Last week, beloved GameSpite contributor Bob Mackey published a really great 1UP feature that recounted his own efforts to use videogames for learning with an audience of kids who had little experience with the medium. Yes, as in “traditional book-learnin’.” It’s a great read and I highly recommend it!
But did you know that videogames are educational even for us dyed-in-the-wool gamer types, too? It’s true! Why, just the other day I was playing Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey and discovered that astronomers are lame.
Each section of Strange Journey’s dungeon is named alphabetically; the first is Antlia, and the second is Bootes. I didn’t really think much of the name Antlia, but I recognized Bootes as a constellation. So, out of curiosity, I decided to look up the first sector’s name and discovered that it, too, is a constellation. “Weird,” I thought. “I’ve never heard of that one.” So I did a little more reading and discovered that it’s one of nearly 100 constellations established by some French guy in the 19th century.
“But I don’t remember an Antlia in Greek mythology!” you exclaim. Apparently, that’s because they decided to ditch classical names for these newfangled constellations and go with amazing new inventions of the Industrial Revolution. Antlia, as it turns out, is named for an air pump.
I grew up a little bit obsessed with astronomy, and I loved reading all the legends surrounding the names of stars and planets and constellations. Now I’ve discovered that floating around up there with a noble hunter and a mighty bear and seven sisters is a bike tire pump. This is probably the single most disappointing thing I’ve learned in months. But I guess it’s handy if Virgo ever has a flat.
Oh, also, I somehow sank 10 hours into Strange Journey over the past two days. It didn’t feel like it was that long, but yeah — it’s every bit as addictive as Etrian Odyssey, if not more so. And that makes me really glad Atlus didn’t include a game clock in the Etrian games, because I don’t even want to know how many hundreds of hours I’ve invested in them.