November 15, 2016

Can video games solve world problems?

Two researchers seeking to solve a real-world problem create a class in a model of interdisciplinary collaboration

It began, as so many things do, with the realization that a gap exists. Josh Lawler, professor in the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, saw there were very few games about climate change that are scientifically accurate—and actually fun to play.

Josh Lawler, professor of environmental and forest sciences

Josh Lawler, professor of environmental and forest sciences.

Knowing that research shows that games are an effective tool for learning, in 2015 Lawler connected with Dargan Frierson, associate professor in the School of Atmospheric Sciences, and they started asking colleagues if they were interested in tackling this problem together.

The result of their networking includes EarthGamesUW , a group that aims to design games that increase awareness about climate change. EarthGamesUW would also quickly develop into an interdisciplinary independent study course.

Within a year of its inception, the group has been nationally recognized for producing prize-winning games (two of which are on showcase at the Smithsonian ). In Winter 2017, the EarthGamesUW independent study will now be structured around a central classroom experience offering up to 6 credits.

But the impact extends even further. EarthGamesUW offers students from diverse disciplines—computer science to English, information sciences to education—the opportunity to produce real products and practice professional skills, all while having an impact on climate change.

Networking for interdisciplinary collaboration

Dargan Frierson, associate professor of atmospheric sciences

Dargan Frierson, associate professor of atmospheric sciences.

Lawler and Frierson recognized early on that the concept of creating games about climate change depended on tapping into the expertise of many others outside their own disciplines. “One of the first things we did was meet with people who knew more about this than we did, and ask if we were crazy for trying this,” says Lawler. “They had the expertise we didn’t have.”

Together, they turned to a variety of people for advice and participation, including game designers, high school teachers, and professors and graduate students in the Information School, Learning Sciences, Human Centered Design and Engineering, and Computer Science and Engineering’s Center for Game Science.

“Games hold a great deal of potential for providing experiences that players can learn from,” says Theresa Horstman, research assistant professor for Education Program Games. “It’s not enough to know the facts: games allow players to interact with different contributing factors of climate change as a system in creative, experiential ways.”

As these new partnerships came together, the idea to create inspiring video games about climate change evolved into an actionable project.

Frierson says that one of the most rewarding parts of the process was the group collaboration across disciplines. “It’s gotten me out of my building to see all the really cool work that’s happening around UW.” He adds, “It’s occurred to me that probably the UW is the best place in the world to do something like this.”

From idea to reality: Developing a meaningful independent study course

Out of this accumulated input grew great momentum. Lawler and Frierson applied for and received funding from the Science for Nature and People Program in Santa Barbara. The funding supported the development of the EarthGamesUW goals, starting with the independent study course.

In order to attract students from various disciplines, Lawler and Frierson advertised the independent study with the iSchool’s capstone and listed it on the Undergraduate Research website . Through the independent study, students designed and created short games of various types, from board games to video games. They lent their broad expertise—engineering, education, climate science, and narrative-building to produce successful, creative games—games that are actually fun.

Recognition and awards followed. Two of these student teams created games that won top prizes in the 2015 Climate Game Jam in Washington D.C. Both were subsequently featured in an event at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in January:

  • Climate Quest, a video game, was designed by Zuoming Shi, computer science and engineering doctoral student, and Ben Peterson, Information School undergraduate, in collaboration with Frierson.
  • AdaptNation, a table-top game, was designed by Will Chen, graduate student in aquatic and fishery sciences, and Rob Thompson, graduate student in computer science and engineering, along with Seattle artist Rachel Lee.

For raising greater public awareness about climate change through games, the combination of fun and factual content is essential. The value of these games is not only that they are original and engaging, but they are also powerful teaching tools, Frierson says. Parents and teachers can trust that the games are scientifically accurate because they are designed by UW students and faculty.

“I wanted to get involved with EarthGamesUW because I’ve always been interested in making games that will help pass an important message to its users,” says Sally Wei, a junior who is majoring in computer science and minoring in French. “I write novels in my free time, and EarthGamesUW helps me gain experience in storyboard writing as well as programming.”

Expanding the independent study into an interdisciplinary course

What started as an independent study option is now being expanded into the classroom: beginning in Winter of 2017, EarthGamesUW will launch a classroom-based course option with a shared syllabus. Frierson credits the College of the Environment and Julia Parrish, professor of aquatic and fishery sciences, with recognizing the potential of EarthGamesUW to provide a combination of classroom learning and the experience of building actual products.

The new course for 12-15 students will allow students to create games through working both inside and outside the classroom. The course design will allow for a common student experience, while “break out” groups design their own unique projects. To maintain some of the flexibility of the independent study model, the course will be offered for variable credits—anywhere from 2-6, depending on the needs of individual projects and commitments. The new model is intended to satisfy student demand while qualifying for more departmental funding for resources such as paid leadership and research opportunities for students. This investment could help EarthGamesUW reach its goals of K-12 curricula development and possibly even expand to Spanish-language video games.

Cultivating opportunities to transfer skills beyond the classroom

Both Lawler and Frierson speak enthusiastically about the many reasons a learning experience like EarthGamesUW can be attractive and valuable to students. Academically, the 5-credit course can fulfill a capstone requirement for departments such as the iSchool. Students can also describe games they designed in resumes and portfolios, and showcase their experience with project management and the ability to work and problem-solve collaboratively and creatively.

Frierson notes that resilience and persistence—the ability to recalibrate and try again when an aspect of a project is not working—are real-world skills that are highly transferable. Students also experience the benefit of sharing work with peers in a supportive atmosphere, and learn adaptable skills of self-analysis. In creating useful products, students take ownership over their own learning. In addition, students are drawn by the higher purpose of promoting education about climate change.

Says Lawler, “I’m hoping that the students coming out of these classes will have a better understanding of climate change, but will also have new innovative ideas about how we can learn about climate change.”

Students are driven to excel with the opportunity to make “real stuff,” says Frierson. “Students today have a lot of extra motivation if their work is going to be seen by a wider set of people, not only their professors. I think the amount of learning they do on their own when it’s got those higher stakes is really impressive.”

“ EarthGames represents a microcosm of the interdisciplinary expertise that is required to productively address big systems like climate change.”

To other instructors developing interdisciplinary courses, Frierson underscores the importance of flexibility. “You have to not want a certain product at the end of it,” he says, but rather allow yourself to be led by “the talent that’s in front of you.” Frierson adds that he continues to be impressed by student ability and creativity.

It was precisely the sharing of knowledge and ideas among students and professors across disciplines that shaped EarthGamesUW into an endeavor with ever-growing impact.

“In a way, EarthGames represents a microcosm of the interdisciplinary expertise that is required to productively address big systems like climate change,” says Horstman. “We will need experts who understand what it really takes to collaborate and work together to solve problems.”

And it can all begin with a step outside a building, a department, a discipline, to forge the powerful connections that make this possible.

