14Dec2018

Gaming: An Enemy Or Ally Of Education?

91% of American children play video games, studies show. It’s safe to say they are heavily influenced by the media they consume, but gaming could be an optimal way of learning – about the vast, mysterious expanse of space, for example?

Xbox One Controller Beside Three Xbox One Cases

There is much potential in the application of technology to traditional values. Let us adapt to the future, not fear it.

Not all games are first-person shooters. There are plenty of examples out there that are capable of kindling excitement about black holes, red dwarfs, and the stars in the night sky; plenty of games that will make us lift our gazes from our screen up towards the heavens.

Why Video Games?

Video games are deeply immersive, creating an environment where the player is engaged and excited about the skills they have to learn to play. It’s a very rewarding environment, which is why it can be problematic to set appropriate limits, but that’s no reason to shun such a powerful tool when it can be used for acquiring real and useful knowledge.

There’s a reason why “learning by play” is such an important thing for toddlers – we simply learn best when we are enjoying ourselves – wouldn’t you rather observe the birth of a planet than reading about it in a textbook? Having screen time discipline is a must, though. Everything in moderation.

If you are interested in trying this approach, you’ll want to do some research into which computers can run which games. No need to invest in a full gaming rig, though, a decent laptop will do in most cases. Sound should also be a priority – the tinny, built-in computer speakers are neither pleasant to listen to, nor sufficiently clear. You’ll want some quality audio setting the vibe for your space travels.

Three Space Games Worth Looking Into

Space Engine is a universe simulator. That’s right, a universe simulator. Developed by Russian astronomer and programmer Vladimir Romanyuk, the game attempts to reproduce every kind of known astronomical phenomenon, and does so beautifully. One can freely float around as an observer unaffected by the vacuum, or choose ‘spaceship mode’ for a more realistic interplanetary trip.

Kerbal Space Program is known for the challenge of assembling a functional spacecraft (based on realistic aerodynamic and orbital physics), that will safely get your crew of little green alien astronauts (Kerbals) into space and back. If you wish, you can recreate historical moments, such as the Apollo Program. One small step for a Kerbonaut, one giant leap for Kerbalkind.

Faster Than Light, or FTL, is more adventure-based. You have to take care of your crew and spaceship, which is no trivial managing task on its own – you’re also on a mission to deliver important information, and you’re being pursued. Diplomacy, strategy, and patience are also qualities you’ll need to put to use when you come face-to-face with an enemy ship.

There is much potential in the application of technology to traditional values. Let us adapt to the future, not fear it.

Article supplied by our US correspondent: Sally Perkins

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