Tom has 12 pieces of candy, but he wants a piece of pizza. Jon has 4 cans of soda and wants candy. Bill has 2 packs of gum and wants soda. Steve has 1 piece of pizza and wants gum.
If 4 pieces of candy = 1 soda can, 2 cans = 1 pack of gum, and 2 packs of gum = 1 piece of pizza, how much candy will Tom have left once he has a piece of pizza?
Sound familiar? It’s not much different than any of those dreaded story problems we all faced in junior high and high school math. The reason I bring this up is that I had a great conversation with an 11 year old this evening about a game he is currently playing, Final Fantasy V. A great classic SNES game recently re-released on the Game Boy Advance. He was talking about where his at in the game, which went something like this:
I'm currently a level 18 paladin with monk fighting skills, if I have level 19 monk skills then I can become a level 20 barbarian and unlock the Black Wizards' summon magic using the Bahmout scale from defeating the Fallen Knight. (Granted the names, classes, and skills are changed)
If you know anything about Final Fantasy this string of events could not happen - but the logic holds true. Take out the fantasy setting and this statement is not all that different from the one at the top of the post. Some parents, teachers and others see this level of game involvement as an example of a kid "lost" in the game or sucked in and wasting time. But the 11 year old was able to project the logic out through this series of events to reach his desired outcome. The logic is often more complex than the traditional logic of traditional word problems. The capacity for logic and success is clearly there.
Who says games are not making us think? Here's an eleven year old that would cringe at the first word problem but would log hours into solving and completing the second. It's a matter of motivation... and that's were we come in.
>He also said, "I like games were I can customize a lot of stuff, it makes it feel more like my game."
I'm hoping that this phrase sounds familiar.