Can you learn physics by playing?


have you ever played a game all night long even though you were tired, and losing more often than winning you still kept going and you were in a state of flow and you loved it? I have. I’ve also had the same experience with learning physics.

To some people learning physics is awful, and is as far from the experience of playing as they can Imagine, but I’m almost sure that they (and you) have something they do effortlessly even though to other people it seems boring and intimidating. For me physics is a game, for some business is a game for others life is a game, on the other hand playing sports and video games is a boring job for some people.

What then makes the switch in your brain that somethings are playful and engaging while others are boring and intimidating? I’ve been obsessed with this question for the past year and a half, I want to make games that help switch physics to playful and engaging instead of boring and intimidating. To answer this I’ve been learning about principles of game design.

I think the same principles that make video games engaging will also make learning things like physics engaging: the challenge in making a game like WoW is to “teach” players how to play skillfully and make them “work hard” in the game while they are completely enjoying themselves.

These principles are almost the opposite from what happens in schools when people learn physics: Control over the world, seeing the application of what they learn, instant feedback, failure has a low cost (you just restart the game), I will expand more on these principles in a later post.

Keep learning! and stay happy!


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