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Video Games Are the Future of Education (nabeelqu.co)
478 points by nqureshi 11 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 378 comments



I own a educational game company.

Long story short: it doesn't sell.

At my company we identified, at least if your target is kids, two ways to sell edu games.

1. Sell them to institutions, like governments, schools, companies, whatever. Thing is, the features they look when choosing a game to buy, are ones most likely to make the game unfun, the end result is often boring stuff noone WANTS to play.

2. Sell them to the public directly, but word of mouth here is often poor, specially if your age range is narrow, for example if your target is kids between 4 and 8, the kids will play the game, love it, but parents won't tell other parents to buy it, most of their friends probably WON'T have kids the same age.

Thus if you are going for fun games, you need path 2, and to do path 2 you need a ton of exposure that is NOT word of mouth, we found out this means or you have massive marketing budget, or you have some kind of connection to media so they advertise you cheaper.

Our biggest competitors all ended being media companies themselves, for example Disney is an obvious one, but another was Toca-Boca, at first they looked like a tiny indie studio, but somehow they ALWAYS get featured in multiple magazines, store front pages and so on, eventually I found out they were created by a multi-billion media empire named Bonnier,

Since then I found that is easier to get money from creating other things, since I don't have the necessary media connections.

Well, even NORMAL games often need media connectios (for example, Jon Blow was a journalist before he made Braid, Nintendo literally printed their own magazine for a while, the indie clique that existed around TIGSource was heavily tied to CMPMedia, many of them being presenters in events, or being friends of their employees, or working for them directly, the whole thing is very "incestuous").


We also tried to make educational games and came to a similar conclusion. The truth is, kids (or adults) don't want to play "educational" games. They just want to play fun games.

And, let's be honest, games that try to teach you math or science are just not as fun as Fortnite or Minecraft.

Now, you can make the case that some games are educational by mistake. Like Minecraft, Age of Empires, Sim City or Kerbal Space Program. But noone would see them or describe them as "educational" games.

So, what we're trying to make now are creative games. In my opinion, creativity is extremley important and there are fun ways to be creative, that are not eductional in the strict sense. For example, Lego comes to mind.


I would think Maxis actually tells you the best way to be a success. Maxis doesn't say their games are educational and players don't feel like they're trying to be. But they were, and Maxis wanted them to be. I've heard Will Wright talk about giving his kids things like microscopes as "toys" that let them play and explore which causes them to sort of learn against their best intentions. If I were to get into the educational software space, I would go the Maxis route of making games for gamers, marketing them as wholesome for all ages, and then having a secret educational agenda. That is, I'd try to straddle the line, and maybe if I were good at it, word of mouth would spread and the school administrators would hear positive feedback from their students and teachers about how engaging the games are. You would essentially have to create your own market since one doesn't exist; you'd create a need administrators don't know they have.

Alternatively, you could go Minecraft and hack in education through mods and stuff to existing games kids are already engaged in.

But I fully admit as much as I admire Maxis, I don't work in that space and unless I win the lottery I won't be quitting my job to get into educational software any time soon.


I think the indirect approach is very underrated. Our kids have all learned to read ahead of “schedule” because they wanted to understand what was happening in their games, and they’re all also coming along very quickly at arithmetic because of needing to manage the economy of whatever game they’re playing.

As a kid, I picked up a familiarity with history and geography that was miles ahead of my peers due to games like Total War and Close Combat, which aren’t sold as educational at all.

I think people innately want to learn whatever they need to know to accomplish their goals, and it’s way easier to give people goals and tools than it is to teach them about tools in the abstract.


A personal anecdote: I bought my first English dictionary to understand 1992’s Alone in the Dark. I’d probably not be talking with you guys and girls if not for videogames. I had no interest whatsoever in learning English, I just wanted to beat the games. If someone assigned me the very same game for educational purposes, I’d hate it by default.


+1, I learned English by playing Leisure Suit Larry I-III [1]. Text adventures were really useful in this regard because you had to type in more or less correct sentences. Also, at the core they were built around dialogues, that is, spoken (=not very formal) language and vocabulary.

Al Lowe, lead developer of the Larry series, probably also had some influence on my sense of humor (to this day I prefer grammar-level jokes to kicks-in-the-butt). These games were a great, intellectually twisted, multi-layered introduction to the world of adult people as well. :) Thank you, teacher!

1: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leisure_Suit_Larry_in_the_Land...


I learned English in the MMO Runescape, bartering for items and getting help on quests. I basically never had to study for any English class since primary school because I was always slightly ahead of where the class was due to obsessively playing video games.


Same here, fun fact is that even at school and high school I was the only boy that could understand a basic text or do a basic conversation but even with that I always had troubles just to pass any test.

Learned English playing games in the early 90's

In any English test they ask me to put a phrase in passive form and I was like: the f* is that?

And most probably for maths/physics It would be funnier to do some angry birds with numbers than calculating the movement of a random body in a parabolic movement.


I learned English from Guybrush Trephwood, the mighty pirate.


Same here. Early Lucasarts adventure games drove me and my younger brother to learn english as a second language from around the age of 6.


Actual great learning games do exist, but the real awesome ones are rare.

See this 2012 thread on a truly awesome algebra learning game, and this stays relevant to this day. To the best of my knowledge, it is still the best and fastest way to learn how to solve an equation for x. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4188579


From what I know, research does not support the idea that dragonbox is a particularly effective way to teach algebra. Which is too bad, because it seems like it would work really well:

https://dl.acm.org/doi/abs/10.1145/3057889


I've seen first hand how well it works in a study with 40k kids in the US, Norway, and France. The study was led by the Center for Game Science, Washington University.

Paper: Zoran Popović. Achieving 96% Mastery at National Scale through Inspired Learning and Generative Adaptivity. Proceedings of the Second (2015) ACM Conference on Learning@ Scale, 2015. http://dl.acm.org/ft_gateway.cfm?id=2724684&ftid=1550376&dwn...

Post-test success as used in the paper you mentioned can be a misleading indicator if transfer to pen and paper was done improperly. As kids solving equations in a game are moving terms around by touch on a screen, they need to transfer that learning to pen and paper before being able to write a line by line solution. Failing to do this transfer would predictably lead to a poor post-test performance, without actually measuring properly how much algebra had been learned and understood.


Well, it is not In my experience. Sample size of 1, though.


Civilization 1 was my foundational introduction to world history. I read every single civilopedia tech entry as it came up, and that drove a heck of a lot of follow up reading to find out if what it said was "really real".


This was exactly my experience too! I wanted to separate out the game narrative from the actual history when I played something like the campaigns in Age of Empires II, and it drove a ton of history reading.


> I think people innately want to learn whatever they need to know to accomplish their goals

Bingo. Both my parents are retired teachers, and both focused on high-risk student populations (my father at adolescent correctional facilities, and my mother with "troubled children that had learning disabilities at specialized facilities). Both with the freedom to implement alternative means of education as opposed to standardized public school curriculum.

They both found incredible success in teaching by focusing on a individual child's interests and goals. It's easy to do so in the context of parenting, but much more difficult in a school setting. Implementation of such an idea is beyond my pay grade, but I think there's promise in identifying goals/motivation and personalizing education.


> > I think people innately want to learn whatever they need to know to accomplish their goals

> Bingo. Both my parents are retired teachers, and both focused on high-risk student populations (my father at adolescent correctional facilities, and my mother with "troubled children that had learning disabilities at specialized facilities). Both with the freedom to implement alternative means of education as opposed to standardized public school curriculum.

> They both found incredible success in teaching by focusing on a individual child's interests and goals. It's easy to do so in the context of parenting, but much more difficult in a school setting. Implementation of such an idea is beyond my pay grade, but I think there's promise in identifying goals/motivation and personalizing education.

I used to teach and had many kids tell me on their first day that they hated reading and _hated_ writing (with their parents echoing the same). I hold the notion that reading is almost like an automatic process once learned—put a cereal box on the table during dinner and you almost can't avoid reading it. People _want_ to read. Aligning the material with the kid's interests is the surest way to progress. Couple that with writing prompts that are in the same genre and even the parents wouldn't believe that this child who is suddenly consuming a book a week is their own.


This is great, I had a friend in college who talked this way about reading and it always felt to me like someone saying they don't like to use their eyes to see... Like how do you even have an opinion about reading? It's just a thing that we can do, like breathing... Whether I enjoy a certain reading session depends on what I'm reading, but reading itself is value-neutral.


> I think people innately want to learn whatever they need to know to accomplish their goals

What if I told you that (morpheus.jpg) this has been common knowledge in pedagogical research for over half a century now, and that pretty much all attempts of reforming education in the light of that simple fact have failed :(


This sounds plausible and if I had to hazard a guess as to why efforts at reform have failed, I'd say it's because people who haven't thought very much about the goals of education have an idea in their heads of what education should look like and it is our current system. I think parents and politicians have a lot of control over the system and just like the "butts-in-seats" theory of business management, a lot of people think if kids aren't doing copious amounts of homework, they're not learning anything.

We're homeschooling our kids and we track their progress compared to the public school curriculum closely, and we do remarkably little that looks like formal education. The kids are easily on schedule with everything, a year or more ahead of the curriculum benchmarks, but people see what we do, and then ask when we're going to start teaching them stuff.


Why do you think it has failed?

I rather agree with the quoted statement. I think that, if it is truly that simple fact which has failed, then it is because 'their goals' are in fact put upon them, not innately 'their goals'.* Students will of course not innately want to learn whatever they need to know to pass the exam. But they want to learn whatever they need to know to beat their friends in Fortnite.

I think more generally the problem is that pedagogy, as in _instruction_, is fundamentally at odds with _agency_ (which is what games excel at giving people). (Imagine playing a game that would explain to you how to play it at every step of the way. How fun would that be?) It's comes down to control. Who should have it: the teacher, or the student? No classroom setting would ever allow giving _all control_ over to students. Yet, that is what games do. And the wonders that it creates.. The control gives players a really _empowering_ feeling of agency and self-determination. Pedagogy, and instruction, is often more paternalistic / patronizing in its core, since it assumes "You can't do this, let me show you". Games say: "Let's see if you can do this!"

* - Education is a way of enforcing society's goals upon the individual (to create "citizens", ideally, but to create "workers", practically), and the individual adapts to it to the extent it helps him later in life, to the level he/she has aspirations and manages to forgo instant gratification.


That sounds very interesting, could you elaborate or provide some links? Aren't there successful 'alternative' school programs?



This was the approach of my company ("games" that are secretly educational).

Even Maxis itself actually failed, they went bankrupt and EA bought them and ditched their educational games (what remained of Maxis started to just pump out The Sims series one after the other).

But unless you are aiming at a really, really wide market, and is either lucky or get exposure help, you won't go far.

I noticed for example "Kingdom Come: Deliverance" has a LOT of information about medieval era in the Holy Roman Empire, still they aimed to be a "AAA" game, and the information is tucked inside the in-game manual.


Maxis games are pretty good in that regard; Sim City was probably the most influential in a list of 'management' games, which teach you about economics, revenue vs expenses, and natural disasters; some of its successors / related games like Transport and Roller Coaster Tycoon make that even more apparent.

And The Sims simplified, but made me (and probably others) aware of quantified personal needs; you need x amount of sleep per night or you'll accrue 'sleep debt' and distress, you need social contact to fill that meter, etc.

Minecraft has an educational mode / version btw, there was one game our son was playing that basically made him go out into the sea and identify various types of sea life. I mean it's all Minecraftified (?) and abstracted, but they do pick up a lot of things from it.

I'd still like him to read more books though, given that his language skills are pretty bad.


> "Like Minecraft, Age of Empires, Sim City or Kerbal Space Program. But noone would see them or describe them as "educational" games."

And that's the problem. Because they are educational. And because they are both educational and fun, people are much more engaged to learn from them than from "real" educational games.

People who play Europe Universalis learn way more about early modern history than they ever learned at school. As Randal Munroe pointed out, you learn way more about orbital mechanics from KSP.

If you want to make truly educational games, you shouldn't focus on the educational part, but take the educational part and wrap it in tons of fun.

Of course there are topics where this is going to be hard. I have absolutely no idea how anyone could make a fun game that revolves around German grammar. (Or do I? The best way to learn a language always seems to be to actually use it with a native speaker. Having a friend who speaks the language you're trying to learn would be a great way to do that. There might be something here.)

But something like geology could be part of a simulation where you need to find certain resources, and that's easier once you understand how those resources are formed. And then there needs to be something fun to do with those resources, of course.