Top Tips to “Think Beyond Your Building”: Creating Interdisciplinary Courses with Real-World Applications

  • Lawler connected with Frierson when he was invited to speak at a lecture series in Frierson’s department. From there, the two pooled their connections – including external partners such as non-profits and local high schools – to “shop around” their game idea. Then they drew on connections from those people to set up a formal working group.
  • While students may need to fulfill a project requirement, others are looking for extracurricular opportunities to learn new skills or add to their portfolio – but they still want to work on something meaningful. These experiences can also help them make their applications for scholarships, graduate school or jobs even stronger.
  • Open enrollment can result in a wider mix of disciplinary backgrounds than expected, but Frierson says, “You have to look at the group you have, and move in a direction based on who’s there.” For example, a student group composed of scientists and writers might build a more basic design with a “choose your own story” adventure rather than an app with elaborate visuals.
  • The eScience Institute offers seminars, working groups, and a Data Science Studio in which researchers across disciplines share ways of fostering collaborative research with technology.
  • The Office of Global Affairs supports scholars across disciplines, institutions, and continents in service of international research, education, and outreach.
  • The Digital Future Lab at UW Bothell brings together research scientists and product designers to develop interdisciplinary projects through a commitment to “radical diversity.”
  • Academic Affairs at UW Tacoma supports teaching and learning and offers faculty multifaceted resources.

Collaboration Tips

  • Expand your network
  • Use your resources
  • Stay flexible

Tips & Tools

Be boundless, connect with us:.

© 2024 University of Washington | Seattle, WA

Watch CBS News

Can Video Games Solve Big World Problems?

By S. Mintz

Updated on: June 15, 2011 / 5:53 PM EDT / MoneyWatch

Maybe it wasn't so far fetched as I thought.

In this TED lecture , video-game designer Jane McGonigal puts video games in a much more hopeful light. With feisty confidence, McGonigal starts with arresting statistics. By age 21, an average gamer logs 10,000 hours - roughly equivalent to all the time spent in school from fifth grade through high school, with perfect attendance. Worldwide, 500 million gamers spend three billion hours every week at controllers hoping for "epic wins," a victory so great that it exceeds expectation. To me, this just sounded like three billion hours that gamers will never get back.

Moreover, since the first version of World of Warcraft appeared, gamers have spent all told 5.93 million years waging virtual wars. That's just about the number of years that have elapsed since our human ancestors first stood up. And McGonigal predicts that the gamer cadres will triple in the next decade.

But wait a nanosecond, says McGonigal, who directs game research and development at the Institute for the Future . There is a positive spin on the same data. By her lights, people don't spend too much time playing video games. They spend too little. For the world to survive lurking known and unknown 21 st century challenges, from global warming to rampant disease and food shortages, McGonigal advocates a seven-fold increase in time spent video gaming, to 21 billion hours per week.

Think about four universal traits that video games and players exhibit, according to IFF research - traits worth imbuing in workers anywhere:

  • Urgent optimism, or a desire to tackle obstacles accompanied by reasonable hope of success;
  • Social fabric, or the weaving of relationships beyond usual borders with shared rules and implicit trust, irrespective of outcomes;
  • Blissful productivity, or evidence that people enjoy being productive when their efforts can shape end results;
  • Epic meaning, or the attraction to awe-inspiring missions with planetary stakes.

Toward that noble end, McGonigal and her IFF compatriots pioneer " alternate reality " video games (ARG) rooted in real world problem solving. " World Without Oil " simulates the first 32 weeks of a global oil crisis, replete with a citizen nerve center that tracks and shares solutions. Players create personal stories via any medium from email to blogposts to podcasts, and the game bestows daily rewards for excellence. McGonigal has also created " Cruel 2 B Kind " - "a game of benevolent assassination" and "I Love Bees," a viral hit one detected in a trailer for the video game Halo. (Note: A scary "I Love Bees" home page suggests a countdown to cataclysm. It's part of the game.]

Harnessing video games to rescue the world sounds great. But at the risk of sounding old fashioned, to me something fundamental is still missing. Daylight.

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On a Hunt for What Makes Gamers Keep Gaming

video games solve real world problems

By John Tierney

  • Dec. 6, 2010

By the age of 21, the typical American has spent 10,000 hours playing computer games, and endured a smaller but much drearier chunk of time listening to sermons about this sinful habit. Why, the experts wail, are so many people wasting their lives solving meaningless puzzles in virtual worlds?

Now some other experts — ones who have actually played these games — are asking more interesting questions. Why are these virtual worlds so much more absorbing than school and work? How could these gamers’ labors be used to solve real-world puzzles? Why can’t life be more like a video game?

“Gamers are engaged, focused, and happy,” says Edward Castronova , a professor of telecommunications at Indiana University who has studied and designed online games. “How many employers wish they could say that about even a tenth of their work force?

“Many activities in games are not very different from work activities. Look at information on a screen, discern immediate objectives, choose what to click and drag.”

Jane McGonigal , a game designer and researcher at the Institute for the Future, sums up the new argument in her coming book, “Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World.” It’s a manifesto urging designers to aim high — why not a Nobel Prize? — with games that solve scientific problems and promote happiness in daily life.

In the past, puzzles and games were sometimes considered useful instructional tools. The emperor Charlemagne hired a scholar to compile “Problems to Sharpen the Young,” a collection of puzzles like the old one about ferrying animals across a river (without leaving the hungry fox on the same bank as the defenseless goat). The British credited their victory over Napoleon to the games played on the fields of Eton.

But once puzzles and gaming went digital, once the industry’s revenues rivaled Hollywood’s, once children and adults became so absorbed that they forsook even television, then the activity was routinely denounced as “escapism” and an “addiction.” Meanwhile, a few researchers were more interested in understanding why players were becoming so absorbed and focused. They seemed to be achieving the state of “flow” that psychologists had used to describe master musicians and champion athletes, but the gamers were getting there right away instead of having to train for years.

One game-design consultant, Nicole Lazzaro , the president of XEODesign, recorded the facial expressions of players and interviewed them along with their friends and relatives to identify the crucial ingredients of a good game. One ingredient is “hard fun,” which Ms. Lazzaro defines as overcoming obstacles in pursuit of a goal. That’s the same appeal of old-fashioned puzzles, but the video games provide something new: instantaneous feedback and continual encouragement, both from the computer and from the other players.

Players get steady rewards for little achievements as they amass points and progress to higher levels, with the challenges becoming harder as their skill increases.

Even though they fail over and over, they remain motivated to keep going until they succeed and experience what game researchers call “fiero.” The term (Italian for “proud”) describes the feeling that makes a gamer lift both arms above the head in triumph.

It’s not a gesture you see often in classrooms or offices or on the street, but game designers like Dr. McGonigal are working on that. She has designed Cruel 2 B Kind , a game in which players advance by being nice to strangers in public places, and which has been played in more than 50 cities on four continents.

She and her husband are among the avid players of Chorewars , an online game in which they earn real rewards (like the privilege of choosing the music for their next car ride) by doing chores at their apartment in San Francisco. Cleaning the bathroom is worth so many points that she has sometimes hid the toilet brush to prevent him from getting too far ahead.

Other people, working through a “microvolunteering” Web site called Sparked, are using a smartphone app undertake quests for nonprofit groups like First Aid Corps , which is compiling a worldwide map of the locations of defibrillators available for cardiac emergencies. Instead of looking for magical healing potions in virtual worlds, these players scour buildings for defibrillators that haven’t been cataloged yet. If that defibrillator later helps save someone’s life, the player’s online glory increases (along with the sense of fiero).

