Thursday, July 3, 2008

Capcom sets out to 'brainwash' kids

Video game developer Capcom is working with a leading academic on an initiative to embed subliminal lessons about physics and maths in game play.

Nipan Maniar, a senior lecturer in creative technologies at the University of Portsmouth, who created the cultural awareness game C-Shock, is collaborating with Capcom to provide structured learning environments in games.

Players exposed to the messages and ideas will not be consciously aware of what is being delivered.

The idea is to develop mind programming techniques in the architecture of video games which will address subject areas that many students find hard to grasp.

"The power of games as a learning tool is the great untapped education resource of our time," said Maniar.

"I expect many other games companies will get onboard when they see the obvious benefits to society of using games as one more tool to educate young people."

Capcom went to Maniar after its upcoming Wii game We Love Golf revealed that seemingly complex calculations about ball flight, trajectory and distance became markedly easier the more the game was played.

The game requires players to make running calculations on distance, wind direction and wind speed to determine how hard to hit the ball.

"We set up a special Games Education Projects team to take a closer look at this idea of using games like We Love Golf as learning environments," said Rhys Cash, research manager at Capcom.

"We also wanted to explore the idea of seamless learning between gameplay and old-fashioned subjects that many kids hate, like maths, physics and trigonometry.

"The idea is to get people playing games thinking that they are a champion golfer, but which have Einstein and Newton lurking in the background sending useful messages to the subconscious."

Maniar explained that most people learn much more quickly and easily by seeing, rather than by hearing.

"It makes perfect sense to take the seeing and make it part of the doing in a gameplay environment," he said.

"The possibilities to use technology in this way are very exciting for anyone who has an interest in education, teaching and learning."