> If you want to make truly educational games, you shouldn't focus on the educational part, but take the educational part and wrap it in tons of fun.

That's the problem. I think if you define "educational" as the curriculum taught in school, this is not possible. There's no way around working a ton of math problems to get better at math. You maybe can make it a bit more engaging if you pack it in a video game, but it will never be fun for most people.

Therefore, I think, the educational role of video games must be to spark interest. For example, KSP sparks interest in aerospace engineering, and I bet there's a significant number of people who went on to study rocketry because they played KSP.

Sparking interest is an important function. In fact, I think it becomes increasingly important as a lot of material and courses are now available for little money ubiquitously. Great education starts with a spark of interest.

Let me explain in more detail:

Back in the days, an important part of going to school was having access to knowledge. Now, thanks to the internet and millions of amazing humans, knowledge is accessible all over the place, virtually for no money. Today, the motivation to learn something is therefore more important. To get motivated, first you need to know that something exists, and second you need to know if you like it or not. Before motivation comes sparking interest. And here, video games have an extremely important role to play - and unlike "educational" video games that are math exercises disguised as video games, video games that can try to achieve the spark can be genuinely fun to play.


Geology is a big part of Dwarf Fortress. They take their different stone types very serious.

About 'German Grammar': check out Heaven's Vault https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heaven%27s_Vault

But honestly, humans don't learn languages by understand their grammars with the logic part of their brain. Games would be ideal to produce comprehensible input, and test players on their comprehension via actions, instead of making them reply with words.

There's some evidence that trying to produce language to early in your learning just ingrains bad habits. So instead you can just follow increasingly complex instructions to show that you understand. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Input_hypothesis


> But honestly, humans don't learn languages by understand their grammars with the logic part of their brain.

As a native German speaker, I disagree. For me, the German grammar (in particular the declination system) is what I would consider the type system of the German language. So yes, I do think a lot about German sentences in terms of types/grammar that are/is involved.

EDIT: When I was a pupil at school, the only thing that I loved about the German classes (for native speakers) were the grammatical concepts. At that time, I really couldn't understand why these weren't taught in math classes ...


When you're a native speaker at school you already speak the language, you just learn the rules to better understand some corner cases and to be able to pursue some careers that would otherwise be impossible for you.

But you first learn a language intuitively at home, by using it a lot and developing intuition for what sounds right and what doesn't.

I'm a native Polish speaker (which has a "typesystem" much more complicated than the German one nevermind the English one). I've learnt German for 4 years in secondary school. I remember the system to be pretty intuitive and simple (mostly you change the articles not the words, there's just 4 cases, no verb aspects, just 1 kind of plural, just 3 genders, etc.).

So it was definitely easy to remember the rules and I did at one point (not anymore ;) ). But still to speak German you can't pause every 3 seconds to do a table lookup for the correct conjugation and rules, that would be far too slow. You have to use the language and have that "ouch" feeling when you use the wrong case so eventually you know intuitively which word to use.

A game to teach a language should just be a game using that language and giving immediate feedback.


Well, you did learn to understand German sentences way before school and grammar, I think that was the point. A baby can learn any language without studying its grammar, and in the early period not being able to pronounce the words.


> Well, you did learn to understand German sentences way before school and grammar, I think that was the point.

Learning the first language as a baby takes many years - and even after these years, you are still only on a "baby talk level". That is why I don't consider these "natural" approaches for learning a language to be a good idea - they are far too slow to be economical.


+1 for Dwarf Fortress. That is a mind expanding game no matter who you are or how you approach it. It would be interesting seeing it played among a wide range of children. I know first-hand it really helped me through geology, remembering different rock types and the nuances involved with them.


When Islamic State was up and coming, the news reported that its capital was Al-Raqqa. I didn't bat an eye. I did bat an eye at my own non-eye batting. EU4 and the (save scumming) glorious return of the Byzantine Empire had forever seared into my brain where the place is.


You can make a game about vim keybindings (https://vim-adventures.com/). If that's possible sky's the limit!


A German language game would focus around getting language learners in touch with native speakers. Perhaps something like "Keep talking and nobody explodes" with a German manual?


> I have absolutely no idea how anyone could make a fun game that revolves around German grammar.

WWII is a pretty common setting for games. Making the German protagonists communicating only in German would be a first step to incentive learning the language.


Have an English language game where enemies talk in German, where being able to understand them gives you an advantage, for example because you know what they're about to do.

Then mix and match for different languages.

Of course the things they say should be more detailed and diverse than just some standard sound clips.


There's an old adage in screenwriting: Don't give the audience 4, give them 2+2. This is the Kuleshov Effect [0] for scripts.

By giving them the little details, you engage the audience (well, most of them) and make the work more compelling. Medical and Crime procedurals are this in spades. Sherlock Holmes is still idolized.

Educational genres are explicitly against the Kuleshov Effect. The whole point is to get to 4. The audience is not exactly unengaged (video games are engaging by definition), but they aren't drawn in. There are no compelling mysteries or 'flaws' that they help solve with the story of the game. Just a computer holding back an answer.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kuleshov_effect


The progression of the Sherlock subplot in Star Trek: The Next Generation is a good example of this. It starts with Data trying to solve a case too fast, then ends with the computer creating a holographic life form to outwit Data.


The lesson here reminds me of one of my favorite Malcolm Gladwell essays about McDonald's failure to market healthy fast food back in the 90's:

The McLean was a flop, and four years later it was off the market. What happened? Part of the problem appears to have been that McDonald's rushed the burger to market before many of the production kinks had been worked out. More important, though, was the psychological handicap the burger faced. People liked AU Lean in blind taste tests because they didn't know it was AU Lean; they were fooled into thinking it was regular ground beef. But nobody was fooled when it came to the McLean Deluxe. It was sold as the healthy choice--and who goes to McDonald's for health food?

https://web.archive.org/web/20081218211703/http://www.gladwe...


Indeed, wonder how the McLean would land now almost 30 years later? If they sold it as a healthy choice today, would it face a similar failure?

Speaking of choice and marketing, wonder why McDonald’s in the US still lacks a veggie burger. Is it based on a business decision?


It absolutely must be, because they have even vegan options here and there. Sweden, for instance, has had vegan burgers for several years (first McBean and now McVegan). I know other countries have something similar.

It seems to me that US McDonald's must be scared of diluting their brand by also going after the veggie crowd. Perhaps due to McLean failing or that they just bide their time until they can make a whole new set of restaurants under a different brand name like McDonald's Green or something?


> or that they just bide their time until they can make a whole new set of restaurants under a different brand name like McDonald's Green or something?

Would be fascinating if they did something like that. Pret a Manger did this recently by adding stores called Veggie Pret. Might be tough for McDonald’s to pull that off, though, since they also cater a lot to kids. By introducing two stores, veggie vs non-veggie, wonder if that would create signaling issues of healthiness with audiences?


Well, they do have McCafé, right?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McCafé


They can't compete with Fortnite or Minecraft, but Castle of Dr. Brain was so good I played it back in the day and didn't think of it as educational ;)


It's so cool that you can get this on internet archive absolutely free, inside the browser, in a JS emulator!

https://archive.org/details/msdos_Castle_of_Dr._Brain_1991


Review for those who want to see it before playing the entire game:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGtw5eOfZ48#t=2m39s


I used to play so many of those educational point and click games as a kid. Don't remember the details well but it seems the style has died out in the last decade.


Every game that contains an element of simulation that strives for realism is educational in that you walk out knowing a lot more about the simulated topic than before, often more than you ever wanted, and often more than what's in the sim. E.g. when I was playing counterstrike I found myself embarrassingly well-read in the Wikipedia pages about the history of modern firearms. Who would have guessed that "the Startgate gun" isn't just a very creative movie prop?

But this kind of knowledge acquisition only ever teaches the lowest hanging fruits, it's no substitute for drilling in the basics. Even lifetimes spent passing KSP won't bring you to a point were you could design your own rocket.


> But this kind of knowledge acquisition only ever teaches the lowest hanging fruits, it's no substitute for drilling in the basics. Even lifetimes spent passing KSP won't bring you to a point were you could design your own rocket.

Yes. Though it can probably teach you enough that you have enough scaffolding already in your brain that you can get through a textbook without getting lost?


I think the real value of KSP is orthogonal to textbooks. Like it says in that one xkcd strip, it gives you an intuitive understanding of orbital mechanics by letting you interact directly (and with a goal) with orbital trajectories. I think you'd have a hard time getting the same visual intuition about how the ellipse stretches and rotates depending on whether you burn retrograde or radially out from a textbook.

The great value, here, I think, is that you can have a process completely alien to humans and get an intuition of it about as good as what we can get from playing around with a ball. In high school physics, ballistics (and therefore gravity) is taught using a ball being thrown in the air for a reason- most people have this sort of intuition for that process, and find it easier to get from there to the mathematical model.

Before games/simulators like KSP, the only way to get an intuition of orbital mechanics like that would be to simulate it in your head a bunch, arduously.

I think this is a potential great source of value: games/simulator can give you otherwise-very-hard-to-get intuitive knowledge of (models of) subjects. Not a replacement for the maths and the crunch, but would probably make it easier in a revolutionary way.

I wonder if this is already happening? There must be a generation of aerospace engineering students now who have sent rockets to the Mun.


Again, the scaffolding effect. Greatly illustrated by how the civ games teach about history: they teach absolutely nothing, all their models are fantastically wrong and a core element is the counterfactual nature of how a game plays out (culminating in Gandhi's bomb threats). But they give mental scaffolding that is valuable in those topics where you'd otherwise start from an empty slate. When for example you know nothing about west African history and read a text about it for the first time, just having that image of the Mansa Musa avatar in your mind will give you a retention advantage over someone who doesn't have it. It works much like a condensation seed then, a mental bookmark to which new information can be attached before getting lost as essentially noise.

But I wonder if that might also come as a disadvantage in the classroom, where the remaining facts and methods grind has to be enforced: if, for some reason, you felt the need to make pupils knowledgeable in the sequence of popes, that incredibly boring class would naturally be spiced up with anecdotes of dual antipopes, the cadaver synod and so on. Would that last hope of making that class somewhat bearable be lost on someone who already knew those rare fun parts in between all the numbers, e.g. because of playing CK2?


When you are making pupils memorize sequence of popes and are spicing it up with anecdotes taken out of their historical context just to be interesting, imo, the solution is not to have them play game.

The solution is to work on curriculum and textbook some more.


Or not bother memorizing a sequence of popes, which itself is just a bunch of names without the historical context.


>And, let's be honest, games that try to teach you math or science are just not as fun as Fortnite or Minecraft.

Only if you try to do it very naively. Most of the time, these "games" are "lets put blinky lights around match equations."

That's definitely not how you turn math and science into games. You turn them into games by making engineering games.

There was a really great paper I ran into a decade ago that looked at the theory making by players of World of Warcraft. Players were coming up with complex mathematical models for how to play the game most efficiently. THAT is how you make math a game.

The goal of the game shouldn't be "let's solve these math problems."

The goal of the game should be anything but that, and then you setup the game so that the best way to reach that goal is to use math.

Science opens the door even further, because hypothesis and experimentation is a fundamental part of playing games.

There was a recent post on here regarding the best ways to learn electricity. One of the top replies was to use some minecraft mod. I don't know anything about that mod, but that fact that it was one of the recommendations really said a lot to me.


> For example, Lego comes to mind.

And as a "video game"-like free alternative to 'real Lego' there are LeoCAD app + LDraw Parts Library, which are suitable for creating 'digital Lego' models by kids.[0,1,2]

[0] https://github.com/Symbian9/AWESOME-LDraw

[1] https://github.com/leocad/leozide

[2] https://ldraw.org


This discussion prompted me to write a blog post about this topic: https://shafyy.com/post/education-starts-with-a-spark/


I learned a ton of SAT words just by playing Diablo 2 over and over again searching for magical and unique items. Kind of incredible.


Hear Hear,

I came to the same conclusion for software that caters to teachers. Teachers don't buy that, the administration does. They don't feel the pain the teachers are having.

It also applies to programming lessons. Yes, everybody thinks it's important. No, it's hard to make a living selling it.


>> Teachers don't buy that,

We do. See the success of teacherspayteachers.com or tes.com. As a teacher I have spent hundreds of dollars of my own money to buy resources. Simply because I don't have the time for the admin to claim the expense.

The problem is that most resources are bad, if not terrible. The ones that are good are not adapted to what you need, not customisable, etc. You may have come up with a great resource but it has to tick a lot of boxes. Not because the teachers don't love real learning ... but because our hands are tied.

