Tag Archive: games

Thomas Suarez-6th Grade App Designer

I stumbled on this TEDx talk by Thomas Suarez, a 6th grade student in South Bay (California, I’m assuming, San Francisco area). Thomas designs web apps for iPhones and iPads, he also started an app design club at school.

My first thoughts on this, and I might be going out on a limb, were ‘well, this is great for a kid from (most likely) an upper middle class household who have the resources to allow their kid to have iPhones and iPads, as well as pay for his apps to be in the App store, but what about kids who have none of this?’
This is where gaming in schools really hits the rail for me, because we are talking about perfect world scenarios for kids learning from educational gaming and technology, when some of those kids may be more worried about where their next meal will come from, or if they’ll have somewhere to sleep. How are we going to bridge this divide of the haves and the have-nots.
Of course, let’s not forget that schools can and should be providing this access, but they aren’t. Whether it’s due to budget cuts, lack of expertise, or general disinterest from staff (they’ve been doing what they do for a long time and they’ll be darned if some young punk is going to come in and try to change them. Can you tell I’ve worked with teachers). So, technology, gaming, and learning theory aside, how are we really going to implement programs like Thomas wants?


Lookie Lookie: The Evolution of Game Controllers

I came across this awesome infographic a few weeks ago and have been meaning to post it. Aside from being just an amazing image, both in its presentation and its complexity, I think there’s a lot this image can tell us about us as learners.

Starting from the top down (going in chronological order), you notice that controllers start off fairly simple, with one joystick and one or two buttons (maybe less). This is obviously due to the simplicity of games of the time, restricted by the technological capabilities of the era. As time progresses and computers get smarter and more sophisticated, so do the games that get played on them, thus their controllers begin to get larger and more complicated. This trend continues until near the bottom of the graphic, which represents the past 2-3 years. At this point, controller complexity (in terms of button layout, etc.) seems to take a few steps backward, with motion coming more in to play (pun intended); and in 1 case, the game controller disappears entirely (Xbox Kinect).

Does this mean that we have mastered the “game controller” as we know it? Or have games become just so complicated, that we must resort to the original controller – our body/movement?

Here’s the real question – what does motion gaming mean for learning? I think it opens up many doors, more than we have ever had, since we’ve been constrained to the physical buttons resting in the sweaty palms of our hands. Motion gaming like the Kinect adds a whole new dimension to the idea of being absorbed into the gaming world. Every action you do here (in the “real world”), has a direct consequence over there (in the game world).

However, I believe game controllers like the Wii or Playstation Move have an additional benefit over the Kinect – they combine motion gaming with a physical controller. With the Kinect, there is a large disconnect between yourself and your avatar on the screen. You get no physical feedback like you do from a game controller. The notion of holding out your arms like your holding a steering wheel, without actually holding anything, just feels weird. The Wii and Move controllers help augment your motion gaming beyond what your body is physically capable of.

It really excites to me to think how about how motion gaming can be applied not just to education, but to fields like physical rehabilitation.

What could a future controller look like?

Girl Gamers Unite! (at the CVGA)

OK, first things first – did you know that Michigan has a fabulous resource called the Computer and Video Game Archive? It’s located in the lower level of the Duderstadt Center, and is a unique and awesome resource available to students, scholars, and players at the University of Michigan!

As part of their efforts to spread the word about the CVGA, they are forming a Girls’ Gaming Group (G3). The G3 will meet on 2nd and 4th Thursday of each month at the CVGA. They have a public Facebook Group as well: https://www.facebook.com/groups/cvgagirls/