What is it About Games?

What Is It About Games?

If you’re not a gamer, it can be hard to get the appeal of video games. The challenges they present can be frustrating, and non-gamers often lose interest. But for gamers, video games offer a wide range of pleasures that make them deeply enjoyable. These videos explore some of the playful experiences that make games so much fun.

 

Different Games, Different Pleasures

Most games are designed to appeal to specific types of players, ranging from those who love to solve puzzles to those who enjoy challenging their dexterity in sports games. The videos below offer a look at the different types of fun offered by different types of games.

Arrangement

In popular “casual” games, such as Candy Crush, Bejeweled, and Tetris, players must find patterns within chaos or create patterns out of randomly arranged elements. Basic gameplay is simple—you move or rearrange candies, gems, tiles, or other objects—and the enjoyment comes from creating matching combinations of shapes and colors. But levels become progressively more challenging, and winning requires increasingly sophisticated pattern recognition and strategic thinking.

Experience Gameplay Involving Arrangement

Though they look very different, each of these three games invites players to take disparate objects and arrange them into patterns or functional groups. They have a wide range of difficulty, from Word Girl’s freeform play space to the multifaceted complexity of Sim City.

Sample Games for Different Age Groups

Everyone

In Word Girl Build-a-Lair, players can design their own supervillain hideouts, placing furniture and decorations wherever they want. Meant for young children, the game has few constraints.

Everyone 10+

Luxor 3 is an action-puzzle game in which players score points by creating patterns of rolling spheres. The rich graphics and challenging gameplay make it appropriate for adolescent audiences.

Teen

SimCity is an urban-planning simulation game that lets players design and build thriving cities. The game is complex and challenging for even the most committed gamers.

Everyone

Hold the mouse button down to start the game, release to pause.

In Word Girl Build-a-Lair, players can design their own supervillain hideouts, placing furniture and decorations wherever they want. Meant for young children, the game has few constraints.

Everyone 10+

Hold the mouse button down to start the game, release to pause.

Luxor 3 is an action-puzzle game in which players score points by creating patterns of rolling spheres. The rich graphics and challenging gameplay make it appropriate for adolescent audiences.

Teen

Hold the mouse button down to start the game, release to pause.

SimCity is an urban-planning simulation game that lets players design and build thriving cities. The game is complex and challenging for even the most committed gamers.

Credits

Word Girl Build-a-Lair

Platform/URL: http://pbskids.org/wordgirl/games/buildalair/

Developer: Creative Bottle

Publisher: Scholastic and Soup 2 Nuts

Luxor 3

Platform/URL: Windows, Wii, Mac OS X

Developer: MumboJumbo

Publisher: MumboJumbo

SimCity

Platform/URL: Windows, Mac OS X

Developer: Maxis

Publisher: Electronic Arts

Solution

A huge variety of video games is available for players who love solving puzzles. Some are classic logic or word puzzles that have been remade as video games. Others use the affordances of digital gaming to create fully realized worlds and mind-bending new types of spatial or physics puzzles. Whatever the game, the fun comes from using mental skills, such as deductive reasoning, pattern recognition, and strategic thinking, to solve brainteasers and mysteries.

Experience Gameplay Involving Solution

Fans of brain-twisters will enjoy these games. Buzz and Delete will likely only challenge the youngest players, while Portal 2 can stump even the keenest minds.

Sample Games for Different Age Groups

Everyone

Buzz and Delete is the simplest of solution games. Players try to fish colored gems from a river, avoiding the wrong colors. It's an uncomplicated puzzle for young children.

Everyone 10+

In Scribblenauts, players must imagine objects that could solve various spatial and conceptual puzzles. Each challenge has many possible solutions, rewarding creativity and imagination.

Teen

Portal 2 is a first-person puzzle-platform game with dark humor and difficult challenges aimed at older players. It requires complex spatial reasoning to succeed.

Everyone

Hold the mouse button down to start the game, release to pause.

Buzz and Delete is the simplest of solution games. Players try to fish colored gems from a river, avoiding the wrong colors. It's an uncomplicated puzzle for young children.

Everyone 10+

Hold the mouse button down to start the game, release to pause.

In Scribblenauts players must imagine objects that could solve different spatial and conceptual puzzles. Each challenge has many possible solutions, rewarding creativity and imagination.

Teen

Hold the mouse button down to start the game, release to pause.

Portal 2 is a first-person puzzle-platform game with dark humor and difficult challenges aimed at older players. It requires complex spatial reasoning to succeed.

Credits

Buzz and Delete Save the Day

Platform/URL: http://pbskids.org/cyberchase/math-games/buzz-and-delete-save-day/

Publisher: THIRTEEN/WNET

Scribblenauts

Platform/URL: Nintendo DS

Developer: 5th Cell

Publisher: WB Games

Portal 2

Platform/URL: Windows, OS X, Playstation 3, Xbox 360

Developer: Valve Corporation

Publisher: Valve Corporation

Dexterity

Many video games are designed to challenge players’ physical skills and manual dexterity. They include sports, rhythm, and dance games, such as Dance Dance Revolution. Platform games, such as Super Mario Bros., are also hugely popular. Players race along, jumping from one platform to another, leaping up to collect prizes while avoiding all kinds of obstacles. But the real reward in all these games is the adrenaline rush players get as they pull off unworldly feats of agility and dexterity.

