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Posts Tagged ‘games


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Why use games with AI? Games provide training data. An AI can play games or learn from another entity playing games.

Games are so good at training AI with strategies that AI beat human opponents at:

  • Chess in 1997
  • Go in 2017
  • DOTA 2 in 2018
  • Starcraft 2 in 2019

Whatever the game, the central tenet seems to be the minimax algorithm.

Minimax algorithm.

But the flaw on relying only on this algorithm is the premise that you can work out every strategic possibility. As the video explained, the combinations and permutations could outnumber the number of atoms in the known universe. This is not practical or feasible. Instead, an AI might estimate the chances of winning from a smaller set of possibilities.

AI can learn from games and even beat humans because there are clear rules. Where it currently fails to keep up are in areas like humour, social cues, creativity, and surprise.

I used to facilitate workshops on game-based learning quite regularly. I fondly recall how I leveraged on the same games to facilitate learning on topics like ICT in education, systemic change, and flipped learning.

I did this with preservice teachers, inservice teachers, non-teachers, and even visitors from other countries.

I revived some evergreen ideas on gaming for a new course this week, but had a tough time ensuring that the Flash-based games could work. These were really good games like Dafur is Dying and the McVideo Game.

Neither is hosted by their original makers and I had to find alternative hosts. I do not know how long this will last.

Despite Flash practically doing its best impression of The Walking Dead, it lives on online. Not because it is superior to what we have now — Flash is a security nightmare — but because good ideas were built on flawed ones.

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This video with the clickbait title follows the Betteridge Law. This is any headline asked as a question that can be answered no.


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The answers are more nuanced. After reviewing some research, Hank Green concluded by pointing out that the differences of gamers and the nature of games mattered first.

Something similar could be asked of and answered about any technology enhanced or enabled process, e.g., do iPads improve grades, does access to social media harm socialisation, do algorithms boost teaching?

The nature of people and what they do matters. Let’s not be tricked by the press squeezing the low-hanging fruit and vendors leveraging on what you do not know.

Just as video games do not cause the type of violence you read about in newspaper headlines, the good that you see in technology-mediated interventions are not the due to technology alone. It is part of a socio-technical system and the social part is too rich and complex to have a simple answer.

One of the things I get participants of my inservice course on change management to do is play mobile video games.

Not only do I want them to get insights on the learner mindset, I also use the games as shared platforms from which we draw principles of change.

I look for cross platform mobile games (iOS and Android) of course. I used to ask that participants play a flavour of Angry Birds and Tiny Tower.

With the release of newer games, I am thinking of using Plants vs Zombies 2 (PvZ2) [iOS/Android] and Tiny Death Star [iOS/Android] next semester.

Both are free and work nicely on phones and slates alike. I think they will help participants experience the principles of change management for themselves before we draw them out by discussion and reflection.


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Tom Chatfield outlined seven ways video games engage the brain. You need to fast forward to the 8min 40sec mark before any of the seven are mentioned!

  1. Having experience bars for measuring progress
  2. Offering multiple long and short-term gains
  3. Rewarding effort
  4. Providing feedback that is rapid, frequent and clear
  5. Including elements of uncertainty
  6. Creating windows of enhanced attention
  7. Interacting with other people


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It’s the weekend. It’s time to chill out with a music video that features Angry Birds, Plants vs Zombies and other iOS games as they may play out in real life.


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I chanced upon this short PBS documentary on games in Vimeo’s “Staff Picks”.

It covers quite a lot of ground but what impressed me the most was how games have evolved from being male-centric and about wanton violence to being more about user expression and construction. They have become about giving players choices and having them deal with the consequences.

Games have become about life, sometimes mirroring its dark and painful aspects, but remain about playing, feeling and thinking. That is why I think game-based learning works.


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I tweeted this resource last week and have shared it with my ICT class as we prepare for sessions on game-based learning.

The video is not about game-based learning. Instead, its focus is on the gamers of today and tomorrow, and how they hope to see gaming evolve.

What caught my attention was the statistic that 75% of the respondents would like to see games in classrooms and for learning. Actually, this shouldn’t be too surprising given how the 2011 Horizon Report for K-12 predicts that game-based learning has a two to three year time-to-adoption period.

I am ready if they are and I am doing my best to prepare teachers who are ready too!

I think I have moved past selling video game-based learning as an alternative strategy to adopting it as a core strategy. But others remain unconvinced.

Some teachers may comment that video games are not relevant to their curriculum and they are right. Games are not for maintaining the status quo, i.e., racing through curricula the same old way. Games are for change.

I also think that many “curricular games”, particularly the drill-and-practice sort, are not actually based on key game-based learning principles like immersion, storytelling, and emotional manipulation.

What I find harder to argue about is whether games and game-based learning are relevant in an arena where tests and exams rule. Games are, after all, a succession of tests with immediate feedback after each test.

My responses so far are half-baked at best. I argue that knowledge, skills and attitudes picked up in games can transfer to other domains and to tests. For example, I constantly refer to game examples whether I am teaching my son math skills or life skills.

I also challenge anti-game teachers by asking them if they want to prepare students for the exams of school or the exam of life. I don’t see why you cannot do both.

For me, not tapping into the energy and excitement of games is akin to refusing to learn the language and culture of digital residents (be they young or old). If I am to teach them effectively, I must relate to them and communicate with them. When I do that, the tests and adult bickering fade far, far away into the background.

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You need to skip forward to the 8min 40sec mark to get at the seven ways.

If the talk was a game, most people would have stopped playing…


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