Video games were virtual reality before immersion visors or helmets came along. Of course, virtual reality today is taking a walk through the video game industry but the more astounding applications are in the realm of augmented reality (adding fiction or enhancing the world you see). Although the MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games), RPGs (Role Playing Games) and FPS (First Person Shooters) have had such tremendous success within the industry, I believe the future of gaming lies in merging education with gaming. Call it academic immersion if you will. Here, reader, come along a creative visualization exercise:
You find yourself in the middle of a forest. To the north, you can see the edge of a nearby village. To the east, there is a swamp and fog tendrils edge into the forest. To the west, there are humongous mountains. To the south, where you seem to have traveled from there is a doorway “drawn” into the stone wall. You must be magic.
(Don’t worry this isn’t a static version of ZORK, merely a demonstration.)
You decide to head towards a semblance of civilization. Unfortunately for you, the town only has one inhabitant and it’s a talking sheep that speaks gibberish. By your feet you find a note.
“Everything is what should be. Even if you have yet to understand.”
There are two rows of buildings before you, three on either side. To your left you see shops: “Panaderia” has a sign with a loaf of bread swinging out front, “Armería” shows a sword atop a shield, and “Almacén General” shows an array of items from food, to reading material to clothing. To your right there is a large building called a “Posada,” it appears to have many more rooms than the houses to either side of it.
Okay. Now that you have glimpsed into my head for a moment, imagine that this is implemented into any other game platform: flash, MMORPG, hand-held games, consoles, etc. I think that learning something new, like vocabulary in a foreign language, math concepts, economics, physics or any other subject could be incorporated into a video game.
Games are time consuming and information is effortlessly absorbed via gameplay. Players learn anything from fake character back stories, to strange spell names or maps in order to fully enjoy the game. Incorporating new concepts in a seamless environment would be like visiting another country at the convenience of your fingertips. This is what I believe video games should offer. There are educational games separated from every other game, but the possibility exists for all games to teach academic principles in the course of simple game play. The knowledge will become second nature, absorbed naturally, and without noticing the process! At least in theory.
What do you think?