Posted tagged ‘learning’

Did Maslow get it wrong? (and why this matters for games)

November 23, 2008

You may be familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (more on this below the cut).  Maslow’s theory has heavily influenced the architecture of our AI technology, which is why I’m attuned to discussions of it or instances that support or undercut it.  Recently I ran across a theory in education known as “CBUPO,” an ungainly acronym for “Comptence, Belonging, Usefulness, Potency, Optimism” designed by Richard Sagor at Washington State University (an accessible introduction can be found here (pdf)). Sagor’s theory suggests some interesting modifications to Maslow that have consequences for how we understand ourselves — as well as the motivations for gamers and AIs.

(Warning: psychological theory leading to AI and game-relevant thoughts below.)

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Games for Learning?

November 14, 2008

People like games.  People also like learning — mostly.  And of course adults like it especially when their kids learn.  Many valiant attempts have been made to use games to teach kids or adults, but with few real, intentional successes.  This is largely an unknown art, and one where when learning does occur, it seems almost accidental.

For example I learned about the geography of the Caribbean, I’m abashed to say, by way too many hours spent on the old Pirates! game; and my son learned a surprising amount of history by playing Age of Empires.  Many people have fond memories of Oregon Trail, and this often comes up in discussions of “games used for education,” but still this area has languished rather than flourished.

Why is it so difficult to make games for learning?  Is it the topics we’re choosing, or a too-pedantic approach, or something else?  I don’t have any solid answers on this one, and would love to hear others’ opinions.  What do you think?