Microsoft exploring the educational benefit of video games

Monday, February 23, 2009

One of my biggest peeves is seeing video games treated as a single genre of games (generally involving shooting) as opposed to simply a medium, no different than books / newspapers / radio / tv / anything else. Just as with books you have worthwhile novels along with a lot of trash, with video games as well you have a lot of boring or trite games mixed in with a lot of phenomenal ones. One of my all-time favourites is Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, and one of the reasons is the music:

That type of game has pretty much no relation whatsoever with the games commonly thought of as typical video games.

Nevertheless, each type of game has a different educational benefit, including shooting games. The article from the Globe and Mail has the following:

Microsoft chief researcher Craig Mundie said during a visit to the company's Fargo campus that games could stimulate educational abilities by helping people develop “a higher-order cognitive capability.”

Many shooter games force players to track “how many bullets and bombs and missiles do I have, and how do I spend and where do I go get more of them,” Mr. Mundie said. In Gears of War, players must navigate underground tunnels and buildings, monitor weapons systems, gauge their health and find places to take cover.

I'd also like to see a bit of research done into those classic oriental strategy games where you control a fief somewhere in Japan or China and try to become the emperor or shogun. Remember this game from the classic NES?

That's Nobunaga's Ambition (信長の野望). What would be interesting would be to see a game similar to something like this but focused on modern economics, specifically running a country. Politics as well. Actually, I assume there already are some games like this but unfortunately I haven't had much time to play games over the past years...okay, decade.


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