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Games Better Than Books?

michael posted more than 9 years ago | from the precision-motor-control dept.

Education 310

cellullama writes "Some of the leading video-game researchers are saying that games are better for teaching than textbooks. Three University of Wisconsin professors just said schools and corporate trainers should learn something from Halo 2 and Half-life. My workplace is already doing this (but don't tell my boss.)"

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I learned everything I know from Doom... (2, Funny)

Atrax (249401) | more than 9 years ago | (#11430919)

... now where's my shotgun?

Me too... (1)

HerculesMO (693085) | more than 9 years ago | (#11430950)

But I am convinced there will be hell on earth soon.. I have already made preparations.......

Re:Me too... (1)

Atrax (249401) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431039)

really? are you one of these [] , or one of these [] ?

You didn't study hard enough (1)

palad1 (571416) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431212)

You get a C+, for the effort

Everyone knows that what you really should use is the chaingun. A berserker and a chainsaw would also have been an acceptable answer.

Re:You didn't study hard enough (1)

Atrax (249401) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431271)

chaingun? pah!

in my day, we had it tough! it were shotgun or nowt! our dad would thrash us for using any of them new fangled rapid-fire things.

(truth be told. last weapon I was holding in Halo2 about 20 minutes ago was the shotgun. front of mind and all that)

Half Life (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11430925)

Half Life 2 could teach newtonian physics really well. If they just let you pick up creatures and slam them against walls....

Re:Half Life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11431034)

Bah, HL2's physics are overrated. Hell, 3D Pong or a simple game of racquetball could teach it equally well.

Re:Half Life (2, Informative)

EmperorKagato (689705) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431047)

There is a modification package that allows you to play with the physics and features of Half-Life 2. It is very interesting what you can do in the physics world of Half-Life 2.

Re:Half Life (1, Funny)

Dougie Cool (848942) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431086)

It's also interesting to try to calculate the difference between the computing power required to run the Half-Life 2 engine and the computing power available to your average secondary school.

Re:Half Life (1)

EmperorKagato (689705) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431137)

I'm sure corporations will be willing to donate simulation lab computers to schools. Especially if it only cost thousands to add on to an existing or build computers for a computer lab.

level of interest (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11430930)

give them a game all about math, no kewl explosion.. just math or history.

tell me now the answer to this study.

common sense is not common.

Re:level of interest (1)

MORTAR_COMBAT! (589963) | more than 9 years ago | (#11430998)

Number Munchers. Even now I would play that game on occasion. And all the game involves is answering short addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division as quickly as possible (for the most part). Add in some basic sound and parental encouragement, and you might end up with someone who scores 800 on the math portion of the SAT. (Or in my case [redacted], but I still hold a suspicion that the answer key was wrong on that question, damn it! And that was 12 years ago... gotta let go someday I suppose. ;)

Re:level of interest (0)

Lifereaper0 (850920) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431124)

Number munchers was awesome! I would play that all the time at school back in the day. Then again, I'm also one of the 4 people who liked mario is missing.

Re:level of interest (1)

MORTAR_COMBAT! (589963) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431148)

When I was in school, we had 1 or 2 Apple //e computers in some classrooms and if you finished your schoolwork in class first, you would get to play Oregon Trail, Carmen Sandiego, or Number Munchers on the Apple //e. In one class, the teacher even had an Apple //gs which could play Tetris. He would play on an overhead projector while you did your classwork but the same rule applied, finish your work quickly and you got to play. I can still do basic multiplication tables or diagram a sentence at a furious pace!

Re:level of interest (1)

Lifereaper0 (850920) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431247)

Ahhh Oregon trail, was there anything better than hunting pixelated buffalo? We had the same kind of settup in some of my classes as well. We had the old boot from real floppy disk computers that came with a math racing game. The quicker you solved the problems the faster your speed would be for your car. We were only allowed to play if you finished your work and you had to be quick because there were only 4 machines and 20 kids.

Re:level of interest (1)

BlueCup (753410) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431022)

There was this one game developed by Koei for the SNES and PC called Uncharted Waters: New Horizons. I played this game constantly, and learned a good deal about geography from it... definitely more than I did from my geography class. However, I will conceed that not everyone will enjoy these games, and learn from them... but compared to most (but not all) of the history/geography books I see, games would be much preffered.

Possible, but... (3, Insightful)

KDan (90353) | more than 9 years ago | (#11430933)

Games may be better at teaching certain things than books, but they can never provide the kind of mind expansion that reading a lot of novels can. People already read little enough. Replacing books even at school will probably reinforce this trend even more - and prepare a whole generation where the majority of people will not have bothered to read a single book! What a sad state of affairs that would be...