To properly apply gaming techniques to school and work and other institutions, there are certain core principles to keep in mind, says Tom Chatfield , a British journalist and the author of “Fun Inc.: Why Gaming Will Dominate the Twenty-First Century.” These include using an “experience system” (like an avatar or a profile that levels up), creating a variety of short-term and long-term goals, and rewarding effort continually while also providing occasional unexpected rewards.

“One of the most profound transformations we can learn from games,” he says, “is how to turn the sense that someone has ‘failed’ into the sense that they ‘haven’t succeeded yet.’”

Some schools are starting to borrow gamers’ system of quests and rewards, and the principles could be applied to lots of enterprises, especially colossal collaborations online. By one estimate, Dr. McGonigal notes, creating Wikipedia took eight years and 100 million hours of work, but that’s only half the number of hours spent in a single week by people playing World of Warcraft .

“Whoever figures out how to effectively engage them first for real work is going to reap enormous benefits,” Dr. McGonigal predicts.

Researchers like Dr. Castronova have already benefited by tracking the economic transactions and social behavior in online games. Now that Facebook and smartphones have enabled virtual communities to be created fairly cheaply, Dr. Castronova is hoping to build a prototype that could be adapted by researchers studying a variety of real-world problems.

“Social media like video games are the only research tool we’ve ever had that lets us do controlled experiments on large-scale problems like global warming, terrorism and pandemics,” Dr. Castronova says. “Not everything in virtual environments maps onto real behavior, but a heck of a lot does. Rules like ‘buy low, sell high’ and ‘tall people are sexier’ play out exactly the same way, whether the environment is virtual or real.”

Dr. Castronova envisions creating financial games to study how bubbles and panics occur, or virtual cities to see how they respond to disasters.

“One reason that policy keeps screwing up — think Katrina — is because it never gets tested,” he says. “In the real world, you can’t create five versions of New Orleans and throw five hurricanes at them to test different logistics. But you can do that in virtual environments.”

Well, you can do it as long as there enough players in that virtual New Orleans who are having enough fun to keep serving as unpaid lab rats. Researchers will need the skills exhibited by Tom Sawyer when he persuaded his friends it would be a joyous privilege to whitewash a fence.

Tom discovered, as Twain explained, “that Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do, and that Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.” The ultimate challenge, when trying to extract work from the World of Warcraft questers and other players, will be persuading them that it’s still just a game.

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How Can Video Games Improve Our Real Lives?


Jane McGonigal: How Can Video Games Improve Our Real Lives?

Part 5 of the TED Radio Hour episode Press Play

About Jane McGonigal's TED Talk

When Jane McGonigal was bedridden after a concussion, she gave herself a prescription: play a game. She says games helped her get better, and for many of us, virtual games can improve our real lives. Here's her first TED Talk about using games to solve real world problems:

About Jane McGonigal

Jane McGonigal is a researcher of games and Director of Games Research & Development at the Institute for the Future . She is the author of the book Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World. Several years ago she suffered a serious concussion; she created a collaborative multiplayer game to get through it, called Superbetter.

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Playing ‘serious games,’ adults learn to solve thorny real-world  problems

video games solve real world problems

Professor of Urban and Environmental Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

video games solve real world problems

PhD Candidate, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Disclosure statement

Lawrence Susskind works for the MIT Science Impact Collaborative, the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning, the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School and the not-for-profit Consensus Building Institute. He has received funding from the U.S. National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Ella Kim does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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video games solve real world problems

It is never easy for interest groups with conflicting views to resolve public policy disagreements involving complex scientific issues. To successfully formulate complex treaties, such as the recent Paris Climate Change Agreement, countries must find a way to meet the interests of almost 200 national representatives, while simultaneously getting the science right. Lowest common denominator political agreements that don’t actually solve the problem are useless.

Similarly, within countries, national policymakers need to mesh the conflicting concerns of public officials, civil society organizations and business interests to set health and safety standards that work. To do this, they must bring everyone up to speed on the scientific and technical aspects of the problem they are addressing. Merely wrangling a political agreement isn’t enough.

Likewise, at the municipal level, communities are confronting issues such as the local public health risks of climate change . They need to make sure that public officials and key segments of the public understand the problems and the responses most likely to work.

The standard approach is to hold public meetings where representatives of all interest groups gather and air their views. But public meetings alone will not produce informed decisions. First, stakeholders have to learn about the complex systems involved. Second, to negotiate a truly informed agreement, they have to understand the concerns of other groups. It is not easy to pull together agreements that will have widespread support. We need tools to highlight our common interests or trades we can all accept, instead of emphasizing our differences and disagreements.

video games solve real world problems

Finding common interests through games

We have been testing the use of role-playing games to promote collaborative decision-making by nations, states and communities. Unlike online computer games, players in role-playing games interact face-to-face in small groups of six to eight. The games place them in a hypothetical setting that simulates a real-life problem-solving situation. People are often assigned roles that are very different from their real-life roles. This helps them appreciate how their political adversaries view the problem.

Players receive briefing materials to read ahead of time so they can perform their assigned roles realistically. The idea is to reenact the tensions that actual stakeholders will feel when they are making real-life decisions. In the game itself, participants are asked to reach agreement in their roles in 60-90 minutes. (Other games, like the Mercury Game or the Chlorine Game , take longer to play.) If multiple small groups play the game at the same time, the entire room – which may include 100 tables of game players or more – can discuss the results together. In these debriefings, the most potent learning often occurs when players hear about creative moves that others have used to reach agreement.

It can take up to several months to design a game. Designers start by interviewing real-life decision makers to understand how they view the problem. Game designers must also synthesize a great deal of scientific and technical information to present it in the game in a form that anyone can understand. After the design phase, games have to be tested and refined before they are ready for play.

Research shows that this immersive approach to learning is particularly effective for adults . Our own research shows that elected and appointed officials, citizen advocates and corporate leaders can absorb a surprising amount of new scientific information when it is embedded in a carefully crafted role-playing game. In one study of more than 500 people in four New England coastal communities , we found that a significant portion of game players (1) changed their minds about how urgent a threat climate change is; (2) became more optimistic about their local government’s ability to reduce climate change risks; and (3) became more confident that conflicting groups would be able to reach agreement on how to proceed with climate adaptation.

Our conclusion is that “serious games” can prepare citizens and officials to participate successfully in science-based problem-solving. In related research in Ghana and Vietnam , we found that role-playing games had similarly valuable effects. While the agreements reached in games do not necessarily indicate what actual agreements may be reached, they can help officials and stakeholder representatives get a much clearer sense of what might be possible.

We believe that role-playing games can be used in a wide range of situations. We have designed games that have been used in different parts of the world to help all kinds of interest groups work together to draft new environmental regulations . We have brought together adversaries in energy facility siting and waste cleanup disputes to play a game prior to facing off against each other in real life. This approach has also facilitated decisions in regional economic development disputes , water allocation disputes in an international river basin and disputes among aboriginal communities, national governments and private industry .

In any situation where groups with different interests and values are likely to talk past each other or ignore scientific information in a political context, role-playing games can prepare them to deal with their differences more effectively.

