Physics for games

I’m currently preparing for this year’s Interactive Physical Modelling class – a blend of maths (a bit of geometry, quite a bit with vectors), physics (some classical mechanics) and C++ programming. Luckily the physics is taught by a colleague who’s much more qualified and capable in that area than I am.

I think I’ll try and take Peter Norvig’s comments at ALT-C (see Tale of Two Keynotes, below) to heart and see to what degree I can cut down on the lectures and use tutorials instead. After all, there is already a full set of notes, and students can read – can’t they? And as Peter pointed out, with some of the world’s best experts posting podcasts and videos of their lectures online, why should I subject my students to lectures from me? I’ll have to also monitor this carefully as whether or not students will read or download and listen/watch is another question.

But meantime, I need to drastically build up my resource bank. Some first finds:

  • Introductory Physics podcasts at UCBerkely (current class). Suspect that this covers quite a different curriculum, but should be useful.
  • Physics 10 at UC Berekely. Seems like a very good course, but relatively little of use for my own class. Good use of live demos in class…
    Can access this from here and here!
  • While you are there, why not see what other classes Berkeley have put online.
  • There must be some good stuff on iTunesU, but I’ll need to install iTunes first. (Yes, I don’t have iTunes, or an iPod. So sue me!)
  • FutureLab funded a games-based learning demo called ‘Racing Academy’. Certainly relevant, but I’ll need to create some kind of complementary worksheet to use with it – it’s a little too easy to just play the game without really thinking very hard about what you are actually doing.
  • The Institute of Physics has a lot of teaching resources for schools and colleges.
  • Very focussed exercises and examples at Bitesize exam revision from BBC Education Scotland.
  • Brian Beckman: The Physics in Games – Real-Time Simulation Explained. A great video where Brian covers some of the history of physics in computer games and goes into a fair amount of detail into creating realistic tyre-models for current generation racing games. Great, and to my mind entertaining. Downside: quite likely to scare off my students with the fairly high-level maths and physics involved. Far more advanced material than my undergraduate class will cover.
  • I haven’t had much time to check it out yet, but there must be some good resources on MIT Opencourseware. This one looks good. As far as I know, classical mechanics hasn’t changed much since 1999!
  • Perhaps the UK’s Open University OpenLearn has resources I can use, though it seems a bit light in Physics content.

I welcome any suggestions for additions to this list.

2 thoughts on “Physics for games

  1. Pingback: Carnival of Math #18 « JD2718

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