Image courtesy of Suphakit73 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
We have a very special post for you today!
Marcela De Vivo is writing a guest post for MiniMonos Time! She has put a lot of time and effort into this post and it would be much appreciated if you could comment below saying thank you!
Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer from the Los Angeles area. As a mom of three, she’s very interested in educational games, and currently works with a site that offers car parking games to teach teens how to drive. Games that teach kids to respect the environment, like MiniMonos, are even better, and she can’t wait to sign her kids up.
Computer games have come a long way from Zork and Hunt the Wumpus, and now not only cover a diverse range of genres and topics, but also appeal to many demographics.
A recent trend in gaming is harnessing the popularity and interactive nature of computer games to educate young people, and one of the largest areas that has seen growth is games that teach about our environmental impact and sustainability issues.
There are many ways in which computer games can help educate young people about environmental issues, or even directly aid in helping the environment. Here are the some of the most significant ways it can help:
Computer games can help create awareness of environmental issues by being more accessible to people. It isn’t hard to see that in today’s modern world, many children prefer TV and computer time over playing outside, so games that focus on nature and the environment can expose children to things they might otherwise never know about.
Even if the game isn’t directly about the environment, being exposed to issues like waste, recycling, and forest preservation are a great way to introduce these topics to children.
For example, the MiniMonos games require children to create monkeys and then maintaining the environment in which they live. If they fail to keep the environs up to spec, their Lagoons are contaminated and there tree houses become filled with trash.
This cause-and-effect lesson can easily lead to questions about how the environment works outside of the virtual MiniMonos world.
Beyond just shedding light on issues of the environment and how we can affect the environment, computer games can also educate people about how to reduce their carbon footprint. Computer games can teach the younger generation about alternate sources of energy and how to address the other environmental issues.
For example, games like SimCity allows users to create virtual cities using “green” electricity resources. Players are given options like pedal-power, maglev transportation, car-sharing options and building up rather than out to solve urban sprawl and are required to keep in mind the carbon footprint and long and short term costs of their sources of energy they employ.
People previously unaware of options outside of oil and gas as sources of energy, or the importance of green spaces in urban planning and its effect on air quality, will learn a great deal while playing the game.
Image courtesy of Suphakit73 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
While gaming can help individuals learn about energy use, multi-player and network gaming enables players to work together on real-world energy solutions. It is possible to have millions of people playing the same game at the same time—a technology that brings people together to work towards resolving energy and environmental problems.
A diverse wellspring of experience, education, and creativity harnessed together in a game can bring about great change. Recently, more than 19,000 players of EVOKE launched just such a collaborative effort, and was able to found 50 new companies around the world in only 10 weeks—ranging from South Africa to India to New York.
4. Problem Solving
Whether working with others or alone, gamers are more willing to experiment in the virtual world. The gaming world lends itself to the trial-and-failure approach as many of the worlds they inhabit do not adhere to real world rules.
Gamers are frequently faced with problems that need to be resolved—the skills utilized to solve the issues are ones that can apply to any real world situation. And games are inherently challenging, and engaging in one drives us to master the new skill, to solve that puzzle.
An example of problem solving through gaming was when players mapped an AIDS/HIV enzyme in a matter of weeks in the game Foldit; something researchers had struggled with for years. With the subject reduced to another puzzle, gamers applied their problem solving skills that resulted in real life implications.
5. Gives Back
Many computer games donate part of the proceeds to environmental causes. MiniMonos donates proceeds from sales of the games to major conservation projects such as saving tigers and encouraging biodiversity. EVOKE, an online game created for the World Bank Institute, undertook real-world missions to improve food security, increase access to clean energy and end poverty.
Online gaming has real life implications and can be used to teach about energy resources and environmental issues. The power of gaming can help make causes more compelling and bring about resolutions through a group effort, while giving back locally, and globally.
-Marcela De Vivo (http://www.gryffin.co/)