I’m not dead (yet)

Stuff is happening. I’ll tell you about it soon. My desire to blog about horror games remains insatiable, I just haven’t had time to compose my thoughts lately. Portal 2 might have had something to do with my absence as well.

Today I was on a panel at a conference called Learning from Hollywood, part of an annual event called the Cooney Center Leadership Forum. This conference was about education and media, and how we might raise the literacy level of kids using media that they consume in their free time, outside of school. I was on a panel ostensibly about social media and mobile apps, but I mostly just talked about video games. My argument today was this: games have the ability to teach, in fact they do it very well. But most games are only interested in teaching concepts that are applicable to the context of the game. A few traditional games (that is, titles not intended to be educational) have managed to teach real concepts without damaging the game play. And that’s the key: to engage kids the way that traditional games do, games with an educational agenda need to be first and foremost fun.

And, just for the record, you’ll be happy to learn that I referenced Siren and The Suffering (as well as other, non-horror titles) as examples of games that have something to say above and beyond the content required to play the game (Japanese folklore and the issue of capital punishment, respectively).

More updates about what I’m up to, as well as a resumption of regular horror game ramblings should begin soon. Stay tuned.

4 thoughts on “I’m not dead (yet)

  1. Hi Chris. I hope all is going fine over there. Since you already are american you might not perceive it but for so many non-english speaking cultures, videogames are a way of approaching more nicely to your language… bit by bit but effectively teaching them english! 😉

  2. I feel that I learned a lot from adventure games from Sierra and Lucas Arts. Things like cause and effect as well as problem solving. Further, as there was no voice acting I had to read a great deal. Games like The Incredible Machine also balanced education and entertainment well. I guess Prof. Layton follows on from this.

    I gather that Siren teaches patients, caution and forethought (as opposed to run and gun). I’m not sure what else.

  3. Siren is about Japanese folktales. Take any particular aspect of the mythology of that game and research it, and you’ll find that its based on key Shinto folklore with a very long tradition. It’s a conduit for this kind of information, if you are interested.

    I think games have an opportunity to present this kind of “hook” to more information. You play the game because it is fun, but along the way perhaps you learn something that you become interested in, and follow up on yourself. The game has thus been your gateway to learning about some subject you might never have considered before.

    Of course, this approach isn’t limited to games. You can read Snow Crash as a fun sci-fi novel or you can use it to learn about the history of human language.

  4. One game found to be very informative was 999: 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors for the DS.
    Not only does it brush players up on their math skills, it also presents a huge amount of random facts and theories, including Sheldrake’s theory of morphic resonance.

    Games have been known to improve many areas of brain function, such as cognitive function and memory, but it’s nice when a game really teaches the player something new.

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