5 June 2020
Games as learning vessels

We all know games like Pac Man, Tetris, and Solitaire. Games that have, for years now, provided a quick break or long durations attempting to beat the high score. Did you know that Microsoft Solitaire was added to computers along with the first introduction of user interfaces in 1990 to teach users how to drag and drop items?

When I was studying game design back in 2008 one of the core lessons was analysing existing games to find features that were enjoyable, educational or made the game replayable. The surprising thing about this exercise was that games have been teaching both kids and adults without them even knowing it, and not just video games. We analysed real world games such as football. How much strength needs to go into a kick to make it to the goals from the 50m line? A player stands at the top of their mark calculating the wind, the distance and the trajectory of the ball to try and judge how to score the goal.

Similarly, the budding young aerospace engineer playing Kerbal Space Program is analysing centre-of-mass and thrust-to-weight ratio so their rocket works and gets the kerbalnauts to space just like NASA and SpaceX achieved this week on Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon. The kinds of games and activities that may inspire the next generation of inventors.

That’s the beauty of games, every game is educational. So don’t be discouraged to jump in and play regardless of age!

Scott Battye (STEM Communication Officer)