Do you remember the video game Frogger? It was an 1980’s arcade the game where you had to guide a frog across a busy motorway and a dangerous river without getting squashed or eaten. Very simple game and crude graphics but it gave us something to do before the internet was invented.
At the Newport Aquarium, in their special Frog area, they have a game of Frogger set-up but rather than the traditional controllers, they are using Dance Dance Revolution dance mats. Rather than moving a joystick and pressing button, the player has to step from square to square.
Meanwhile, far removed from the kid-friendly Frogger game, Popular Mechanics has an article on how the US military is adapting computer game technology for use in combat. The multi-buttoned D-Pad controller found on Playstations and X-Boxes is ergonomically designed and proven by uncountable hours of game play. It is only natural that such technology is adapted for the high-tech 21st century warrior.
The point linking both of these two nuggets is how game technology can be adapted. With the Frogger game, a very traditional coach-potato style game is converted in to a physical and brain stimulating activity. The Army is taking computer games controllers and using them to make better soldiers.
This adaptation of technology is at the forefront of my mind as WyyMi slowly starts to take shape. Using game technology to help children learn is not yet widely accepted. In part because people are not very good at splitting the Form (what something looks like) from its Function (what it does). Therefore if something looks like a game, people have a hard time seeing it as beneficial. This is doubly true if people enjoy using it. There is a puritanical streak in some people that says learning cannot be fun and therefore anything fun is not learning.
I hope WyyMi will challenge both these ideas. I believe video games can be effective teaching tools because I have learnt thousands of things whilst playing games but so far 99.9% of what I’ve learnt is useless except for playing that game. I also believe that learning should be fun because people are more open to ideas and make better connections in their minds when they happy and relaxed.