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“Dad, why do earthquakes happen?”

(… continued from previous page)

Learning while Playing

I am a strong believer on videogames as one of the most effective ways of teaching. I am not the only one nor the first one to think that way, of course. There are lots of studies that have already shown that even animals use games for learning things.

Videogames share the same ability of being effective for learning stuff than non-electronic games, but with the added potential that videogames can bring players to alternate realities, amazing worlds and experiences that are only possible through digital media.

Because of that, they can potentially transmit a much broader and more complete set of contents, and in a much more intense and effective way. Hence, the challenge is using that potential and taking the most of it.

There are a lot of videogames that are intended to teach the player any kind of contents. The most obvious cases are the ones in which the player has to, literally, solve additions, subtractions or choose the right word to complete a sentence. Even though they could be fun, they quickly get monotonous because, at the end, they are just a super long quiz about a specific topic in which questions are thrown to the player one after the other.

Fortunately, this genre has positively evolved. For instance, I recently started playing “Trivia Crack” and “Word Crack” thanks to my beloved family.

Trivia Crack Screenshot
In Trivia Crack you answer quizzes on six different topics, from science to sports.

Both games are pretty straightforward on their purpose: entertain the players by challenging them about their knowledge on specific contents. The first is basically a trivia game; the second one is a word soup. The cool thing is that the developers added some features that make the experience more complex and defying, such as power-ups, the ability to challenge your friends, etc.

As I enjoy competitive games a lot, I have had a great time sending challenges to my brothers and even winning them sometimes. Of course, I don’t always win, especially if I play against Mariana, my wife, who seems to be a living encyclopedia. But still, the fun part is the challenge and to learn while we are playing.

And the best thing is that when my son Diego discovered that we were playing, he also wanted to participate. It’s harder for him because many questions are about some history, science or culture topics that he has not even studied at school. But I really like the fact that he is so motivated to play and enjoy the game with his family that he continues to challenge us and he is actually getting better because he is really learning stuff.

While playing, Diego is learning a bit of science, art, history and geography. Awesome.

Gamers in Action again!

Some months ago I wrote the original version of this article in Spanish. Just a few days before I posted it, nature shown its power again. For several days, a very heavy rain fell on a region that is not prepared at all to receive such amount of water: the northern Chile.

Mostly a dry area with scattered cities surrounded by vast deserts, the rain caused flooding and alluviums. Houses were destroyed, roads were broken and a lot of people got isolated and in complete despair.

As every time this happens, the whole country stood by and several campaigns were started to help the affected communities. Even neighbor countries like Bolivia put aside the eternal conflicts that we have and gave an example of solidarity sending a lot of help convoys.

The local videogame developers community also organized a campaign and lead by VG Chile, the Chilean Videogame Developers Association, started to help on the recollection and delivery of material help (campaign info in their Facebook fan page)

Afiche Norte
Gamers in Action campaign

I’ve learn through my own experience that the best way to teach is by example. Actually, my first steps on learning how to make videogames were copying and altering others work. And the same can be applied to any sort of things, from technical skills to values and behaviors.

As a parent, I think that if I get involved in campaigns such as these ones, I won’t be just helping affected people. I will also be teaching my kids the importance of solidarity, by giving them an example.

So I’d like to invite you, especially if you have kids, to join and support this kind of campaigns, wherever they are. You won’t be just supporting a good cause and helping a lot of people. You will also be building, through your children, a better world for their own future.

spanish Puedes leer este artículo en español en
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Juan Pablo Lastra

Juan Pablo makes videogames since he was 8 and he is a father since 2004. Today, he has three children and he has worked in more than 20 videogames. He got interested on how paternity and the videogame industry are related and he decided to write about it, founding "Papa Game Dev"

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