Re:Possible, but... (2, Interesting)

Atrax (249401) | more than 9 years ago | (#11430961)

I think that depends on the sort of novels you're talking about. There are novels, and there's pulp...

did you ever read the Doom adaptation novels, for instance?

I agree. (1)

gandell (827178) | more than 9 years ago | (#11430966)

Video games do have a different way of making you think...your environment is interactive rather than passive. This goes back to the whole movies vs. video games is interactive entertainment, and one is passive.

But you can learn a lot more in reading a simple paragraph than you can from running around in the environment for a half hour.

Re:Possible, but... (1)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 9 years ago | (#11430969)

You've never played a Final Fantasy game, have you? I dare say they're more novel than game.

Re:Possible, but... (1)

gandell (827178) | more than 9 years ago | (#11430999)

Unless you're talking about the latest adaptations (FFX was more like a movie than a novel). You want a novel? Try Xenogears.

Re:Possible, but... (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431080)

I've found most final fantasy games aren't even a RPG... I don't get much of a choice todo much.. I've seen more RPG like stuff in single player first person shooters.

Re:Possible, but... (4, Insightful)

KDan (90353) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431329)

Reading a novel isn't just about seeing a story. The story aspect is important as well - and it'd be true that a mindblowing story will be mindblowing whichever way you present it. But a movie or a game have a fundamental limitation, due to their very nature: they show you everything.

When you read a book, you exercise the muscle of your imagination. You create worlds in your head, you see things that you've never seen, your mind is at full work placing you in another universe. When you watch a movie or play a game (no matter how involved, complex, and interesting the story is), your imagination is at rest. Everything is provided ready-made.

Some movies, and probably some games, manage to work your imagination in a way similar to a book, because of the incredible genius that went into making them, but even there, they are usually lesser than the equivalent book in that respect.

I'm not advocating that books are "better" than movies (in fact I'm not advocating anything, merely presenting my point of view! :-) ), but that movies and games can never provide the same kind of value that books do - no matter how good they become. Unfortunately movies and games take a lot less effort and so are often the "easier path". This wouldn't be a problem if they were just something you do alongside reading books. But if you discard books in favour of movies and games - well, there you've made a big mistake.


Re:Possible, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11430992)

I agree. It's happening already - a lot of people in my generation (early twenties) don't read for pleasure. This sort of thing can only make it worse. Incidentally, I play games, but not to expand my mind - just to blow off some steam.

Suprisingly enough.... (1)

HerculesMO (693085) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431024)

I had to GRADUATE from college to start reading at all, and I've read four books nearly non-stop, and with a good attention span to boot!

The article in question doesn't draw the line between novels and learning -- novels are stories, and if it's a good story it can be very engrossing, though as my experience can prove -- it's not a task taken up by every person, nor easily taken up, especially with my own propensity to watch TV rather than read because it's easier.

I think this article refers more to younger kids learning, but since kids have a propensity to learn much faster and much better than adults, logic would follow that a computer game that uses some algorithms to determine how fast a person is say, learning to do arithmetic, can pace that child and accelerate his learning as compared to traditional books. And since the introduction to technology is generally a learning experience in itself.. it just opens a child's mind more and makes them better 'learners'. This is a great example of why each generation tends to be smarter and more productive than the previous one, though I'm convinced that my generation (24 years old here) is probably the laziest generation -- but we are still damn smart.

Re:Possible, but... (1)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431028)

Hmm, well, I'd compare playing e.g. Grim Fandago through with reading an entertaining novel through. Not all games are Counterstrike. ;-)

Re:Possible, but... (1)

Atrax (249401) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431174)

Never played Grim Fandango right through - I found it a little slow to get into.

Then again I also had to skip from the Party directly to Bree to get through Lord Of The Rings for the first time.

maybe I should crack Grim open again?

Re:Possible, but... (1)

Oxygen99 (634999) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431136)

Actually no, in recent years, at least in my country, book sales are at a record high [] .

It seems to be something of a myth that book reading is on a slide. Certainly book ownership has been going through the roof. Whether people are reading good books though is a different matter entirely.

Re:Possible, but... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11431291)

A quote from the learned: "People already read little enough."

True, but ... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11431349)

It really depends on what you're trying to teach doesn't it. Games are a model of reality. Games aren't reality. No game can give you as wide a scope of thought as reading a bunch of books can. Books still EDUCATE better than games.

Games on the other hand are better at TRAINING than books. If you want to learn a skill then computer based training is the way to go. You can get a lot of experience in a short time.

4 out of 5 scientists say..... (5, Interesting)

AtariAmarok (451306) | more than 9 years ago | (#11430936)

"Some of the leading video-game researchers are saying that games are better for teaching than textbooks"

Is there a corresponding team of book researchers saying that books are better for teaching than videogames? I'd tend to side with them.

