Mason’s First Day of Kindergarten

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Using Mobile Games to Educate Kids

Kids love mobile devices. More specifically, tablets, such as Apple’s iPad or the Kindle by Amazon. For children, tablets offer a chance to watch shows, play games and, sometimes, speak with relatives outside of the home. Furthermore, these gadgets are attractive because they are interactive, require the use of finger movement, and are one of the few things children can control themselves. So, kids love them and parents adore them because it keeps kids occupied and quiet. Hence, it’s no surprise that 30 percent of children in the U.S. engage with some of form of mobile device while still in diapers.

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Young boy playing with a tablet device

Yet, as a part of our culture, some of these tools, or the constant access to them, have become problematic. As a result, professionals have called on parents to limit the time with which their children spend on devices, citing reasons from impaired vision to lack of imagination and, quite literally, addiction. Initially health communities responded by encouraging parents to cut out use altogether, or to drastically limit time by only a few hours a day. Understanding the complications such places on adults, who are themselves always attached to some tech device, organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics now suggest that parents do more monitor their child’s activity and to establish “digital-free zones.”

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Young boy with an iPhone

Their suggestions are great and most certainly will help parents guide their children through proper use of such devices. I would add that during the time children use these devices, over half should be used for educational purposes. It’s likely that a child would want to play a game, why not make sure the game is a teaching opportunity rather than a time waster? Writing for the Huffington Post, this is what Catriona Wallis had to say about this very concept:

 

“If playing digital games is now an integral part of our young learners lives, then it makes sense for teachers and parents to use this to motivate children to learn.”

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A child reading

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mobile chess board

The benefit is simple. Children will get their time to use the phone or iPad, they will be occupied and quiet, and they will also learn something in the process. In a very comprehensive list, Parents.com shares 30 educational apps/games for your child to play when she or he has access to a mobile device. In addition to books and schooling, this is a great way to reinforce the importance of learning and maximize those very integral stages of development in childhood.

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Baby using a computer

I’d like to hear your thoughts on this. Do you think these gadgets should be used for entertainment or for learning? Let me know!

 

Follow Anthony Beyer on Twitter and Slideshare.

Game Development: A Sum of Parts

More money is spent on gaming today than any time in history. In 2015, the industry saw revenue upwards of $90 billion. This is not only due to more people playing games, but the amount of options in today’s landscape, thanks to a growing number of creators. Still, while many enjoy playing games, not everyone is familiar with the process or the people behind the magic. When most people think of game creators, they think of developers. They’re not wrong of course, game developers play a vital role in bringing a game to life, but so do many others.

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video game controller

For video games, there are over a dozen job roles which are integral to creating a game. Yet, the most basic parts can broken down into the following categories:

Design

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team in the design process

This member of the team decides the rules of the game, how to play it, and its overall objective. Not to be confused with graphic designer, this team member develops a storyline, characters, etc., and provides the final plan to the rest of the team. Obviously, this is a very crucial member of the team.

 

Visuals

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graphics


Once the foundation has been set by the designer, the visual or game artist is responsible for bringing the idea to life, including all characters, background elements, and other visual objects of the game. Sometimes, this can be broken into multiple roles, but the function is clear: construct a visual that is representative of the design.

 

Audio

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audio engineering

For games with soundtracks, voice dialogue, or effects, an audio engineer is responsible for creating and placing these elements within the game. Sound is very important facet of the game, as it determines the feel and sets the environment for the player. Without audio, it is oftentimes difficult to experience the full effect of a given game.

 

Programming

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programming

This is the development part of the team. Programmers create code that tells the game how to act in response to certain keys and/or commands. These individuals will create systems that will enable users to play the game using normal functions as, creating a simple user experience using sometimes complex computer language. Programming part of the team brings everything together.

 

Business

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ready to take on business

After the game has been designed, created, edited, and ready to go, unless it’s for personal use, getting your product in front of consumers requires a business arm of the team. This includes everything from marketing to sponsorships and funding. The business part of the team, like the others, is very strategic and should have an in-depth understanding of the game itself and the market you’re most likely to reach.

 

To be sure, it’s is certainly possible for one person to manage all of these responsibilities, and many do. On the other hand, however, it’s important to know what you’re good at, and be open to collaborating with others to maximize your talents and skills effectively, creating something worthwhile.