How deductive reasoning connects school with games
As students, we take exams. They are the cornerstone of our education system and the sole determinant of our intelligence, and ultimately, our worth in the American economy.
While I am being sarcastic, it is no joke that exams hold a high place in our education system. Whether it be a standardized placement test, a midterm or a final exam, we cannot escape the feeling of anxiety and unpreparedness that will engulf our whole being until the dreadful deed is done.
We study for hours, days – sometimes weeks – for exams; memorizing formulas, vocabulary, human history; the list goes on.
Yet, it all comes down to one scantron, with four bubbles, that will either bring an end to your trepidation, or bring more grief and woe with it.
We even go as far as devising our very own patented fool-proof ways of guessing correctly 60 percent of the time, every time. But in reality, we all use a somewhat similar method: Deductive reasoning – or, “which one of these doesn’t look like the others.”
Deductive reasoning allows us to make an educated guess based on 25 percent common sense, and 75 percent subconscious knowledge on the topic that we can’t access at the moment because we can’t stop focusing on how profusely we are sweating.
But how do we condition ourselves to allow the common sense to bring out our subconscious knowledge? You could read SAT prep books or even go to a tutor who will teach you the “methods of test taking.”
Or you could play video games.
Now half of you are on board, and the other half, I have lost completely.
“Leo, I thought video games were supposed to rot your brain, and waste your time!” Well you’re wrong, misguided person.
While some, and maybe most, triple-a video games (Triple-A: Big budget production) are games that provide very little educational benefit; there are a countless number of games that require you to use your brain more than you ever have before.
One of those games is “The Witness,” a 3-D, first person, puzzle game created by Johnathan Blow, over a period of five years. The game was released in January 2016, and has received overwhelming critical acclaim since.
In “The Witness,” your character awakens on an island, and comes across a panel displaying a maze-like line puzzle. The puzzle mechanics are simple enough, start at one point of the maze, and get to the end point of the maze. That is the objective.
Of course, the puzzles get more complex and add on rules as you progress. Here is where it gets interesting: the game has no tutorial, no written rule set and no explanations as to why one puzzle is different than another. It is entirely up to you to figure it out.
At the beginning of each area of puzzles, you are given several easy-level puzzles to solve, that will reflect the new rule for that area’s puzzles.
The idea is that once you are able to solve those preliminary puzzles, you can go through the area based on the knowledge you gained by using a mixture of deductive reasoning and trial and error.
Deductive reasoning based on prior knowledge goes from one extreme to the other as you progress through the game.
It makes you feel as though you’d need someone to help you tie your shoes at the beginning of the game and as though you could take on a chess-playing computer without breaking a sweat, even though you’ve never played chess, when you’re nearing the end of the game.
We all have a relatively similar way of going about guessing on a test question: Look at the answers, eliminate the ones that make no sense, then pick the one that looks the most familiar (based on subconscious knowledge of the topic and common sense).
Games like “The Witness” gamify critical thinking skills and condition your mind to use deductive reasoning when solving a critical thought problem. You will then apply the skills you’ve developed during your tests. All this happens while enjoying the entertainment and art value of video games like “The Witness.”
So study up for finals and play lots of video games. However, please remember this method of test taking requires knowledge of the topic so, study, and then play video games when you feel prepared.