We have this huge volume of content to cover in a limited amount of time and standardised tests await. If your resource doesn't use the same notation, terminology, depth ... some students may be more confused than helped (of course the very smart ones will make deep connections ... but you have to teach for everybody). It's not an easy problem to solve but more time / money for good teachers is the obvious place to start.


You do- sort of. The problem I ran into is that a lot of what we know comes from educational “gurus”- not science. So if you have software that disagrees with what the teacher thinks is the right way to teach, they won’t budge even if all the data show that you’re giving them a better way.

I don’t hold it against them though. Nobody was going to tell me how to teach physics.

Fun fact(?): Back when I was teacher my friend Eddie (math teacher) decided we could teach pretty sophisticated ideas to our community college students if we used this fancy program called “Mathematica.” We wrote a grant and got a good price from Wolfram and after that they introduced a pricing for community colleges. This was way back in the ‘90s- but I don’t remember the year.

The point is, nobody sold me software. I decided what my problem was and set about solving it. I suspect most teachers either (a) do that too or (b) want an accepted solution.


More money for teachers might help but I think it should be an entirely separate job description. Automation [in my view] should be something invested in for a while, enough to make it work, have a period of maintenance then do it again. Gradual improvement may get stuck.


It seems the author is not thinking about games (educational or not) in the common sense, but in way broader terms:

> A video game is just: > > (a) a simulation of reality > (b) with fast feedback loops.

I’d agree with both of you.

“Educational” games are a hard sell. I’m a parent and the educational mini-games pushed by school is boring to death and won’t stick with my kid. It’s hard to articulate, but the underlying principle of trying to teach a specific thing doesn’t go well. Yet the ones that I found that seemed to work ok had way lower “educational” focus, and it was hard to recommend over any other standard game.

Then simulations stick very well.

Minecraft is a barebone one and “teaches” a ton of true and untrue stuff. Racing simulations stuck, flight simulator stuck, hell even lego simulator stuck. I see animal crossing in the same vein, and am trying to find a serious fishing simulator as a beginner’s guide to fishing. And kids can spend hours on Streetview for the same reason.


I'd argue that micro controllers and educational/programmable robots fit into this category as well. They allow the kind of play and learning that makes them both engaging and valuable for education.


Totally. The lego technic sets are a boon in that respect, mindstorms being a very good entrypoint to programming (“telling a machine to do stuff on its own”) in particular, and to engineering in general.

The new Spike set looks promising.


The original Sim City also comes to mind. It teaches a lot, but is still fun.


I spend hundreds of hours on this series (from 2000 to 4) and I love it yet I don’t think I learnt much out of it. "People and companies want low taxes", "nuclear power plant are dangerous" and "wind power is inefficient", that’s pretty much it.

Also when I was kind I wasn’t really able to build a good city. I understood years later this is because the game expects cities to be built in the US fashion: big residencial/commercial/industrial zones separated from each other, linked by roads, lot of roads. And square based layouts. That was totally different from where I lived so I’ve always found the cities layout that works in the game where very artificial. So there wasn’t too much to learn about city planning.


> Also when I was kind I wasn’t really able to build a good city. I understood years later this is because the game expects cities to be built in the US fashion: big residencial/commercial/industrial zones separated from each other, linked by roads, lot of roads. And square based layouts.

It...does not. It uses and underlying low-level simulation model which can be satisfied lots of different ways, but what you describe is not one that works particularly well for it.


Well, in Sim City you can't mix residential and commercial on the same square. And the bigger buildings need more than a single square, I think.

In real life, I very much like having shops on the ground floor of residential buildings. Very convenient for me.


Funny enough, the three 'things' you learned out of it ain't even all true. :) Still a great game!

I played mostly Sim City 2000.


Now it's libre, Check Micropolis.

Also lincity/linticy-ng are great too, even more for a climate changing world.


The author even mentioned how games designed to be educational are usually boring and not well received.


How does your quantitative implicit data about how good your game is, for example retention and session length, tell the difference between a a game kids like to play and a game that parents force their kids to play, because parents believes it improves test scores?

Is cram school popular with kids, just because they are in cram school day after day and spend most of their time there? It definitely improves test scores.

Anyway, my point is, your quantitative feedback for fun, it is confounded by being educational ie parents anticipate it will improve test scores or whatever.

Coercion is the placebo not the treatment. That is why this article is sort of bunk. It’s adults literally discussing how to meddle with what their kids are interested in, in the exact same breath as describing how the best and most educational parts of childhood occurred in the absence of adults and their priorities.


I think this post wasn't about dedicated educational games, but rather education they occured naturally through gaming. E.g. Kerbal space program teaching basics of aerospace. One of the most prominent examples I had in my childhood was Fire Emblem for thr game boy. It's basically Kumon, you're constantly doing basic multiplication, addition, and substraction to tell whether a given unit will win in a fight. Similarly world of Warcraft teaches basic economics, if you want to turn a profit selling stuff on the AH.


But how much are you learning relative to the amount of time you spend playing the game? I would expect a little of learning for a lot of time. You may as well study for a while and go play with your friends later.


At least for fire emblem it was more about practicing basic math operations. You don't really learn anything in Kumon either. You just get better at math through practice.

I think I didn't so much learn new things so much as I got an applied perspective on things that I had already learned. It's one thing to read about value added in a textbook, it's another thing to actually experience it in person buying reagents and selling potions in WoW. You can read about the benefit of fuel transferring lifting stages (aka "asparagus staging") in an article it's another thing to reach that design in KSP, and understand why SpaceX tried to do it.


Yes, that applied perspective is extremely important.

Especially for more abstract topics like, why does a market work better at discovering information than central command-and-control?

A game can't help but have some mechanisms. The mechanisms don't necessarily reflect reality, but they have to bear more weight of themselves than eg just a story does.

Game design shows at least some unintended consequences.

Especially the more simulation type games like Sim City where the game world ticks along without your input, as compared to more heavily scripted player focused games like an FPS.


>You may as well study for a while and go play with your friends later.

You're making the massive assumption that someone plays a game with the goal of learning something. Learning is something that happens subconsciously during game play and that's why games are so effective. I played KSP for a few months but I would never go out of my way to learn orbital mechanics or rocket design on my own. If you told me I need a 4-5 year degree then I wouldn't even start.

Heck, I wouldn't even start with a short technical book because I have no reason to read one. In KSP you are put into an environment where your learned knowledge is actively useful in completing game objectives. The reality is that people would just skip learning entirely.

I also take issue with the idea of hyper optimizing learning as a beginner. Most people don't know what the most effective method of learning is for a given topic is precisely because they are beginners. Even if someone wants to actively study a topic it can take quite a while to get into the mindset and find the necessary resources. You know what? Finding a good game is hard but finding a good book can be even harder! Usually the fastest way to find good books is to just read a lot of books and eventually you just happen to read a good one. Learning the same thing that the game taught you through books probably takes more time than you think simply because the book would have to be equivalent to the game.

The takeaway should be that playing a game and active studying are so far apart they might as well not even belong in the same comment.


Good point. Being more of a movie guy than a gamer watching some of the stuff these days on screen I keep wondering what education would be like if the people behind the Matrix or Pixar or Tom Cruise were involved in the design (alongside the pedagogical expert).


In fact, the author even said games designed around education are usually boring or not well received.


Spot on. I received a small ($150k) NSF grant back in 2010 and made a semi-popular science education app/game for iPad. It was featured by Apple a few times and was even in an iPad commercial - it made basically no money.


Can you share the name and does it still exist?


Powers of Minus Ten, and yes it still exists - I do a little bit of maintenance to keep it alive because it's used by a bunch of schools. https://apps.apple.com/us/app/powers-of-minus-ten/id42912355...

I'm actually still working on something similar but, basically, no longer trying to run a business selling educational games (more, profits from commercial development contracts with actual budgets funding the cooler projects).


If they made it in 2010, without updates, it's no longer on the App store. Apple takes down things that don't get updates.


What's the max time in updates allowed?


Better question: Is there a fixed answer, or does it vary arbitrarily?


Good questions. I don't know for sure, but I know a couple of my apps have been delisted because I haven't updated them (they worked just fine and since then I upgraded and lost the development environment used).

I was unable to find anything specific beyond "apps we determine to be outdated" here https://developer.apple.com/support/app-store-improvements/



I think it's this simple:

Making successful, novel games is very difficult. Most people/groups fail.

Adding an educational component multiplies the unlikely probability of success by a very unhelpful coefficient.

Adrenaline, story, polish -- this aspects now compete with an educational aspect.


It is true that making games is hard and making a profit on them even harder. I disagree, however, that adrenaline/story/polish necessarily compete with the educational aspect. I think The Learning Company soundly disproved that through the mid-90s.

I happened to be in the right place at the right time to benefit from the height of the education game boom in the early/mid-90s, so I got to play the fun Math Blasters, ClueFinders, Carmen Sandiegos, Incredible Machines, Dr. Brains, Zoombinis, and also a bunch of adventure games which featured some logical/observation puzzles like the Myst series (never mind others mentioned like Oregon Trail, Civilization, etc). So I'm a strong believer that -someone- could pick up the magic that The Learning Company (and Broderbund) once owned.


The problem is that most of the games you mention are not what are considered educational games by the average parent nor institutions.

Even young generations, with casual gamer parents, can hold positions like "videogames are banned at home until our son is 8".


You have a lot of laments about "media connections" to let people know about your business. I think you're looking at this wrong.

It's not about "connections." It's about doing business the old-fashioned way: advertising, and hiring a public relations agency.

Advertising is self-explanatory. But for some reason a lot of tech companies don't hire PR firms. They like to cheap out and do PR in-house, or they simply never think of it.

It's the PR firm's job to have the "media connections" you so desperately crave. Tech people are notoriously bad at public relations, so it's perfectly logical to farm this out to people who specialize in just this sort of thing. There are even boutique PR agencies for various industries, including tech. But in your case, you should have hired one of the several hundred that specialize in education.

You could have been the next Oregon Trail!


Do you have any hints on how to pick a good PR firm? The last thing anyone needs is to hire one who thinks it's a really neato idea to buy a few weeks' worth of pop-unders on the OANN website.


The last thing anyone needs is to hire one who thinks it's a really neato idea to buy a few weeks' worth of pop-unders on the OANN website.

You have a fundamental misunderstanding about what a PR company does. You're thinking about an advertising agency. They're not the same thing.


Rather than dunking on someone who's already admitted they don't know how to hire a good PR agency, how about answering the question?


Because it's beyond the scope of a comment box on a web forum.

It's like asking someone on HN "Tell me how to hire a good person." I can't hand-hold someone through the internet.


> It's the PR firm's job to have the "media connections" you so desperately crave.

Any meaningful connection is going to be too expensive for someone like GP, I am afraid.

> Tech people are notoriously bad at public relations

Please avoid (false) generalizations.


Any meaningful connection is going to be too expensive for someone like GP, I am afraid.

This is a false generalization. You don't have to choose a big-name New York PR agency. There are thousands of other shops that are quite affordable. Some are just one or two people, and can be surprisingly effective if you pick the right one.


The PR firm is not what I said is expensive, but whatever deal you reach with the contacts they provide you.

In other words, even if the PR firm is small and one of the best and cheap, they cannot really influence much whatever their contacts offer. They may have some leverage, but the price is the price...


How is it any different from selling any other non-entertainment service?

#1 Institutions means administrators with budgets.

a) What do they want their budgets to do?

b) These things are presumably on networked computers. Can you aggregate and present data to those purse-string holders to justify their expense on an ongoing basis? Do your stats make their spending look smart?

#2 The public means people who spend money on things for kids. Likely parents.

a) Do you just get parents to buy things to get their children to stop asking for them (unlikely for educational software) or do you figure out what else parents expect as a result?

b) Do you show parents results? On an ongoing basis do you show them progress? Maybe text them in the middle of the afternoon when their kids achieve something meaningful?


I’ve served on a school board and can say at a high level that parents get pretty crazy about weird things, games included. Boring stuff that checks boxes is the safe answer for an institution.

If it’s fun, the school will get bombarded with complaints about taxpayers paying for games, the devil inside the computer, etc. Parents tend to not care or think about outcomes if the angry box is ticked.

The best fun things are maker projects. The tangible outcome is understandable to people. The educational content/value varies though.


> The best fun things are maker projects. The tangible outcome is understandable to people. The educational content/value varies though.

Yeah, every parent these days seems to have the attitude "god forbid we teach more than one algorithm for addition, but it's unacceptable that you don't have CS in middle school!" And even get outright angry if you try to point out that teaching more than one algorithm that meets the specifications of addition over naturals is CS. But have the kids "build" some kit robot and you're a damn hero.

