Monday, September 27, 2004

NASAGA Scholarships

NASAGA is a network of professionals working on the design, implementation, and evaluation of games and simulations to improve learning results in education and training. Each year NASAGA holds an annual conference and provides a scholarship (up to $850 for registration and travel expenses) to a student studying in the fields of education, training, pedagogy, andragogy, or teaching and who demonstrates an interest in the field of gaming and simulation for learning purposes.

You can find the application on line at

Friday, September 24, 2004

The Video Game Revolution

There's an interesting website up describing a 2-hour PBS program about The Video Game Revolution. Here's the blurb:

"The Video Game Revolution is primarily an entertaining look at the world of games, but all is not fun and frolic in that world, and the program touches on that as well. Many games are extremely violent and that violence is rewarded, which deeply concerns parents like program guest Pamela Eakes of Mothers Against Violence in America and legislators like Senator Joe Lieberman. Games can also be dangerously addictive, and are getting more so through continuous on-line playing.

The Video Game Revolution concludes with the future of gaming, including the possibility that some day our homes will have game rooms like the holo-deck in Star Trek: Next Generation a completely exclusive game environment or that a microchip inserted directly into the gamer will allow play without any external apparatus. As one game maker says in The Video Game Revolution, "The real model we're building is the one in your head, not on the computer."

Engaging a Large Group in a Game

For those of you looking to create a game which can involve a large number of people, The Beer Game is an example of a game that a group can play, with minimal props. It's a logistics game that was originally developed by MIT in the 60s. The purpose of the game was to demonstrate system dynamics, emphasizing that the way that we react in various situations lure us into standard ways of thinking that we accept without question, as exemplified by responses such as it has always been that way.

People are divided up into groups which represent retailers, wholesalers, distributors, and manufacturers. Each group's goal is to provide for their customer, the next link in the supply chain, while reducing their costs. Backlog costs, for instance, $1.00, and inventory costs $0.50 (this is a good demonstration of how assessing value to certain elements in a game drives behavior). What usually ends up happening is each group experiences some sort of lag or overage. They compensate in order to keep their costs down and a ripple effect occurs through the supply chain. Lessons learned include understanding the importance of cooperation, communication, and information.

Some links for more information:
Beer Game Guide; Beer Game Overview; Beer Game Online


Thursday, September 23, 2004

Money To Burn On Software

Hello all,

I got the word that my school site has recovered lots of money from the Microsoft antitrust settlement - money to be used toward educational software in my department, Science.

If anyone knows of any good high school level science educational games (software), please let me know - some titles I'm looking at include Odyssey for Chemistry (molecule maker) and Sim City for AP Environmental Science.


Sunday, September 19, 2004

Simulation Engine

For those of you attending the Sunday night chat, the Simulation software was from California (not Australia.) Forio Simulations has free web-based simulation software called Broadcast Express. It provides everything you need to get a simulation running on the web. Models must be fewer than 2,500 equations.

Let's Get Political

Bush said. Kerry said. Bush said that Kerry said. Kerry said that Bush said. Who is telling the truth? What version of the truth?
Isn't politics great? I just love how politics constructs value-laden images in our minds. In a way, politics aims to teach us what should be important to us, what we should overlook, and what is valuable to the party. If you love this political icon building (a process that is older than Gilgamesh), then take a look at Bush and Kerry (and others) on playing cards. has a wide selection of political cards including political views from the left and the right, non-partisan, Bush, Kerry, and even Grover Cleveland Campaign cards from 1888. Newtscards has wide selection of playing cards that include magnetic, educational, and customizable cards.

Another site that has a selection of political cards is Action Publishing
The Action Publishing cards use comic caricatures of the candidates and political players for 2004, 2000, and 1996 re-election years.

Serious Games Summit

Have you heard about the Serious Games Initiative? It focuses on uses for games in exploring management and leadership challenges facing the public sector. Part of its overall charter is to help forge productive links between the electronic game industry and projects involving the use of games in education, training, health, and public policy.

I have followed the work of the Initiative with great interest for years. This week, it sponsored a Games for Health conference in Madison, WI. Next month, it will host the Serious Games Summit to be held in Washington on October 18 and 19. The Summit's agenda is fascinating and is worth a look.

As I review the upcoming summit's agenday, however, I couldn't help but notice the preponderence of defence/war/military oriented topics. Furthermore, many of the "experts" are either military personnel, or game developers that serve as their contractors. It is not unusual for the Initiative to acknowledge the work of war simulations and military gaming, but this conference seems to mark a more pronounced departure from the topics of health, education and public policy.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Eric Rothschild

At the beginning of our school year, we had the opportunity to meet a master teacher who specializes in creating simulation games for his history classroom. Eric Rothschild, who is also coauthor of The Chicago Handbook for Teachers, creates role based games for his students where the students do the reasearch and then act out roles in a given setting. The scenario that we discussed in our meeting was about the American Revolution. Students researched certain roles such as Sam Adams, George Washington, Thomas Gage, merchants, and tories. Then in a trial like atmosphere students spoke from their perspectives on a variety of topics. It was interesting to see students learning accurate information from their peers' studied perspectives. It was also interesting to see the student desire to think from the researched point of view and not their own personal point of view. For more on Eric Rothchild's simulation games in history please visit his Emancipation Proclomation Activity web site.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Take Kerry's Swift Boat for a Nonpolitical Spin

Well, this is timely. Kuma Reality Games is about to release a simulation game of John Kerry's missions in Vietnam, according to The New York Times.

With regard to the anti-Kerry accounts floating about: "We will present the controversy and different perspectives on it in the video news show that will accompany the mission," she added. "We will allow the user to play the game to determine for themselves what they think happened."

The company also has a model of Osama bin Laden ready to go with the expectation that many will want to replay his capture once it happens.

I wonder if they'll come out with a game depicting what George Bush was doing during his invisible National Guard service.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Board Games

I found a site that might be helpful in developing ideas for board games. There are many different kinds of board and card games listed on this site and some can be downloaded for free. Students may enjoy browsing through the site to get some ideas when stuck.

One thing you may want to know about this site is that I found myself inundated with pop ups when I clicked on a particular item. Unfortunately, I don't remember at this point what that particular item it was.

Monday, September 13, 2004

8-year-old board game designer

I heard this news bit while driving cross-country through Nevada. I was pretty happy to get NPR in the middle of nowhere, and this caught my attention. Apparently the kid loved learning about US presidential trivia, and he turned his love into a board game. You can hear the audio or read the summary at this link. I'm getting kicked out of the lab by Karl as we speak, so this will be a brief post. The URL is below:

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Learn about Games at the Museum of Man

670 students who are local to San Diego will be interested in Games Workshop for Teachers coming next month to the museum in Balboa Park.

"The San Diego Museum of Man is pleased to present a 2-day workshop on games taught by Dr. Wayne Saunders, educator, game historian and collector. This workshop is designed for adults, and will be of special interest to teachers of students in grades K-12. Dr. Saunders will explore the histories and evolutions of many games, and how they can be useful in
teaching history, cultural traditions, geography, and math. Game mechanics including memory, induction, deduction, recognition, alignment, ratios and probability will be illustrated using different games. Games will also be grouped geographically, with introductions to games from throughout the world. Participants will learn to play several games, and will receive instructions for making games for home or the classroom."

"The 2-day course will be held October 2nd and 9th from 8:30-5. The price is $65 for Museum of Man members, and $80 for non-members. Teachers who would like to receive one unit of credit for the course through California State University at San Marcos must attend both days and write a short paper. (There is an additional charge of $65 for receiving the credit,
paid directly to the university.) There will be a minimum of 15 people in the class and a maximum of 40. Youth over 16 may enroll in the class accompanied by a parent or other adult. Morning refreshments will be served. There will be an hour-long break for lunch each day. Lunches can be brought and eaten in the classroom or in Balboa Park. Please call
619-239-2001 to reserve your place, and get ready to play."