Completing missions for rewards is a core mechanic in many video games, including best-sellers like “World of Warcraft,” “Grand Theft Auto,” “Fallout” and “Skyrim.” Quests are diverse and optional, and players can undertake them on their own schedule.
A good quest-based curriculum meets the needs of many students by offering a multiplicity of choices that cover standards
We began looking for ways to meta-game curricular activities,” said Haskell. “We built 3D GameLab to allow us to deliver any curriculum with game-based mechanics
When he first waded into quest-based learning, Isaacs created one central quest path that his students followed at slightly varied paces, and he added some optional side quests that could be completed for extra credits.
“Reluctant or disenfranchised students are very likely to demonstrate renewed interest and engagement when presented with the game-infused option,” she said. “Once the kids were granted some agency in the trajectory of their learning, they really wanted to succeed.” But she also recognizes that games may not be for everybody.
Garry’s Mod(GMod) is a sandbox game like Minecraft but instead of building and exploring, students use a fun physics engine that simulates things like gravity and mass. They also use a virtual toy box of assets from Valve Software’s popular games. The tool is a step up in complexity from the elegant simplicity of Minecraft, but with Garry’s Mod,students are exposed to physics concepts while having madcap fun.
Kerbal Space Program has a robust physics engine too, but it’s more focused than Garry’s Mod. Players purchase rocket parts, put them together, and then see if they can get a ship into orbit, to one of two moons, or even to another planet. These aren’t easy tasks, so play is focused on trial and error testing, and, like Minecraft, seeking help from the community is part of a successful strategy.
Sound Shapesis a visually stunning platform puzzle game set to a rich musical soundscape. Even better: students can create and share their own levels – like interactive sheet music — using sounds and objects unlocked by playing the platform game. It’s an accessible entry point into musical composition as well as game design, and provides an experience that builds on the creativity of Minecraft while offering something wholly unique for music lovers.
For creative kids who want to get their hands dirty, check out DIY, a site where students can find things to build, instructions for how to build them, and ways to share their creations with others. All projects are aligned to 50 skills that run the gamut from outdoors to indoors, and feature various challenges to complete and cool badges to earn and display.
Computer programming is a great next step for students who love to mod Minecraft or toy around with the redstone resource (which simulates basic logic and circuitry). One solid entry-level tool is Stencyl, a game creation program focused on codeless, cross-platform game making. By snapping blocks of code together, students can create games that can be published and played on a variety of platforms including mobile phones.
Minecraft has introduced a lot of youth to games as well as the critical thinking, problem solving, and creation skills necessary for self-motivated learning. The games and sites on this list have the potential to extend that learning, providing fresh outlets for self-expression in the digital world and beyond.
possibilities for a formal Renaissance-Man-Liberal-Arts education remain limited to the elite. The average, or common, student is encouraged to choose majors and institutions that track into a specialized vocation.
MincraftEDU and SimCityEDU provide flexible options for integrating familiar games with traditional classroom curriculum.
The ability to apply knowledge across disciplines is important, but it is not enough. It is important to combine that knowledge with strong social and emotional skills that serve as the foundation for good citizenship in the 21st Century.