The most frustrating thing about education is trying to explain to voters why their child has to learn something (at a young age) that the parent doesn't understand.

You see this a lot in parental complaints about Common Core math.

Over-involved stay-at-home moms who still can't add double digit numbers without using their fingers will complain that they don't understand their first grader's math homework. The point of the math homework is to teach mental math strategies for adding numbers together.

Also, parents of fifth grade kids who are frustrated that they can't help their kids understand conditional probabilities, and express that frustration by telling us to "stop teaching their kids about gambling".

It's impossible as a school board member to say "look, it's embarrassing that 10 year old German kids are better than you at math. Sorry we failed you. We're trying to do better by your kid."


The ignorance around math is amazing to me. When I went to a public school in NYC in the 80s, I had 1960s textbooks and a pretty poor initial math literacy — I struggled into middle school.

When I look at the common core stuff with my young son, he gets what he’s doing in a more fundamental way. In first grade, he basically “discovered” division on his own and was incredibly happy about it. Not something I would have done for sure!


>Also, parents of fifth grade kids who are frustrated that they can't help their kids understand conditional probabilities, and express that frustration by telling us to "stop teaching their kids about gambling".

That's funny. Back in school my statistics/probability classes involved lots of examples showing how rigged lotteries and gambling are. Once you do the math it becomes strikingly obvious. If you don't teach people about gambling they will simply gamble because of ignorance.


And German kids aren't even particularly smart about math. The German schooling systems just sucks slightly less, I guess. Perhaps because they don't vote local school boards. The democratic process interferes at state level.

(I grew up in Germany and now live in extra-nerdy Singapore.)


The hate toward common core is political and has zero to do with anyone being stupid stay at home mom.


perhaps a short list of things for parents to study, a little bit of reading/study material along with some tests. Shouldn't be to hard to pick some topics and crudely compile something for parents who are interested.

4 classes per year seems entirely reasonable.


> 4 classes per year seems entirely reasonable.

Suggesting upper middle class stay-at-home moms should take night classes because their addition skills are worse than your average second grader sounds like a great way to _spectacularly_ lose a school board election. These people are king makers in local politics.


hah no, I mean to offer it as a free extras.

Someone taught me a cool bit of willful ignorance long ago: After choosing a profession one should try to solve all problems from that domain however poorly it fits. That way one learns relevant stuff rather than lose oneself in a second or 3rd profession. Of course it turns things into impossible challenges but if you get better at what you do the time is always worth it. A gardener should solve all his problems with gardening.

You "win" the elections by teaching (deliberately not doing everything else)

> The most frustrating thing about education is trying to explain to voters why their child has to learn something (at a young age) that the parent doesn't understand.

You mean the most challenging thing is to teach the voter why one has to learn something at a young age.

It has teaching in it twice! I would love to share my thoughts but you have near infinitely more experience doing this. (you have been warned haha!)

The challenge would be to get people to sit themselves down in front of your blackboard. Use youtube if necessary.

Then you simply brag endlessly about what you do, why you do it, what the students though hard work, your effort and good parenting have accomplished and how that will benefit them later on. Use examples!

We have a garden 6 by 12 meter with a shed in it 3 by 3 meters. The tiles are 30 by 30 cm. 72 square meter minus 9 is 63 square meters! How many tiles do we need?

10 by 10 is 100 tiles, the tiles are 30 cm long so 10 of them is 3 meters! 3 times 3 is 9 square meter! One tile is therefore?

Then you point at mum (the camera) and say correct! 9 meter is 900 cm divided by 100 is 9 square cm per tile!

We needed 63 meters which is 6300 cm therefore we need 6300 divided by 9 is 700 tiles!

Thanks to my sophisticated arithmetic I'm able to calculate such things and order my tiles without giving it a second thought.

Your kids can learn this too (point at the audience or camera again) and take on ever greater challenges in life.

~the end~

I would stand on my desk saying that but you have to give it your own style of course.


Unfortunately, the response to that is going to be something to the effect of "Are you calling me stupid?"

Many parents are not going to accept that they had a bad education and could use some catch up. Even fewer are going to accept it if the catch up in question is of elementary school level.


No one is calling anyone stupid, we all know things and there are plenty of things to learn left.


I guess the only way would be to have some sort of educational material that involves both parent and child.


> a) What do they want their budgets to do?

Increase test scores, keep themselves employed and friendly SB members in office, and reform the institution/field in their image (or, for the cynical ones, make them look like leaders in the field). In that order. And lots of other stuff that's not really relevant to software (e.g., maintain the physical plant, retain good teachers, etc.)

> #2 The public means people who spend money on things for kids. Likely parents.

Meh. IME parents have almost no influence in software purchasing decisions (because they mostly just don't care). Even the board doesn't really dive that deep into the administration's budgets unless they're considering a change-of-command. In fact, the superintendent might not even weigh in on software depending on the size of the district. Activist yahoos might gripe about budget items, but can usually be safely ignored. Especially for software, which is often a rounding error even in the IT portion of the budget.


> Long story short: it doesn't sell.

This can often be a problem with education in general, not educational games specifically.

Trying to make money in education is like trying to make money in news: you can’t. Both are vital, and both ultimately no one wants to pay for.

Disclaimer: I used to work at an educational startup, which failed. No, I’m not bitter. (Well, maybe a little.)


Had a similar problem in medicine in a startup, which also failed. Although people did want to pay, you can only have large scale deployments if your are able to finance multiple studies over multiple years. By then smaller manufacturers are most certainly broke.

Want to make money there? Don't try to find cures or therapies for indications a small percent of people suffer from. Just invent another beauty cream, that's where the money is. No, I’m not bitter either, just maybe a little.


Making games, especially ones that sell at any volume, as the blog suggests, is extremely hard. And that's why the 'Educational' market is traditionally believed (or possibly, 'percieved') to be very tough (i.e. Professor Layton, or Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego).

Those games will always exist.

But what the blog author appears to allude to, is a latent category of games, that already exist, but he believes their true market value to be hidden.

Kerbal Space Program appears to be the most overt example of the class of games the author identifies, but I'd argue that most of the EA licensed sports games offer a similar experiential quality (I'd worked at a sports analytics company and know, for example, that FIFA rankings are used as a starting point for some lines of investigation).

I also remember learning more about cars from Gran Turismo, than from any other source of information I had access to. Including the internet.

As a lifelong video-game enthusiast, the article resonated with me, as I've always believed this potentially educational property of great video-games to be one of the most valuable parts of them. Though to date, it feels like successful manifestations have proven to be surreptitious, rather than prevalent, or even recognised at all for such qualities.



This reminds me of surgical simulation where there was always the debate between making more realistic and educational simulations or, on the other hand, making the graphics more shiny because that tends to impress the person making the actual purchasing decision at hospitals.


A solution to this is having user-chosen programmes with an allotted study budget. This is the model in UK post-grad medical education.

I know around London there are a couple of schemes running that teach practical skills using outdated non-sexy software that nevertheless works because of its strong educational underpinnings and excellent practical execution.


I've spent a lot of time thinking about this. I had a fairly blasé education that involved switching schools a lot. Looking back, I can see that most of the information recall I have came from video games. The Civilization series taught me history, math science and logic came from the Dr. Brain series and a hodgepodge of other games, time and resource management came from Sim City and real-time strategy games, and more formal and specific subjects from Khan Academy.

The problem here is one of reward. I loved the challenge inherent with Dr. Brain; the puzzles did a great job at teaching basics of chemistry, biology, math, and I was actually accomplishing goals I was interested in. I think that the disconnect it that the people making these purchasing decisions do not remember what motivates children, what goals they are interested in achieving.


I don't think the author is referring to video games specifically geared towards education. If anything, real video games, especially social multiplayer ones, provide complex environments to learn from, and sufficiently open-ended games reward innovation and creativity, while also encouraging gamers to reverse engineer game dynamics.

For example, I learned the ideas behind "merchanting" (i.e. arbitrage and price discovery) at a young age through Runescape, where some time and patience could leverage capital to buy small amount of coal from casual gamers on less populated servers and sell large amounts on busy servers at a 50% markup.


One of the great challenges of the 21st century is that what the markets are rewarding seems to be tenuously connected to the public good, at best.


It’s similar to many other industries, such as enterprise B2B software, where your buyer is not necessarily the actual user of the product, so you end up marketing and building features catering to the buyer (school administrations, parents) instead.


What type of product would be easier to sell to kids in your opinion?


Hmm, The Oregon Trail comes to mind as an educational game which was quite fun, and clearly sold to a lot of institutions. Do you have any thoughts on how that came about?


Ugh that sure were early times! Nevertheless Wikipedia says: "By 1995, The Oregon Trail comprised about one-third of MECC's $30 million in annual revenue."

And it doesn't matter how much of it was sold to institutions. What matters is how many users benefited from this game and similar ones (Railroad Tycoon, Civilization, etc. come to mind).


I played civilization a lot back in the day mainly because it was the only game my computer could play. I monitor was so crummy I think it had EGA graphics. because of this now I know what the gardens of Hammurabi and a lot of other of the wonders of the world just by building them and knowing a little bit about what they did for the civilization that actually built them.

factoria is another good one that's really really fun and can also be really really educational if you think about the materials and resources and how you combine them. also if you really want to go crazy with it learning some math will help you fully optimize your factory but it's some pretty complicated math, at least for me.


Most educational games are straight garbage. I'm sure there are some good ones but there is a lot of chaff to sort through.


How does something like Prodigy fit into this? It seems quite successful at being an edu-game.


I'm not sure how educational it is. They clearly are selling to the schools first as we wouldn't have found it without our teacher assigning some activities for home schooling. I thought about paying for it, but I want my kids to spend more time outside instead of in the house... They act better for more time outside.


Another issue is that majority of parents of 4-8 years old have zero motivation to buy educational game.

I mean, I would not buy it either unless it is something super special or I am dealing with a problem.


Bonner basically owns and runs Scandinavia and parts of mainland Europe, you’re going up against a few countries. It’s hard, I wish you luck.

Side note: Bonnier, apart from being a media empire they can destroy your life in seconds also has a schtick where they got a few companies pretending to be startups, like the example you just posted now. Some get acquired others get started by them.


Is that strictly a bad thing? Ok, we've got industry that makes non-educational games (I'm thinking the headshooting type, truly non-boring stuff). But there is small-ish money in that market, it's just retail after all! The same industry will happily jump onto a wagon containing some REAL part of the education budget.

Create some captivating productions, spend real money, because I don't get that assumption that education deserves only cheap boring educational "games" of today.

That's a political program - deep cut of the less effective part of 19-century structures. Kids generally like learning, parents know that, and they see how bad schools are now, so political gains are waiting right there.


They don't really own countries though, it's just a multinational media company. I don't find it very surprising that you use your mother company to increase your media presence, that seems like the right move to me?

Toca Boca was part of their venture arm [0] until 2016. They invest in companies with growth potential. Sometimes those companies are early stage companies, sometimes they're a bit older.

[0] https://www.bonnierventures.com



> Bonnier, apart from being a media empire they can destroy your life in seconds

I've never heard that the Bonnier group goes around destroying lives. Do you have any examples of them doing so?


I took that more as a comment on media empire than on Bonnier specifically?


The author claims “where games mostly fall short is that they’re not that transferable to the real world. The skills you learn are highly specific to that game,” but “this will change,” because the cost of game development is decreasing. But his conclusion doesn’t follow; we might get more educational games, but not necessarily ones with skills that are more generalisable.

As someone who’s spent the last 15 years making “serious” or educational games, the larger problem is that while it’s hard enough to design a good game that’s fun, it’s even harder to design one that’s fun and educational. So hard that most designers simply don’t bother, especially since it isn’t that lucrative.


@adrianhon: here's my trick.

Instead of creating serious games. Teach people to be serious players!

I have learned a ton from the following games:

- Poker (statistics)

- Any game (English)

- Factorio (programming / software design)

- Warcraft 3 (mental arithmetic and resource management)

- World of Warcraft (market manipulation -- I created a temporary monopoly on an item and earned 500 gold within an hour as level 20 player, culture -- I met a South African person who spoke Afrikaans while I spoke Dutch)

- The Werewolves of Millers Hollow / Maffia (politics, lie detection -- or lack of it, the difference between bad actors and ignorant people doing the exact same thing)

- Imperial 2030 (investing)


For most people, poker will probably more likely lead into a gambling addiction (or at least a habit of regularly flushing money down the train at the tables) than an inquiry into probability and statistics. Most people are probably just not inquisitive enough to dig into the maths behind poker.