Re:4 out of 5 scientists say..... (2, Insightful)

dknight (202308) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431037)

now, I havent RTFA (of course), but your quote says TEXTbooks.

Have you READ a textbook lately? IF you somehow manage to stay awake long enough to make any progress, chances are you'll be so confused that you wont know what the hell it said. Textbooks need teachers with them to learn. They need a translator.

BOOKS, on the other hand, are wonderful. I read at least a book a week, frequently 2-3. It's a great experience. Maybe they need to get better writers for textbooks, I dont know, but I wouldnt doubt that a game could blow a textbook out of the water.

Re:4 out of 5 scientists say..... (2, Insightful)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431108)

Below college level, textbooks are generally purchased by, and written by, committee. 'Nuff said. College textbooks suffer less from this malady, but aren't completely free of it.

Chris Mattern

Re:4 out of 5 scientists say..... (1)

KDan (90353) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431351)

Maybe we just need more interesting textbooks then!


Re:4 out of 5 scientists say..... (1)

PoopJuggler (688445) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431093)

I'd tend to side with them

Your team might be smarter, but you will get creamed in deathmatch

Re:4 out of 5 scientists say..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11431131)

Try a book on driving, and see if anyone will give you a license... Then maybe you will understand that interactive learning works much better than books.

Of course real life is even better than a game, but no school can afford to teach everything out in real life.

"Hello class. Today we are going to look closely at how a nuclear explosion works. Come closer to the bomb, so you can really see the neutrons split atoms".

"Hello class. Today we are going to look closer at Saturns rings. Fasten your seat belts. Ten nine eight..."

Re:4 out of 5 scientists say..... (1)

AtariAmarok (451306) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431150)

"Try a book on driving, and see if anyone will give you a license"

I learned to drive playing "GTA: Vice City". Now, if you want fair warning about the times I tend to take to the road, I will certainly understand.

Zombies (1)

elecngnr (843285) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431242)

These scientists are full of crap. First of all, you can't seem to get too many kids involved in a game that does not have you carjacking someone or killing aliens. Second of all, you can't get the depth and breadth of knowledge you get when reading. Sorry, I just don't buy the premise. Kids need less video games, more playing outside in the real world. Little Jimmy is going to learn a hell of a lot more falling out of a tree every once in awhile then he will playing some educational version of Halo 2.

Overlooked (3, Insightful)

Manip (656104) | more than 9 years ago | (#11430944)

Interactive learning has always been known to be better than passive learning any teacher will tell you that (remember the board games they use to teach you ABC?)

It's just that most people in a position to add this kind of technology are not qualified to or do not see the benefit of doing so.

The education will catch up with the technology eventually and then we will see something new.

Re:Overlooked (1)

Silverlancer (786390) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431052)

Games are only better if the student isn't motivated. If a game motivates a student, so much the better. But if the student already has motivation, a book would be better any day... a game just adds unneeded overhead.

Re:Overlooked (3, Informative)

meburke (736645) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431310)

Yup, I read this in a book about 1980, and some of the research came from IBM. Some subjects are better taught through simulation and games than book study. Flying simulators are a good example of the interaction between physics and manipulating the real world. The CDC Plato project had an incredible success teaching chemistry through it's simulated lab. The AEC in Augusta was using the Atari game, "Meltdown" to teach the fundamentals of nuclear plant operations. As mentioned in the article, the military has been big on games and simulations for a long time.

I wonder why it was necessary for these guys to restate the obvious....

hmmm (1, Funny)

georgelucas (810713) | more than 9 years ago | (#11430954)

"Three University of Wisconsin professors just said schools and corporate trainers should learn something from Halo 2 and Half-life" So they want a 3 year delay before new learning material comes out... but hey, the graphics are great!

Well... (1)

Digital Warfare (746982) | more than 9 years ago | (#11430956)

I've said this all along, but my Mum never beleived me !

It certainly teaches Hand/Eye cordination, life and death, sex and the best way to go on a killing spree.

ahhh.. games.

duh (2, Informative)

MORTAR_COMBAT! (589963) | more than 9 years ago | (#11430959)

1. kids don't know they are learning.
2. kids do things they find fun, and as much as we might try, they will learn from other kids that "reading isn't fun, playing games is fun" no matter how much fun reading really is or how suck the games really are.

so to that end I encourage having your kids play some of these games if they want to play games:
1. Typer Shark []
2. Bookworm []

And if you can find some old-school "Number Munchers" you're on your way to gaming-learning fun. I've placed these two games on desktops I've built for younger cousins and family friends, and the response has been quite good. They learn to type (Typer Shark, duh) and spell (Bookworm) in a creative and fun fashion.

