Let students design their own video games with Atmosphir!

Posted on Sep 17, 2008 by kjarrett 9 Comments

Good morning all,

Games are getting more and more respect these days as learning tools, at home and in the classroom. The image at right (credit: Circulating) is a reminder of the hurdles faced by those of us who advocate use of games in schools. Fortunately, recent research released by the Pew Internet & American Life Project (“Teens, Video Games and Civics: Teens’ gaming experiences are diverse and include significant social interaction and civic engagement“) as well as coverage in the mainstream media (“Can games make your kid a better citizen?” [MSNBC.com]) is evidence that the tide is turning. What we need now are more free, safe, powerful game development environments to capture the imagination of a new generation of learners.

That’s where Atmosphir comes in (thank you, Fred Delventhal, for the link!) Atmosphir is a free video game development tool for Mac -and- PC that allows students to design complete, immersive environments with complex challenges, objectives and interrelationships. Take a look at this video, and imagine what a tool like this could do in a classroom:

It is fascinating to watch games move from the periphery closer to mainstream curriculum, and I wonder when teachers will be free (and able) to use applications like Atmosphir to teach math, science, language, social studies and more. We’re not there yet, but we’re getting closer every day. After school programs that feature these kinds of tools are fairly common; how long until they make the jump into regular education? I doubt my children will see it happen, but I wonder if my current students (in K-4) have a shot. Some will be in high school in just a few years. To be sure, the technology will evolve faster than the educational system can adapt, but there’s always hope!

Game on,