Friday, June 1, 2007

Best Educational Medium? Video Game Technology, Of Course!

Parents, Don't Fear Video Game Technology, Just Find a Good Use for It
Most parents tend to believe that video games offer nothing of value to their children who are seemingly addicted to them. Other people point to studies that indicate playing video games increases hand-eye-coordination, multitasking skills, and reflexes. I would argue that both of these claims have some validity, but only in context to otherconsiderations. I would agree with the first claim if it was amended to say violent, thoughtless videogames. And, to the second I would say that while this may be true, I'd like to see it in comparison to other activities, like sports that require intense physical and mental challenge. Safe to say, I would imagine that sports bring far more benefits in terms of coordination and reflexes, not to mention many other benefits associated with physical exercise, teamwork, and in many cases the simple enjoyment of being outdoors.

Kids and Teens, Explore Education Opportunities within Fun, Video Game Like Virtual Realities

If you're a kid or teen, you have probably heard from your parents or other people that you cannot make a living playing video games, no matter how hard you wish. Well, for 99.9 percent of all people this is absolutely the truth. There are some people who compete professionally in video game tournaments for money, but these people are, in their respective environments, similar to professional athletes in that it takes an extreme amount of skill relative to their peers to compete at this level. But, as this video will demonstrate, the technology that underlies video games is changing the way we communicate and is going to have an increasingly important role in the way we conduct business in the coming years.

Using Game Technology for Instructional Purposes
First, despite whatever reservations or objections we may have against video games, I believe we must face the fact that the video game industry now generates more revenue than Hollywood movies do. Clearly video games represent a gigantic industry and huge numbers of people, many of whom are not just children and teens but adults, are playing a lot of them. Some young people I know have three, four, or five video game systems. Perhaps this is an extreme case, but the question inevitably arises as to how we can put thisenthusiasm to good use, rather than simply being dismayed at the inordinate amount of time young people spend with these past-times playing violent or otherwise useless games. The games are fun for people, but they can also be educational.

New Media Consortium Virtual Campus in Second Life

A Brief History of Video Game Technology
Video games build upon some fundamental technologies. The base technologies include computer hardware, programming languages, arithmetic, geometry, calculus, and physics. Building upon these are digital music and audio, strategy, computer graphics and three-dimensional rendering technology. The software that gaming vendors create to support their video games are called game engines, or physics engines. As the word engine implies, they provide the core workhorse functionality and power behind all sophisticated computer games.

Discovery Channel: History of Video Games

Today's Bleeding Edge Virtual Realities are Tomorrow's Mainstream "Web 3.0" (Forget Web 2.0)
During the last twenty-five to thirty years, these technologies, taken both separately and now together, have been changing the world we live in. Many of us still have parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents who grew up in an age before any of these technologies were available. Today's world looks very different, yet it also still very much the same at a more fundamental level. At that fundamental level, people are still people, and we all want basically the same things for ourselves, our friends, families, and communities. We're all curious about our world and the possibilities for ourselves and others within it. As the rest of this video will demonstrate, these technologies are being used in some very creative and exciting new ways on the internet that will, in the coming years, offer possibilities to change the way we communicate, socialize, and conduct business in ways far greater than the world wide web has over the past decade.

Art Created in Blender 3D Software

Some of my Videos About Second Life
I've been experimenting with the Second Life platform over the last few months. I run the portal RIght now, the main purpose I have for Second Life so far has been to create a virtual art gallery for my 96-year-old great-grandmother's paintings. She has been painting for her whole life, and our family has 100 photographs of her paintings. Here is a video tour of her gallery:

Introduction to the Carola L. Gough Art Gallery in Second Life

A Brief Tour of the Carola L. Gough Art Gallery in Second Life

To learn more about this inspiring woman, check out this page:

Touring the Carl Sagan Pavilion in Second Life

When I first encountered Second Life, I thought it would be an excellent place to showcase ideas about great people like Carl Sagan and about scientific institutions like the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, Fernbank Science Center in Atlanta, NASA, NIH, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Here is a video I made while touring the Sagan Pavilion. I've added the audio of me reading my essay "The Eternally Curious Carl Sagan" on top of the video content.


Touring the CDC's Virtual Health Odyssey in Second Life

I worked at the CDC for four years on the Epidemic Information Exchange System, Epi-X. While there, I always enjoyed learning about what the entire institution was doing to help improve health around the US and around the world. When I visited the new Global Health Odyseey, my first thought was that it was very powerful to see the images of public health told as a story. I thought it would be really amazing if there were a virtual reality version of it that people could explore from their own homes, no matter where they were. Here is what it looks like in physical reality.

Thankfully, there are people at the CDC who are already thinking along these lines. Dr. John Anderton is spearheading this effort. Here are a couple of interviews, text and audio, with John that showcase what the CDC is starting to do in Second Life.

Here is a brief video I created while touring the new CDC Virtual Health Odyssey in Second Life. It is like a virtual public health service announcement for the 21st century, in the spirit of the old posters showcased within the odyssey, but for the new electronic immersive media that is the emerging metaverse. Latest news is that the CDC will be developing an entire island inside of Second Life to educate the public about health!

Don't take my word for it though! Research the metaverse and Second Life for yourself on Google, YouTube, and of course at Have fun and be creative!

1 comment:

Rudin said...

Good blog!! telling about the benefits of video games.........Latest video games I bought at!!