(Me? I... uh... waste my brain away playing World of Warcraft, personally, but "I'm allowed to decide for myself, being 27" just don't tell the wife... ;)

Re:duh (1)

Jpunkroman (851438) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431017)

Number Munchers was the greatest game ever played in elementary school. I wish I could get my hands on a version for a current PC. You would even study math even more so you could get a higher score and be quicker than your friends at number munchers. What were the name of the monsters? I can't remember.

Re:duh (0)

MORTAR_COMBAT! (589963) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431188)

What were the name of the monsters? I can't remember.

Troggles [] !!

Re:duh (1)

gandell (827178) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431033)

Obviously not all kids agree with you. I read far more than I EVER played video games when I was a kid, and the sales of Harry Potter tend to dissuade me from thinking that all children think reading is boring.

In other words, it depends on the material. Hand a kid a technical manual to a Sonicwall Router, and he's likely to frown. But hand him a copy of Chronicles of Narnia...

Re:duh (1)

MORTAR_COMBAT! (589963) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431077)

I read far, far more than I ever played video games also. (Well, I had tons of books available at the library and I had no video game system, so this was easy.)

That's a good point about Harry Potter sales, but that is hardly educational, either, unless learning the words to the "Wingardium Leviosa!" spell is the kind of learning we're talking about!

Indeed (0)

gandell (827178) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431112)

Point taken. :)

Castle Math (1)

SunPin (596554) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431343)

This is old-old-school but it's what I started with.

The concepts behind teaching.... (2, Insightful)

Dozix007 (690662) | more than 9 years ago | (#11430971)

The whole thought of "video games being better" is a really interesting thought. But I think that people should consider the motivations behind reading and other things those crazy teachers make you do. Reading is a cognitive task designed to build certain areas of your cognitive ability that a video game simply can not do. Just like practicing a Calc problem you already know how to do may seem pointless, it still makes you better at Calc.

Ancient History (1, Funny)

Ratso Baggins (516757) | more than 9 years ago | (#11430985)

History based strategy games like Rome Total War, have taught me all I know about Roman/Greek history - Ok its not much, but previously I cared not to know, now I do... pitty games cant learn me to spell...


MORTAR_COMBAT! (589963) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431048)

Ditto for "Age of Empires". I have cousins who enjoy playing the missions and then reading the between-mission historical information. Yeah, it's not much, but it's more history than you get from playing Halo 2 on XBox Live! all day.

For spelling games -- hell yeah they can! Check out PopCap Games [] Typer Shark [] and Bookworm [] . Failing that, get into online Scrabble or something.

(And likely I have spelled something incorrectly in this post. I always do. Peace.)

Re:IAWTP (1)

Atrax (249401) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431330)

The FA mentions Age Of Mythology in the context of learning about ancient history, and that struck a solid chord for me, since AOM was pretty solidly (back)grounded in established mythology (aside from the fact the campaign civ was 'atlantean' - they were technically greek). I even got the urge to re-geek on the mythology thing after playing.

The Titans' Expansion, however, was pushing it a little. It didn't really add anything educational. It added a kick-ass Titan power though

Total War... (2, Funny)

HerculesMO (693085) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431261)

That game taught me that if I sucked... I would die.

I guess the Romans sux0r3d.

Real question (5, Insightful)

RasendeRutje (829555) | more than 9 years ago | (#11430986)

"games are better for teaching than textbooks"
Yeah right, but the real question is: are they better at teaching useful things than textbooks?

Re:Real question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11431153)


Of course you are not supposed to play Doom to learn biology, you need games that are build for the subject you are trying to teach.

Neverwinter Nights is awesome (4, Funny)

Xpilot (117961) | more than 9 years ago | (#11430990)

"You can use Neverwinter Nights as an application development environment"

Indeed, my half-elf character class is "Application Developer". He was known for his programming prowess in all of Neverwinter, until his job got oursourced to dwarves in Waterdeep. Then he went all ballistic with a bow and arrow and has been chaotic evil ever since. It's sad.

Responsibility (1)

edwilli (197728) | more than 9 years ago | (#11430991)

What kind of responsibility do the game makers have to keeping a historical game accurate? Will new games need to be developed as learning games, or will they only spark in interest, and people will still need to pick up a book to get more information?

Should history games stick to history? (1)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431178)

What kind of responsibility do the game makers have to keeping a historical game accurate?

The same responsibility that book creators do.

But you raise a deeper point. What is the true purpose of learning history? Is it only to understand a set of facts about the past? Other than a flash-card game structure (rote learning wrapped in a game), history is ill-suited to gaming because history is fixed.

