Educational games seem to be in the midst of a tidal surge. Recently Global Kids released Ayiti: The Cost of Life. ABC News did a video sement on this game, and it’s important lessons for students on raising a family in a third world country.
The game was developed in a partnership between Gamelab, Global Kids, and a group of teens on the Teen Grid of Second Life. Pretty amazing that the virtual world platform of Second Life was the catalyst for this new life simulation. Players have to raise a family and run a farm. There’s never enough money or food, so sacrificies must be made. Do you pay to send your daughter to school, buy seed for your fields, or to send mom to the hospital. It seems to be a losing battle no matter what choices you make, but that’s the point of the simulation.
Put a student in front of the Discovery Channel and a documentary on poverty in a third world country and they will likely start day dreaming about bananna split sundaes. Sit them down in front of a computer and turn them loose in this life simulator, and they will likely be drawn in by the simplicity of the interface, the pleasant graphics, and the challenge of the environment.
When they tire of playing all the different scenarios, they will walk away with first hand experience of the conditions faced by too many families in these developing countries.
It would be easy to mistake the above screenshot as coming from one of the many world simulation games like SimCity. However, you would be mistaken. This is a screenshot from Stop Disasters from the United Nations and ISDR. This is a simulation in which the student needs to make improvement to their city to prevent damage from a wide range of natural disasters; Tsunami, Hurricane, Flood, Wildfire, and Earthquakes. This is a very detailed simulation with many scenarios, each with three difficulty levels. In keeping with the game theme, there’s even a high score board.
This is clearly an educational experience wrapped in a game package. There’s a page at the site that lists many resources for teachers to use with this simulation in the classroom. Even the sound effects, and pop up advisors are very polished in this simulation. This is the kind of educational resources we need to pull in the students of “Generation Click”.
I know these are not online virtual worlds, but since there’s a regular audience of educators coming to this blog directly, or getting the RSS feeds, I thought I would pass these along.
So forget about “Save the Cheerleader, Save the World” (Heroes), save your playtime and “Save the World” with these engaging new online educational simulations. The best part of all, they’re all free to play.