How I Use It
So, this was definitely a different type of implementation for me. We presented the game during promised "free time" but I wanted to find a way to engage students (this particular teaching indicated that students were NOT engaged or interested most of the time) without making it blatantly obvious that they were learning math and science.
So, we gave the students a choice a few games and after they saw the opening to World of Goo, they jumped at the chance to pick it. Now, I had gone through about 1/4 of the game so far so I took the opportunity to show students the game, including some cut-scenes, and explain it. They had iPod touches and I did find that manipulating the little screen (especially with grimy little hands) was difficult since it requires dragging your finger on a screen. The HD version would be much easier on an iPad or other tablet.
That said, I started the class off with a few questions to think about before playing. "What strategies for building goo bridges worked best for you?" "What strategies do not work?" and I asked them to come up with one question (ANY question) that starts with the word "Why" and asked the class to answer the question for the student. I asked the resource teacher in the room to follow up on these questions in subsequent days if possible.
So, this first day, quickly, the students came up with various responses from not overloading one side of a goo bridge to making sure to come up with a plan before building (as I stated in "My Take", this would be a GREAT opportunity for discussion of the scientific method which I didn't do but should have). So, yes, we did discuss the impact of gravity and size of goo strands. But after that, there wasn't a whole lot of other places to go with the game. They continued playing for a few days but a few kids lost interest while others just didn't want to be bothered with questions about math and science. Goo bridges, after all, don't build themselves.
First off, the game is absolutely gorgeous! Even the hints are presented in an interesting eloquent if not cryptic way. There is an engaging storyline and each "chapter" leads to more answers. It is very self-motivating in order to uncover different powers for your "goo balls" and to go through each season to progress the story. However, classroom application is more difficult. There are definitely different lessons to be learned within the game having to do with engineering, angles, side measures, forces of gravity, equilibrium, the scientific method (if you are brave!), etc. But all of these lessons are difficult to implement within a whole class or even small group setting. To be frank, the fact this game is so self-motivating makes teachable moments difficult because the last thing that students want is to slow down the game for more discussion or lecture. Plus, you will have students progress in the game much faster than others. This type of game will appeal to your typical "gamer" but may not hold the attention of others who aren't motivated by levels or obtaining different powers for their goo balls. To be completely honest, learning the game as a teacher is VERY time consuming. But perhaps, that is a good thing if we want students to lead the learning here. There are definitely opportunities to encorporate learning (presenting questions to think about before game play, class discussions, multimedia presentations, etc. but ultimately there are better ways to present the educational material that this game touches upon.