Before I start this post, I’m going to predict a regret to use such a large, vertical image. I bet it’s way too big (thus, impractical) for this page! LOL … Anyway, Project Zomboid is an alpha release game currently available through its website projectzomboid.com or on steam (http://store.steampowered.com/app/108600/). I’ve just started playing this game and, while I’m only doing beginner levels, I can see a lot of potential this game might have as a learning tool.
Wait … what? Zombie game? Learning tool?
Oh … yeah! Project Zomboid is a fun little isometric semi-open world based on Kentucky, USA. In the game you are the lone survivor (single player) in an apocalypse world overrun by the zombie hoard. Your job: survive. I’ve died … a lot! It’s awesome!
Where I see potential in this game links back to another post today about project based learning. Using a multiplayer server, it would be possible to set up situations where learners are forced to work together to survive. They would need to find shelter, amass a storage of food and weapons, fortify their safe house, explore the map and, of course, kill zombies. Even rationing out food, nails, weapons and jobs is a serious consideration. But it’s not as easy as it sounds. The game limits the player by making you scared when you see zombies (shooting accuracy lowers), fatigued when you run, injured when you carry heavy loads, hungry and tired. The player even becomes bored or depressed at night when there is little movement and nothing to do except wait until morning. While not ostensibly educational, it would be an amazing team building exercise. Players work together to survive. One player dies, they all start again!
Beyond the game, there are other opportunities to make custom maps, configure servers, make mods and participate in the community.
Game based learning requires thinking out of the box. Open world games like Kerbal Space Program and Minecraft have a more overtly educational nuance. However, that doesn’t mean first person shooters and zombie survival games can’t be educational too. The game isn’t the outcome it’s the medium. It’s just a matter of how you use it.