Game design degree students know the importance of teaching in gaming. Most of them grew up learning from gaming. But what does that mean for true education in gaming? Some people find that playing video games about things that a person can do in real life is unnecessary. They encourage gamers to actually go out and do these things instead of staying in and practicing virtual forms of these activities. Or to read a book to learn about the world rather than learning from a video game.
Most gamers cite the fact that gaming is all about escaping the real world, but there is some truth behind gaming lacking education. Or at least, there used to be.
These days, with a bit of clever game design, developers are creating games that actually teach gamers how to play instruments, about parts of history, and even to provide therapy for children with autism.
Those people who hate virtual practice of real-world activities point their fingers at one genre in particular. Music rhythm gaming. Games like “Rock Band” and “Guitar Hero” provide gamers with simplified plastic instruments and are tasked with playing along with songs by pressing colored buttons in time with the pattern on screen. There are a variety of other factors that go into the game design, but this is what most people point at when they criticize gaming.
In October 2011, Ubisoft took this criticism and gave gamers Rocksmith. Ubisoft’s title follows a similar idea with gamers playing along with songs by following the notes on screen, but this time, gamers are given an actual guitar. Rocksmith touts the support of any actual electric guitar as its major selling point.
Developers used a variety of similar game design quirks; the colored notes from Rock Band, various gaming icons, and tons of familiar tunes, to push their product into gamers hands. Critics praised it for promoting actual learning, through chord progression and scale patterns, in a generation more used to pressing hard on colored plastic buttons.
Ubisoft hasn’t only tackled the world of guitar playing to teach gamers. They have grabbed hold of history as well with the Assassin’s Creed series. Sure, games have touched on history in the past, but few games have touched on the range of history highlights as the Assassin’s Creed series has. From the Crusades, to the Renaissance, to the American Revolution, the Assassin’s Creed series has placed gamers in a wide range of locales rich with history.
The thought behind game design here is to provide an entertaining look into history, while dramatized and fictionalized at times, and to place gamers within these periods of history. Gamers are treated to the sights and sounds of each time period, which is heavily researched by the developers. It’s hard to ignore the appeal of placing young minds in the middle of the Boston Tea Party, letting them experience these things on the ground level.
Another example of educational game design that has prompted teachers to use their work in their classrooms is Double Fine Studios’ Happy Action Theater. Happy Action Theater is a Kinect-only title that has no goals, directions, or expectations. It simply allows gamers to interact with a variety of interesting on-screen scenes. A school in Australia has utilized this title as a method of teaching for its students with autism. The social aspect and ease of use with the Kinect has helped these students to get up and be active while also practicing their communication. The use of these games can also lead to inspiring these young students towards a career in game design.
Edutainment has been criticized by gamers in the past for being too one-dimensional and for being a bit too boring. The industry has started to lean more on innovative game design and has shown signs of stepping forward into a future where gamers can learn and be entertained all at once. You may have the next idea for the perfect educational video game that represents that future, so don’t hesitate and start your career with a game design degree!
Get information on a game design degree using the form on this page. School representatives will guide you through the process and answer any questions you may have about the various programs that are available to help you earn your game design degree.
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