When games were good

That should open up room for argument!

Recently, I had a chat with a teacher who complained that the computer setup at her school was essentially a multi-plex movie theatre with every student having their own screen watching YouTube video!

I one-upped her by recalling the good old days.  My computer lab was actually an arcade.  During lunch, before and after school, of course.  Students were allowed to use the computers and there were a few games that we available for play.  Hang in there; there’s a good educational story to come.

But first, big news from the Internet Archive

Another few thousand DOS Games are playable at the Internet Archive! Since our initial announcement in 2015, we’ve added occasional new games here and there to the collection, but this will be our biggest update yet, ranging from tiny recent independent productions to long-forgotten big-name releases from decades ago.

I had to click on over and see what was there.

Holy smokes!  What a huge collection!  So huge, in fact, that there were so many titles that I had never heard of.  Truthfully, most of them!

Of course, I had to try a couple of them out.  They run directly from the website in a DOS box right in your browser.  Here’s a classic!

Screenshot 2019-10-16 at 11.18.42

Who hasn’t played around the The Incredible Machine.  You can now relive your inner Rube Goldberg!

Now, the educational part.  While the original games had initial appeal for Computer Science students, the win came when they had the desire to write games of their own to try to out-do the commercial products.

The standard curriculum used smaller, simpler programs to write because students were learning the programming concepts.  As any Computer Science teacher will affirm, they aren’t always the most exciting or motivating thing to write.  But, turn students on to writing games that they can actually play or challenge friends with and they catch on fire.  They’ll research and learn new techniques; research parts of the language that they need to make something happen; and consider the person who’s actually going to play the game.  Bottom line, they’ll go much further on their own than you would ever hope to see in the regular class.

Admittedly, current technology is far more sophisticated than these games but they’re still enjoyable.

It’s a nice reminder that we all started somewhere.

Published by dougpete

The content of this blog is created by me at the keyboard or as a result of an aggregator of my daily reading under the title OTR Links. On Fridays, look for my signature post "This Week in Ontario Edublogs" where I try to share some great writing from Ontario Educators. The other regular post appears Sunday mornings as I try to start a conversation about things that have gone missing from our daily lives.

8 thoughts on “When games were good

  1. The paragraph that started with, “The standard curriculum…,” may have brought back some bad memories of DOS program that never managed to say, “Hello,” three times. Maybe if I could have gotten those ones to work, I could move onto making more enjoyable games. I wonder now if my bad computer science experiences impacted on my current stress around coding. A comment unrelated to your post, but inspired by it nonetheless. Thanks for getting me thinking!

    Aviva

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  2. That gives me an idea perhaps for a new post. Success in Computer Science, and all subject areas, goes far beyond just the curriculum. There are so many other factors that lead to success including the expertise of the teacher and the teacher/student connection. I think that we all can name that one teacher who helped us make the connections that inspired us in the topic and we can also name that one teacher who didn’t make the connection and we struggled or even failed because of that. Let me mull around and come up with the right words and look for a post in the future which I’m absolutely sure will end up being a blog post response on your blog, Aviva! Thanks so much for the comment.

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  3. I like to play games with students. By that I mean run software that lets me control their mouse and move it around while they are trying to play a game. Their shouts of encouragement “hey stop that” and “what are you doing to my mouse” are a great joy to me. In the old days when I first started I could not actually see their screens to help them but now I can.

    For some reason, after I play a bit they go back to doing the school work they have been assigned. Go figure.

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