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Video Games

Video games are just plain fun! Your students know it, you know it, but so do administrators and colleagues who sometimes think that if you are teaching something that much fun, it can't be truly educational.

To include game design in your CS class you might need a little help in pointing to evidence that not only is game design serious CS, but it is also serious business that involves serious money and seriously worthwhile topics. I've been gathering a few pieces of evidence "for the defense."

  • Video games are being used to train employees in everything from management at Chick-fil-A, and portion control at Cold Stone Creamery, to commanding a tank in the US Army.
  • Cargill uses an Adventure Park game to train employees in project management, complete with nagging bosses, pestering co-workers, and ornery contractors competing for attention with emails, phone messages, and urgent tasks.
  • Fujitsu America and GlaxoSmithKline use puzzles to teach teamwork and problem-solving.
  • The University of Washington struggled for over a decade to discover the structure of a protein that helps the human immunodeficiency virus multiply. After they posted on online game, Foldit, the problem was solved in three weeks by 57,000 players, most of whom hand no training in molecular biology!

    Gather more evidence from an interesting article in Delta Airlines Magazine:

    www.pageturnpro.com/MSP-Communications/38639-Distance-LearningCorporate-Training/index.html#/12

    Don't you just love it when you learn something six miles in the air?

    And for something a bit more scientific about serious games and crowdsourcing, read Gaining Wisdom from Crowds in the March 2012, Communications of the ACM (cacm.acm.org/magazines/2012/3).

    To see serious games in academic social, cultural health education in action, visit Serious Games (www.seriousgames.dk/node/511). And don'tmiss the US Army site with games for marksmanship, teamwork, and helicopter flying (www.goarmy.com/downloads/games.html).

    All of these resources can give you and your students plenty of evidence and ideas for creating games and simulations that go beyond entertainment.

    And if you're looking for teaching resources with a focus on creating games for social causes, look at the XNA Game Development teaching resources from Pat Yongpradit, CSTA member and CS teacher at Springbrook High School in Silver Spring, Maryland (www.microsoft.com/education/facultyconnection/precollegiate). Pat will be presenting Project-based Game Design for Social Causes at CS & IT in Irvine, California, this summer.

    Pat Phillips
    Editor, CSTA Voice

  • Comments

    I assume you're familiar with the blended learning movement? A key component is educational computer "games" (although I believe the preferred term is "content providers" hehe). This type of positive, educational exposure to what computers can do is definitely important to our future generations of CS developers and media/tech designers, agreed. :)

    Here's a very good piece about some of blended learning's pioneers: http://www.npr.org/2011/06/22/137318998/schools-blend-computers-with-classroom-learning

    As a student in computer science, I would one day like to work for a gaming company but it is good to see the wide variety of jobs that may be available. I have been telling my friends for a long time how important CS and gaming (to a minor extent) is for the future. This is some good proof to add to my comments. Thanks for the extra info :)

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