But what if the true purpose of learning history is it to prepare the student for making political decisions in the future. A game that teaches the consequences of political/governmental decisions may be more powerful than a historically-accurate docu-game. The student would be able to try alternative histories and learn the likely consequences (better or worse) of not sticking to history's script. A game, such as SimCity, could form the basis for some powerful lessons in civics and government.

Re:Should history games stick to history? (1)

billjank (797411) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431324)

But what if the true purpose of learning history is it to prepare the student for making political decisions in the future. A game that teaches the consequences of political/governmental decisions may be more powerful than a historically-accurate docu-game. The student would be able to try alternative histories and learn the likely consequences (better or worse) of not sticking to history's script. A game, such as SimCity, could form the basis for some powerful lessons in civics and government.

But wouldn't this be extremely driven by the game developer's views on both history and human interaction? It's entirely plausible to envision games in which economics engines are tweaked such that the famines under Stalin don't occur or in which the US Great Depression results in death on similar scale without the migration from an agrarian society to an industrial society.

Likely consequences are as based on the author's worldview in game space as they are in novel space.

The two can not be compared (2, Insightful)

Simon (S2) (600188) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431005)

I think we con not compare Books and Games. They are just two different types of entertainment. You read a Book or play a Game in different situations, different places and with different moods.

No Surprise: Passive vs. Active (1)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431018)

Although books do transport one to another time and place, they are passive. A reader might imagine "what they would do" if they were in the character's pace, but they never get to try out that action. In a game, the player takes an active role: monitoring the situation, responding to the events of the game, and learning from their actions. The point is that if books have any built-in trial and error, it is a canned sequence that the reader has little involvement with.

It's a separate question of "what" people learn from games, especially violent fragfests, but that's a another topic.

A no-brainer. (1)

keiferb (267153) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431029)

If you can get the same amount (or more) of material into a video game as you can in a book, the game will obviously be much more effective. The ease of just being able to try something over and over again to see how changes in their behavior affect the outcome almost instantaneously is leaps and bounds ahead of any textbook I've seen.

This, of course, assumes that the target audience isn't afraid of computers or other such techno-gadgets.

Job and people skills can be learned from games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11431036)

You can indeed learn from games, for example, from playing Wing commander I learned how to get some annoying coworker replaced by a sexy female coworker. First order the annoying bastard to keep radio silence and then keep blasting him until he explodes. Oh, Angel Deveraux, I still pine for you!

Yeah, right. (1)

Dougie Cool (848942) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431044)

First problem: When did you last visit a school with a computer that's good enough to run Quake? The education budget in this country, at least, is sorely lacking, and as such the IT facilites of most schools are little or none. My old school couldn't even afford a licence for Microsoft Word; we were still using Works when I left less than two years ago, and on pentiums on Windows 95.

Secondly, I can imagine Half-Life 2 being used to teach kids physics. I mean, its physics engine is better than the real world's! But can you really imagine kids using games to learn, when they could be using games to play and have fun instead of listening to the teacher?

There's a reason learning games are so boring, you know.

Re:Yeah, right. (1)

kesuki (321456) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431350)

out of the 11,029,120* schools I've attended only one actually had a real budget for it/computers, because it was in a high propertax area, with a low population... ahh resort country. a combination k-12 in one building (although k-6 was only attached by a corridor) with a combined total of about 1,400 students... they had one of those live fiber optic classrooms.. way back when fiber optics was unheard of... ('94 I believe) yeah a rural school who's property tax base includes some of the most coveted lake shore property in minnesota... they had an it budget all right.

*= a slight exageration, try moving the decimal over 6 places towards the 11...

Accessibility (1)

milohanrahan (787011) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431053)

I think it's certainly true that in terms of immediacy of enjoyment and accessibility computer games knock spots off traditional printed media. Perhaps Half-Life isn't the most educational game that could have been chosen, but there is mileage in the idea that carefully 'engineered' games with subtle educational content might be useful.

Primary schools have known this for years; why is it assumed that when a child reaches 12 or so they suddenly become, or should become, burgeoning intellectuals? The "everything I know I learnt from Doom" post above may, on the surface, appear trivial but in fact the skills - particularly those involved in strategy games - can do nothing but good.

I would only suggest that the gore is toned down a little until the little tykes get to, say, 9. Level 9.

What a great idea! (1)

J-Doggqx (809697) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431056)

This would allow EA to "recruit" even more people to use as slave labor for their video games!

"Today's homework is to program 20 new players for Madden 2006." (And that's just the Gym class assignment).

Tactical Language Project (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11431060)

Check out this project [] . This is a sort of language/culture simulator intended to teach both languages and customs to soliders being deployed overseas. The whole thing is based on the Unreal game engine. There's a lot of potential for using video game tech as instructional technology.