I think you need a teacher to put the game in context.

Let's put aside for a moment the optics of a school teacher having their class play Poker (even though obviously they wouldn't be using money). I can imagine a lesson plan going something like:

1. Have kids play some individual games with each other.

2. Stop the games, and go over some of the actual math concepts behind Poker. At this point, the kids are engaged and will want to learn better strategies.

3. Run through a game as a group, with the teacher asking the class what they should do each turn. Ask students to explain why they think one move is better than another, get brief discussions going where applicable, and write probabilities on the board.

4. Let the students play another round of individual games to apply what they've learned.


Learning via video games is so powerful for many kids because of the agency they're provided. Also they are intrinsically motivated to play the game and they can't help but learn.

"Stop the games", "put the game in context", etc. mostly kills this feeling for many kids. Only the most skilled teachers are able to do this without making the whole thing unfun.


In this case though, you're stopping the game to teach strategies on how to win the game.


But for some kids, the mere act of stopping the game and stepping in as the authority to "teach" is enough to shut them down.

Video games are good at getting through to those who don't respond well to adults stepping in and contextualizing things all the time.


Yes, the computer stopping things is often easier for kids (and people in general) to accept than another human ordering them around. I guess it feels more like a force of nature than an agent to be argued with.

Folklore has it, that Haskell's linter hlint was created so that the author could help his wife's coding without jeopardizing their marriage. The extra indirection step helped.


While I think the intention and idea is good, you should not teach kids how to play poker. Rather, use a board game with cards and simulate somewhat similar environment but with no inclination towards real gambling whatsoever.

Sure, if the "kids" at hand are university students, you could use poker. But I find it extremely dangerous to teach kids poker theory, who as theorized by the Dunning-Kruger effect might start believing themselves to be really good at it, and then proceed to spend a lot of time and money on a pursuit that might not lead them to happiness. You can teach statistics without making any new gambling addicts in this world.

I know the majority of the students wouldn't be affected and the effect could be even positive, but for some the drive to gamble is so strong that they really go off if that predisposition is nurtured. Although perhaps they are ticking time bombs either way, so no amount of protection will save them. But yeah, you got to be careful teaching kids positive feedback loops on things that might have serious drawbacks.


That study by Dunning and Kruger did not find that 'Dunning-Kruger effect' that you are citing here. (What they found is that both more and less competent individuals err in their assessment of their own skills towards average competence. The less competent don't give themselves higher marks than the more competent give themselves.)

Btw, the kids who are worse at it would probably get their ass handed to them in the class games already anyway. Even after some training. So that's a good corrective and immediate feedback.


I know it's not your point, but do you really think that _most people_ who play poker casually slide into being degens?


I personally learned from the Team Rocket Casino that I should probably never gamble haha


Poker is a terrible way to learn mathematics but a very useful one to learn about sunk costs.


Why is it terrible?


Of all the things that matter in poker knowing the exact probabilities is not all that important.


[For kids] I think you can rule out any online game, or any gambling game (both will be age restricted). Saying that, teaching kids how to play cards is probably worth it. Board games are generally good for mental arithmetic, particularly Monopoly. And there are less "gambley" card games that teach statistics - Bridge, for example. Pretty much any card game which forces you to assess the odds of what your opponents have.

There are some decent puzzle video games out there. I grew up playing The Logical Journey of the Zoombinis, which was essentially a series of puzzles where you had to figure out the rules (Mastermind style) or your blue fellas wouldn't make it to the promised land. Some of the puzzles were genuinely hard and it was one of the few standout educational games I remember. I like this Steam review:

> This game is exactly how I remember it. And that's a good thing. Zoombinis is about a group of refugees who look for home on a new land. You get to meet many racist locals who discriminate you based on your appearance and you can work as a slave by making countless pizzas for an insufferable anthropomorphic tree stump. 10/10. Highly recommended.

I wondered about general RPGs or adventure games, but while those are fun (and good for language), the puzzles tend not to be that educational IMO. A lot of the time your performance depends on how well you can guess what the developer intended - these are not perfect worlds, but you play as if they are, so actions you might expect to perform often don't work. I definitely used GameFAQs a lot growing up.

That said - I did learn about the concept of reliably seeding PRNGs to make enemies drop the best loot in Golden Sun.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoombinis


More toppings! There's something on that I don't like.


- Eve Online (spreadsheets)


- KSP (orbital mechanics)


Or just plain physics for this one.

It's fun learning by yourself, though a little of hand-holding could get you up to speed faster.

I believe "Besiege" could be a great way to teach mechanics and physics as well :)


I really like Factorio but I think it's a bit of a stretch to describe it as teaching programming or software design. Maybe, conceptually, data flow.

Certainly, Human Resource Machine does teach programming.


Factorio quickly demonstrates to the player the danger and cost of bolt-on / ad-hoc / spaghetti code solutions, and likewise the benefits of a bit of forethought.

Doing some pre-planning of your factory's eventual layout will have you advancing through the tech tree much, much faster (and without rebuilding critical sections all the time!)


I wouldn't attributed this to programming but pre-planning in general benefits a lot of places. That goes to the comment in the article that "a bad plan is better than no plan".

I totally know what you mean a spaghetti factory is just as hard to deal with as spaghetti code... until you have bots and you can actually copy paste your factory around to cut and paste your factory it's super hard to fix the problem.


Factorio is very close to Eagle and other PCB designing tools.


I have only used KiCad and I actually don't see the similarity.

In KiCad you start by designing a circuit schematic first. In Factorio you start building whatever you want. You have potentially have to create your own custom parts including their physical footprint based on existing chips. In Factorio every part is already included in the "part library".

The PCB design phase automatically connects parts with traces correctly. The human designer is just responsible for the layout. In Factorio you keep the design in your head and place each conveyor tile one by one.

PCBs usually have multiple layers and it's common to have dedicated VCC and GND planes just for power transmission. Although the electric grid in Factorio is technically a separate layer, you have to extend the grid by placing transmission lines.

I will accept that the idea of non overlapping traces/conveyor belts is similar but overall the workflow just isn't the same. To be fair I haven't actually done anything beyond following a bunch of tutorials on making PCBs. I have yet to send a design to a manufacturer. It's possible that Eagle and Altium are significantly different to KiCad but I personally stick with opensource tools and even if they may have significantly worse UX I actually love the extra challenge. Just shows that other than paying bills to stay alive nothing on this planet should prevent you from learning electronic design, mechanical design and software development on your own.


The time spent vs how much one learned is pretty bad tho. And also related, games like world of warcraft are massive time sunk.


One trend I've found interesting is take industrial design software tools (things for CAD, PCB, FPGA, etc) and then 'dumb' them down and add hostile creatures to destroy the player's designs. It's not a bad method. Literally, make simple code and add hostile bugs to it.


Coding-inspired puzzle games appeal to quite a few people.

Zachtronics does some very good abstract ones. Quite a few of his games are even outright gamifying assembly programming. Things like factorio are on the more 'applied' or concrete end of the spectrum.


I learned a lot about statistics from Pokémon.

My friend went to school for statistics because of it.


> Imperial 2030 (investing)

I expect you'll find that investing for real is very different from investing in a game. Investing for real means trying to control your irrational impulses such as greed vs fear of loss.


I did the same in WoW :) Bought up all the versions of a certain item in AH and sold at extreme markup over time. As more came up on AH I’d just buy them all up and continue. This lasted for quite some time and I diversified into other items. Let’s just say I could afford anything in that game :)


If you would humor me, what kind of item are you talking about? Pets?


In my case it was the egg needed for making a gingerbread cookie on Christmass. There was only one low level area that would drop them 100%. So I farmed it en-masse, no one else did.


That latter part is important: there's currently no incentive for the outcome the author envisions, at least not enough to produce truly great outcomes that are better than education as its exists today. Consider that many teachers have some pretty strong emotional and non-monetary incentives (they have to if they want to stick through all the bullshit) to do a good job, and it still produces educational outcomes that aren't great.

While I do think student-driven activities within game-like feedback systems have a lot of promise for education, the educational system today could not use them effectively, and developer incentives today are not aligned with the outcome. However, you don't necessarily need actual software to come up with these systems. Consider Rafe Esquith's classroom economy, where students paid rent for their desks, could get income for different extra credit activities, and could buy other students' desks so they collected the rent instead of the teacher. Not a bad way to teach a whole host of complex economic issues without any software, and he did it for fifth graders. https://www.thinkadvisor.com/2012/05/22/teachers-charge-stud...

Imagine if all teachers were incentivized to experiment with these kinds of systems, and if they had the support to design and implement them, software or not.


I somewhat disagree with both these assertions for different reasons.

A. Games mostly fail because of non-transferrable skills is not an interesting point. Most books, most paintings, most music follows a uniform distribution of mediocrity. This is the role of curation and recommendation networks. Skills of discernment, reactivity, and higher cognition can be gleaned from games at a very young age.

B. Designing educational games can be a layer cake of complexity with the veneer of entertainment. I may be an outlier, but calculating expense sheets in Total War and following traffic laws in GTA were very formative experiences for me. They aren't the primary goals, but effective systems around the primary goals.

There is a glut of puzzle and puzzling games for people of all ages to enjoy, now more than ever. I don't buy the argument that developers aren't trying. I think people are walking in with biases and summarizing games as a whole.


I agree with you, and I also think whether games will be educational or not often as a great deal to do with temperament. But, like other media, put high quality, rich content with multifaceted depth is key to making an environment in which someone could learn something.


You're right. I'm speaking anecdotally. I suppose those support structures and context around play time is just as important as the medium.


> "where games mostly fall short is that they’re not that transferable to the real world."

I'd argue that this will change because the "real world" will begin to more and more resemble games. Sports are a good analogy for this. There are entire cultures and subcultures, people's entire lives based around sports.


This si true and also exactly why this isn't such a great idea. If education is done by video games, employers will need to make work like video games, and that will l, naturally, pervade other aspects of life. The skills will become transferable because people use the skills they have and don't know what they don't know.

I guess as a non-gamer I would appreciate less of life looking like a game? I am also very concerned about the lack of socialization in learning from games. Ultimately, for most people, getting along with others is by far their most important skill.


> the "real world" will begin to more and more resemble games

Especially as the kids whose brains grew up on videogames are already becoming decision makers and shaping society in their own image. Not saying that's a bad thing, either - the world is probably better off resembling a video game than a bad trip.


I personally think most games just aren't realistic enough. There is this game where you use a plasma cutter to take a space ship apart. The plasma cutter doesn't actually slice panels in half. They just disappear.

Minecraft is a bad game for learning to how to craft in real life because there is this work bench thing that does everything from basic wood working to building industrial machines. You don't need a hammer, screwdriver, drill, bench vice, manual saw, etc. There are some mods that force you to use basic chemistry to do things like create sulfuric acid or electrolysis to separate hydrogen and oxen in a long chain [0] to finally get a 4x multiplier on your ore. Those were a learning opportunity but the rest of the game just isn't like that.

There are games like cataclysm dda that at least require you to have the right tools to craft something but that game is already hard enough as it is even though its crafting menu is a huge oversimplification.

The closer these games get to reality the better they teach you about the real world.


I came here to say something similar. Several assertions in TA are just plain wrong. Making educationa video games might sound great, but it’s so incredibly hard that you might better spend all that time and money and invest it into training teachers to be even better at their job and maybe learning how to leverage tech to support their teaching.


> it’s even harder to design one that’s fun and educational

Everything that exists in either the natural or human world exists because it's part of some sort of game. So yeah it might be hard, but almost by definition it should be possible.


Hot takes from people with no experience in the field are only interesting to other people who have no experience in the field. It seems developers are particularly prone to this hubris. I don't find many doctors writing about the future of programming languages, or teachers writing blogs about the future of medicine. Yet you can find thousands of these hot takes from developers about the future of education. Or pick your subject. Even worse you can find startups by these folks. Startups who are getting it wrong with people's education.

I would have way more tolerance for these articles if they started with "I have never studied education, I have not taught children, I haven't done the homework or any reading on pedagogy, but I would like to do some thought experiments on hacking education...".

Brainstorming can be useful and bad ideas should be welcome during brainstorming. I understand why it is embraced on HN. But it has to be closer to the end of the spectrum of experts brainstorming than it is closer to the end of the spectrum of monkeys randomly typing a work of Shakespeare.

Imagine junior programmers brainstorming the future of cryptography. It's just going to be cringe. Nothing significant is going to come out of it. Of course they should do it between themselves. And that's where it should end.

