Its Not That Easy..

Update (Sep 25 08)
Teachers
have been using Samorost in their classrooms for students to learn analytical and critical thinking skills. Another teacher talks in length about reasons children should play Samorost. The interesting thing to note here is that the teachers are using the same game which everyone plays and not a modified version.

Update (Sep 1 08)
The design team behind Samorost are working on a full-length game called Machinarium. I was reading an interview they gave, and the most interesting thing that I found was they did the BBC game only because they needed money to make ‘their kind’ of games.

<Original Post>

I eagerly clicked on the link to play Questionaut. After all, it was by the guys who had made Samorost.
(If you have not played Samorost, I suggest go play it before reading ahead. Make sure to play the game with your headphones on).

Samorost2 (2005)

Samorost is pure magic! Its an engaging and well thought-out puzzle game. The basic goal of Samorost is to get the guy’s dog back. There are basic levers and push button mechanisms which u need to “play with” in order to solve a puzzle and move ahead. The ambiance of the game is amazing. But am not reviewing the game here.

The same creators have made a ‘educational’ game for BBC titled ‘Questionaut‘. The goal in this is to get the guy’s hat back. On various levels, there are planet-heads who ask you questions. The gameplay is almost the same as Samorost. Still, the magic is missing. And the kids love the problem solving part and not the questions. Here’s proof.

Questionaut (2008)

(Click on the image to play the game)

How the magic is lost? I think its because it feels as if we’re playing two games- the ‘Fun’ game and the ‘Questions’ game. The fun part is when you to make the planet rulers ask you questions. After that, its just multiple choice questions.

I don’t blame the creators, but I certainly believe that this kind of parallel format neither brings fun nor education. The only motivation for me was to see the fun part in the next level. By the time I’ve finished the game, I forgot what is a preposition and a conjunction. They did not think about how the questions could be integrated into the game. And its not easy to make such a game.

Have a few ideas how to do it. Will share them in another post.

One thought on “Its Not That Easy..

  1. Interesting post. This brings us to the fundamental debate about game and learning. Now what happens with most game-based learning is that the learning is forced into a game format as your examples shows. Learners are more interested in the game rather than the learning part. I am yet to come across a good educational game.
    1. Peter Packet was quite a rage when it was launched by CISCO (sorry, it has been taken off so no link available. But you can do is go to http://www.asklearning.com/web/template.cfm?code=el_overview#, in the eleanring portfolio, click on Penny Packet and in the related courses find Peter Packet. Trust me it is worth looking at). Lovely graphics, cute characters, easy navigation and instructions, but can yo guess what the learning objectives are after you are done with it?
    2. Business game: I spent a very, very long time learning the interface and trying to find the hidden clues that I am supposed to stumble upon to make my business decisions. I agree that I am not the learner and that this was not designed for me. But the point I trying to make is keep things simple. Why complicate things so much that learning becomes a challenge (isn’t it already without us making it one?). http://www.pixelearning.com/edexcel_login.htm

    Login info: 856 – 1014 – 0343

    I think the key is to strike the right balance between the game elements being used and learning. Educational simulations are more effective.

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