MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII, Hawaii - Playing video games is how some students are improving their math skills and other school subjects at the Youth Activities Center at Marine Corps Base Hawaii.
The center is one of the first military installations to offer “DimensionM,” one of several new educational video games. The online multi-player game helps students build their proficiency in math, science and other subjects.
“‘DimensionM’ is an online gaming experience where players can play as a team or individually,” said Jeff Anderson, Youth Activities director, Marine Corps Community Services Hawaii. “The players go through a series of adventures, capture towers, forts and more. During the course of the game, players will be asked to solve various mathematical problems.”
Students can play in the center’s computer lab or by logging in through the Internet at home. Since the game became available at MCB Hawaii in September, more than 20 children have signed up, said Pat Murphey, recreational specialist, MCCS.
“I think it’s a lot better than other educational games,” he said. “It has better graphics and it’s more fun.”
“DimensionM” is also a non-violent first person shooter game, allowing players to shoot each other down with sticky glue. After taking five hits, a player will become stuck and need to answer a question before rejoining the game. They can also earn points by exploring areas that have math or other subject questions for more points.
For Nat Sornthom, a 14-year-old who enjoys playing the math version of the game, he’s collected those points to get several power-ups to make playing more fun. Spending his last day at MCB Hawaii at the Youth Activities Center with his friends before moving, Sornthom said he likes playing the game with friends who’ve moved away to different duty stations.
“With one friend I have who’s moved away he’ll call or text to play,” he said. “So we’ll go online, and we can play any time.”
Although he can play at home, Sornthom said he’s enjoyed logging in at the center because he’s with a group of friends who he can immediately check with to see if anyone wants to play. He likes forming a team, and as many as seven or more players can form a single team.
Other players, including 11-year-old Ethan Hall, said they have the most fun as a single player. Although Hall said he sometimes logs into “DimensionM” with his little brother, more often he’ll try being stealthy on his own to find questions and earn points. He also likes the wide variety of subjects he can customize the game with, as well as changing the difficulty level.
“It’s a lot better than other games I’ve played,” Hall said. “I’ve played with questions in science, language, math and history. You can learn about Egypt and anything else.”
After playing, Hall said he’s gained more confidence in square roots and multiplying fractions. Several problems he’s seen in the game are ones he’s had to do in math class. Since becoming a regular player, Hall said he feels his math skills are much better.
During the recent October intercession school break, children were able to use the computer lab for games during the center’s Power Hour. After a playing session, the game also provides a report of how well a student did and what areas they may need to work on. After one gaming session, Murphey offered prizes to students who’ve participated.
The center will also host a tournament some time in the future, Anderson said. He encourages students to sign up at the center where they are given instructions on how to play. Although students who’ve moved like Sornthom may not be around for the K-Bay tournament, they’re still able to log on for continued fun and learning.
“You’re moving around in another world,” Sornthom said. “You can enjoy it with a friend. Even if you were to change computers by moving, you can still play.”