A fresh look at learning and games

“The researchers in HP’s Bristol, England, office came up with a location-aware game that allows visitors to the Tower of London to help virtual prisoners escape.”

What fun!!! I don’t know about the rest of you, but when I find myself in tourist situations, there’s just so much that I want to absorb and learn, yet walking around just observing and listening to guides and reading becomes tiresome after a few hours! But what if I truely could experience these places and their history? The Mercury News Interactive reports:

“The game, developed by the Mediascapes research team at HP Labs and staff at the Tower of London, uses HP iPAQ handheld devices and location sensors including GPS. Digital files containing voices, images, music and clues are placed in specific locations using the HP Labs Mediascape authoring toolkit.
As players move into a location in the Tower and its grounds, the appropriate digital file is triggered on their iPAQ devices. This allows players to meet historical prisoners in the Tower, such as Guy Fawkes and Anne Boleyn, one of Henry VIII’s wives. Even the Tower’s Yeomen Warders, nicknamed Beefeaters, become part of the game as players try to help historical figures escape.”

I say again! What fun! I can’t help wondering what this is going to do with the herding of toursists, though….won’t it be a bit disruptive?

And while I’m on a learning through games is fun, rant, check out this blog, by Danielle Crittenden, author of What our Mothers Didn’t Tell Us. So refreshing reading something on games and children from a mother who isn’t just condeming! I’m going to cut’n’paste the same quote as Wonderland, because it’s just too adorable!

“Last week my son raced past me on the stairs just as I was coming up to tell him, as usual, to turn off the TV.
“I gotta find out what was Shakespeare’s most popular comedy, ” he called out, by way of explanation.
“Is this for homework?”
“No. My player is writing his exams. If he fails he’ll be cut from the team.”
Again I trailed after him for more explanation. This time he was playing NCAA 07. In this one, he takes on the character of a college player on a scholarship. “You pick your degree and subject but if you don’t have a grade point average higher than 2.0 you don’t play.”
“So you’re telling me you have to take classes as well as play football?” I’m dumbfounded by this idea.
“Yeah, you get a schedule, with classes and games. You have mid-terms and finals. Multiple choice. They’re hard.”
“How do you study for them?”
“Once you choose your topic–I’m doing English–facts in your topic pop up on the screen and you have to memorize them. If you flunk, you can’t play, and if you can’t play your popularity on campus goes down. Your goal is to be the greatest in school history–if you do well, you can import the player to Madden 07 [pro ball].”
His eyes dart to the screen. “Can I just finish writing my exam?”
I check my watch. “Dinner’s going to be a little while. why don’t you play some more?”

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