Impulse: A Game for Implicit Learning about Forces and Motion

An example of a game we designed to measure implicit learning about forces and motion is Impulse, which can be played on most mobile devices (see Figure 17.1). In Impulse, particles have different masses and thus behave differently under the corresponding gravitational forces. Players use an impulse (upon a touch or click) to apply a force to particles, moving their particle to the goal while avoiding the ambient particles. If the player’s particle collides with any ambient particle, she loses that round. In terms of the science, the player is immersed inside an N-body simulation with accurate gravitational interactions and elastic collisions among up to 30 ambient particles.

As players reach higher levels, they require cognitive strategies to predict the motion of the particles so that they can get to the goal, not run out of energy, and avoid collision with other particles. While navigating a sea of (elastically) colliding particles that are attracted to each other (through gravity), players need to “study” the particles’ behavior to win. They also need to predict ambient particles’

Screenshot from physics game, Impulse

Figure 17.1 Screenshot from physics game, Impulse.

motion and interactions with each other to avoid them as they guide their own particle to the goal.

 
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