The Free Times newspaper has an article on Desperate Fishwives, an educational game being developed by Dr. Buell, Dr. Heidi Rae Cooley from Media Arts, and their students. The game aims to teach high school and college students the realities of life in a 17th Century English village by having the player take on the role of various village characters.
John Hodgson, a USC computer science graduate student writing the game’s code, takes things a step further, explaining how immersion in an experiential environment could potentially prove more effective than more traditional classroom approaches.
“For students who have never lived in a 17th century English village, which is all of them, how will they know what that experience was like? Well, they can have a teacher tell them, and that might convince some; they’ll be able to regurgitate it on a test. Or we can create an experience about what it might have been like. By playing the game they learn the rules — what’s acceptable, what’s not, what people did what things. Nothing is actually told to them, but because of the way the game is designed they have to accept that reality.”
Update: The USC news also has an article on this research.