Tag Archives: video games

Video Games to Get You Ready for B-School (Seriously)

Contrary to popular belief, video games aren’t just for killing an idle Thursday evening. In fact, a variety of recent studies have begun to demonstrate their teaching potential. Steven Johnson’s book Everything Bad is Good for You offers a good introduction to the field. Tom Chatfield’s fantastic Ted Talk is another great examination of gaming and learning.

Believe it or not, the savvy gamer can combine his virtual hobbies with his dreams of business school success. The trick is to pick the kinds of games that will exercise the right parts of your brain. As much fun as Street Fighter and Super Mario may be, they aren’t exactly going to do much for your strategic thinking or logic skills.

Though they are no substitute for online GMAT prep, video games, in moderation, can stimulate your brain in a lot of constructive ways and even inspire new ideas. Check out our suggestions below, and let us know in the comments if you have any of your own!

Casual DS Games: Phoenix Wright, Professor Layton, SimCity DS, Brain Age

Each of these games is good for a quick mental workout while riding the subway to work. Professor Layton and Brain Age are chock-full of logic games that can help you with CR inferences. Phoenix Wright and SimCity on the other hand are longer games that reward players over time with a variety of problem solving opportunities.

Sports: Madden NFL, F1 2010, MLB The Show, Football Manager 2011

Sports games provide a lot of business-flavored brain food. For starters, they tend to involve a hefty amount of arithmetic, as you’ll spend a good deal of time negotiating salaries, calculating probabilities, and fine-tuning various player or vehicle parameters. You can get a good refresher on statistics with many of the titles recommended here.

Furthermore, sports team management makes for a fantastic interactive case study. As you set in motion your long-term vision for a franchise, you will see how your ideas play out in a sophisticated simulation. Not only does it make for good cognitive exercise, but it may also be the only way to see the Cowboys win the Superbowl under Wade Phillips (note: Wade Phillips was fired shortly after I wrote this post).

Role-Playing: Fallout Series, Fable III, Civilization Series, Galactic Civilizations 2

Strategy games force players to look for multiple solutions to various problems. Galactic Civilizations is particularly good because of its competent yet fair AI. Fable and Fallout start on a much smaller scale, but similarly reward long-term planning and pattern recognition. For turn-based strategy — perfect for a little multi-national negotiation practice — it doesn’t get much better than Civilization.

Business Simulation: Capitalism II, The Movies, Monopoly Tycoon, Restaurant Empire 2

There is a wide market of business simulation games for the computer. Many are quite dry and slow for a typical gamer, but the four listed above are both fun and stimulating. Capitalism II has been around for a while, but it’s still one of the best “mogul” games on the block. The Movies is great for film buffs, and Restaurant Empire 2 is extraordinarily endearing thanks to the new café / dessert shop options.

Happy gaming!

Learning Adapted

Branch_PB_04_stillThe word “adapt” has its roots in the Latin word aptare, meaning “to fit.” We think learning works best when it fits you specifically, the way shoes work best when they fit your feet. One on one, any competent teacher can customize the lesson to fit a student’s needs. But in groups, it can be difficult or impossible. Every classroom teacher faces the same challenge: Half the class is bored; the other half is struggling.

How do you pace a lesson so that everyone in the room is on the same page?

Technology can help. Computer programs can track your progress and serve up lesson plans or practice questions to suit your unique needs. Self-pacing helps to keep you in a state of fluid learning. When you’re working, you want to be challenged enough to stay engaged, without being so overwhelmed that you get frustrated. Software can fill the role of a personal tutor.

You’ve probably experienced adaptive learning without meaning to—in the context of video games. A well-designed game is first and foremost a self-paced learning tool. If you master the easier early levels, you move on to the harder ones. If not, you repeat the early ones. Not every game is well-balanced, but the best ones carefully balance challenges with rewards to maintain your personal flow.

At Knewton, we think adaptive learning is especially important because some of our students will face adaptive testing. The GMAT is administered as a Computer Adaptive Test. It starts with a question of medium difficulty. If you answer it correctly, you get a harder question next. If you answer incorrectly, you get an easier question. The computerized GMAT is unique to each test taker. We think the best way to practice for this kind of test is with computerized adaptive learning.