A recent article on Science Daily, “Learning the Art of Creating Computer Games Can Boot Student Skills“, sings the praises of game development as a method of learning … not playing games, but developing them.
… teaching people how to use off-the-shelf tools to quickly build a computer game might allow anyone to learn new thinking and computing skills. [...] the process involves storytelling, developing characters, evaluating plots, and working with digital images and music.
It’s not a new, thought. Alice, a free system designed to engage students in learning object oriented programming of interactive virtual environments, has been around for years.
The Wikipedia entry for Alice cites the following evidence in support of Alice:
In controlled studies at Ithaca College and Saint Joseph’s University looking at students with no prior programming experience taking their first computer science course, the average grade went from a C to a B and the retention increased from 47% to 88%.