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Jack Thompson returns, now called Marlene, fears for education

Okay, so she's not actually everyone's least favourite, mercifully forgotten, disbarred lawyer of anti-video game justice. Her name is Marlene Perrotte. But yikes, she looks and sounds a lot like him. Worryingly so, in fact. One is almost forced to wonder just how far a disgraced social campaigner would go to get back on TV...

Disturbing tangental musings aside, the issue causing the game-rage this time is rather different from the usual fare. Rather than fearing that the starry future of their bright, intelligent, right-thinking children will be forever warped by their total inability to distinguish entertainment from reality, the parental complaint on this occasion regards the use of games as a edicational tool. Yeah, that's right. Progressive, modernised education, Whoever will save us from it?

Above: Seriously, it's uncanny. Just compare the clothing. 

Marlene Thompso... sorry, Perrotte, is an Alberquerque parent incensed by the use of a game to teach maths in school. The game, funded by a Department of Defence grant, is a FPS (albeit presumably one mild of content) which requires the kids playing it to augment their arcade skills with mathematical understanding in order to attain victory. From the brief clips we've seen, it also appears to be team-based.

Personally, I think in principle it's a good thing. The problem I always had with maths as a kid was the way it always felt so abstract and theoretical, completely divorced from anything real or relevent to my life. No amount of working out projected train arrival times changed that, and in today's always-online, iPhone-packing age of convenient answers, the need for better examples of maths in action is greater than ever. And if this game gives kids that, and promotes teamwork, I see nothing but a big bundle of good times, tied up with a ribbon made of unicorn smiles.

Above: Yes, that's a laser, but next to it, there is also a number

Perrotte however, doesn't agree, believing that all the game is doing is 'feeding the addiction of these children to video games'. Continuing, she claims 'They were all excited. And they were excited because of the violence. And what they recall is is not the prime number they were talking about, but rather "I was able to get through to the enemy".

Teachers using the game at Madison Middle School, however, see it as 'a 21st century flash card', adding that 'Anything we can do to meet the kids on their own grounds and educate them is to our advantage'.

Above: And you thought playing RPGs on your graphical calculator was cool

And that's exactly how I see it too. Too many kids lose interest in education because they see it as something divorced from, and therefor superfluous to, the real world they're all too eager to explore. Show them that these subjects are relevant and truly do seep into every aspect of their lives, and do it in a fun way, and you'll get them interested in turning up to the class. Even, as Mrs. Perrotte points out, excited.

But what do you think? Can maths-based action games teach kids the practical relevance of the subject? Or are they just a flashy distraction? Let me know in the comments, or stick your opinion to our virtual fridge doors at Facebook and Twitter.

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37 comments

  • ballplayer27 - October 11, 2010 12:34 a.m.

    Math games like this don't teach you in a way that can be "quizzed outside the game" right away. It isn't studying, but if you do it right enough times to get good at the game, it is impossible not to get better at the math that is included... Inside or outside of the game. You are telling me that a child who does a hundred math problems a day correctly in a video game isn't going to inherently get better at math in all areas of life? You are fucking idiot, Mack perrompson.
  • screwball08247 - September 18, 2010 4:25 p.m.

    You know, I did think playing RPGs on my graphing calculator was cool.
  • PolarBearsInHeat - September 18, 2010 2:41 p.m.

    If they change it over to an RPG, where you're different subjects are attributes, such as english, math or history, it could be neat. Like if you excel in the history question or problems that you face in the game, you have stronger history attributes, which could tie into how succesful you are at being badass in the game world
  • crumbdunky - July 6, 2010 5:05 a.m.

    I've stated many, many times that I've found games to be a big help to my kids with their reading, maths and other school related stuff-and that's just playing regular games not targetted ones so I feel the woman is daft. People, kids or otherwise, always learn more if they enjoy what they're doing AND if they don't suspect they're being "educated" at all. My twelve year old hated reading until we started going through the FF remakes and spin offs a year or two back and now he'll read anything and I put it almost entirely down to his new found love of rpgs. I couldn't disagree with this stupid, reactionary woman if I tried and wouldn't be too shocked by any attitude coming from a country where you can legally teach creationism(FFS, really?) as fact to kids in some states and some schools. The game will work as flashcards worked in their day and it's also helping with perception and hand eye coordination, appreciation of angles and al kinds of other stuff JUST by being a FPS. As with anything it's important to use in bursts and moderate it within the boundaries of a fully mixed education but as part of that this sounds just great to me.
  • katwood92 - June 12, 2010 2:57 a.m.

