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I remember that when I was in grade school Mac had an initiative program to get all kids between grades 3 to 5 a computer to familiarize themselves with the future of computer technologies. Well, it would appear that Valve has a similar idea, the difference being that Valve wants to give kids a GLaDOS to teach them about math, science, and physics instead.
The FAQ explains Portal in educational terms: “The interaction tends to be free-form and experimental and as students encounter new tools and challenges they may develop an intuitive understanding of physical principles such as mass and weight, acceleration, momentum, gravity, and energy. The games also put a premium on critical thinking, spatial reasoning, problem solving, iteration and collaboration skills, and encourage overall inquiry into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) learning.”
Current lesson plans include “Introduction to Parabolas with the Puzzle Maker,” “Spatial Visualization and Perspectives,” and “Building a Simple Harmonic Oscillator.” If this doesn't sound like a fantastic way to entertain while simultaneously teach our youth about very important and applicable skill sets, I don't know what does. Further proof that not all first-person games have to be mindless shooters.