A Citigroup online survey of 1800 people in the US, UK, and China found iPad users engaged with the device primarily for entertainment purposes. Web surfing, e-mail, and watching Netflix top the list. Users in the US were more likely to buy the device as a secondary unit for fun, or as a toy, while users in China were more likely to consider the iPad a primary computing device for serious work. More, including charts, here and here.
One of the hottest areas in educational gaming at the moment is in the medical field, where players can be immersed in virtual biological environments. I’ve been corresponding by e-mail with Nathan Patterson at the Morgridge Institute for Research, a nonprofit biomedical research institute. Nathan sent a note describing what his team has been working on lately:
We recently released our first independently developed game called ‘Virulent’. ‘Virulent’ is an action strategy game that was designed for the iPad but is also playable through the Unity Webplayer. It places the player in control of a group of virus particles that are trying to spread their infection by evading the immune system and infecting cells. The current version includes the first 7 of 15 designed levels.
The current version of Virulent is freely available for the iPad or the Unity WebPlayer. The team is seeking feedback as they continue building out the remaining eight levels. If you are interested in game design, would like to be part of a work in progress, and if you are willing to offer some insight and advice to the team, please take a moment to download the game and play through the levels.
For the iPad:
For the Unity WebPlayer:
Here’s a screenshot of the game on the iPad:
A most intriguing post by Mike Elgan over at CultofMac is here, where he asserts that every child in the US needs an iPad. His arguments revolve around the benefits of an interactive device in the hands of a child as opposed to the one way mind feeding that a television set offers. Some quotes:
Everybody’s asking: Are iPads healthy for children?
I’m here to tell you: That’s the wrong question.
The right question is this: Is the iPad a healthy *replacement* for TV? And I believe the answer is a resounding yes.
The iPad is scary because it’s new. But most parents have already accepted a gigantic role for something truly in the lives of their children: television. The content kids see on their TV sets is mostly mind-numbing, soul-deadening, formulaic consumerist crap, punctuated by sophisticated ad campaigns designed to transform children into mindless consumers.
Kids spend more time watching TV than they do in class (1,500 hours on TV per year vs. 900 hours in school).
I could go on for pages. The bottom line is that TV is a massive, negative, toxic, unhealthy influence in the lives of American children. I think parents already know this.
The solution, Elgan states, is to offer children an interactive device with far less commercial content and mind numbing one way interaction to children.
That’s why fearing the iPad is such a colossal error. The iPad isn’t a new problem. The iPad is a new solution to an old problem.
By *replacing* TV time with iPad use, parents can dramatically improve the lives of their children.
From a parent’s perspective, the iPad is superior to a TV in every significant way:
* The iPad has far fewer, far less harmful ads than TV. It can even be rendered “commercial-free.” Imagine that.
* The iPad is interactive, for the most part, rather than passive. Instead of just staring motionless at TV, kids could be solving puzzles, actively playing games, typing, drawing and other activities.
Yes, even the simplest games on an iPad are far more interactive than any TV show. It’s a good article, and Elgan concludes by encouraging parents to buy iPads for their children as soon as possible. His points merit consideration, and the digerati are taking him seriously. Hopefully others will, too.
Educational game makers are faced with the challenge of inserting pedagogical content that is direct and appropriate. Typically the challenge is met by either making the actions in the game require thought processes that guide the player to useful conclusions, or seek to actionize traditional worksheets.
Apple’s iPod and iPad products immediately caught the attention of educators, and parents have discovered they serve dual purposes as productivity tools and gaming platforms, even for younger children.
I’ve been corresponding with Ben Tao over at Hug a Panda about their new educational app, Q Racer. Designed for kids, the app lets user avatars race against the computer’s characters as they master answers in various categories. Lists include fun items like celebrity quizzes and NFL teams, to more serious items found on tests like state capitals or inventors and their inventions. Avatars can be customized for boys or girls, and users can play their own music during the races. Here’s the trailer video for Q Racer:
Q Racer is available in the App Store at the moment for $.99. Learn more at Hug a Panda’s site, here.
Hot new iPad apps combine the best of interactive gaming technology with kids’ books. Jeffrey Trachtenberg writes of major publishing houses releasing several new games/books through Apple’s iStore. Credit goes to the iPad’s increased capabilities over previous e-readers:
The launch illustrates how quickly the digital publishing landscape is changing. While novels and other books that depend only on text can be sold easily as standard e-books, children’s picture books are more complicated.Until the debut last April of Apple’s iPad, the inability of existing e-book reading devices to provide color and video capabilities limited the digital opportunities for picture books and the like. Electronic children’s books need that functionality, which is common in applications for games and movies.