Éric Laflamme believes that the goals of video game design are similar to being a teacher, as it is a challenge to create clarity and teach concepts at a good pace. (Photo: Le Courrier du Sud – Denis Germain)
Just under a year ago, cégep Édouard-Montpetit’s physics teacher Éric Laflamme launched his first educational video game, The space tugboat. For those who claim to be of the Mario Bros generation, video games are an ideal environment for learning. He recently won an award from the Quebec Video Game Guild to prepare his next game.
LEVEL 1: Teaching powered by video games
Mission: To transfer knowledge in a playful way
As a physics teacher, Éric Laflamme knows that the subject can be a bit “dry”. But by offering a puzzle game like The space tugboatwhere the laws of mechanical physics are used to help a character whose car has crashed on the moon, he feels the concepts become clearer.
“We show the equations in class, we show a little bit of what the movement of a vehicle looks like, the acceleration, but what I wanted was for us to have more of a feeling of what is happening. To have a more intuitive vision than just mathematics,” says the professor.
The one who launched his own studio, a little smarter, sees huge educational potential in video games. His first game was installed in one of the cegep’s laboratories.
“It’s an immersive environment, where you can make mistakes and make mistakes, a process of repetition where you progress through trying, like the scientific process. And that’s what I want to push with my studio,” he says.
The latter is also pursuing volunteer reduction programs at CEGEP, to enable him to further what he calls his passion projects and “contribute in my own way to democratizing learning”.
LEVEL 2: A Tesla in space
Mission: Find an attractive concept
The moon as a backdrop was perfect for a game about science, says Éric Laflamme.
“During my research, I realized that there are 1600 names of craters on the moon, all of which are linked to scientists. So we can practically look at the history of science through these names of craters and I found it interesting from an educational point of view.
For each successful puzzle, the name of one of these scientists is revealed, along with a brief description of their major work.
“It excites me to try to innovate in education.”
“The scientific process is also an iterative process. We see, among other things, the somewhat wacky theories of the Greeks, which now no longer work at all, but these early scientists had to do their part. It is this iterative process of science that leads to a technological society like ours.”
As for the fun touch of the game, the car crashing into the moon and in need of a tow truck, Mr. Laflamme points out that he was inspired by the Tesla sent into space in 2018 by Elon Musk.
LEVEL 3: Industry Recognition
Mission: make your place in the community
Éric Laflamme’s career in video games is still young, but the professor is already a finalist for several awards, both in Quebec and internationally. He also won the Innovation Support Program award from the Guilde du jeu vidéo du Québec, for which he is very grateful.
“It is a great honor to be recognized for my intention to innovate,” he says. I sometimes feel like a outsider in the video game world, so knowing I have Guild approval for my next game feels good and encourages me to persevere.
His next game will be electronics themed, always aiming to connect the educational side with the fun side.
“That’s the biggest challenge,” he reveals. To make everything accessible, pleasure, not to sound too academic.”