« Ed-Tech Expert Du Jour | Main | Tech Research Update: "Blended" Learning Environments »

An Interactive Approach to Evolution

My colleague Sean Cavanagh has written an interesting story about Spore--a new computer game designed by the makers of SimCity that focuses on evolution. The game allows users to create organisms by giving them various (hopefully advantageous) traits to help them survive. As these organisms evolve, players continue to build civilizations and worlds.

One of the most interesting parts about this game to me is the wide audience it has attracted--which goes beyond the education crowd and includes the tech-savvy gaming folks as well. To succeed as a commercial game, it has to be a delicate balance of educational fact and fictional fun, which means some parts of the game aren't considered scientifically accurate. Teachers recommend teaching evolution alongside the game, so students recognize which parts are accurate and which aren't, according to the article.

But even if the game doesn't measure up 100% to the textbook definition of evolution, it has the potential to be a powerful tool in shaping the way kids think about the concept. I can't help but draw the comparison to the Oregon Trail, which was a widely played commercial computer game that simulated a pioneer's journey to Oregon. You'd be hard-pressed to find a person of my generation who doesn't have distinct memories of watching pixelated covered wagons forge rivers and cross mountain ranges. I can still remember the gloomy music that played when one of the passengers died of dysentery (which seemed to happen a lot.)

It's too early to tell exactly what kind of impact Spore will have, but I'm looking forward to seeing its effect on the educational gaming field.

Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Follow This Blog

Advertisement

Most Viewed on Education Week

Categories

Archives

Recent Comments