In an article recently published in Nature Chemistry, a UT Dallas team—including a materials scientist, two chemists and a game design expert—describes how a group of 39 college students from diverse majors played an enhanced version of the popular video game "Minecraft" and learned chemistry in the process, despite being given no in-class science instruction.
Dr. Walter Voit led the team that created "Polycraft World," an adaptation or "mod" for "Minecraft" that allows players to incorporate the properties of chemical elements and compounds into game activities. Using the mod and instructions provided on a Wiki website, players can, for example, harvest and process natural rubber to make pogo sticks, or convert crude oil into a jetpack using distillation, chemical synthesis and manufacturing processes.
"Our goal was to demonstrate the various advantages of presenting educational content in a gaming format," said Voit, a materials science and engineering professor in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science. "An immersive, cooperative experience like that of 'Polycraft World' may represent the future of education.”
This is the future of eduction, or at least it needs to be. Watch any animal learning and it always looks like they’re playing a game.
"If the game is too difficult, people will get frustrated. If it's too easy, they lose interest," Voit said. "If it's just right? It's addicting, it's engaging, it's compelling.”
Replace the word game for subject and the sentence is just as accurate. Of course these things are related.