Hunger Force - Game or Lecture?

It’s been a productive week here at Research Quest as you can tell from the posts. And the fun doesn’t stop yet. Friday night I’m joining my wife and her senior high youth group at church for a 30 hour famine. Actually the famine starts in just a few minutes at 7:00 am on Friday morning, but we are spending the night and morning together as a group. I’m mentioning this because we will be using the U.N. Hunger Force game as one of our activities, in addition to playing a lot of DDR and Guitar Hero.

The Hunger Force game has a lot of really good hunger and world relief content, but much of the “game” feels tacked onto to an informational video. Because of this, we are only going to use 2 of the 6 units/levels within the game. Unit #2 focuses on providing a balance nutritional ratio for food packets and unit #6 provides long term sustainability planning for relief areas of the world. Most of the other units provide game related mechanics, but they are not central to the experience. Regardless of these critiques, it is still worth checking out U.N. Hunger Force.

This idea of a game tacked on to traditional content is, according to my interview with Matthew Weise tonight, one of the biggest pitfalls of educational games. According to Matt, games are great to teach process. Students learn through the process of doing and understanding why they are taking those actions. But just jumping from one cut scene or dialogue to another is just like putting “medicine in the applesauce.” Hiding dry and dull content within a “fun” game experience will never be successful.

Check out my write up over at Bibliographic Gaming (posting Saturday due to Famine) and make sure to check back in here this weekend for my full transcript of my interview with Matt.