I decided it was time for another geeky article to complement the recent gaming ones. Whilst we’re all too familiar with gigantic MMORPGs, zippy racing games, and baffling puzzle games, we may have neglected the humble card game. You’d be right in stating that there’s very little geeky about such standard card games as poker or blackjack, but we’re talking about a different type of card game here – think Dungeons and Dragons, but without the dice and long appendix list. Dvork Game Wiki is a depository of user-created card games which can be printed out and played with a group of similarly nerdish friends. Oh, and before I start, I think it’s worth pointing out that it’s made by the same lovely chap that gave us Chore Wars – so naturally I loved it before I even visited.
The primary feature is the broad listing of card games created by users of the wiki. These range from doing epic battle with spaceships, to fighting your friends with copyright laws in pursuit of controlling 70% of humanity’s information. Your nerd senses are already tingling – I can tell. You’re picturing a bunch of sweaty, pock-marked teenagers sitting around a table in a poorly lit basement as they argue about whose card has the better stats. Go on, admit it. The website does bring up strong connotations of such events, but they could serve as a good method for getting together with friends for a social gathering and doing something fun, different, and free. Though you might have trouble convincing them that they won’t have ‘Loser’ tattooed across their forehead if they join in.
You can search for card decks by entering something in the search box if you have an idea as to what you want to play, or you could just keep clicking ‘Random page’ until you come across an interesting one. The rules are generally outlined on the wiki page which shows the cards, and there’s also link to print the cards. The print feature is rather smashing too, since it lets you set the size of the cards and text size. Therefore even your grandmother can’t use her poor eyesight as an excuse not to join in the fun. You can then use your dainty fingers to stick these onto card and cut them out. I know, I know, it’s a hard life, isn’t it? Of course there’s nothing to stop you adapting the rules if the deck creator is being a little bit over-the-top with his rules and directions.
If nothing already on the website tickles your fancy, you can always create your own deck of cards. This would involve creating the cards itself so they can be printed and used by your fellow nerds, and some directions or rules to outline how the game should be played. Cards can be left with just text, or you can also add images to spice them up a little bit. If you’re not a fan of playing with physical bits of card, you can bring out the super-nerd and use the Dvorak online method – it looks like a DOS-style command window – plain white text on black background. It would be smashing if they software could be improved upon to allow players to engage in the card games visually, either with invited friends or other Dvorak users.
In a vain attempt to balance out all the nerdy fun, I’ve concluded that the service could be used for educational purposes. I’m not currently quite sure how this would work, but at the most basic level you could have a card game with occasional cards which contain questions or facts which relate to something you need to learn about. Alternatively, for a subject like history you could create a deck of cards that accurately use battle tactics which were used in WWI. You would then need to pit the cards against another player – whilst the outcome might not be the same as the war, at least you’d be learning about the tactics and conditions. Therefore these card games used in an educational way could benefit both students wanting to revise for exams in an exciting way and with friends; and teachers who want to try something new with their classes.
Don’t be afraid to unleash your inner nerd – there’s no need to hide it! www.dvorakgame.co.uk provides everything you need for that great night in playing cards with your mates. If it’s all too geeky and strange for you, how about making a drinking game? Getting blotto helps you to stop loathing yourself for playing a card game.
Love them or hate them, flashcards are useful for learning key vocabulary, concepts, or content. Whether you need to learn basic French or advanced political concepts, they’re helpful for cementing information in your mind. Writing them on bits of card or paper is all well and good, but like most things, there’s a computer equivalent which has the benefit of being easily accessible and editable, and far less likely to be lost or damaged. Both Anki and Quizlet provide online alternatives to risking damage to your dainty hands by using a pen and pair of scissors.
Anki is the downloadable software option, as opposed to Quizlet, which is housed online. Anki has a pretty large number of features, but this is also its downfall in some ways because it makes it confusing at times. It’s got a pretty advanced editing interface, but it’s not simple enough to create flashcards. Although the ability to add such things as sound or video clips, equations, and images to flashcards may prove very useful for learning or teaching concepts which go beyond text.
After creating a set of cards you can begin looking through them. Options appear after viewing each card which ask you how hard you found the card. Your answer to that will change how often the card comes back up. If you said you found it hard it will come back more often, whereas if you choose easy it will appear less often.
The software will also create graphs to show your progress and the amount of time you’ve spent on sets of cards. These seem awkward and clunky and of little use due to seeming like they’re going a bit over-the-top in trying to provide an in-depth analysis of your learning habits. Therefore the graphs looked out of place and confusing when I tried to get my feeble mind around them. There’s also an online section to Anki which allows you to view and edit your flashcards online, but this feature also seemed to be poorly implemented and awkward to use.
Quizlet, on the other hand, struck me as being a bit more smashing. Flashcards are simple and easy to use – text is displayed, followed by the answer when the button is clicked to reveal it. I think Quizlet should consider implement a similar system the one which Anki uses – being able to choose how often the card shows up would be useful addition to prioritise your learning more efficiently. In addition to the basic flashcard feature that you’d expect, it’s also invents other ways for you to learn the items – including a test, and more interestingly, games. These are simple games which place the focus firmly upon the vocabulary rather than getting too caught up with creating masterpieces of Flash.
By far the most impressive feature of Quizlet is the ability to search through a plethora of sets of flashcards which other users have created. A search for just about anything will probably yield some cards which are related to the topic you want to study. When you create your own these are shared with other Quizlet users to help them with their learning. Whilst most public card sets can’t be edited by other people, you can use the ‘Reuse these terms’ feature to add the cards into your own deck which you can edit and add to. Another smashing little feature is the ability to export the cards as text. This could prove useful for printing out notes which you can read over when you’re doing revision or studying without the benefit of access to a computer.
Overall Quizlet seems like a much stronger contender, and I’d suggest it was a better option to Anki if you’re planning or learning using flashcards. You can access Quizlet from www.quizlet.com, and download Anki from www.ichi2.net/anki.