Wednesday, 22 March 2006

Dream Machines

by Will Wright*

Just watch a kid with a new videogame. The last thing they do is read the manual. Instead, they pick up the controller and start mashing buttons to see what happens. This isn't a random process; it's the essence of the scientific method. Through trial and error, players build a model of the underlying game based on empirical evidence collected through play. As the players refine this model, they begin to master the game world. It's a rapid cycle of hypothesis, experiment, and analysis. And it's a fundamentally different take on problem-solving than the linear, read-the-manual-first approach of their parents.

The digital natives have fundamentally different ways of approaching problems from us. As educator/trainer, our responsibility is to help them learn. We should change our way of "teaching" to suit them, not change them to suit the way we teach.

*Will Wright is the creator of The Sims and more than a dozen other games.

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