Let the games begin!

The London Olympic games will be starting on July 27. My Year 7 class will be studying a unit of work based on the Olympics that combines English, Maths, Science, Geography and History. So when I saw the Xbox game London 2012, I couldn’t help but test it out and see whether I can incorporate games based learning into parts of the unit.

London 2012 is available on Xbox and Playstation 3. On the Xbox some games are also able to be played via the Kinect motion sensor. Players can compete in over 45 Olympic events including track and field, swimming, archery, gymnastics, cycling and diving.

cycling in london 2012 game

I tried the events with both Kinect and the controller. I found the controller much more enjoyable. While some reviewers have said that using the Kinect gave the game more of an authentic feel, I would disagree. For example in the spint events, there is no need to run. All you need to do is to wave your arms wildly.(This is possibly because the game is also designed for Playstation Move, which can’t detect whether your legs are moving or not.) The KInect is nowhere sensitive enough to play table tennis properly (the ball sort of flies through the middle of your body). Archery was quite fun on the connect. If you want to play the events with Kinect, I find that Kinect Sports is much, much better (and cheaper the moment).

There were some events that were really enjoyable with the controller. I particularly liked trampoline and gymnastics, which required you to perform different routines based on pressing different combinations of buttons. Kayaking, weightlifting and shooting were also very good.

The game does have a lot of detail and gives an authentic Olympic feel. You can choose to play as different countries and when you win a gold medal, a shortened version of the national anthem plays. Each event is played at the real location of the London Olympics.

Overall, the game is OK. If your class is doing a unit on the Olympics in Term 3, it is a quite good game to use as a hook for your class. However, I find Kinect Sports to be a much better game. If you already have Kinect Sports, it might not be worth getting the London 2012 game as Kinect Sports‘ game play is much more sensitive and intuitive, cheaper, and will have a longer lifespan. Kinect Sports also has lot of the same track and field events, and in Kinect Sports, you actually need to run in the running events.

Kinect Sports game cover

 Games based learning activities using London 2012

If you are thinking about getting London 2012 for your classroom, here are some games based learning activities;

  • Experiencing unfamiliar sports

Students can play sports that they may be unfamiliar with like the different routines in gymnastics and trampolining. Students can describe how these sports are judged. This can also include the venues that the sports are being played in.

  • Science of angles and wind resistance

In javelin and discus, players are required to throw at an optimum angle in order to achieve the maximum distance. In archery, wind resistance plays a part in how you aim the arrow. Learning can be designed where the London 2012 game can be used as a launch pad into more discoveries on projectile motion and wind resistance.

  • Evaluating the authenticity of the events

Most events require players to time their button pressing. For example in swimming you have to time when you press particular buttons so that it simulates smooth strokes. In sculling you have to press the buttons at the right time and maintain a consistent rhythm to gain speed. Students can learn about the techniques used in each sport and evaluate how well the game has tried to replicate that.

  • Use the game as a stimulus for students to create and host their own mini Olympics games

The London 2012 game will give students the experience to learn how different sports work and they will be able to choose their events for their Olympics, create a schedule and create processes for judging.

There are heaps more ways to integrate games into Olympic-themed learning experiences. What are your ideas?

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