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MIT Comparative Media Studies/Writing

Knowledge Games: How Playing Games Can Solve Problems, Create Insight, and Make Change

Karen Schrier

Schrier argues that knowledge games are potentially powerful because of their ability to motivate a crowd of problem solvers within a dynamic system while also tapping into the innovative data processing and computational abilities of games.

For sale at Johns Hopkins University Press :

Imagine if new knowledge and insights came not just from research centers, think tanks, and universities but also from games, of all things. Video games have been viewed as causing social problems, but what if they actually helped solve them? This question drives Karen Schrier’s Knowledge Games, which seeks to uncover the potentials and pitfalls of using games to make discoveries, solve real-world problems, and better understand our world. For example, so-called knowledge games—such as Foldit, a protein-folding puzzle game, SchoolLife, which crowdsources bullying interventions, and Reverse the Odds, in which mobile game players analyze breast cancer data—are already being used by researchers to gain scientific, psychological, and humanistic insights. Schrier argues that knowledge games are potentially powerful because of their ability to motivate a crowd of problem solvers within a dynamic system while also tapping into the innovative data processing and computational abilities of games. In the near future, Schrier asserts, knowledge games may be created to understand and predict voting behavior, climate concerns, historical perspectives, online harassment, susceptibility to depression, or optimal advertising strategies, among other things. In addition to investigating the intersection of games, problem solving, and crowdsourcing, Schrier examines what happens when knowledge emerges from games and game players rather than scientists, professionals, and researchers. This accessible book also critiques the limits and implications of games and considers how they may redefine what it means to produce knowledge, to play, to educate, and to be a citizen. Karen Schrier is an assistant professor of media arts, the director of the Play Innovation Lab, and the director of the Games and Emerging Media Program at Marist College. She is the editor of the Learning, Education, and Games series.

Karen Schrier

Karen Schrier

Karen "Kat" Schrier is a game designer, producer, and educator. She is an Associate Professor and the Founding Director of the Games & Emerging Media program at Marist College. She also currently consults as a Game Designer for the World Health Organization (WHO) and is co-PI on a Templeton Foundation Grant on VR and empathy. She was also a Belfer Fellow for the Center for Technology & Society at the ADL. Dr. Schrier is the author/editor of over 100 published works, including We the Gamers: How Games Teach Ethics and Civics (Oxford University Press), the Learning, Education & Games series (ETC Press/Carnegie Mellon), and Knowledge Games (Johns Hopkins University Press). Prior to becoming a full-time academic, she worked at media companies like Scholastic, BrainPOP, and Nickelodeon. Dr. Schrier holds a doctorate from Columbia University, a master’s degree from MIT, and a bachelor’s degree from Amherst College.

Thesis: Revolutionizing History Education: Using Augmented Reality Games to Teach Histories

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video games solve real world problems

Videogame design innovations solving real-world problems

video games solve real world problems

1 September 2021

A Dundee-based research and development centre is showing how videogame design techniques, tools and technologies can be used to solve real-world problems.

They may be fun to play, but videogames also have serious potential when it comes to meeting real-world challenges. Recent developments at a UKRI-funded innovation hub show how insights from game designers can help address problems ranging from obesity to unhealthy dairy cows.

About the project

InGAME is the UK’s only dedicated research and development centre for videogame design. It is part of the Creative Industries Cluster Programme, and funded by UKRI through the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). The centre is based in Dundee, where some of the world’s most successful videogames were created, including Grand Theft Auto, Lemmings and the console version of Minecraft.

Dr Chris Lowthorpe, Senior Fellow and Head of Collaborative R&D at InGAME, described the centre’s five-year mission: “With our core team of experts, our aim is to increase the scale and value of the Dundee videogames cluster, driving innovation. Early on we saw that there were major opportunities for growth in applying videogames in the wider world.”

“That means not just using videogame tools and technologies, but also the design processes that lead to the development of new games,” he continued. “These can all be harnessed to help solve real-world problems.”

Many of InGAME’s collaborative research and development activities have developed from its Applied Games Lab (AGL). The AGL is an ‘innovation playground’ which explores the potential of videogame design techniques, tools and technologies to address a range of pressing issues. InGAME now works with partners from around the world to define the challenges that they have and begin to co-design solutions.

Impacts of the project

Project SmARtview is a UKRI-funded feasibility study involving the University of Abertay, local game studio Pocket Sized Hands, Agri-Tech Innovation Centre Agri-EPI and animal welfare specialist vetPartners. The study, which received a £250,000 award from UKRI, aimed to create a new augmented reality tool to make improvements in dairy farming.

Building on early work carried out at the AGL, the project uses artificial intelligence to identify individual cows through their distinctive markings. The tool will visualise real-time data in a way that allows vets to see at a glance how productive and healthy particular animals are. This will enable them to make quicker and more accurate interventions to improve animal welfare.

Insights from the AGL’s work in game design and immersive technologies are also useful for identifying and avoiding risks related to product development, as well as coming up with possible solutions.

“Games studios are often small, and it can be hard for them to lift their head above the parapet of day-to-day game creation,” explained Dr Lowthorpe. “But we can introduce them to the wider opportunities that are available, for applying their creativity and expertise outside of game-making.”

InGAME will soon be launching a series of ‘applied games catalysers’: challenging others to apply videogame tools and ideas to real-world problems. The first is in partnership with the innovation agency Nesta, and aims to help people lead longer, more healthy lives, in particular through efforts to reduce obesity.

“We’re challenging game designers to help people make better choices,” said Lowthorpe. “As well as being experts in visualising data, game designers are great at creating ‘choice architecture’ – they, better than anyone, understand how nudge theory works in practice. You can encourage people to have a healthier lifestyle by giving them small incentives.”

Find out more

Read the article Videogame technology used to enhance cow health at dairy farms on the Abertay University website.

Read more about the SmARtview project on Gateway to Research .

Read more about InGAME on the centre website .

Top image:  InGAME co-investigator Professor Ruth Falconer on site at the South West Dairy Development Centre.

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"Serious gaming: how gamers are solving real world problems"

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In this article we state that serious gaming can be used to help solve real world problems in education and health care. Serious gaming, which aims to merge digital and real world social environments, can be also instrumental to enhance connectivity among communities. The main statements and ideas developed in this paper are inspired in concrete projects and actions in the field of serious games, game based learning, transmedia experience and alternate reality games. The purpose of this research is to review some literature and projects in serious gaming as future inspirations for the creation and production of a serious game design applied to education and/or health. The approach adapted in this paper is connected with methodologies used in communication sciences/design where it is presented a state of the art of the field before starting creating and developing a game prototype. The main motivation of this paper is to present a consistent body of projects to inspire future research in this area.

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Gamification has received increased attention in education in recent years, and is seen as a way to improve student engagement, motivation, attendance, and academic performance. While empirical studies on gamification in higher education are showing modest gains in some areas, this data can be difficult to interpret because of the many ways that gamification can be designed and implemented. Gamification is also controversial for appearing exploitative, seeming oversimplified , and having the tendency to rely on extrinsic motivation and learning analytics that may not translate to student learning. This paper provides a brief overview of gamification in higher education and looks at findings from recent empirical studies. It then examines its key criticisms as well as its potential contributions to improving instructional design in higher education. A practical example and a set of recommendations are provided to show how instructors new to gamification and interested in implementing it can adapt it for their courses.