Experience Gameplay Involving Dexterity

All these games are fast-paced and require nimble fingerwork, the need for speed and finesse increasing along with the intended player’s age.

Sample Games for Different Age Groups

Everyone

Whack-a-Mole is an online version of the carnival favorite. Players must be quick to hit the moles in time, but pacing and challenge are geared to younger players.

Everyone 10+

In Joe Danger, players control a stuntman racing through a series of obstacles. Great timing and quick fingers are needed to succeed in this fun, stylish game.

Teen

Rayman Origins is a platform game with challenging, varied gameplay and lush, surreal graphics that can draw in older players.

Everyone

Hold the mouse button down to start the game, release to pause.

Whack-a-Mole is an online version of the carnival favorite. Players must be quick to hit the moles in time, but pacing and challenge are geared to younger players.

Everyone 10+

Hold the mouse button down to start the game, release to pause.

In Joe Danger players control a stunt man racing through a series of obstacles. Great timing and quick fingers are needed to succeed in this fun, stylish game.

Teen

Hold the mouse button down to start the game, release to pause.

Rayman Origins is a platform game with challenging, varied gameplay and lush, surreal graphics that can draw in older players.

Credits

Whack-a-Mole

Platform/URL: http://www.kongregate.com/games/coolspot501/whack-a-mole

Developer: coolspot501

Publisher: Kongregate.com

Joe Danger

Platform/URL: Playstation Network, Xbox Live Arcade, Microsoft Windows, iOS

Developer: Hello Games

Publisher: Hello Games

Rayman Origins

Platform/URL: Playstation 3, Wii, Xbox 360, Playstation Vita, Microsoft Windows, Nintendo 3DS, OS X

Developer: Ubisoft Montpellier

Publisher: Ubisoft

Collision

What gamers love about racing games, fighting games, and shooters are the fast pace and constant action—and the ability to make things crash, collide, and explode in spectacular ways. The goals of these games are usually clear and simple, and the pleasure comes from smashing through obstacles, beating your opponents, and blasting your way to success. As with movies, some games for mature audiences feature repellent violence, but there are lots of age-appropriate games that provide exciting action rather than gratuitous aggression.

Experience Gameplay Involving Collision

It won’t be hard to see that collision is the source of fun in these three games. For the youngest players the graphics are cartoonish and the gameplay comical, while for the older players the look is realistic and the action intense.

Sample Games for Different Age Groups

Everyone

Designed for young children, Chuck's Extreme Sandwich Crusher is a silly game with a simple premise: Players smash sandwiches while avoiding obstacles.

Everyone 10+

Zombie Bowl-O-Rama is a standard bowling game, except with shuffling zombies as pins and comic-horror bowling balls. It has enough gross-out humor to keep adolescents entertained.

Teen

In Motorstorm Apocalypse, players race through cataclysmic environments, dodging obstacles and battling with other racers. The frenetic action is great for teens.

Everyone

Hold the mouse button down to start the game, release to pause.

Designed for young children, Chuck's Extreme Sandwich Crusher is a silly game with a simple premise: players smash sandwiches while avoiding obstacles.

Everyone 10+

Hold the mouse button down to start the game, release to pause.

Zombie Bowl-O-Rama is a standard bowling game, except with shuffling zombies as pins and comic-horror bowling balls. It has enough gross-out humor to keep adolescents entertained.

Teen

Hold the mouse button down to start the game, release to pause.

In Motorstorm Apocalypse players race through cataclysmic environments dodging obstacles and battling with other racers. The frenetic action is great for teens.

Credits

Chuck's Extreme Sandwich Crusher

Platform/URL: http://pbskids.org/wordgirl/games/chucksandwich/

Publisher: Scholastic and Soup 2 Nuts

Zombie Bowl-O-Rama

Platform/URL: Windows

Developer: MumboJumbo

Publisher: MumboJumbo

MotorStorm: Apocalypse

Platform/URL: Playstation 3

Developer: Evolution Studios

Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment Europe

The Possible Worlds Games

This video provides an introduction to the four Possible Worlds games available on this website. Ranging widely in style, they include features of adventure, puzzle, strategy, maze, and platform games, and offer players many of the gaming pleasures illustrated in the previous videos. At the same time, they provide a playful way to help students construct new and more accurate understandings of complex concepts that are often the subject of persistent misconceptions.

Ready to try gaming? Choose a module to get started:

This module, which includes The Ruby Realm, an adventure/maze game, focuses on the misconception that plants grow by converting soil into plant matter. Playing the game helps students construct an understanding of photosynthesis by letting them actively participate in the process of chemical change.

Students often visualize electricity as a substance that flows like water. The platformer game in this module, Monster Music, challenges that misconception with puzzles that serve as analogies for electricity as a state of molecular alignment.

Misconceptions about heredity are partly the result of the difference between the scientific and everyday meanings of words such as “random” and “dominant.” Playing RoboRiot supports the development of a more accurate understanding of these terms and concepts.

Many students think that ice cools a drink because it transfers its “coldness” to the warmer liquid. That notion is challenged by Galactic Gloop Zoo, a game in which success depends on understanding that heat is transferred from warmer to colder objects through conduction, convection, and radiation.

Time to play…No Way! In this classroom game, students are editors at a site that features amazing-but-true stories. Their task is to decide whether a story should be published. The rule is that finding counterevidence for any claim means the story can’t be posted. Playing No Way! involves: a) searching for information relevant to a claim, and b) determining whether it constitutes evidence for or against the claim.