education companies (The Learning Company) weighed heavily on the factual information aspect while having little to no clue about what to do with the entertainment aspect– a reflection of their own background. You just wish they would stop denigrating video games as a medium and take a hard, thorough look at their strengths.
Then begin exploiting them.