EDUGAMING: Playing to Learn
Edugaming is in the midst of a resurgence. After the initial successes of the 1970s and 1980s, intense competition from console game systems from companies such as Nintendo, Sega and later Sony severely cut into demand for PC-based educational games, which often paled in comparison. As a result, many edugame companies were quickly outpaced and outspent and were either sold, downsized or forced out of business.
In the 21st century, video games are a multibillion-dollar industry, the productions of which are similar in size and scope to major Hollywood films. Gamers have changed as well, with recent surveys putting their average age at around 33, while another survey found that some 97 percent of teens acknowledged playing a video game recently. A new generation of edugaming companies has also appeared. These companies are designing new immersive environments to teach curricula, and many are finding success by marketing directly to schools, instead of competing at the consumer level. The growing edugaming trend is not without controversy; some still question its effectiveness. But as new generations of educators raised as gamers gain influence, and as new and better edugames are continually being developed, the debate may soon come to a resolution similar to that concerning the value of television: it is the content, not the medium, that matters most. Here are just a few of the many options, in four different subject areas, to consider using in your district.
DimensionM Multiplayer 2.0
$7 to $20 per student annually
This new version of the groundbreaking DimensionM game explores more than 200 math skills for students in grades 3-12 via immersive first-person simulations and now includes content aligned with math curricula from Pearson. In each mission, students face numerous mathematical obstacles that require knowledge of content and swift reactions to successfully navigate a series of mazes. As they play, students build upon basic skills like multiplication, division and fractions, which later enable mastery of everything from proportions, number lines, and adding and subtracting integers, to order of operations, evaluating expressions, employing function tables, and solving complex equations. www.dimensionm.com
FEDERATION OF AMERICAN SCIENTISTS
Free download, $5 on CD
Geared toward middle school through senior high biology students, Immune Attack is a free supplemental teaching tool designed to complement textbook instruction, developed by the Federation of American Scientists. Players control a microscopic robot and navigate through a 3-D body, completing a series of missions to detect a bacterial infection and activate the appropriate defensive immune cells, simulating the biological process that occurs during an infection. www.immuneattack.org
Achieve Now for PSP
Packages start at $725
Achieve Now is a series of 29 reading/language arts (including one Spanish/ELL) and 28 mathematics adventure games for students in grades K7, all designed for the Playstation Portable, Sony’s handheld consumer gaming platform. Programs include interactive games, school and home learning activities, and student assessment and teacher support materials, and are available in packages with or without a PSP included. The content is aligned to individual state standards, textbooks, standardized tests, and professional association standards. www.plato.com
Making History: The Calm and the Storm, Education Version
$49.95 teacher edition, $19.95 download edition
A World War II strategy game, Making History recreates detailed battle settings of the war. Students play from a detached, board gamelike position, and the game includes over 80 nations and more than 800 geographic regions. Each nation includes detailed characteristics built on extensive research, such as economic and military strengths, diplomatic relations, ideology, and technical advancement. Players devise strategies to win battles based on their nation’s historic strengths and weaknesses, as well as those of opposing and allied nations, and they can explore the history of the time through a variety of printable companion classroom materials available for download on the site. www.making-history.com/edu