Although most parents would disagree with the emphasis their offspring place on video games, Nicola Groom of Reuters recently reported that a professor at the U. Of Southern California has devised a procedure for integrating “educational role-playing games into the classroom.”
Prof. Doug Thomas is “developing a game for students ages 10-12 that aims to teach ideas and skills not found in traditional textbooks.”
His game, Modern Prometheus, uses the story of Frankenstein to teach “ethical decision-making” by having the player “assume the role of Dr. Frankenstein’ assistant, who is forced to make a series of difficult choices that impact the game’s outcome.”
The assistants soon discovers a macabre element to the game, i.e. when they are forced into several dilemmas like deciding if they should steal body parts from a cemetery in order to help cure a widespread plague.
“We want them to really wrestle with doing things and ask, ‘Is it good for me or is it good for everyone else?’” explained Prof. Thomas, adding that “there’s a huge amount of informal learning that goes on.”
Modern Prometheus is expected to be offered in some schools by the spring of 2008.
Deborah Lambert writes the Squeaky Chalk column for Accuracy in Academia’s monthly Campus Report newsletter from which this feature is excerpted.