Games for Engineering

Teaching engineering through video games

Oct 19, 2016 01:30 PM

Location: UCL Knowledge Lab, 29 Emerald St, London WC1N 3QS

Diarmid Campbell, Cambridge University Engineering Department, gave this seminar as part of the UCL Knowledge Lab’s lunchtime seminar series.

His starting premise was: Businesses in the UK want to hire more high-calibre engineers. If kids were as passionate and knowledgeable about maths and physics as they are about Minecraft, we may not have such a problem.

video-games

The talk was attended by approximately 50 researchers, game designers and students. Diarmid looked at lessons learnt from trying to create games that teach difficult engineering topics to young teenagers; making the game mechanics tightly coupled to the concepts being taught; the difficulty in teaching mathematical relationships; balancing the fun against the education and the challenges of making a high-quality experience with a very small team.

The goal of the project is to deliver the games through traditional gaming channels directly to players rather than through schools. This means they need to be fun enough that people play them out of choice.

Here is the video of his talk on the UCL Central Media website.

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And here’s a video capture of one of the prototype games.

To get a better sense of the games, you can try prototypes or watch video captures:

Diarmid Campbell has worked in the video games industry for over fifteen years. He studied Pure Mathematics at Imperial College and in 1999 joined Computer Artworks where he led the game-programming team on the international best-selling game The Thing. After a brief interlude selling his soul in financial software development, he returned to video games and spent ten years at Sony’s London game development studio. There he ran an R&D group developing technology for camera-based games on PlayStation 3 such as EyeToy, EyePet and the Wonderbook series.

Diarmid is now a Senior Teaching Associate in the Cambridge University Engineering Department. He is developing video games to inspire more teenagers to study engineering and is having a great time.

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