Confession: I have a love/hate relationship with games being used in an educational context. Despite my long history of creating games for entertainment, I feel uneasy about the possibility that a child’s first formal education experience would be through a video game. And to that extent, I won’t design games for kids who are less than about 10 years old because they should be learning through direct experience and not an app, regardless of how wonderful that app may be.
That much said, after some long discussions with my wife (homeschool teacher of 17 years, Waldorf trained) I may be one of the best suited game designers for this exploding segment of the industry, BECAUSE I’m such a skeptic. What I tried to do with Isopod is create an experience that, A: Builds a relationship to the subject matter through gameplay, based on fun and curiosity, and B: Creates an opportunity to fulfill that curiosity with an expansive body of data that continues to draw new levels of inquiry. In this context, both the heart and mind are engaged, and my hypothesis is that when used correctly, this method can better hold a student’s attention, as well as keep retention very high.
If Isopod was the course of study, and regular “game breaks” were taken in class to break up the more traditional teaching methods, what would happen? What I’m saying is, if students where allowed to play a game during class, that helped them build a relationship with the subject matter, how would they benefit?
This is what I’m guessing:
So let me be clear on this, I’m not suggesting kids should take regular breaks with just any kind of game during instruction. What I am suggesting is that games that are integrated into a unit of study, that cover the material, and are in a rich format that kids respond to, could be used as a way to keep interest high. If the child remains engaged, everything else falls into place. We can’t assume technology is going to fix the problems we face in education, but if the tool is used correctly and, most importantly, *designed* correctly, then there is potential.