Odyssey, a puzzle/adventure game from The Young Socratics, is being tested as an educational tool in Palo Alto, USA, a press release has announced, teaching kids different principles in order to use them in-game.
Odyssey, whose story was written by Tomb Raider: Underworld's Creative Director Eric Lindstrom, follows Kai and her family who are stranded on a desert island, and throughout their journey they learn more about science, astronomy, and mechanics through puzzles that they need to solve. The classes teach these principles required to solve the puzzles before trying them.
Omkar Deshpande, co-founder of The Young Socratics, said: "Educational games generally tend to feel quite overtly educational, and there is either no storytelling or it's patched on top of the content in an incidental way. We have gone much further in developing the environment and story in the journal, and blending it with the history of science content in a very unique way."
"The initial results are promising, but truly evaluating effectiveness requires funding," said continued. "One would have to create two groups - one to play Odyssey, and the other to be taught using a regular classroom teaching model, with students randomly assigned to each group. If the first group showed better learning than the second, that would show the game-based learning was effective.
"So we are going to keep looking at this. Early signs are good - but we need funding, we need controlled studies, and we need to look very carefully at whether this could be a hugely significant way of improving kids' educations."
Because of this need for more information and study on the game, The Young Socratics will be releasing Odyssey on Steam Early Access on February 23.
The school seems to be impressed with the game. "Working with Omkar and Vivek, we introduced our students to game-based learning, using Odyssey to deepen our exploration of science," commented Chris Bezsylko, who is involved with the program. "Our middle school students were highly engaged in the flow of the game. They especially enjoyed searching the island and the journal for clues and working together in teams to solve puzzles. As an educator, I was very impressed with their historical representation of science from earliest astronomy to physics, and we found that the game aligned well with our inquiry-based approach to science."
How powerful do you think video games can be as an educational tool?