I was struck by this story in the LA Times about a video game intended to help encourage applicants to university. Leaving aside the irritating fact that there seems to be an app or a game for everything that might be difficult or challenging in life these days this doesn’t seem like an entirely daft idea, particularly for engaging potential students from families with no tradition of higher education attendance:
High school senior Alex Chinchilla sometimes missed deadlines for college recommendation letters and essays. The consequences were great — but not real.
He was playing a video game meant to encourage students like him to apply to college and follow through on deadlines and application requirements. His delays in the game killed his avatar’s chances to attend college, but the virtual failures focused Chinchilla on his own actual applications.It helped the Foshay Learning Center student “get my act together and make sure I’m turning everything in on time,” he said.
That reaction is exactly what the USC education and technology professors who created “Mission Admission” hope for. The game is aimed at encouraging college enrollment for low-income students whose parents probably did not pursue higher education and whose counselors may not be able to provide enough attention.
With competitive but lighthearted tasks and rewards on the road to campuses with names such as Outdoors University, the game seeks to familiarize players with exams, application essays, financial aid forms and deadlines.
The UK strikes back
Of course there is a UK version too which I must admit I have only just noticed. Those good people at UCAS have come up with Unileap, a “fun, exciting mobile game” with 30 levels to help you navigate your way through the application process.
Get ready to reach new heights in this action packed and highly addictive game from UCAS. It takes you on a journey through each of the steps associated with applying to university. Use platforms, boosts and power ups to jump your way through 30 exciting and challenging levels, whilst dodging hazards that might get in your way.
Again a good idea in principle it seems to me but I can’t vouch for the quality of the game play.
Overall though neither of these games would seem to be anything like an adequate substitute for some professional advice and guidance for potential students, something that remains sadly lacking in large parts of our secondary system.