SXSW:{ How Simulations Can Change the Future of Learning } Tuesday, March 13, 11:00AM -12:00PM, by Bjorn Billhardt.

Humans learn by doing. We master how to ride a bike not by watching a PowerPoint presentation but by trying it out and falling down. Yet, in school, most of our time is spent listening and memorizing facts. But the world is changing. As computer games become more social and computers become more prevalent in the classroom, the opportunity for true interactive multi-player learning through games and simulations is finally becoming tangible.
This interactive presentation will focus on how simulations can change the way we learn. Using examples from corporate training and the K-12 space, it will explore how simulations can teach children and adults in ways that increase engagement and retention of knowledge.
The presentation will include examples of both successful and unsuccessful simulations and chart a path of how simulations can revolutionize education by allowing learners — both young and old — to internalize knowledge through the process of learn-by-doing.

This is a concept I’ve been wanting to talk about… especially after trying out Skyrim.
I’ll keep it brief for now:Educational games aren’t a new idea, but many of them fail in that they’re not actually all that fun. They’re sort of just pretending, and it isn’t fooling anyone. Contrast try-hard edu. games with a game like Skyrim — a world where a player can do almost anything, but they often end up doing things like { catching butterflies and blacksmithing }. The latter actually succeeds at getting people to do pretty mundane things, without trying: learning through simulation. Very simplified in this case, but nonetheless, there’s potential.
There are also hundreds of books in Skyrim, but personally I haven’t bothered to read most of them because they don’t actually relate to the world outside the game, and their literary value alone doesn’t hold sway. But imagine if it did. Or if they were actually educational tomes. It would be awesome to be “adventuring” in an interactive world and happen upon an Isaac Asimov novel. Distracting, yes. But that’s sort of the point. Even better if that novel was somehow integrated into both worlds — the real and the game — so there would be a dual incentive and reward.
To be successful as an immersive game, something like this would need to retain the element of fantasy that such games provide. So for example, what about merging together something like the “Mage College” with actual physics: Quantum events could be made visible in a game environment, and there’s no need to make them any more “magical” than they already are.
Just rough, quick thoughts, but I really think there’s something in this… 

SXSW:
{ How Simulations Can Change the Future of Learning }
Tuesday, March 13, 11:00AM -12:00PM, by Bjorn Billhardt.

Humans learn by doing. We master how to ride a bike not by watching a PowerPoint presentation but by trying it out and falling down. Yet, in school, most of our time is spent listening and memorizing facts. But the world is changing. As computer games become more social and computers become more prevalent in the classroom, the opportunity for true interactive multi-player learning through games and simulations is finally becoming tangible.

This interactive presentation will focus on how simulations can change the way we learn. Using examples from corporate training and the K-12 space, it will explore how simulations can teach children and adults in ways that increase engagement and retention of knowledge.

The presentation will include examples of both successful and unsuccessful simulations and chart a path of how simulations can revolutionize education by allowing learners — both young and old — to internalize knowledge through the process of learn-by-doing.

This is a concept I’ve been wanting to talk about… especially after trying out Skyrim.

I’ll keep it brief for now:
Educational games aren’t a new idea, but many of them fail in that they’re not actually all that fun. They’re sort of just pretending, and it isn’t fooling anyone. Contrast try-hard edu. games with a game like Skyrim — a world where a player can do almost anything, but they often end up doing things like { catching butterflies and blacksmithing }. The latter actually succeeds at getting people to do pretty mundane things, without trying: learning through simulation. Very simplified in this case, but nonetheless, there’s potential.

There are also hundreds of books in Skyrim, but personally I haven’t bothered to read most of them because they don’t actually relate to the world outside the game, and their literary value alone doesn’t hold sway. But imagine if it did. Or if they were actually educational tomes. It would be awesome to be “adventuring” in an interactive world and happen upon an Isaac Asimov novel. Distracting, yes. But that’s sort of the point. Even better if that novel was somehow integrated into both worlds — the real and the game — so there would be a dual incentive and reward.

To be successful as an immersive game, something like this would need to retain the element of fantasy that such games provide. So for example, what about merging together something like the “Mage College” with actual physics: Quantum events could be made visible in a game environment, and there’s no need to make them any more “magical” than they already are.

Just rough, quick thoughts, but I really think there’s something in this… 

wildcat2030
The current record for a virtual goods sale was set in 2010 by a space station in the game Entropia Universe, which sold for a cool $330,000—a vast amount, yet only the slimmest fragment of a multibillion dollar global trade. It may seem strange, but this makes a good deal of sense when you consider the level of belief, time, and effort now invested in virtual environments—not to mention the intuitive transparency of earning and trading within them when compared to the nightmare complexities of “real” finance. What we don’t have yet, however, is any kind of robust legal or intellectual structure for handling this culture. Consider “playbour” —making your living by playing online games, then selling the fruits of your effort to willing clients. As the author and activist Cory Doctorow explored in his 2010 book For the Win, there’s little official acknowledgement of this shadowy economy, let alone ways of regulating it or offering rights to those involved—beyond the right of the company operating a digital service to pull the plug. This needs to change. Like many distinctions between “real” and “virtual,” classifying goods by their physical status is rapidly becoming less useful than classifying them by the uses they are being put to—and by the networks of belief, obligation, and law that they exist within. With parts of the global economy rapidly sinking below water level, it’s time to admit that we already live in a quasi-virtual world—and that some of our digital creations are proving more durable than even cherished ideas about those places we happen to live.

"Stylized graphics do not make a game high art. High art is a work of importance. Works of importance are pieces of art that have cultural significance that include social commentary. Games as a whole are missing these key ingredients. Where are our games that deal head-on with themes like religious fanaticism, racism or the holocaust?"

-From “Roger Ebert is Right…

I firmly disagree with the above.

Many valuable points are made in the article: that the Video Game industry is particularly young, and that limitations like “must be fun” and “must sell” (for the mainstream, anyway) can keep them from being “art”, etc.

However, “Works of importance are pieces of art that have cultural significance that include social commentary. Games as a whole are missing these key ingredients.”

Are you MAD? A lack of social commentary?
I don’t think you’ve ever played a video game. Enjoy your hand.

deal head-on with themes like religious fanaticism, racism or the holocaust?”

I can see how that is “important”, but on the other hand, I think it is also very shallow. There is so much “art” like this already that it is almost a sad default: instead of being made for the right reasons - to challenge outdated, ineffective ideals, to inform - much of this kind of art can feel like a giant pessimistic circle-jerk of brooding. For the sake of progeny and so forth, the three examples cited certainly should not be ignored nor forgotten, but as far as examples of High Art go they are terribly limiting.

Yes, games are fun, and hopefully they will expand… but even Now their immersive qualities shouldn’t be overlooked. A game needs little to no explanation: it engages a gamer totally, it becomes their world for a time being, and it is beautiful. Days on end (of forgetting oneself in order to enter One Idea, One World, One Problem, stopping only to snack on bad fast food). Years, even. What else does that? Creating art does that. Scientific inquiry does that.

A film can do it for a few hours, a painting can do it for… well, that’s variable, and even so an ”art piece” often needs a little placard next to it, to explain what the hell it is that someone was trying to symbolize.

Games have the ability to take us away, and drop us back here, still thinking and even dreaming of them. That is really powerful, and hopefully won’t go overlooked for too much longer.

Games are a young form of media and in the years to come we will be given the opportunity to answer our critics and gain the respect of the mainstream, let us not waste it.”