ZYZYGY is structured and played according to the rules of formal logic, with students utilizing various styles of thought exercises to build the higher functions of the mind. This encourages critical thinking in a natural and applied setting, without the need for extensive training or prior instruction. As players strive to make connections among different game elements and explain their reasoning, they learn to be more conscious of their thinking activity, control it in productive ways, and apply it to everyday problem solving.
Zyzygy inspires both teachers and students to increased heights of creativity as they seek to better model and explain real world systems. On the one hand, Zyzygy enables teachers to present lessons in unique and interesting ways based on how they piece together the different components into a specific gameplay scenario and guide their students through that experience. Going through such a process can help even experts gain a new perspective on a given topic. On the other hand, Zyzygy empowers students as co-creators of the game, who help shape its development over time. The constraints imposed by the teacher demand that students seek creative answers to the presented problem; this means that no game of Zyzygy can ever be completely recreated, since every play-through is the result of a specific teacher interacting with a particular group of students at a certain moment in time.
Zyzygy is a learning tool with a high degree of flexibility and utility. Teachers are empowered to tweak the basic game framework to meet the needs of an individual class and lesson, including the adaptation of the game to fit a certain time requirement, the incorporation of different learning styles, and the accommodation of students with learning disabilities. Because of this, Zyzygy works well across a spectrum of grade levels and stages of student development. Additionally, Zyzygy’s ability to focus students’ attention on the integration of small bits of knowledge into larger knowledge sets helps teach students how seemingly disparate topics can actually be interconnected. For example, one possible lesson might have students begin with an examination of Earth’s natural resources, but eventually expand to include an exploration of how these resources have helped shape the course of history. Through Zyzygy, students not only learn about a given topic; they also learn how to contextualize that topic, while participating in a critical discussion with their peers and gaining exposure to new and often unexpected viewpoints.
Zyzygy allows for social interactions within a safe space as players interact, share ideas, and collaborate towards a common goal. Rather than encourage competition, Zyzygy promotes the free flow of ideas and emotions, exposing students to new points of view from diverse backgrounds. This teaches students the importance of working together to achieve new insights that might not be discovered when working alone. It also provides students with needed practice at the interpersonal skills required to have a productive and respectful argument, training them how to listen to others and appropriately express their ideas.
As a medical doctor I am an well aware of the benefits of a sound mental and emotional state on the health of the body. Physical exercise improves the body by building muscles and strengthening the heart, mental exercise improves the mind by building new synapses, and emotional stability supports both. Cognitive and physical decline are a natural result of aging which we will all experience; Many studies have proved that both of these conditions can be delayed by challenging the mind and body. Building synapses is accomplished by learning new things and thinking new thoughts. This is clearly presented in a recent TED Talk by Lisa Genova which I encourage you to view. However, physical and mental stimulation alone, without rewarding social interaction, is not enough to prevent dementia. ZYZYGY is constructed to engage the mind in an emotionally rewarding, socially interactive game. Just what the doctor ordered!