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July 31, 2008 / Ben Chun

Action Puzzles

On a recent Virgin America flight, I pulled up the video game menu to see what was on offer, and was immediately draw to Rocks’n’Diamonds because it reminded me of another old game I used to play on the Apple II/c: Boulder Dash. After figuring out how to remap the controls, I played a bunch of levels, and was reminded of how much fun these were. They have enough action to keep the adrenaline above baseline, but blindly running isn’t the answer. Even real time strategy games feel a little hectic compared to this. I’d love to see studies on the effect these games have on developing minds.

Fantastic Contraption

Fantastic Contraption

Just this week, I lost a bunch of time to Fantastic Contraption, which is a great physics simulation puzzle game. The game reminds me a lot of the kind of problem-solving that Odyssey of the Mind requires, in digital instead of physical form. Is anyone using this sort of thing in teaching either programming or physics?

3 Comments

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  1. dangermarc / Jul 31 2008 3:42 pm

    This game is great. It makes you think.

    You have limited space in which to build a machine, so you can’t just brute force it.

    You also learn how to use different parts down the line, like how to make a train, or a gear.

  2. chris / Jul 31 2008 6:14 pm

    This game reminds me of and old game called The Incredible Machine that my sister and I used to play it a lot when we were younger.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Incredible_Machine

    As for learning, in my high school physics class and on all the computers in the lab we had some physics simulation software that let you play with motors, springs, dampers, etc, in 2D in almost real time (the machines weren’t quite fast enough fore real time). I don’t know how much we learned from it though. Mainly we made human like figures and put them in horrible situations. Besides that, we made up games like building “off road” vehicles and timing how fast they could cross the same terrain to see who could build the best suspension. I think that might have taught me something but I don’t really know how well it applies to the real world. : )

  3. Dad / Aug 24 2008 9:27 am

    I just lost 1hr to fantastic contraption … thanks.
    d

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