Sunday, December 2, 2012

On Being Puzzled

A few weeks ago I found "The Room" from Fireproof Games for my iPad. It is a beautifully executed puzzle game but that is not the main point. I enjoyed playing and marveling at the quality and challenge of the game play. What I didn't expect was the excitement and joy that my two younger sons had helping me advance. Oren (8) and Itai (6) were full members of the team and we all had great ideas moving us forward at different points. Their joy in discovering another clue or opening another section was hard to contain- and they literally broke into a dance when we figured out a particularly hard puzzle.

The series of small joys at each step solved reminded me very much of Johnson's "Everything Bad is Good for You". The way video games can reward our brains in small bursts is almost unparalleled. To me this is what a learning game should be like. I try to avoid the term educational as it invokes unpleasant memories of unimaginative drill games. Well it is a learning game...
It teaches to think creatively, look closely, experiment and persist. These are skills that transfer well to any open ended problem that artists and scientists attend to. My play with my boys added another dimension, namely learning to work as a team: we take turns, practice patience, share victories and most importantly never play without the others.

We have since moved to new puzzle games not all of them as visually pleasing but the effects are still the same. They now insist on daily common gameplay and I happily concur. We are creating habits of mind and family bonding. I can only wish that we will find ways to combine this superb game play with content that reaches educational standards.
Post a Comment