The Connections between Gaming and Problem Solving

This is the second blog post.


Games have been around for centuries.  They’ve been used collectively for enjoyment purposes, but there’s a lot of cases where games are used to primarily solve problems.  There’s a case in history where a tribe of people were surviving a famine.  Their crops would not grow, and things weren’t looking good.  One day, the leader of this tribe decided that every single person would play dice games for the entire day.  The next day, they would eat the little food they had.  For years, they continued doing this.  It solved the problem.  It kept them alive.


Now, of course we aren’t playing games to fight for our survival.  We just play them for fun!   And that’s okay.  Games are unique in the sense that there is no established end game.  The game’s fate lies directly in the hands of the developers, who produce a unique end game or end result.  I’m going to go more into detail about how games can facilitate social interactions.

During class, we played the game Hooplah! which, although I was against the idea slightly, was very enjoyable.  Hooplah! has an interesting concept.  Instead of having a group of people compete against each other to win, they are working together against a common enemy: Time.  They have to work together to identify all of their cards before the time runs out.  The only way that this can be completed is to work together with your group.  Social interaction is almost required.

Other games use social interaction virtually.  A game series I hold most dear to my heart, The Walking Dead, does an incredible job of integrating social interaction between characters.  Now, if you’re even slightly familiar with The Walking Dead, you’ll know that it’s a single-player game.  How can a single-player game have social interaction?


Simple.  The social interaction people normally think about involves other humans.  In retrospect, each character in a game is based off of some kind of person.  Some kind of person that has the same traits or the same characteristics.  Unknowingly, they are modeling a character off of somebody who probably exists and acts almost exactly the same.  Virtual characters have the potential to be just as interactive as a human being.  There is artificial intelligence that mimics human behavior.

The Walking Dead, throughout both “Seasons” (We’ll just call them campaigns) is directly based off of the player’s choice.  Take a moment to think about every single thing that influences your choices.  Your friends don’t think that is too cool… You’ll pass.  Maybe you don’t think that’s too cool… you’ll pass.  The game takes a lot of difficult situations and forces you to step out of your comfort zone.  You’re forced to choose between people that you care about (Does this happen in the real world?).  You’re forced to make decisions that can mean life or death for others.  This is a little bit extreme when it comes to social interaction, but if we were in a zombie apocalypse that would totally happen.

Games like The Walking Dead are particularly good at teaching the player.  Each choice the player chooses always matters.  Everybody remembers what you say to them, just like in the real world.  They have feelings and their idea of you is based on how you treat them and others… sort of like in the real world.

Other games, such as the ARMA series, are specifically simulation-based.  About a year ago, I was part of a group in Arma that strictly focused on playing the game as realistically as possible.  These groups were dubbed ‘realism units’.  From my experiences in these groups, I learned very quickly how to take and give orders effectively.  I learned how to lead groups of people (virtual avatars with real people behind the wheel) and I also learned how to strategize.  I learned how to take out the enemies in a way that was quick and resulted in minimal casualties.


The point I’m trying to make is that gaming creates learning opportunities.  It creates an environment begging to be learned about.  Games can take a situation you’ll never come across in your lifetime and throw you right into the mix.  Games are an immersive way to solve problems as well as a way to learn in a unique setting.

The Future Technology of School

For most people, school is an unavoidable part of childhood.  It’s where you meet your friends, and more importantly: learn.  Learning is fundamental to success, and school does a good job of emphasizing that.  However, the question lies not in the idea of school, but the execution.

I remember in middle school when the teachers would always warn about the difficulties of high school.  They wouldn’t remind you of homework and they didn’t even let you add color to your term papers!  How awful…

It’s no surprise that after freshman year, the daily activities were no longer exciting or surprising.  It all became routine again.  The environment wasn’t new anymore, and I’d learned how to handle high school.  My urge to learn had ceased.

This same craving for learning fell off in my classes too.  After the first few days of each year, I’d quickly figure out which teachers graded their assignments based on completion, as well as the ones who graded based on the answers.  They would all warn us: “It will be on the final exam, so you need to know this!”

Since when did the final exam dictate learning?

Robert Fried sums up the issue nicely in his book, The Game of School.  He says that all students play the game of school in some way, but in high school you’re playing for your future.

The goal of these students is not to learn, but to pass the course.  The courses don’t emphasize on learning; they emphasize on test scores.  This completely melts any notion of learning for the fun of it.

We are in a unique generation.  Technology is rapidly advancing, and changing all known notions of society.  Learning 2025 offers the idea of small classrooms connected via video calls.  I’ve FaceTimed my friends who live far away, but have you ever FaceTimed a teacher?  Will a teacher require out-of-class video calls in order to pass their class, and require you to play the game again?  Phone calls to friends are rare; a quick text is sufficient.  Is there anything wrong with that?

Technology is very heavy on the idea of automation.  That’s actually one of the main goals of a computer: to do something automatically, to do it right, and to do it faster than we can.  Using computers can change a classroom atmosphere completely.  Perhaps the rebels or pluggers who have seemingly given up on school see a new way to learn through devices.  Maybe a Learning 2025 video classroom gives certain groups a new opportunity they never would have before.

A strong theme here is schools are mixing up their priorities.  The test scores come before the learning.  To this, I say: repurpose.  Repurpose your teachers to engage in enthusiastic teaching with the students.  Repurpose your students to think critically and independently; make them want to learn.  Repurpose the old and merge into the new.  Technology is a critical point in making school better for learning, be it through laptops, SmartBoards, or video classrooms.

Technology can help everybody find their own little niche to learning, and that’s how you motivate them.




American Psycho

There is an idea of a Patrick Bateman; some kind of abstraction. But there is no real me: only an entity, something illusory. And though I can hide my cold gaze, and you can shake my hand and feel flesh gripping yours and maybe you can even sense our lifestyles are probably comparable… I simply am not there. “




This is my test post.