For our final group project in Humanitarian Open-Source Software Development we will be making an educational game for students. Obviously, in order to produce an effective project you really have to understand your target. In order for the class to get a good grasp on the kind of skills our games should be teaching we were assigned to read the math curriculum for both NY and MA. While reading through these documents it was pretty easy to pick out a lot of connections that math skills have to games. Even though you may not exactly be using math (raw numbers, graphs, etc) you use many of the ideas behind math.
Both curriculum were pretty similar in content. They both recognized the same 3 critical areas:
- Developing an understanding and fluency with multi-digit multiplication and developing understanding of dividing to find quotients involving multi-digit dividends
- Develop an understanding of fraction equivalence, addition and subtraction of fractions with the denominators and multiplication of fractions by whole numbers
- Understanding what geometric figures can be analyzed and classified based on their properties, such as having parallel sides, perpendicular sides, particular angle measures and symmetry.
Some examples of math relating to games that I had come across are:
Gain a familiarity with factors and multiples
- This is used in a ton of games for score multipliers. One example I thought of was in Grand Theft Auto 5 when you use the gun range to increase your shooting stats. You really have to concentrate on not “spraying and praying” because the real skill is getting multiple shots in a row to activate the score multiplier. It’s basically impossible to get medals in this task if you don’t take advantage of the multipliers.
Generate and analyze patterns
- There are a ton of examples for this one; however, one good example would be after dying 10 times trying to get past a mission in pretty much any single player shooter. You may start to recognize the patterns of the AI, for example, you may notice the first enemy always comes running out from the right side next to a red barrel and then the next 2 enemies come out from the right side. You’ll probably start to wait until the second enemies come out and then blow up the red barrel.
Solve problems involving measurement and conversion from a large unit to a smaller one
- Most RPG games include collecting items and using them to upgrade items or craft new items. Maybe you have to collect 15 gems of a certain kind to upgrade to a new blessing on your weapon. The player starts to think of these items almost as a currency. You start to relate everything to a conversion and begin developing an entire game plan around it.
The curriculum was definitely useful in helping me think of some ideas for our game. It should be pretty easy to incorporate these theories and ideas into a game. As stated, one of the biggest challenges of making a game is understanding your target. With these documents, that has become a much easier task.