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A b s t r a c t Technology is evolving fast and such evolutions are spread all over the world very quickly. One such evolution witnessed reserved in the gaming world is " Gamificacion ". Gamification is much different than the usual digital game we are familiar with. It moves more freely in the educational game technology. This article cover the background and overview of the gamification, its differences with the usual educational games and discussion about the achievement of gamification to education.

Plamen Miltenoff

Two new trends in education: BYOD (bring your own device) and games and gamification are steadily being recognized and adopted by K12 and Higher Education practitioners. A team of faculty from two different countries, Bulgaria and the United States, is exploring the application of information and communication technologies in education. A jQuery-generated site for mobile devices is used by students to gamify their learning experience out of the classroom and in their professional field. Students are using their mobile phones to access information through a mobile Web site and are expected to accomplish set of tasks, which reflect their knowledge of literature and procedures. Although Learning Management Systems (LMS), such as BlackBoard might offer mobile access, the stereotype of gamification with LMS remains bound to static students taking quiz on a desktop/laptop. A methodological change was sought from class-centered to experiential and project-oriented activities while the learning process is shifted from computer-based to mobile-based setting. The goal is to establish if a dynamic and mobile access to information and feedback and switching from a lecture-based teaching style to a more constructivist approach of will encourage students to build knowledge on their own while pursuing a game-like activity out in their working field. The growing affordability and access to the Internet, as well as the global penetration of mobile devices across all ages have transformed e-learning into m-learning (mobile learning). Pedagogy and methodology respectively are in a process of change. The traditional F2F (face-to-face) class is evolving into a hybrid classroom, a place where practices and achievements from e-learning and m-learning are increasingly absorbed and turned into a customary practice. There is a growing need to transform pedagogy from the traditional F2F classroom to learning and teaching practices reflecting student-centered, mobile-based, real-life, project-based environment with authentic, experiential and evidence based learning.

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As digital gaming has increased in popularity and become a global practice, computer-assisted language learning (CALL) researchers and second and foreign language (L2) educators have begun reconsidering games as potential L2 teaching and learning (L2TL) resources. To provide an overview of this new field, this chapter surveys the history and theory of games in CALL and presents the origins of the field, rationale for the use of games in L2TL, games purposed for L2TL, and major research findings. The chapter then presents three useful heuristics for interpreting research on games in CALL: metaphor, research object, and research orientation. The chapter concludes with implications for future research and practice, focusing on a call for cooperation and collaboration among the stakeholders in the field—CALL researchers, L2 instructors, and the L2 educational gaming industry.


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Through the evolution of human life, the changes that happen in all fields, such as transportation, industry, communication, etc., are recognized, however the classroom and its education facilities are still as they have been for a long time, based on the concept of transforming information or knowledge from the mind of the instructor to the minds of students. Students, as a new generation, have evolving skills in dealing with digital technologies, having begun the process in their childhood; therefore, they cannot be educated via conventional methods. This study introduces digital gaming in education as a new, futuristic learning technique to be used in architectural education to attract students to learn, based on the common ground between the processes of designing and playing games, from exploring possibilities under certain constraints to emphasizing decision-making and activity-based collaborations. The research has originated from the lack of studies regarding this subject, especially in the architectural field, aiming to introduce a theoretical approach to investigating the use of digital game-based learning (DGBL) in architectural education as an integration between real and virtual educational environments particularly through the virtual worlds based on the 'Second Life'-digital platform. This study is significant in terms of making design learning fun and constructive, reaching new possibilities in architectural design.

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Voices of Discovery: Seth Cooper discusses using game design to solve real-world problems 

By Olivia Grady '26 , student

November 9, 2023

video games solve real world problems

Scientific discovery games could be the stepping stone to creating medical breakthroughs, according to Cooper, an associate professor of computer science at Northeastern University.  

Many think of video games as just toys — something to play with, sometimes too often and for too long. But mechanisms for solving real-world problems? Not so much.

However, Associate Professor Seth Cooper from Northeastern University’s Khoury College of Computer Sciences is helping shift those perceptions.

During a lecture at Elon on Monday, Nov. 6 as part of the Voices of Discovery series, Cooper discussed video games and their potential for scientific discoveries. More specifically, he discussed the game he co-created, “Foldit”, which has players participate in an online, 3D puzzle game for protein folding. Players predict the protein’s structure and high scorers in the past have assisted in biological breakthroughs, such as the correct structure of a monkey protease involved in determining simian AIDS.

“His work represents the epitome of interdisciplinary engagement, merging the lines between entertainment, science, and social contribution,” said Mohammed Al Fadaam ’23, president of Elon’s Game Design Club.

The idea for the game began with the simple visualization of how the structure of amino acids fold into proteins. Cooper thought people could eventually become good at predicting these structures if they were given the chance to solve them through interactive platforms, like a 3D puzzle.

He was right.

The game’s main goal is for the player to get the highest score, and it is designed as a leaderboard competition. This ensures healthy competition among players, mobilizing them closer to achieving a potential breakthrough for the scientific community.

When players of the game made a breakthrough in determining the correct structure of a monkey protease involved in determining simian AIDS, it ended a hunt for a solution that had lasted for years by experimental collaborators.

“In just a few weeks, they [the Foldit players] were able to come up with a structure that was accurate enough to be confirmed by experimental data,” Cooper explained. “This was sort of our early success of the Foldit players, basically being able to be in a community of players, working together to solve this problem that was very difficult to solve for several years.”

Cooper’s ability to turn serious scientific questions into an opportunity for citizen science provides a new perspective in thinking about medical discoveries. With this mindset, anyone can contribute to scientific innovation, and we can start to believe that through community, anything is possible, Cooper explained.

Visit Cooper’s TedMed page for more information and videos on Foldit.

Posted in: Academics & Research Events

Tagged: Elon College, the College of Arts & Sciences


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Video gaming can help solve world problems.

Rohit Mehta

Rohit Mehta

Rohit Mehta is an Indian blogger, author and entrepreneur. He owns a blog named Digital Gabbar which is Available in English & Hindi. Rohit has been in the digital marketi ng and IT sector for over 10 years. He can be reached at Facebook, Instagram or Twitter (@bloggermehta). LESS ... MORE

Video gaming, once seen as an addictive hobby, can actually make the world a better place through science and technology. By inspiring students to pursue careers in STEM fields and helping solve real-world problems, video games have taken on an entirely new light in recent years. Let’s explore how video gaming can help solve world problems and create innovation in the future.

Video games aren’t for everyone

Some people simply don’t like them or don’t have time for them, and that’s OK. But for those who do play video games (and love them), we’d suggest looking at it as a way to learn some new skills, advance your career, and even make money. In fact, there are a lot of reasons to play video games that have nothing to do with entertainment: They just might help solve our world’s most pressing problems.

The importance of video games

Video games are often perceived as a mere pastime for kids and teenagers, who use them to unwind after school or on weekends. However, there is an increasing body of research that suggests video games can play a key role in improving global affairs—from education to disaster relief and beyond.

Video game production and design careers

As more companies, non-profits and government agencies turn to game technology for outreach and training, it’s never been a better time to work in video game production. The global market for mobile games alone reached $43 billion in 2015—that’s over three times greater than Hollywood box office receipts for that year.