Better at What Books Don't Do (1)

Jameth (664111) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431079)

Games are great for teaching somebody how something works in a once-through, overview sort of manner. It's like reading every header in a textbook but with tripple the chance of remembering it.

On the other hand, games suck for looking stuff up, which is where textbooks excell. Also, a good textbook is far better in terms of brevity. It's like comparing doing an experiment to reading about it. You want to do some experiments, yes, but I'd really rather not test relativity myself.

I'll keep my textbooks and my easy-to-look-up data, thank you.

The Diamond Age (2, Interesting)

bookemdano63 (261600) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431098)

I have been waiting for Young Lady's Illustrated Primer type game for years. Seems like games could be slightly skewed to teach better patience or thoughtfulness or agressiveness at different times.

Bullcrap. (2, Insightful)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431103)

A few things might benefit, but replacing books with video games? On the advice of the video gaming industry??

Ok then gaming industry, put your money where your mouth is. Write a really great game that teaches Calc I. Go ahead - I dare you.

"Dude, I totally fragged you with that asymptote!"

Re:Bullcrap. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11431344)

"Dude, I totally fragged you with that asymptote!"

(Switches to Chainrule weapon)

Suck that derivative death down, biatch!

Total bullshit (2, Insightful)

notany (528696) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431125)

Games are better if you can't read well of course.

But otherwise this is total bullshit!!!

Look where many rich IT-millionaires put their kids. They go to those elite private schools where they use computers as little as possible. Even less than in your local city center ghetto. You have to write with a pen. Write a lot. Do things in your head in the old way. Hand held calculators are luxury.

Good education is when you learn to think. Sitting behind computer you learn to copy paste information. Not good.

Re:Total bullshit (1)

Ubergrendle (531719) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431208)

Computers are a tool that require formal training and strict adherence to accepted inputs/outputs.

IMHO introducing children to computers too early and too much ~restricts~ their learning by enforcing artificial constraints upon their creativity and learning. A solid foundation in communication skills (language, writing), qualitative thinking (social sciences), and quantitative thinking (math, science) are all prerequisites for being able to use a computer effectively.

Of course, I'll provide a caveat -- you will want to gradually introduce computers to your children's lives as they become more independent. You don't want to raise luddites who have a internal distrust of technology... rather, you want them to understand the strengths and weaknesses of technology, and when and where to use an appropriate tool.

Re:Total bullshit (2, Informative)

dknight (202308) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431342)

ummm.. I went to one of those highschools (The Hill School - Donald Trump's kid Eric was a grade behind me). I gotta tell you, you're way off. Dont get me wrong, you do a LOT of writing, but they also have one amazing IT Budget. Computers throughout the library, laptops required for all students, wireless access all over, high end digital video workstations, MCSE classes, programming classes, digital art classes. Almost all writing done out-of-class happens on the computer. Only in-class essays/etc are done with pen and paper.

I dont know where you've been.

Sometimes should be a key word (1)

Evil W1zard (832703) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431134)

This statement would be much stronger if it included the word "sometimes" within it. Some kids would love to learn History by playing out a civil war campaign or the crusades or whatever in some sort of FPS game, but there are others who are much more inclined to read about it. There are also subjects that I think that books are necessary (say Calculus for example). You could add to the learning process by making a Jeopardy or quiz game to the mix, but a Calculus book will still be a core necessity in the learning process. I would be all for putting in some more itneractive computer based learning in schools, but books will always be there and should always be there as a resource. (Also don't forget about the smart kids who would try and mod the games so the outcome is changed. I would laugh at the first news report from XYZ High School where some student modified game code so that the South won :P)

Red Baron helped me (1)

flinxmeister (601654) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431144)

In my technology and civilization class in College we had to memorize quite a bit about WWI warplanes.

I was playing Sierra's Red Baron at the time, and you actually got to fly all those planes. It was much easier to learn those specs when you had to fly using them (and fly against them) in mock combat.

I think a education/gaming revolution would be a true innovation that would create a huge advantage to any country that adopted it. I don't mean glorified quizzes and gameshows...I mean actual simulation of the things we're supposed to learn.

You find yourself in a yearly appraisal... (4, Funny)

Angostura (703910) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431145)

What do you want to do?


You see your manager sitting opposite you, she is holding a sheaf of papers

>Examine papers

You can't do that.


You bump into a filing cabinet. You cannot go that way


You are carrying:

A PostgreSQL manual
A chewed blue pen (full)
A cup of black coffee
An NTK T-Shirt (worn)
A scarred Battle axe.

>Use Axe .... etc

Semantics (1)

CleverNickedName (644160) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431163)

"Games" is just another medium, like text or pictures. It has its advantages and dissadvantages, just like any other media.

