The old binary joke goes, “There are 10 types of people in the world—those who understand binary and those who don’t.” The new Binary Learning Game from Cisco aims to familiarize people in the second group with the language, which is a key element of the networking field, while helping members of the first hone their skills.
“It’s a constant challenge that a networking professional faces,” said Cindy Hoffmann, certification track manager at Cisco. “While some people take to it like fish to water, others find it a little more difficult to grasp. One of the drivers behind focusing on the binary numbers had to do with the fact that it can be a stone wall for somebody. If they can’t get past that point, then it will be difficult for them to proceed. Looking at the CCNA individuals who are just starting their careers, this is a big confidence booster. It’s an important wall that they should be able to scale with confidence. The binary game is built on the premise that if you practice the concept and do it in a way that lets you forget that you’re learning something, it helps you internalize and learn to do it in your head and on the fly when you’re in the trenches.”
The Binary Game helps players determine patterns in the language and subsequently come up with computational conversion methods. The game begins with rows of 1s and 0s appear from the bottom of the screen, not unlike a reverse Tetris. The player will click the 1s and 0s to create binary numbers, and be awarded points for correct answers. As the player amasses higher scores and advances through levels, the rows start to appear at a faster rate.
Because of the way in which it deals with the subject matter, the Binary Game has a different character from the Cisco games that preceded it. “Some of the other games are really valuable for conveying concepts—at more of a conceptual level than an actual tactical skill,” Hoffmann said. “(The Binary Game) is not theoretical, it’s not conceptual—it’s tactical. It’s black and white. It’s something you can clearly illustrate in the game format. It’s kind of taking the concept of games to a different level than the ones we’ve had in the past.”
Hoffmann said the game had been well received by early participants. “I think it’s very consistent with the whole idea behind the CCNA Prep Center, which is to prepare people to achieve their CCNA by breaking down barriers and making it more accessible. I think it will be a very popular game and our initial statistics show that it’s very popular. It appeals to people who have grown up with computers and are very comfortable with the notion of playing games and at the same time accomplishing the objective of learning something.”
For more information, see http://www.cisco.com/go/prepcenter.