The power of problem solving in video games

Video games are powerful tools for building problem-solving skills. In fact, in a growing number of cases, what is considered to be good gaming has very little to do with winning or losing at all—the act of solving problems, by itself, is what brings a lot of gamers satisfaction. With that in mind, video games may be exactly what we need as civilization attempts to tackle some of its biggest challenges.

How video games create better workers

Did you know video games are actually good for you? Because of the growing demand for tech and video game workers, there’s never been a better time to hone your skills. But is there more than meets the eye when it comes to how we use games as a tool for helping us excel in other areas of our lives? Let’s find out.

The future of video game jobs

from gamer to game creator. Global revenue from video games is expected to reach $110 billion by 2016, according to Newzoo’s Global Games Market Report. The video game industry is booming as more and more consumers decide to purchase new games instead of more traditional entertainment options such as movies and television shows. In fact, a Nielsen study found that for every two people who cut their cable service, one person starts playing video games.

Finding a job as a video game designer

Many companies like Google, Apple, and Microsoft employ teams of video game designers. These companies are constantly on the lookout for talented individuals who can make their video games both fun and challenging. If you’re interested in a career as a video game designer, check out job listings at well-known studios or independent studios that develop online or mobile games. Another option is to start your own business designing video games. You may be able to do so from home if you already have some experience developing or working with computer programs.

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Games solve real-world problems.

Abstract Mental illness has always been an important issue for young adults. Moreover, initiatives resulting from the outbreak of COVID‐19 have had an even greater impact on the mental health of young adults. This study sought to examine the effect of gamification on whether young adults adopt in‐person counseling. One hundred twenty young adults (42 males and 78 females) with an average age of 29 years participated in our experiment. In the experiment, a 2 (Gamification: no vs. yes) × 2 (Vividness: low vs. high) between‐subjects design was employed. In the “yes” gamification condition, participants decided whether or not to read introductory material about in‐person counseling, and also whether or not to adopt in‐person counseling in the future. The results of the study show that: (1) gamification increased adoption, (2) participants’ perception of subjective usability of in‐person counseling mediated the effect of gamification to adoption, and (3) vividness of presentation moderated subjective usability. Our study demonstrated that gamification nudges young adults to adopt in‐person counseling while subjective usability mediates the relationship, and vividness moderates the relationship between gamification and subjective usability. Our findings provide counselors fresh insights into motivating people to access counseling services. Keywords gamification; adoption; usability; vividness; counseling; nudge

2 thoughts on “Games solve real-world problems”

Foldit is very interesting in the way that the game players are attributed as coauthors of the scientific publication in Nature in the end. I think it is a great example of connecting virtual world game play to the real world activities.

I was also interested in the concept of “gamification” during the speech. Jane said she doesn’t like using it too much because the concept itself seems quite contrived. While lots of media producers are trying to incorporate gaming tools and interfaces to make their projects more engaging, not many of them have core activities or real motivation.

Thank you for your great addition. In general, she has an interesting idea that implementing obstacles can transform a boring problem into an enjoyable problem.

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Can video games help solve real world problems?

A lot. Well, there is a couple of how video games help solve real- world problems faster : Learning from your mistakes You go through deep practice You get to try different things Learning when to give up You face a lot of different problems All the benefits We all make mistakes on a daily basis.

How do video games help with real world problem-solving?

Unlike the well-structured problems that students face in formal learning settings, well-designed games provide students with challenging scenarios that promote problem-solving skills by requiring players to generate new knowledge from challenging scenarios within interactive environments, while also providing …

Can video games help you solve problems?

Problem solving skills/decision making skills

Traditionally video games train problem solving and strategy development skills by getting the player solve increasingly complicated problems. In many cases there is a time pressure which develops speed and decision making skills.

Do video games improve real life skills?

But new and ongoing studies prove that gaming can improve important life skills , such as “superior sensorimotor decision-making skills” and enhanced brain activity, according to a recent study in 2022 at Georgia State University.

What games can improve problem-solving?

Examples include sudoku, murder mysteries, and spaghetti towers. These games are also known as “problem solving exercises”, “problem and solution games” and “group problem solving activities.”

Life is a video game & you are playing it wrong.

How do video games help critical thinking.

In video games, sometimes surprising events occur that “catch” players off guard, forcing them to think quickly to overcome the obstacles that arise. Playing video games improves one’s ability to make effective decisions in dynamic environments, a valuable skill in the real world as well.

What is the hardest game to solve?

Top 10 hardest puzzle video games you’ve played

  • Baba is you.
  • Can of wormholes.
  • Picross 3d.
  • The Witness.

What is the real life benefit of video games?

However, the benefits of videogames include improved powers of concentration, creativity, memory, languages and teamwork. Videogames can make it easier to learn educational contents and develop cognitive skills.

How do video games help kids the real world?

Social connections

Some kids have trouble fitting in and making friends in real life. Video games can be a refuge for them to find people to connect with in positive way. In our busy lives, games offer virtual playdates with real-life friends. Video games also give kids something to talk about at school.

Can video games teach you life lessons?

Video games can entertain us, help us deal with stress, strengthen friendships, and of course, teach us valuable life lessons. These lessons can come to mark the life of gamers and change its course. You may not have consciously paid attention to them, but I assure you they are there.

How do video games help kids problem solve?

One of the most significant benefits of video games is their ability to improve their problem-solving. Many games require players to solve puzzles, overcome obstacles, and make decisions that affect the game’s outcome.

Do video games improve strategy?

Different game types build other sorts of skills. Puzzle games teach problem-solving. Real-time action games improve fine motor skills, memory, response time and the aforementioned hand-eye coordination. Strategy games encourage players to make plans, manage resources and balance competing objectives.

How do video games improve social skills?

Online video games can allow players to talk to others and make friends at their current ability level even when they are not emotionally or physically able to leave their homes. This can help build the skills and confidence necessary to try it in-person.

Are video games helpful or harmful?

It’s true that some studies have shown certain video games can improve hand–eye coordination, problem-solving skills, and the mind’s ability to process information. But too much video game playing may cause problems. It’s hard to get enough active play and exercise if you’re always inside playing video games.

How long should a 12 year old play video games per day?

It’s good to set video game time limits by age. For kids over the age of 6, the American Academy of Pediatrics says no more than 60 minutes on school days and 2 hours on non-school days. Kids under 6 should spend closer to 30 minutes.

Is Roblox good for kids?

Roblox can provide a fun and innovative gaming experience. Unfortunately, however, it’s not always safe for children. While the platform is working hard to keep kids safe with filters and age restrictions, it’s not enough.

What are the pros and cons of video games?

Video games can be used to help improve test scores, teach life and job skills, improve brain function, and encourage physical exercise. Because video game addiction can negatively impact social and physical health, parents should be aware of the symptoms.

Is gaming a sport yes or no?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a sport as a physical activity engaged in for pleasure. While playing a video game requires skill and some coordination, it does not incorporate enough physical aspects to be a sport.

How video games affect children?

To put it mildly, these games can have a marked effect on a child showing excessive violence and aggressive behavior, social anxiety, insomnia, hostility, the risk of neuropsychiatric illness, phobia, and even drug abuse along with Gaming addiction.

What is the name of the hardest game ever?