Unfortunately it is still in its infancy, hence no works of Art yet.

Re:Semantics (1)

Atrax (249401) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431233)

well, how do you define "no works of art yet"?

I mean, some would say the whole of Quake (I) was a work of art. others would say that some sections of Halo (Halo, Silent Cartographer) were stunning in terms of landscape.

This is not even to extend out as far as the background stories - to cite Halo again, the world it's situated in is arguably as rich as any literary fantasy world. If you call "The Hobbit" a work of art, surely some story-heavy games can break into the "art" world?

Thanks Leisure Suit Larry! (1, Funny)

Dr.Opveter (806649) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431167)

This game taught me so many things like don't forget to remove your condom before going outside or the cops will arrest you for indecent exposure.

The Oregon Trail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11431172)

Whenever I think of true success to an education game, Oregon Trail (and it's sequels) keep coming back to mind. It was a perfect way to teach the trail, the locations, and common problems. Not only that, it was fun.

The only problem is that interactivity, on it's own, does not add to the experience. It needs to be engaging. Sadly, few games can really mix this well (Spare the other MECC Games, The Learning Company, and Star Wars: Droidworks).

I've had two hours of sleep in total, so I'm not sure what I'm trying to say here or how to end it, someone feel free to dissect my post.

In class... (1)

zwilliams07 (840650) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431182)

Now I can solve all those tough engineering finals with a BFG. Sweet.

Had that once.. (1)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431198)

I was playing a game (don't recall it's name), but at a certain point I had to board a train.
There where two trains in opposite directions traveling with different spead to eachother, had to figure out when those trains where going to meet eachother.

Come to think of it, the room I was it looked a lot like a class room. I wonder...

Next step... (1)

eRacer1 (762024) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431201)

replacing professors with games. LAN party field trip anyone?

University Professors? (1)

WaZiX (766733) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431245)

Im sorry but over the last couple of month i realised professors tend to speak more and more bullshit. You don't have to be rocket scientist to know that games overall are more appealing to kids, instead on focusing on this maybe they should try and develop more recreative ways of teaching, which in many cases are allready applied in schools. It seems recently professors are more devoted to bringing controversial statements/findings to the public rather then trying to find something usefull for the developpment of our society. Maybe I should ask a professor of my University to do a study on the useless study that professors undertake?

Video Games - Work (1)

davide101 (847486) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431256)

So, kids will play video games for 12 years and then come work for me? Part of education is learning how to do mind-numbing a tedious work so you can become a part of our economy. If education was always fun, it might kill a generation of working class people. Data entry isn't Halo 2. Or Halo for that matter.

couch crispies (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431264)

And yet, somehow, games don't influence behavior. Violent and antisocial games can't teach such behavior in real life. And girls don't get twisted self-images from playing with Barbie dolls. Of course games can influence behavior - that's one of the fundamental advantages of the human mind. We "play" to experiment, often entirely in our imagination. Those results can influence us for the rest of our lives. Of course, experiments confirmed with multiple physical experiments, like touch, sight, sound, location, posture, all override the flimsy near-dreams of imagination. But couchgrown kids who play exclusively in videogames, who never play with other kids outside, have little reality to contrast with the cartoon game experience. Parents have to make their kids go play outside a lot. Videogames might look safer, but they are the sugar cereal of the mind, making rotten bones and flabby muscle of character that can haunt the kid's mental health the rest of their lives.

In other news (1)

Pan T. Hose (707794) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431266)

"Some of the leading video-game researchers are saying that games are better for teaching than textbooks."

In other news, some of the leading book publishers are saying that books are better for teaching than games. Film at 11.

Blast from the past! (3, Informative)

Asprin (545477) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431272)

Ahhh, the good old days! Those of you younger than 35 or so aren't going to remember how much fun it was learning about digital cicuit design on an Apple ][ with Rocky's Boots [] written by Warren Robinett -- the guy that hid his name in the Atari game Adventure [] and kicked off the whole easter egg craze.

No kidding... (1)

Dracolytch (714699) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431273)

This isn't a terribly huge surprise... After all, simulators have been around for a long time teaching people. Games these days are pretty much simulators.

Simulations interact with more areas of the brain, and engages the participant more actively. The more engaged your attention and focus is, the more you'll learn. That's why a lot of people prefer to learn by doing. Doing virtually is probably the next best thing people have come up with.


Combination (1)

1019 (262204) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431282)

Books and games have already been combined! Anyone heard of Choose your own Adventures? How about the RPG-esque Lone Wolf Series? I used to have like, 20 Lone Wolf I was younger. Yes.

Spelling enemies (1)

Baramin (847271) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431283)

I've been playing online games for years with english and french speaking people (starting with everquest 1).

