I occasionally play games with the two nieces of my girlfriend. This got me thinking about how they are affected by playing them. In the case of the two little girls these were Wii Fitt, some horse game and Nintendogs.
I studied Sociology which helps me to self reflect on my gaming habits. But it is interesting how little we (who we design games) actually think what effect these games have on others. My diploma thesis showed that people have very different reasons why they play games and choose the games to play also depending on these reasons.
When I was a kid, I did not play games to learn. I also never played any specific learning game. But I think I still learned a lot from these games. In this post I don’t want to get into the question how the violence in these games might have affected me focus on two positive effects they might have had.
One of them was that I learned quite some English playing RPGs and Adventures. Playing them might also have been a great incentive for me to pay more attention to my English teacher.
Another type of game which aided my (basic) understanding about how the economy or society works were simulations like Railroad Tycoon or Civilization.

Today (as homework) I gave myself two topics I want to learn about in the future:

  • The two little girls are probably not old enough for all of the above games, but I will check out some games which they might like to play while additionally having a rather positive effect on them.
  • I want to learn more about how learning actually works.

In school the Math teacher told us that we would need this boring formulas our whole live and therefor should listen to him. He was right. While probably not everybody needs the formulas we all need the logical thinking we also learned on the way. Question is: Does a game like Crazy Machines help your logical ability in the same way as School Mathematic does. Neuropsychology should have something to say about it. What I know is that getting someone to play Crazy Machines is way easier than motivating him to attend a math class.

The million dollar question on learning programs and games is how much „learning“ these should be to actually being played.

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