Contra may be the hardest video game ever once set the tone in terms of raw difficulty remains absolutely hard as nails to this day. Those who get stressed easily should avoid it at all costs. However, those who fancy a real challenge should set aside some time and prove their metal.

Who made the hardest game on earth?

About This Game

It’s hard from the start, but difficulty increases as you progress through the levels. This is a remake of a classic flash game from 2008 “browser gaming” era. “The World’s Hardest Game – On Steam” powered by GameMaker. Original game was made by “Snubby Land” @ArmorGames.

What is the world’s toughest puzzle?

List of Clear Puzzles

  • Impossible Magma, Gemturt, 240 pieces (2022)
  • Impossible Ocean, Gemturt, 240 pieces (2022)
  • Impossible Unicorn, Gemturt, 100 pieces (2022)
  • Impossible Unicorn, Gemturt, 180 pieces (2022)
  • The Clearly Impossible Puzzle, 1000, 500, 250, 100 pieces (2021)
  • Broken Glass Puzzle, 161 pieces (2020)

Do video games train your brain?

Essentially, the more you learn, the more your brain can adapt. “Like stimulants, video gaming can increase gray matter in the brain,” says Dr. Manos. “Gray matter provides interconnectivity and allows parts of your brain to communicate with other parts of your brain and advance your self-perception.”

Can gaming benefit your brain?

Gaming is really a workout for your mind disguised as fun. Studies have shown that playing video games regularly may increase gray matter in the brain and boost brain connectivity. (Gray matter is associated with muscle control, memories, perception, and spatial navigation.)

How does the brain react to gaming?

Gaming activates dopamine – the brain’s reward system

Dopamine is a feel-good neurotransmitter that’s part of the brain’s reward system. Whenever the brain is expecting a reward from a certain activity, it starts producing dopamine which makes us feel good.

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6 Best Video Games For Learning Maths

Mathematics are a complex subject, but learning the basic concepts makes the all the rest easier. These math games can help that process.

  • Video games can be used as a fun and unconventional way to learn math concepts and improve number sense.
  • Games like Math Bingo and Slice Fractions provide interactive and engaging experiences that help children learn basic operations and challenging topics like fractions.
  • Prodigy Math and DragonBox Algebra offer personalized learning experiences, adjusting difficulty levels based on a student's performance.

Mathematics hold a lot of importance in everyone's daily lives . It's more than just numerical digits – a home, a car's engine, a computer; all of them exist thanks to maths. However, math is still a challenging subject for many individuals. There's never an end to the formulas and concepts one can learn in mathematics. Just when one starts to feel confident in understanding certain principles, a whole new level of complexity is unlocked .


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Surprisingly, there's an easier way to do it. Even though it’s quite unconventional, people can use video games to learn maths and clarify their understanding of its concepts. Listed below are eight interesting games that will make learning maths a fun experience.

6 DragonBox Numbers

Learn basic number sense with nooms.

DragonBox Numbers

  • Platforms: iOS, Android
  • Developer: Kahoot DragonBox AS
  • Release Date: November 3, 2015

DragonBox Numbers is one of the best games for kids who have trouble getting their numbers right. Those with a strong number sense are better equipped to solve mathematical numbers, so learning these skills is very valuable. The DragonBox Number s game for iOS and Android helps kids build number sense through unique activities.

Numbers are represented by fun characters called Nooms. With each touch, children will learn the basics of math, effectively building the foundation for other complex concepts. Not only is it a perfect way for parents to introduce their children to maths, but children up to 8 years old can enjoy learning math while playing this game.

In order to fully access the game's content, players might need to get a subscription first.

5 Math Bingo

Math operations made easier through bingo.

Math Bingo

  • Developer: ABCya
  • Release Date: July 15, 2010

After learning digits, children must learn the four basic math operations: division, multiplication, addition, and subtraction. Math Bingo turns traditional bingo into a dynamic math adventure. Players solve math problems by marking off numbers on their bingo cards. This promotes quick mental calculations and enhances basic arithmetic skills. When they achieve high scores, players are rewarded with adorable Bingo Bugs.

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Math Bingo adapts to the child's proficiency with customizable difficulty levels and various game modes, ensuring a personalized learning experience. Children aged 5-10 years can enjoy this game while learning basic mathematical operations. With adjustable difficulty levels and five bingo games, every child can find a suitable challenge and enjoy the learning process.

4 Slice Fractions

A fun way to learn fractions.

slice fractions

  • Developer: Ululab
  • Release Date: February 6, 2014

The one thing everybody finds tough about math is fractions. Slice Fractions is a visually engaging game that introduces and reinforces fraction concepts interactively and playfully. Players go on an exciting puzzle-solving journey , manipulating slices of ice and lava to clear the mammoth’s path.


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The game gradually introduces fraction elements like numerators, denominators, and equivalent fractions. With the compelling storyline and appealing graphics, children are sure to have a fun time bridging the gap between abstract mathematical concepts and real-world applications. Although suitable for kids of all ages, this game is particularly enjoyable for children aged 6 to 12 years old.

3 Prodigy Math

A world full of math wonders and monsters.

prodigy math

  • Platforms: PC, iOS, Android
  • Developer: Prodigy Education Inc.
  • Release Date: October 9, 2015

Prodigy Math is one of the most popular math-learning video games out there. It is a curriculum-aligned math game designed for students aged 6 to 12. Even better, it's accessible on web browsers, iOS, and Android.

The game combines fantasy-themed elements with educational content. Players can jump into a world where they solve math problems, battle monsters or other players, and earn rewards to progress through the game. The best thing about this game is that it adjusts difficulty based on a student's performance, offering a personalized learning experience.

2 DragonBox Algebra

Algebra has never been more fun.

dragonbox algebra

  • Developer: Kahoot ASA
  • Release Date: May 9, 2012

DragonBox Algebra is designed to teach algebraic concepts visually, intuitively, and interactively. It is the perfect math game for children who have trouble with algebra. The game transforms abstract algebraic concepts into a fun and engaging experience, allowing young ones to learn the basics of algebra at their own pace.

Through progressively more challenging puzzles , DragonBox Algebra introduces players to fundamental algebraic principles without using the perplexing symbols everyone hates. The app covers many concepts like parentheses, factorization, substitution, common denominator, plus/minus signs, etc.

1 Moose Math

Harness math skills.

moose math

  • Platforms: iOS, Android, PC
  • Developer: Duck Duck Moose
  • Release Date: October 15, 2013

Moose Math is a fun math game designed for students aged 3 to 7, providing a comprehensive and interactive approach to kindergarten and first-grade math concepts. It keeps students engaged with various activities, like Pet Bingo, Moose Juice, and Dot To Dot. Kids can even earn rewards and build their own city .

Moose Math covers essential topics like addition & subtraction, geometry, and number sense. Its adaptive learning system tailors content based on individual progress, ensuring a personalized learning experience.

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A screenshot from an AI-generated video of woolly mammoths.

Sora: OpenAI launches tool that instantly creates video from text

Model from ChatGPT maker ‘simulates physical world in motion’ up to a minute long based on users’ subject and style instructions

OpenAI revealed a tool on Thursday that can generate videos from text prompts.