I met a ton of people who would have benefit(? bear with me if incorrect, please) a lot from reading instead of playing, especially when it comes to spelling and grammar. That's true for french players typing/speaking in french, and US players typing in english.

I can't count how many times I've seen "it's" instead of "its". And then there's the abbrev problem common to a lot of games, where people tend to use shortcuts to avoid learning complicated words (like rez for resurrect, and plz for please(sigh)). Yes, I know most of the time, these abbreviations are here to help communicate faster ingame, but I suspect some people are glad they don't need to remember how to spell 10+ letters long words.

In such cases, I guess books will always beat games in terms of learning material.

The article mentions halo, half-life, I don't see really what these games teach except not to jump off a cliff. At least they teach you not to launch a grenade if it can bounce back and explode at your feet (been there, done that)...

Anyway, as long as a lobby becomes powerful enough, you'll always find researchers to formulate whatever truth you need to make it more powerful (what was the name of that expert payed by the tobacco companies to pretend that passive smoking was just a rumor ?).

PS: To the smart trolls willing to pinpoint my own grammar and spelling errors, please, remember english's not my mother tongue. And translate that text in perfect french first :)

Re:Spelling enemies (0)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431328)

People yelling for rez? Must be neverwinter nights ;P

computer games don't influence kids (1)

Amarelito (852003) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431290)

I've played Pacman as a kid and if Pacman had affected me as a kid I'd be running around in dark rooms, munching pills and listening to repetitive music. Oops...

In other news... (1)

JossiRossi (840900) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431295)

Leading fast-food researchers say that fast food is better filling than health food. They advise schools to start taking contracts out with McDonalds.

These guys job is to research video games. They chose it as part of their career. Of course they will favor video games. Oh and I suppose not related is the fact that these professors will be the ones creating these "teaching games" and selling them first.

Who's the author? (1)

kleinishere (758849) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431318)

Someone better make sure these so called "scientists" aren't really teenagers looking for a way out of class...

Amusing ourselves to death (3, Insightful)

Alomex (148003) | more than 9 years ago | (#11431332)

I think the researchers should read "Amusing ourselves to death" by Neil Postman.

In it he discusses the expectation that education should be entertaining. Here's a review from

Reviewer: Nicholas Carroll

Although this book was written in 1984, the ideas in it are still relevant to today's world, even moreso now than back then. This is one book that I wish he would update with new chapters, because a lot of the critiques he made when he wrote this have taken on new meaning in the events of just this new century alone. For instance, his main critique is how entertainment has infiltrated our culture with a focus on trivia rather than substance. No where is this more apparent than a state recalling a governor a year after he had won reelection by a significant number, and that such a governor was run out of office in favor of an ACTOR, who many hope the U.S. Constitution will be amended so he can seek even higher office! This, despite the number of conservatives who tell Hollywood actors to shut up about politics in the run up to the Iraq war. Politics used to be showbusiness for ugly people, but now its nothing more than an extension of showbusiness. Even televangelists are critiqued in Postman's book because of the lack of sacred boundaries that television does not have as compared to a place of worship.

When I read this book, I can see examples that have cropped up in the 1990s that have proven his thesis true. Cell phones is one example. Ever eavesdrop on another person's public cell phonecall? I'm shocked at the trivial minutaie that people discuss with whomever they are speaking to, as if what they are doing at that moment matters to another person. What we get in a society that always seeks amusement for fear of boredom is a constant barrage of images and distractions that don't really mean anything in the end. The way we teach our children in schools to study for the multiple guess tests instead of teaching them interconnected facts that build a story, a history, an appreciation for the interconnectedness of our planet. So, we end up with people who can pull facts out of their rears to succeed on gameshows like "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?", where one question and answer doesn't relate to the next one. No wonder why people can't see a connection between our war in Iraq and our consumption of oil.

Postman is right...a society that seeks one entertaining thrill after another cannot survive and endure history's challenges for very long. When many people in the world haven't had their basic living needs met (food, water, shelter) while we are looking for the next entertaining thrill, what does that say about us? Why has amusement become such a huge, moneymaking value to our culture? When will we learn to balance entertainment with relevant issues that require serious study and attention? Why is our thirst for entertainment so unquenchable that now we're not satisfied with Hollywood's outpouring, but we expect entertainment from our politicians as well? These are questions that inevitably came up as I read this book. I really hope that Neil Postman will write a follow-up or update this book with minor changes (substituting references like "The A Team" and "Dallas" for "CSI" and "Desperate Housewives" for instance) and new chapters (like the phenomenon of Jesse Ventura and Schwartzenegger as governors; the use of cell phones for minutaie details; and the proliferation of reality television shows). But despite that, this is worth a serious read and discussion. 104-9479439-5627925 []
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