Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Funny thing...

Lately, Tuesdays have been "game lunch" here in the department. I head down to the Math/CS lounge and bring my lunch and a few different games in mind. We have one of those 7-game sets that has checkers, chess, etc, and a set of dominoes, which usually covers us for a lot of combinatorial games. We've also played some Gloom and other games the students are interested in.

Today a student told me she looks forward to this a lot. She explained that she feels like she's doing something really intelligent while playing. The games motivate the challenge of playing well, which is certainly a daunting task! Predicting, calculating, being precise... all must be employed.

Even games which use some randomness and might not be as tough (lately we've been playing Gloom, which is excellent) require some planning ahead and strategy.

The best part is that this apparently gets their minds running for the day and helps motivate them on their other work!

... at least, that's what they told me...


  1. http://www.gamepolitics.com/2009/12/29/study-links-gaming-improved-thinking-skills

    Just one of the recent studies done on how games improve cognative functions. Games are a fantastic way to engage problem solving portions of your brain without it having to be a defined problem like homework is so often presented.

    For me, game day is exciting because not only do I love playing games and having some social time, but its challenging. Almost all the areas of cognative ability I'm strongest at are working in tandem with the areas I'm not. (Strong being: flexibility, spatial memory, visual memory, quantitative reasoning, and verbal. Weak being: working memory, processing speed, and math working memory.) Games like Bananagrams, Scrabble, and now Flume (or was it Floom?) play to my strengths. A game like Equations absolutely cripples me just because of what my weaknesses are.

    Plus in the end, you feel like you've taken a break and you're happier. Happy and rejuvenated people work better. So yeah, I totally love and look forward to game days.

  2. Cool!

    I think at some of these software companies, employees often spend their lunch times playing board games. This seems like a good plan.

    Also, I don't think you've even played Equations yet, so how would you know?

  3. I have played Equations. I am useless at it. My brother got it for a Christmas ages ago. We had that and some game about math patterns. I get frustrated, angry, and depressed about it. It relies so heavily on parts of my brain that I am so weak at that it is no fun for me whatsoever. It just highlights what am weak at. It takes games that slowly or minorly introduce math or working memory for me to start to feel confortable about them. Blame my weakness on cycling into math anxiety. Want to watch my heart rate spike? Ask me a math problem and take away my calculator.

  4. Math anxiety is apparently a pretty serious issue. My officemate in graduate school kept an interesting article taped to our door that I read a bunch of times.

  5. Interesting post on the computational complexity blog today relevant to this: