Learn Digital Logic By Alien Abduction

Some of the best educational material we’ve seen tells a story. There’s something more fun about reading a story than just absorbing a bunch of dry facts. That’s the idea behind Adventures in Logic Land. In the first episode, you are abducted by aliens trying to decide if humans are intelligent. To prove that, you have to work a series of logic puzzles.

The approach is a little unorthodox. You are shown a live logic simulation (spoiler: it is a NOR gate) and you have to fill in a truth table. The gates use alien symbols which contributes to the storyline but perhaps isn’t the best choice from an educational perspective. Besides, they already use red for zero and green for one which seems a little culturally-specific. The next test shows you how to build your own little simulations and run tests to see if they meet the alien’s criteria.

This reminded us of nandgame in several key areas, although we liked the interface of that game better. Both seem to lack the idea of making a logic 1 and 0 constant without gates, though, which we found unnecessary.

We really wish at some point they would show proper logic gates and maybe have some discussion of what’s really happening or why you would want to do things like build AND gates. That doesn’t fit with the story narrative, but it seems to sacrifice some of the educational benefits. We didn’t realize it when we started, but the game is just a demo in which the player runs out of levels somewhere after the AND and OR gate. The author will apparently be seeking Kickstarter backing to complete it.

We have mixed feelings. It is a creative and fun way to learn logic, sure. But without a way to map it to common symbols and terminology, it seems like it would be difficult to use in, say, a classroom setting. In addition to this and nandgame, aspiring logic designers might want to check out from NAND to Tetris, which is a classic.

21 thoughts on “Learn Digital Logic By Alien Abduction

  1. “We have mixed feelings. It is a creative and fun way to learn logic, sure. But without a way to map it to common symbols and terminology, it seems like it would be difficult to use in, say, a classroom setting. In addition to this and nandgame, aspiring logic designers might want to check out from NAND to Tetris, which is a classic.”

    https://store.steampowered.com/app/614890

    CUIT.

  2. Al I normally love your articles but I have to call BS on the following: “they already use red for zero and green for one which seems a little culturally-specific”. There is nothing culturally-specific about red and green unless you force it to be.

    When I was doing low voltage installations, I used red+green and white+black becuase they were opposite colors in the cables…i.e. opposite levels.

    I beg you please don’t bring politics into Hackaday, it is currently one of the few places someone can come and not be blasted by divisive politics.

    Other than that’s it’s an interesting article and I’m going to play with Mind Mincer some.

      1. I didn’t read it that way and may have done what I was begging Al not to do.

        Everything is so charged right know that I may have misinterpreted what Al ment and responded inappropriately.

        If that is the case I ask the mods to remove this comment string before I cause what I was trying to prevent.

        1. For what it’s worth, I agree with the ‘please no politics’ wholeheartedly, and I’ve seen this place dipping it’s toes with authors making little comments here and there, (not that it necessarily applies to this article).

          I’m a bit sensitive about the subject because Hackaday and the electronics distributors/manufacturers are, no exaggeration, the only places I go on the on Internet any more (links from here notwithstanding). I really don’t want to lose this place because this is the last place that I know of that still feels like the internet I grew to know and love.

    1. “When I was doing low voltage installations, I used red+green and white+black becuase they were opposite colors in the cables…i.e. opposite levels.”
      that’s not UL standard. Gross

    2. Well I actually meant human culture versus alien culture. It turns out colors are a very human thing independent of human culture. study show that when language is develop you get words for white black and red first. Then the other colors follow and a very predetermined order. so clearly that’s a human universal but I’d be very surprised if an alien culture had the same ideas of color we do with respect to red mean stop and green means go type of thing. After all, the premise of the game is this is alien not human. Given the current climate, I can see why you would have taken my statement a different way. But I was thinking of it in a Star Trek kind of way.

      1. “study show that when language is develop you get words for white black and red first. Then the other colors follow and a very predetermined order. so clearly that’s a human universal”

        That’s really cool, I had no idea. Thanks for that!

  3. It’s wonderful to see anything novel. Some things like 9-bit bytes become historical footnotes but most still advance the state of the art and I can’t wait to see where this gamification of learning materials leads us.

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