Buckminster Fuller foresaw the consequences of American intervention in Vietnam without the help of a military simulation. A professional visionary, Fuller was a self-made engineer-architect-inventor whose interests spanned from mathematics to philosophy. Born in Massachusetts in 1895, Fuller devoted his life to making “the world work for 100 percent of humanity, in the shortest possible time, through spontaneous cooperation, without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone.”
For lots of gamers, the power of the medium is its ability to place us in the shoes of other people, making tough choices that we’d otherwise never need to contemplate.But how does that message of power and opportunity spread outwards, away from the mostly indie games that address serious issues, and the relatively small number of people who celebrate these noble efforts?
Some recent studies suggest that video games, even violent ones, can increase a child’s learning, health, and social skills, and many educators are now looking for ways to integrate them into school curriculums.
With that in mind, we reached out to some game designers who are also educators, or who work in educational software, and asked them to name some of the most instructive examples of games that teach effectively–whether they’re intended to be educational or not.
As the gaming industry matures and becomes an increasingly important form of cultural communication akin to painting or film, work created by both genders becomes ever more important. The Game Center, under the chairship of Frank Lantz, views their mission as primarily cultural and not strictly technical.
Even at that young age, I was crying myself to sleep, praying to wake up as a girl, with no memory of being a boy. Outwardly, I was just your typical roughhousing little boy, I didn’t ask to play with Barbies, I didn’t insist on being called a girl, I didn’t demand girl’ clothes. Those things were much much too scary to ask for at the time. The only way someone would be able to tell something was amiss was if they paid close attention to the way I used to play Super Mario Bros. 2. I used Princess Peach obsessively. I still have muscle memory for her floaty jumps and the longer length of time to pull up turnips, even to this day.
In fact, engagements in which wargames have saved lives — on one or both sides of a conflict — are not hard to identify. Wargaming is widely credited with helping the U.S. Navy prevail in the Pacific during World War II. Admiral Chester Nimitz, who commanded the Pacific fleet, is quoted as saying, “The war with Japan had been re-enacted in the game rooms [at the Naval War College] by so many people and in so many different ways that nothing that happened during the war was a surprise — absolutely nothing except the kamikaze tactics towards the end of the war; we had not visualized those.”
Perfect Woman’s main mechanic is body-bending. Standing in front of the Xbox One Kinect, players sync their arms and legs with the poses of a woman on-screen—at one point, a street kid leading a gang, at another, a belly dance teacher. The life choices you make, and how well you sync yourself with their demands, can impede or further new ambitions you have as you age. For example, when a life choice is more difficult, the poses on-screen change more rapidly. It’s fairly exhausting, and quite embarrassing to play, for example, in front of colleagues.
It’s a simple experience, but that makes it all the more effective in communicating the dangers we all face as illness-causing bacteria evolve to get around our methods of killing it. The game was created in partnership between game developer Preloaded and The Longitude Prize, which is currently pushing scientists to create better tests for bacterial infections so that only the right antibiotics are used to combat illness in a targeted manner. That way, the overuse of antibiotics will slow along with the evolution of bacteria that react to it.
The patients who fully tested out their fears in virtual reality by lowering their defences showed very substantial reductions in their paranoid delusions. After the virtual reality therapy session, over 50% of these patients no longer had severe paranoia at the end of the testing day.
There were even benefits for those who confronted situations they feared in virtual reality while still using their defences: around 20% of this group no longer having severe paranoia at the end of the testing day.
In the trailer above for the movie My Urban Playground, there’s a quick discussion of the fact that Colossal Order and Paradox Interactive’s wildly successful Cities: Skylines has been used for real-world urban planning — of a new transportation system in Stockholm, Sweden.
It’s part of a larger discussion of how games can interact with real cities, which is the subject of the documentary.