As far as why video games are not the future of education, there are many things worth learning that are best learned by doing them, not by taking part in a simulation. Speaking and understanding a language, playing a musical instrument, painting, public speaking, tying knots, soldering electronics, using shop tools, and many more. All things I learned in public school and many of which I still use. My public school wasn't amazing. I could point out many flaws. But the good teachers I had were pretty amazing. Take that human out of the picture and replace it with a video game and I would have learned far less.

If you want to know the things that could immediately be improved about public education and have a measurable positive outcome, talk to teachers and get ready for some pretty obvious answers that are generally going to require more money.

Does that mean video games don't have any future in education? Of course not. But they are nothing near the silver bullet promised by the author.


> I don't find many doctors writing about the future of programming languages

That's because they don't care, not because they are more humble. Similarly, I don't see many programmers opining about surgerical techniques or scalpels or whatever the medical equivalent to PL design might be.

There are lots of doctors and lawyers who opine about education. And not just opine, but also shape policy. Go check the professions of the SB members in the closest wealthy suburb. I guarantee there will be at least one doctor/lawyer/business owner with zero education experience. Not just stating opinions, but spending considerable resources to win an elected office and shape local education policy. SB members with some prior experience in education are much more likely to humbly defer to the administration than lawyers/doctors/etc. IME.

And there are lots of teachers posting hot takes about covid or policing.

I don't think hubris is unique to programmers. You just see it more often because you hang around programmers.


i agree with OP and i also see what you are trying to say but OP is saying something that is deeper that resonates with me.

OP is saying that we are trying to integrate or otherwise assimilate other fields. you know, the software is eating the world thing.

now doctors you just gave as example aren't trying to do that, are they?


> Hot takes from people with no experience in the field are only interesting to other people who have no experience in the field. It seems developers are particularly prone to this hubris.

This is definitely true about developers, and this is one of the biggest problems with HN.

That said, I think this particular article is spot on. Not everything is best taught through games, but right now 99% of stuff isn't taught at all, and a lot of the stuff that isn't taught could be taught through games.

FWIW the specific mistake you're making is thinking about this in a way that overemphasizes the context of the school system.

There’s also no contradiction between learning through games and learning by doing. Everything we do in real life has game-like properties, you just have to find them.


> FWIW the specific mistake you're making is thinking about this in a way that overemphasizes the context of the school system.

I am? I have spent literally thousands of hours volunteering for a free online education platform that operates entirely independently from school systems. Although some schools do use it. Some of my family was home schooled. Along with that I have actual teaching experience outside the public school system. I still don't consider myself an expert because I know far less about teaching than I do about my main gig: programming and technology. But claiming I am thinking about this in a specific way is a wrong assumption on your part.

> There’s also no contradiction between learning through games and learning by doing. Everything we do in real life has game-like properties, you just have to find them.

The article is about video games, not games. For some things there is a contradiction. If you want to learn to ride a horse or play guitar then a guitar or a real horse is the game. A video game will never come anywhere close to just picking up a real guitar or riding a real horse.


I picked up a real guitar for years, mastered quite a few techniques but never learned to see the music on the fretboard. I suspect a good game would have got me over that hump quite easily. The last time I rode a horse it bucked me off; maybe a game would not help me so much there. So yes, for _some_ things there is a contradiction but I don't think that is a useful point. The arguments are not diluted by "Video games don't cover 100% of things you could learn".


There is a game to memorize the fretboard. As it turned out, memorizing the fretboard, while somewhat useful, was not what helped me see music on the fretboard. My guitar teacher is responsible for that insight by insisting I focus on the relationship between notes, and over many songs. Where C is on the guitar neck is nowhere near as important as the fact that the C I am playing is a minor third to the root note I will end the phrase on. His insistence was mysterious to me until it finally clicked. This is why a video game will never replace a teacher who understands the end place of wisdom they are trying to bring you to.

It's a useful point to consider just how little or how much video games can cover. If video games can only ever be the most effective route to learn 10% of what we need to learn, then that's less interesting to spend time and energy on compared to if the number is 50% or 80%.


Everybody can make children, so how hard can it be to educate them? /s

I totally agree with you. I think especially teachers face such know-it-alls much more than other occupations.

Not that I know it better, but thinking video games can replace human interaction is so silly. Probably all teachers knew it long before Hattie's meta study, the teacher is the key to good learning....


I also agree with you, but I think there are good reasons teachers face this more than other people. Everybody has been educated, all we have been exposed to the work of educators. All we have thousands of hours of experience of how the education system works. That does not make us capable of doing their work (and, certainly, it does not make us capable of doing their work better), but everybody has a relatively well formed opinion. On the other hand, most people do not have an opinion about how to improve programming languages, for example.


That's a really good and probably true explanation!


Yeah, but what if that teacher is not Human.

There is a lot of really short sighted thinking in this thread. AI will be better than us at everything within the next few hundred years.

It's kind of a flippant remark, and not very useful, but its true.

AI will be better than a human at making me happy, and it will be better at comforting me when I'm sad. It will be better at motivating me and it will be better at teaching me and my kids things.


Modern education is such an abject failure that those “experts” you mention should be begging people from other fields for new perspectives.


Based on what criteria? Which countries? When was it better and by how much?

Also worth mentioning that everyone is the best armchair quarterback in the world. If you've got new perspectives that are so effective, start your own school and show the experts how wrong they are. Get rich by offering such a better product. It should be child's play to do measurably better than an abject failure.


Most people will just home school their kids. I am in the US so that is what I was referring to. Not really worth the effort trying to argue the point - many people on this site went through the US educational system and would cite it as not preparing them for their adult lives, and in many cases caused immense harm to their growth as educated citizens.


> Most people will just home school their kids.

Wrong and by a huge factor which is why I asked for sources. This source [1] says 3% of children in the US are home schooled. This source [2] says about 3.5%. Even you could give a source that triples those number to 10%, you are are still completely wrong about "most".

> many people on this site went through the US educational system and would cite it as not preparing them for their adult lives

How many? Not only are you speaking for other people, but this is anecdote, not evidence. So far you have a sample size of one: yourself.

> not preparing them for their adult lives

That's partially a failure on the part of parents, not schools. Schools can only do so much. Their job is basic English and math literacy along with some exposure to STEM, perhaps a foreign language and other electives. A high school education will no longer prepare you for adult life, which is why so many countries offer affordable university education. So at the best you might be able to claim that the job of public schools is to prepare you for university. Which loads of public schools in the US are capable of doing. If you work hard in most high schools you can get into a good university.

Are there underperforming schools and especially in some states? For sure. And especially in poor areas. I agree that needs to be fixed. Unfortunately that's not unique to the US.

But if all of US public education is an abject failure like you claim, then you should be able to show how much better either home schooled kids do in life (adjusting for income of parents as causation) or how much better in life kids from other countries do. Lacking either of those, then public schools are doing a pretty good job at least relatively to all available options.

I repeat again: if it were so easy to beat public schools and provide a better service, everyone would already be doing it. It's not that easy. Just as one example, after accounting for the socioeconomic background of students, public school students scored higher than their private school peers on a federal math test [3]. Abject failure?

[1] https://nces.ed.gov/NAAL/lit_history.asp

[2] https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/oii/nonpublic/statist...

[3] http://www.nea.org/home/17824.htm


The “most” I was referring to wasn’t the most of all parents, but of people who you say should just go out and start a new school system. It seems somewhat self evident that the people who are homeschooling their kids have some % that do so because they see the school system as a failure. The point is if you’ve flipped the bozo bit on public schools, the next fix is go to a private one, and the next is to homeschool, and only after you’ve decided you care more about education itself and not just your own children would you actually try to attack the problem in the way you state.

You’re really digging in here, and seem to be taking personally something which seems plainly obvious to many successful people: school failed to prepare them for their professional lives, and in many cases school was a physiologically damaging, stifling experience. You keep trying to turn this into a relativistic argument, or think I am saying schools are an abject failure based upon data. This isn’t an argument based upon data, it’s an argument based upon a constellation of anecdotal data. The reason you see a lot of software engineers talking about this is because they see this as a problem, and many see it as a problem not because of data, but because they feel based on their own experiences of them and their children that something is very wrong with the way we educate the young.

Edit: also, you keep implying that I said fixing these problems would be easy. Where did I say that? My original post was literally a few words - I am generally disgusted when elitism enters threads on “hacker” news. Credentialism is stupid, and good ideas can come from anywhere, and often do come from people who have a deep talent stack beyond a narrow domain. Chastising people for having opinions on subjects they are under informed about is dumb - at worst, that’s an opportunity to (ironically) educate them. At best, their beginners mind may offer a chance to think differently.


> It seems somewhat self evident that the people who are homeschooling their kids have some % that do so because they see the school system as a failure

Sure, I'll go with that. So we've got some percentage of 3% who see the school system as a failure. That's a tiny percentage. This is why data is important. I'll even agree that the real percentage of parents or graduates who think the school system is a failure is much higher. But how much higher?

> You’re really digging in here, and seem to be taking personally

Not at all. I'm interested in learning and I don't trust anecdote. I trust data. So I was hoping you have data but it seems like you won't ever have data because you're convinced that anecdote is enough. For some of us, it's not enough. We like data because we've seen anecdote paint a false reality far too many times.

> something which seems plainly obvious to many successful people: school failed to prepare them for their professional lives,

I'll make the opposite claim: it's not obvious to most successful people. It's also not obvious to the companies hiring people. Yes new employees need some training. But they do not need years of retraining to compensate for an "abject failure" of a school system that trained them for twelve years. Most employees start adding value pretty quickly. I've run my own companies. I was happy with how quickly employees started adding value.

So this is another example of why anecdote fails to help us understand a situation. My anecdote is different from your anecdote is different from someone else's anecdote.

> in many cases school was a physiologically damaging, stifling experience.

School or being around other kids? Kids are brutal. Work is also too often a physiologically damaging, stifling experience. But usually not as brutal as children can be to each other. What might prepare you for success in that kind of work environment?

> This isn’t an argument based upon data, it’s an argument based upon a constellation of anecdotal data.

Perhaps there is a constellation out there, but I don't see it and you're not willing to show it other than saying "trust me, it's obvious a lot of people feel this way".

What 's obvious to me is that Americans have one of highest standards of living in the world and the largest and most important economy in the world, along with a very high median wage. So what's hard to believe is that this has been the case for so long when 90% of the children who will go on to contribute to that economy as adults were educated in a system that is an "abject failure" when it comes to preparing them for their professional lives. That the twelve years of public education they went through needs to be thrown out, and companies have to start from the beginning in teaching all of the basic skills the schools failed to teach them.

I would also extend this to all developed countries. They all offer a high standard of living, even to lower middle class people. Most often healthcare is considered a human right. How does all this progress manage to happen when the first twelve years of education are an "abject failure"?

With all of that said, I don't want to silence or dismiss you or anyone who had a horrible time at school. For sure I had some less than ideal experiences myself. There is a lot that can be improved. But if we are going to improve, it has to start with moving from anecdote to data. We need to understand causation and what can be fixed and what is outside the responsibility of the school system and should be the responsibility of parents and society at large.

We are not going to get there thanks to articles that promise video games are a silver bullet. If many developers truly do see education as an "abject failure", then they are going to have to do what I have done: teach, write educational software, and in short get deeply involved in the industry you are trying to improve. By which point you will have a far more nuanced understanding of what does and does not work and you'll firmly be out of "it's all an abject failure" territory.


I like the work of Papert, Montessori, Egan, and also like what Alan Kay has to say. Very little of their analysis is data driven, but based upon anecdotal experience with students. I don’t think the lack of rigorous use of data undermines their analysis and contributions. I also don’t think one needs to start a company in education or teach in the existing model to be able to contribute ideas and have opinions on the subject. Education is a life long endeavor, and so is teaching and mentoring. If you have raised children, for example, you’re qualified in my opinion to have your views taken seriously. I also have had a failed startup in the edu space and I consider my experiences trying to learn and teach others informally to be more useful towards having an opinion about modern schooling.


Most (all) people have no counterfactual to compare against.

We can compare across cultures, though, and say that more educated ones tend to be more prosperous along nearly every dimension than less educated ones.


Have you compared the salaries of an Eastern European developer with a CS degree to the salary of a self taught developer in the USA? Economic migration is basically the act of declaring your education worthless and declaring the destination to be more important.


Maybe I'm missing something, but that doesn't make any sense. Isn't economic migration the act of declaring that your education is worth more in different country?