    From the couple of screen shots and the linked video, I think I actually played that game. If it is the same game, it's not that great of an educational game (nor is it a good game in general). It might have been better if my math class' curriculum had been matched to the program's, but not by much. Also, if I remember correctly, it's a shooter sort of in the way Portal is a shooter: you have a "gun". The lasers you shoot are never shot at other players. Instead, you ener the answer to a math problem to fire the laser at a mechanical construct. From there, gameplay is much like Capture the Flag. Honestly, if it was a game sold in stores, it would be rated E, at the highest. Spongebob games are more violent. Have these parents even watched a round, ever?
  • kibbles0515 - June 11, 2010 12:50 a.m.

    I don't know about the 1st-person aspect of it, but I always enjoyed educational games because I wanted to win. To win, you had to learn. It worked. I didn't play them because they were violent. I played them because they were fun. Again, maybe 1st-person isn't necessarily the way to go, but you can force students to sit in a classroom and listen to a teacher, or you can force them to win a game. I think trying to win a game is more fun and would get me more willing to learn more in the subject.
  • Snoochie - June 10, 2010 1:54 a.m.

    there was a pbs series on the 21st century child, and part of it covered experimental education. if i remember correctly, i believe studies of these sorts of programs and educational games are showing that while they are great for pumping information into the minds' short term memory, it doesn't easily make the transfer into the long term. i don't remember their explanation for why this is, but i would guess that it has to do with splitting the students' attention and concentrating on more than the concept they are supposed to be learning. still, cool to know people are willing to try new teaching methods. if anyone knows the study i referred to above, please confirm!! :)
  • M0rt1f1cat0r - June 10, 2010 1:52 a.m.

    this is a relatively simple concept, but looks like it is already very successful. it makes so much sense because: it is cheap; lo res graphics makes it usable on practically any computer, inspires a desire to do something associated with math, and is taking students away from truly violent games. not that violent games are bad, however many parents let their kids play games that are way above their age level, resulting in the 9 year kids that I too often hear swearing through the mike while I play MW2.
  • ShitMittensShittyKittens - June 9, 2010 9:01 p.m.

    Why must Ms.Thompson be from my city and state? Jesus, idiots invade my home... I saw this news bit while watching it live and actually hoped you guys wouldn't find this...
  • Apollomon - June 9, 2010 5:43 p.m.

    I enjoy maths too but the good part of this game is that kids will learn because they do not realise and find it fun you think through maths to try and win and so understand it without realising- this is a good thing stupid jack tompsons genetically modified clone women thing
  • D0CCON - June 9, 2010 4:42 p.m.

    I actually enjoy math and am pretty good at it (just finished Geometry with an A- this year). However, quite a few people in my class failed. In a mix of not getting it and being bored out of their minds, they stopped caring. This gets rid of the boring part (a few of the students with failing grades are gamers) and might get them interested enough to care. If it doesn't work, then stop it, but I think this type of thing deserves a chance. She could be surprised.
  • mgkyo666 - June 9, 2010 2:09 p.m.

    Back in my elementary school I played Math Blaster! :3
  • philipshaw - June 9, 2010 12:39 p.m.

    If it gets kids interested in maths and they can re call the information outside of the game in the test, then I'm all for it
  • scrimbleshanks - June 9, 2010 6:32 a.m.

    HP<0=VICTORY what other math equation do you need to know?
  • Cwf2008 - June 9, 2010 2:41 a.m.

    What an idiot...but i suppose games might make calculus easier to understand. That or we could just make due with our great teachers..hmmm
  • EnragedTortoise1 - June 9, 2010 2:24 a.m.

    she needs to actually take a look at the context of the game. And how, exactly, does she know what the kids are thinking? Does she have some sort of mind-reader machine? didn't think so.
  • Amnesiac - June 8, 2010 11:57 p.m.

    We don't need no education... We don't need no thought control...
  • Cyberninja - June 8, 2010 10:37 p.m.

    wow two people return on the same day great.
  • CountZero - June 8, 2010 9:59 p.m.

    I'm with Ms.Thompson! If education is fun, you're doing it wrong!
  • Mexiflan - June 8, 2010 9:07 p.m.

    I thin she may be jacko's twin sister whom he was separated when they were born.

Showing 1-20 of 37 comments

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