Tag Archives: Mathematics

It’s Not All Fun and Games!

By Robert Walsh

What can creating a video game teach students about math? Quite a lot, actually. Today’s video games have become so realistic that, at a glance, one may think they are live action television. Development environments like Unity and GameMaker Studio handle much of the heavy lifting when it comes to the mathematical calculations necessary to move the in-game objects, to do the intense graphical rendering (also based on math), and to apply physical laws like gravity and inertia.

However, with a simpler environment like Scratch, students must do this work for themselves.  Even relatively simple games like Bricks Buster reinforce concepts identified in the Common Core State Standards Initiative like inequalities, fractions and decimals, geometric transformations, and the x-y coordinate plane.

Bricks Buster stage with coordinate plane overlay.

Bricks Buster also uses recursion to draw the rows of bricks, thus allowing it to connect with a lesson on the Fibonacci sequence, for example.

Other projects in our Learn Programming by Creating Video Games unit require students to use even more complex concepts like working with vectors and applying trigonometric relationships in order to update a sprite’s position in each iteration of the game loop.

So, while it may look like students are simply playing games, they are actually learning and applying important mathematical concepts. In addition, they get to see these concepts without the artificial separation often imposed by traditional curricula.

If this looks like a fun way to learn math, we can help! We have programs for schools and for individuals spanning a wide range of subject areas including game development. Send us a note to let us know you are interested!