Yes, richer countries buy more consumer goods and experiences. You have the relation right but the causality reversed. Large parts of Africa and almost all of Latin America are more highly educated now than 1970s Europe and poorer than it.

Richer countries buy more of everything they want. The most obvious example of economic growth not being associated with education is post Deng Xiaoping China. The huge majority had primary school education at best and the economy just kept growing and growing. On the other side look at any of the Arab petrostates, many university graduates, no real economy except pumping oil.


> Large parts of Africa and almost all of Latin America are more highly educated now than 1970s Europe

Source please? I have been working in Brazil for the past few years and the education level here is nowhere near 1970s Europe. Not even close. The public primary school system is so bad that any family who can afford it - even poor people - pay for private school. Sometimes only a $100 a month for the cheapest private schools. They are not very good, but they are better than the public schools and so there are an estimated 40,000 private schools in Brazil. About 40% of the primary and secondary schools. So about 60% of Brazilians get a very substandard primary and secondary school education.

At least 26% of the population earns below $56 USD a month and as a result the government gives them $13 a month but only if their children are vaccinated and stay in school. That should give you an idea of the level of poverty and the tax base upon which the public schools in those areas have to operate on.

Conversely, the free government run universities are excellent and hard to get into. Ironically, the vast majority of students accepted are from elite and expensive private primary and secondary schools. So the free public universities are mostly a service for wealthy or at least upper middle class kids.

Your claim that almost all of Latin America is more highly educated now than 1970s Europe is highly suspect unless you can provide something to back that up.


Algeria, Tunisia, Brazil, Chile, Bolivia, Mexico, Argentina and Indonesia all have a greater proportion of the populace in third level education than France did in 1970.

https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/gross-enrollment-ratio-in...


I can see now where you are getting your idea but that's a quantitative measure only which does not consider quality of education. The reason that 1970s Europe was better educated than Brazil or Latin America today is because of the substandard education so many will get from public secondary school and that's where their education stops. Enrollment ratio in university also doesn't say much about graduation rates. What surprised me after living in Europe and that you will not find nearly as often in Latin America, is just how well educated someone is who only attended secondary school.

Your claim also included a question about why these countries are still poor. Brazil is not competing with the France of the 1970s.


> Your claim also included a question about why these countries are still poor. Brazil is not competing with the France of the 1970s.

I made no such claim. I said that education was a consequence of economic growth, not vice versa. That is all. If you do a regression of changes in education over time versus changes in economic growth there is no trend. Changes in education do not cause changes in economic growth.

That Brazil is not competing with 1970s France is irrelevant to my claim. Education is a consequence rather than a cause of growth.


Then I'm very confused by what you originally wrote:

> Large parts of Africa and almost all of Latin America are more highly educated now than 1970s Europe and poorer than it.

Brazil's economic growth has been between 5% and 10% since the 1970s. That's pretty respectable. So how can you claim which is the causation?

> I said that education was a consequence of economic growth, not vice versa.

> The most obvious example of economic growth not being associated with education is post Deng Xiaoping China. The huge majority had primary school education at best and the economy just kept growing and growing.

From your own source, China also has a greater proportion of the populace in third level education than France did in 1970. In fact, the chart for China looks very similar to Brazil. And with both countries "the economy just kept growing and growing."

> If you do a regression of changes in education over time versus changes in economic growth there is no trend.

Source? Where can we find that analysis?

> That Brazil is not competing with 1970s France is irrelevant to my claim. Education is a consequence rather than a cause of growth.

You don't have to look at relative education levels to understand if a competitive advantage in education leads to growth? It would be naive to claim any change in education will result in economic growth. So hopefully what we are talking about here is changes in education that lead to one country being ahead in education in some qualitative measures. At which point you would be able to understand whether or not being ahead of another country in education results in growth.


> From your own source, China also has a greater proportion of the populace in third level education than France did in 1970. In fact, the chart for China looks very similar to Brazil.

Yes, China got rich so it started spending money on education. That’s my point. An educated populace is a consequence of a rich one, not a cause.

> Does Schooling Cause Growth or the Other Way Around?

> Barro (1991) and others find that growth and schooling are highly correlated across countries, with each additional year of 1960 enrollment associated with about .6% per year faster growth in per capita GDP from 1960 to 1990. In a model with finite-lived individuals who choose schooling, schooling can influence growth, but also faster technology-driven growth can induce more schooling by raising the effective rate of return on investment in schooling. We consider a variety of evidence to determine the strength of these channels, with two main findings. First, faster-growing countries have at most modestly flatter cross-sectional experience-earnings profiles, consistent with a minority role for the channel from schooling to growth. Second, we calibrate the model using evidence from the labor literature and employ UNESCO attainment data to construct schooling going back well before 1960.

> We find the channel from schooling to growth to be too weak to generate even half of Barro's coefficient under a range of plausible parameter values. The reverse channel from expected growth to schooling, in contrast, is capable of explaining the empirical relationship. We conclude that the evidence favors a dominant role for the reverse channel from growth to schooling.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/5194368_Does_School...


That study is outdated, artificially recreates some of the educational data, and does not address two keys points I made that you skipped over: 1. If you are always behind other countries in education it of course will not offer as much of a competitive advantage. 2. Quantity of education is an almost useless measure. It's quality of education that should be interesting in terms of driving economic growth.

Even their conclusion "the evidence favors..." is far less strong than your insistence that growth is definitely the causation. This is exactly why I always ask for sources.

From a more recent study that includes some meta-analysis:

> The relationship between cognitive skills and economic growth has now been demonstrated in a range of studies. As reviewed in Hanushek and Woessmann (2008), these studies employ measures of cognitive skills that draw upon the international testing of PISA and of TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) (along with earlier versions of these). The uniform result is that the international achievement measures provide an accurate measure of the skills of the labour force in different countries and that these skills are closely tied to economic outcomes. [1]

> Second, to tackle the most obvious reverse-causality issues, Hanushek and Woessmann (2009) separate the timing of the analysis by estimating the effect of scores on tests conducted until the early 1980s on economic growth in 1980-2000. In this analysis, available for a smaller sample of countries only, test scores pre-date the growth period. The estimate shows a significant positive effect that is about twice as large as the coefficient used in the simulations here. In addition, reverse causality from growth to test scores is also unlikely because additional resource in the school system (which might become affordable with increased growth) do not relate systematically to improved test scores (e.g. Hanushek, 2002). [1]

Before you get too excited that the study focuses on test scores, rather than education, I recommend you read the study.

By now it's clear to me that you're operating on confirmation bias for a personal theory you favor rather than having evaluated all of the available and most recent studies. You're working only to prove yourself right and not putting effort into proving yourself wrong. So I'm going to stop here.

[1] http://www.oecd.org/pisa/44417824.pdf


> start your own school and show the experts how wrong they are

Let parents have vouchers to attend my school and I will.


If your ideas are so effective, why can't you compete you against the many private schools already in existence?


For the same reason tesla competes against toyota, not against porsche.

The gap in education is at the bottom, not at the top


You might not understand the nature of video games if you compare it with an extremely narrow topic like cryptography. Video games are closer to media than to a tool that enables a certain outcome. The definition of a game according to Total Biscuit was basically "A game must have an explicit or implied failure state". The potential space for things that can be considered a game is incredibly vast but it is still a powerful enough definition to exclude other vast forms of media such as audio, video, written text or static visuals.

Obviously the idea of a silver bullet doesn't work. The term "media mix" exists for a reason. Popular franchises are conveyed through lots of different media and the same is also happening in education. Video games are just adding to the "media mix" not replacing it.


That's a fun and useful definition, so thanks for that.

I think it's worth clarifying that I did not compare video games to cryptography. I compared programmers brainstorming about education to junior programmers brainstorming about cryptography.


> Yet you can find thousands of these hot takes from developers about the future of education. Or pick your subject.

I think you've missed one big point of the article. Videogames will become the reality of education when they become easy to make, so that it doesn't require an army of programmers to implement.


I didn't miss that point. I explained why a video game or any kind of simulation is never going to be better for many subjects. No matter how easy video games become to create, they are often not the best teaching tool at hand.


I think this is because developers can see where software and AI is going, and what it can do. We see our human weaknesses, and can imagine what tools could do better.

We want to build tools that will help teachers do their best.

(Also sometimes you need to just burn down the establishment and start over because everything we know is wrong. )


Look at what the “elites” do to educate their kids. Do they long to put their kids in front of a computer to play video games or do they pay top dollar for tiny teacher:student ratios at great facilities with competent teachers/leadership?

I can’t imagine anyone dealing with kids learning from home this lockdown and thinking education should be more technologically driven.


Education primarily suffers from a motivation and accountability problem. Obviously, this problem can be solved by throwing money at it, but how can it done more cost efficiently so that’s available to everyone? Online education has problems right now because the teachers provide motivation via the relationship, which will always be less evocative than an in-person interaction. It’s possible that video games could provide alternate motivation solution that would be more effective for someone.

However, it’s worth recognizing that the wealthy are not necessarily optimizing educational value. A cynical way to look at it might be to say that they are really ensuring the scarcity of graduates and limiting internal competition to make their kids look better.


That's not to get educated, that's to drill for exams. I mean sure we call it education, but it's not, it's for making hamsters who will make powerpoint slides when they're older.

Real education, understanding the beauty of nature and mathematics, you need to teach yourself. Sometimes you will find inspiration in school, but mostly you are learning how good attitudes like keeping organised and doing your preparation.


> I can’t imagine anyone dealing with kids learning from home this lockdown and thinking education should be more technologically driven.

With the possible exception of the social aspects, lockdown distance learning seems like a waste of time vs. self-directed learning. Which could be as simple as letting kids do things outside and around the house. Or maybe providing bookmobiles and mobile libraries, maybe even a small budget to allow each kid to buy some affordable paperback books from an educational publisher like Scholastic, or cheap used books.

Perhaps schools could focus on providing resources and support for whatever students might actually want to learn (perhaps from a broad list of options) at their own pace, rather than forcing a particular curriculum at a pace dictated by the school.

Technology-wise I am not sure that the current lockdown remote classes are more beneficial than, say, playing video games (or other games) for a couple of hours a day, which would also probably be more fun and social (though single player games are also fine) and more enjoyable for parents as well (especially if they get to play a bit too.)


> Or maybe providing bookmobiles and mobile libraries, maybe even a small budget to allow each kid to buy some affordable paperback books from an educational publisher like Scholastic, or cheap used books.

Kids don't want to read and read less then they used to.

My kids did learned more from lockdown online classes then from games. I can tell this one with certainty. It was less then they are normally learning in school.


This.

The biggest failure of education today is that its oriented towards an outcome (tests / uni) that is dubious at best, detrimental at worst

OP is correct to identify dev cost as holding the key to software-based education. Here is why:

Education today is the remnant of the industrial assembly line model. That worked out great...for fridges and cars.

Children are not fridges. Children are not cars.

This education where 1-size-fits all produces the worst outcomes. It holds back brilliant students and leaves the challenging cases behind.

Software will solve all that due to (eventual) low cost customization.

In order for this to work, many planets have to align. In particular, some idealists have to let go of the model where all students should learn x topic. The entire curricula must be on the table

In other words, society must come to accept that 1) learning will not be uniform ie some students will get more out of school than others and 2) students will pass on topics we take for granted. Biology , civics, algebra etc....all gone, provided that students can explore AND dive deep into an alternative topics they care about, whether that is mechanics, geology, philosophy etc.

In short. Kids today are going to school memorizing some info, yet learning nothing. Thet should instead be able come out masters of topics they are interested in, if indeed that's all they care about.

This would be prohibitively expensive to do with teachers as it would require a 1:1 ratio.

Software can guide that journey.


It is not that it needs more technology. Education is driven as much from access as it is anything else. Access to teachers is huge. But, failing that, access to educational things is pretty good.

I know my kids got better at quick multiplication from number crunchers. Pretty sure I got better at math from as seemingly non math based games as old RPGs.


Double dragon II on the NES taught me a lot about the world.

I discovered where “New York” is, what “Nuclear War” is and what a “Crime Syndicate” is, all from the story cutscenes.

I also later learnt that, in real life, big bosses don’t just disentegrate after being defeated.


Not everyone can afford a good teacher. Basically your idea is that only the rich should have access to good education.


I'm a game developer who just finished a few months of home schooling 2 kids, and I agree that games are the future of Education, but not for the same reason as the author.

