What’s Your Platform?

Continuing with the 3D GameLab teacher camp, I’ve been looking at more styles of games and how they would best fit in my classroom.  I already introduced a couple of my classes to the text-based games like Zork — and more of them enjoyed it than I thought!  I originally gave them some time during class to play from a list of pre-selected games.  The only requirement, I said, was that they had to dedicate the first ten minutes of class to playing Zork.  When I told them their ten minutes was up, nearly 80% of them kept playing!  Awesome response!  I’m definitely thinking of taking this to the next level and having one of my other classes use this in conjunction with some reading, writing, and problem-solving activities.  I’ve been thinking of requiring them to create a map and develop a walk-through guide based on their playing experience.

Today I had the chance to play some online platform games — flash-based versions of Super Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog.  While I enjoyed dusting off some old favorites, I didn’t see much of an application to the classroom for these two games.  However, as part of the quest submission, I had to find an example of a platform game on my own and share it.  The game I found — and could definitely see using in class — was called Invertion.

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This platform definitely had more problem-solving skills involved than simply jumping on a Koopa Troopa’s head.  There were levels where you had to split yourself in half and control both sides — with the understanding that your other half would be controlled using the same commands, only backwards.  Take that a step further when you’ve got players moving forward, backward, and upside-down on the ceiling!  I really enjoyed this game and saw how this could offer a challenge to my students beyond what I saw as being readily evident in Sonic and Mario.  Don’t get me wrong — I love those games!  I just don’t see them as passing the “would I be able to vigorously defend the use of these games in my curriculum?” test.

I like the way these games foster creative thinking and problem solving — I found myself thinking through all of the possible solutions to each level as I played through Invertion.  As I relate these games back to the learning going on in my classroom, I can see comparing the type of problem-solving that happens here with the way a character in a novel works through their own internal and external conflicts.

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One thought on “What’s Your Platform?

  1. Hey I just wanted to stop by and say that I loved your article and I admire any teachers that are willing to go out of their way to promote technology and gameplay mechanics within the context of their curriculum. I’m a student game designer, and I’m fascinated by the idea of educating children [ and adults ] through the interactive power of gaming. I’m definitely going to have to give Invertion a shot.

    I wrote an article about a conference I had seen given by Gabe Zichermann and his ideas on how gamification of education can actually promote smarter children. If you’re interested I’d totally suggest giving that a look:

    http://gastrogamer.wordpress.com/2012/03/21/gamification-how-games-make-kids-smarter-by-gabe-zichermann/

    If you’re ever in need of some unique games for your curriculum let me know and I’ll see what I can find you. My school has us playing unique and different games all the time as reference and study for our own gaming projects, so I’m around them all the time. Really glad to see others seeing the benefit of game education though – instead of viewing them as merely wastes of time.

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