Game for Chemistry
We haven’t had many new case examples for gaming recently. Peacemaker is still very popular for Middle Eastern Studies and Conflict Resolution. Ed Webb’s “Empires” course still uses my Civ IV mod. Fold-it and Global Warming Interactive are still used for a couple “dry labs” in the sciences. But these are also all fairly old, and we’ve had some set backs as well. Blizzard has cracked down on US players connecting to European servers, so I can’t play WoW with my students in Germany any longer. The Civ series has also been disappointing since the original Civ IV. Colonization was a disappointingly simplistic and stereotypical simulation of the colonial period. While Civ V added some interesting elements with the social policy, they also greatly simplified or eliminated economic issues of expansion, the role of religion, and the factors involved in bilateral relations.
On the positive side, I was very happy to Majong Chem on Bryan Alexander’s Twitter feed. It does pretty much what you’d expect. Depending on the game you select, if you’re familiar with the combinations for elements and oxidation, solubility or their own charges, you can eliminate blocks by matching pairs of the element names, symbols, or number of electrons. The topics are all common in Chem 101 courses, so we’ve had one professor suggest it to her students for review already. I’d rather see a game where students had to apply their knowledge of chemistry to achieve some higher level task, but it’s a start.