1. I think we'll eventually have software manage the progress of our children as they learn. It will present new ideas when they are ready for them, and test that old ideas stay fresh in memory. Software can do a better job than a teacher can, because the lessons can be tailored to the student. (rather than the whole class at once)

2. The software can do a better job at encouraging a student to "want" to do the tasks. Teachers can use praise, rewards, and sometimes punishments, but software can open up a whole world of other things. What happens next in a story? Leveling up characters or objects you care about? Competition? Mystery Boxes?

It was never fun to grind through killing 100 Goblins, but you did it so that you could get the magic sword at the end.

The hard part is not software development. The hard part is finding things that students want to work towards, then give them so much of it that they want to do it all day long for 13 years.


> It was never fun to grind through killing 100 Goblins, but you did it so that you could get the magic sword at the end.

I think you're taking exactly the wrong lesson from that. It wasn't fun to grind through the goblins, but it wasn't challenging either. You did it because you could turn your brain off. I opine that if it did require thinking then the world would now be overrun with goblins...


I think he took the right lesson in that case. I at least did it for the rewards. I for one don't do tedious and mind-numbing tasks, that involve serious involvement over time, just to turn my brain off. I might do the dishes, but that is very time constrained, and not something I repeatedly come back to doing unless I have to.

On the contrary, games usually inspire work by precisely _being challenging_. That's what normally keeps people coming back to play them for their own sake (the autotelicity of games).


A lot of my kids math and reading is not hard either. He just needs to do a lot of it, over and over. He is 8 so he is learning a lot of times tables and spelling.


1. See "competency-based education/learning". I have some experience doing this. First, it's really hard to do in American schools because of the grade progression system enshrined in funding formulas through rigid scheduling of standardized tests by age (instead of by competency level). Second, software can keep track but definitely can't make the assessment. And keeping track isn't really valuable; teachers can do that today with a really simple Excel spreadsheet. So I don't really see a big role for software here.

2. There's a lot of research on extrinsic motivation in K-12 education. I'm skeptical, to say the least.


Ok, so many things to comment on here.

Firstly, there are a lot of other countries than America.

Secondly, re grade progression system, the issue is not what broken system you have now, we should strive to improve the education of our children.

There are clearly a million was that software can make assessment better. Software will eventually be able to read an essay and provide feedback on how well the argument was made, as well as the nuts and bolts of how sentences are put together. Software never gets tired after reading 30 other essays. Never grumpy, never phones it in. Teachers are human.

We study intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation in the games industry as well, but to be clear, _almost all_ motivation in education is extrinsic now. Nobody is doing their math homework because its fun. They do it so they won't "fail".

But I agree that just bolting some lame point system on top of exiting work is mostly a waist of time. The work and rewards need to be tightly coupled and the hard part is to blur the line between intrinsic and extrinsic motivations.

Imagine for example the task is to convince an AI to buy you a pony. You have to write a persuasive essay as to why you should have a pony. The AI can respond to your essay with their own arguments. You can then respond to their augments and pushing the discussion forward. You could do it every day in 10th grade. How good would you be at persuasive writing?


Yes to everything about the US system having some serious problems and being fairly unique relative to the rest of the world.

> Software will eventually be able to read an essay and provide feedback on how well the argument was made, as well as the nuts and bolts of how sentences are put together... Imagine for example the task is to convince an AI to buy you a pony. You have to write a persuasive essay as to why you should have a pony. The AI can...

No, it can't.

Giving good feedback on essays in high school English or History courses is AI-complete.

"Some type of feedback" is already possible (you can go buy essay graders today -- go try one), but if we go that route we'll mostly just be teaching people how to optimize for a (very broken) grading algorithm.

"'The AI' will then <do thing that we spend years teaching people how to do well>" is exactly how you end up with horribly shitty ML code destroying people's lives.

TBH we're not even there with high school math yet, which is a lot easier than high school essays.

I have a CS PhD, publish in AI conferences, and have taught high school. I am fundamentally absolutely certain that high-quality grading of high school English/History essays is not possible. I'm also certain that we could build "something" that "grades essays" and will have catastrophic negative outcomes for a generation of students if adopted. Students will learn how to write for one really dumb algorithm, and then there will be years of cleanup at universities and workplaces afterward teaching them how to actually write for humans.

> but to be clear, _almost all_ motivation in education is extrinsic now. Nobody is doing their math homework because its fun. They do it so they won't "fail".

My classroom experience suggests that a) this isn't true, and b) there are lots of different types of extrinsic motivation; grades are actually not the most important motivator for most students. People are really complex, and everyone has different motivators.


In addition to human graders, and purely automated graders, there's also the option of hybrid human-machine systems.

Some aspects of the grading might be offloaded from humans, as the range of tasks and cases is often diverse. Or multiple less skilled humans substituted for more expensive ones.

In math for instance, there's no need for a human to see a blank answer, or a clearly correct one.

A system can assess graders as well as students. Might suggest to a professor which subset of gradings by graduate students could use a quality check. Using non-AI-complete statistics like "when this person grades late at night, and takes a long time on an answer, but doesn't write much, and the student is someone flagged as being at risk, then the odds increase that the professor will want to have seen it". Or perhaps particular cases are best handled by a particular grader. Or should always get an independent cross check of two graders, to reduce grading variance and bias.

That a hybrid system might hypothetically support good grading, does not imply that that's the direction which often-unfortunate incentives will drive the tech. Years ago I saw a paper, about the post-WWII defense industry investment in CNC tech. One argument was there were other options, like recording and playing back a skilled machinist, which might have been widely deployed decades earlier. But getting rid of the dependency on skilled workmen was a management objective. Creating cheap automated grading may be far more incentivized that attempting harder and less cheap good grading.


This industrial model of human capital production consistently fails. It’s literally the root of everything that is broken about the us k12 education system.

“Taylorism for education but with ‘The AI’” will end the same as the factory model for k12 that gave rise to the pathologies that critics like pg are so quick to point out. ‘The AI’ is just the 2020 version of the control theory metaphors that resulted in disasters in the mid 20th century. Ironic.


>high-quality grading of high school English/History essays is not possible.

I didn't mean to imply we could do it now, but somebody will eventually spends hundred of millions of dollars on this and we'll get there.

Machine Learning is not what I mean when I say AI. We need AI's that actually understand text in the same way we do.

All jobs will go to machines eventually.


> All jobs will go to machines eventually.

IMO this claim is mostly indistinguishable from claims like "God exists".


> Secondly, re grade progression system, the issue is not what broken system you have now, we should strive to improve the education of our children.

Better assessments won't magically lead to better education if the system continues to ignore the results of those assessments. The US education system doesn't need better assessments, it needs to start actually using the assessment results that it already has.


Check out the PLATO system [0]. It was built in the '60s and was a connected, online learning environment which would tailor its content delivery based on the student's learning rate.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PLATO_(computer_system)


We used PLATO in some class I was in at Ga Tech in the mid 80s, I think maybe chemistry. I remember thinking it was pretty neat, but that it was simplified and I wasn't learning that much from it.


Video games will change education in the way that books changed education (speculation I know). They're not a replacement for human discourse, for the teacher-pupil relationship, for social fitting, etc. But they make learning scalable and accessible in a way it wasn't before.

I'm most hopeful we will see this in maths. I know this has been talked about for 40 years with computers, since Papert's Mindstorms (highly recommended if you haven't read it). But the potential to teach math through immersion as you would a native language IMO = the potential to leap society forward exponentially.

Why hasn't it been built yet? Lots of comments in this thread already about the blocking incentive model and education system. 100%. I'd look instead outside the system, to something like Minecraft. Obviously, we don't want to privatize education into the hands of some monocultured tech platform. But a diversity of games that teach different things to people at different levels? That supplement social education? That are fun first? eg. Here's a basic word game I built that everyone seems to enjoy, and is also a great vocab lesson: (https://apps.apple.com/app/esoterica/id1505210583).

If we can find the right models to support such a diversity (we're certainly not there yet), I see great promise in that future.


Related: https://notesfrompoland.com/2020/06/18/poland-puts-computer-...

Quote:

Poland’s government will add the computer game This War Of Mine to the official reading list for children in schools, the prime minister has announced during a visit to the developer of the game, Warsaw-based 11 bit studios.

“Poland will be the first country in the world that puts its own computer game into the education ministry’s reading list,” said Mateusz Morawiecki, quoted by Polsat News. “Young people use games to imagine certain situations [in a way] no worse than reading books.”


What consistently gets missed in educational software is that it tries to teach rote memorization through gameplay rather than process. Games excel at teaching process quickly - learn by doing, learn by experiencing. And yet we have had 30+ years of crappy games about jumping on the right number to learn multiplication tables.

Games should supplement traditional education, not attempt to replace it. They should fill in the gaps and extend what can be taught. Teach the scientific method through a mystery game where you have to compound evidence to validate a theory (or better yet, invalidate it - equally valuable). Instead of math word problems have characters with problems you can solve using various methods - don't make the player do the math, train them to identify the right tool to use (a geometry problem, an algebra problem, a calculus problem).

Fill in those educational gaps that people only improve by stumbling in the dark.


Perhaps, but if there is one thing we know, it's that massive online courses do not work well as we have currently tried them. Students don't come back year to year, and engagement throughout the course is very low [1]. Using a video game might help solve the engagement problem, but I would be hard pressed to think benefit of using a video game (increased engagement in the learning process) would be worth the 10-100x development cost with considerably more risk.

Where I think video games can excel is in more niche applications like Kerbal Space Program, not teaching something like European Literature.

[1] https://joseruiperez.me/papers/journals/2019_Science_MOOCPiv...


While I do agree, it is not without caveats. One issue is that "engagement" is not a good metric for measuring learning. One of the early studies made on the DragonBox math game system[1] showed less benefit than allowing re-practice opportunities with a traditional tutoring system with no reward system. This was despite students showing higher levels of engagement, enjoyment, and completing more exercises using DragonBox.

Engagement and enjoyment are tricky metrics because they often report positive numbers; however, when compared to less engaging or less enjoyable methods they can perform worse for the end goal of learning. They can create motivation to learn the topic, which I support, but at some point that benefit has a ceiling effect.

[1] https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Yanjin_Long/publication...


Indeed, and I think if you optimize for engagement, you are really failing to consider that once you target a metric, that metric is no longer useful.

For the MOOC example, what I meant by engagement was, "Week over week, does the student return?" or Weekly Active Users as a percentage of total students at the start of the course. For a MOOCs, the number of students disengaging is so high, that there is obviously a problem, and this is what I meant to communicate. Thanks for the article!


MOOCs are an interesting area as well, as they share similar drop off to free mobile games - high initial recruitment and engagement, but immediate drop off. I love a lot of the components that MOOCs use and utilize them in my course design, but the high drop off is why I support traditional class-based environments. The cost of tuition and fear of failure ensure they stick with it. In another world, I think it's one of the reasons why many physical sports like martial arts have high drop offs as well, no risk from failure.

This is one of the reasons I don't particularly care for motivation studies, as I believe it's only a temporary method to generate traction. Once learning becomes difficult, it requires a higher order of motivation I call "discipline" to maintain.

But back to MOOCs, there is work on MOOC forum analysis[1]. In short, forum activity and the people you associate with in an educational forum can have a significant impact on your grade. Note this study was post-hoc analysis, but students that primarily discussed non-course relevant topics were more likely to fail the course.

There is also the fact that MOOC students come from a variety of life experiences. Students of different countries have different cultures and as a result, will behave differently [2]. France, for example, only wanted to view the course in [2], not engage.

I think the beauty of a MOOC is the accessibility and automated feedback feature that from their design. Beyond that they suffer from a lot of human conditions that can't really be controlled without removing or reducing those features. Plus, as I mention, there isn't a lot of cog psych research on "discipline" yet to identify the qualities that encourage its development besides Duckworth's "grit" (if I'm wrong I'd love to be pointed towards them).

[1] http://ceur-ws.org/Vol-1446/GEDM_2015_Submission_2.pdf

[2] https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED592695.pdf


As an aside, you might be interested in my colleague's work on MOOC Forum analysis as she goes into some discussions about what type of students come back to MOOCs - https://nikign.github.io/


"but I would be hard pressed to think benefit of using a video game (increased engagement in the learning process) would be worth the 10-100x development cost with considerably more risk."

That's the problem with the MOOC industry. Those guys produced content at the production level of the average high school or college class, endless talking head video. They thought that all the advantages of scale accrued to them - they got to make cheap content and sell it in huge quantity. Didn't work.


Video games don't mean 3d whatever, there are very low cost browser games too that sufficiently gamify learning. Sites like coursera are actually kinda terrible in terms of gamification. The best examples are sites like lichess or duolingo that have great retention.


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