The new model, nicknamed Sora after the Japanese word for “sky”, can produce realistic footage up to a minute long that adheres to a user’s instructions on both subject matter and style. According to a company blogpost, the model is also able to create a video based on a still image or extend existing footage with new material.

“We’re teaching AI to understand and simulate the physical world in motion, with the goal of training models that help people solve problems that require real-world interaction,” the blogpost reads.

One video included among several initial examples from the company was based on the prompt: “A movie trailer featuring the adventures of the 30-year-old space man wearing a red wool knitted motorcycle helmet, blue sky, salt desert, cinematic style, shot on 35mm film, vivid colors.”

The company announced it had opened access to Sora to a few researchers and video creators. The experts would “red team” the product – test it for susceptibility to skirt OpenAI’s terms of service, which prohibit “extreme violence, sexual content, hateful imagery, celebrity likeness, or the IP of others”, per the company’s blogpost. The company is only allowing limited access to researchers, visual artists and film-makers, though CEO Sam Altman responded to users’ prompts on Twitter after the announcement with video clips he said were made by Sora. The videos bear a watermark to show they were made by AI.

Introducing Sora, our text-to-video model. Sora can create videos of up to 60 seconds featuring highly detailed scenes, complex camera motion, and multiple characters with vibrant emotions. Prompt: “Beautiful, snowy… — OpenAI (@OpenAI) February 15, 2024

The company debuted the still image generator Dall-E in 2021 and generative AI chatbot ChatGPT in November 2022, which quickly accrued 100 million users. Other AI companies have debuted video generation tools, though those models have only been able to produce a few seconds of footage that often bears little relation to their prompts. Google and Meta have said they are in the process of developing generative video tools, though they have not released them to the public. On Wednesday, it announced an experiment with adding deeper memory to ChatGPT so that it could remember more of its users’ chats. — Sam Altman (@sama) February 15, 2024

OpenAI did not disclose how much footage was used to train Sora or where the training videos may have originated, other than telling the New York Times that the corpus contained videos that were both publicly available and licensed from copyright owners. The company has been sued multiple times for alleged copyright infringement in the training of its generative AI tools, which digest gargantuan amounts of material scraped from the internet and imitate the images or text contained in those datasets.

  • Artificial intelligence (AI)

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Solving real-world problems with AI and ML

Jaydeep Saha

Advancements in AI-ML and its wide adoption across industries have led to improved productivity and innovation in the last five years.

Coupled with the introduction of large language models in recent years, AI-ML has gone beyond business operations to solve real-world issues .

HCLTech has already helped its global clients address global problems by implementing new-age technologies like AI-ML, data analytics, IoT, cloud and many more.

Having moved in the right direction so far with success across industries, HCLTech has recently unveiled an easy-to-use ML platform that is meant for technical and non-technical users. This platform is targeted toward easy access of AI and ML, saving costs and enhancing efficiency while dealing with day-to-day and real-world problems.

Natural disasters

Today, natural disasters are much more severe than even a decade ago because of climatic change.

In fact, a UN report mentioned that climate and weather-related disasters grew five times in the last 50 years.

Addressing increasing incidents of floods, cyclones, droughts, rising temperatures and wildfires requires better prediction and prevention tools and AI-ML has been helpful in these areas.

AI-powered cameras provide real-time footage (data) from disaster-prone areas, which can be processed further to derive insights.

Using such data, the Google Flood Hub provides free flood alerts up to seven days in advance in 80 countries .

Beyond flooding, the world is on the precipice of a freshwater disaster.  

Through a $15 million investment over five years, HCL Group is helping address this and create a first-of-its-kind innovation ecosystem for the global freshwater sector, called the Aquapreneur Innovation Initiative .

It’s committed to accelerating multi-stakeholder collaboration and innovation in the global freshwater conservation space.

In addition, HCLTech uses AI to help address freshwater conservation through its AquaSphere initiative. Here, data helps an organization use water sustainably, preventing waste and encouraging the green use of water.

Challenges in this sector have no end and include capturing accurate data, maintaining data privacy and security, ensuring the compatibility of medical equipment, lack of trained professionals, fragmented patient care and compliance hurdles.

From fraud detection to data leaks, customer-relationship management to automated patient care and data safety, AI serves as a strong ally. With predictive analytics, deep learning and neural networks, for example, healthcare organizations are detecting anomalies and shielding their operations from sophisticated cyberattacks.

Moreover, the use of AI-ML has brought in the required scalability for data architectures. Powered by IoT and cloud solutions, AI is today easing healthcare operations. Improving remote patient and employee care experiences are also a priority for healthcare organizations.

HCLTech has developed a generative AI-powered agent to address queries. The chatbot’s intervention helped save 40% time for healthcare workers .

The news of mass cheating during board exams in the Indian state of Bihar shocked people of the country last year. But the problem is not confined to India alone. A 2023 International Center for Academic Integrity study found 64% of high school students in the US admitted to cheating. The rise in remote education has posed new challenges to countering this problem.

Addressing this challenge, HCLTech developed an AI-assisted remote proctoring solution for one of its clients in the US. This solution increased efficiency of examinee-to-proctor ratio by five times, reduced cost per stream analytics by less than $0.5 and enabled to process 10,000 video streams simultaneously worldwide, among other benefits.

The COVID-19 pandemic allowed the online education system to experiment with AI and augmented technologies in a variety of ways.

AI has been helping students with information visualization, digital lesson generation, personalized learning, task automation, customized data-based feedback, adaptable access, determining classroom vulnerabilities, 24x7 assistance with conversational AI, secure and decentralized learning systems and examination assistance.


The UN’s annual report on climate change mentioned that up to 84% of drought-related economic impacts occur in the agriculture sector.

Australia is among the countries affected by flooding as well as drought. HCLTech delivered a cloud-based, AI-driven Intelligent Data Platform that enabled real-time insights and data-driven decision-making to an Australian government organization responsible for delivering retail water supply and wastewater services.

Elsewhere, AI has been instrumental in running self-driving tractors, combining harvesters, drones and robots for crop inspection and watering and spraying insecticides on the plants at the right time. Companies like Plenty and AppHarvest are using AI and data to adjust the indoor farming environment for optimal nutrition and flavor.

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Policing and traffic management

From predictive analytics, IoT and AI-enabled cameras to drones, biometrics and facial recognition, the list of innovations for tackling crime and traffic movement is extensive. These innovations are accelerating the development of unique solutions for people’s safety and smart city governance.

Mexico, for example, has deployed technology solutions to improve safety standards in various cities. In 2020, the Crime Index by Numbeo ranked Mexico as the 34 th most dangerous country in the world.

This is when the government partnered with HCLTech to turn this around by adopting a ‘smart city’ model , supported by robust AI-enabled surveillance capabilities and an integrated IoT ecosystem . By mid-2023 , the country’s position in the crime index improved by six places as the adoption of technology helped the country become safer.

The road ahead

Besides the specific use of AI to solve real-world problems across industries, moving forward, organizations need greater access to easy-to-use AI-ML platforms and services to solve the world’s most pressing challenges while improving business operations.

Here, a platform like HCLTech’s AI lifecycle management platform, AION can be helpful as it simplifies the process of scaling AI-ML and empowers people to create deployable and easy-to-use ML models. It’s meant for expert data scientists and citizen data scientists (working in code) as well as business users (low code/no code).

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