Monday, October 31, 2005

EDTEC 670 - Exploratory Learning Through Simulation and Games

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Show me the money ... Videogamers geeks go Hollywood

Browsing a Fortune magazine, I found an interesting article titled: “Videogame geeks go to Hollywood” by Evelyn Nussenbaum. I transcribed some paragraphs below:

"The game developers’ conference is typically a low-key geek fest … The power structure used to be clear: Video gamers bowed before Hollywood grateful for any chance to make movie-based games.

But that’s all changing. With global reach of their own and a taste of the big time, the game makers are learning the movie game well enough to play it themselves. … It’s now common for videogame designers like Jordan Mechner, who created Prince of Persia , to have agents that scout out lucrative studio development deals."

What surprised me, was the comment about Microsoft (yeah … sometimes I am a little naïve)
"Microsoft’s Xbox division has made the most aggressive move into studio territory. It’s commissioned a screen player for its hit game Halo from novelist Alex Garland and tapped former Columbia Pictures president Peter Schlessel to try to ignite a bidding war for it."

In the article, even though the author doesn’t mention the source, she presents some figures about the income in different categories of entertainment. Among movies, DVD/videos and online games, the games still do not have enough market share compared with the other categories:
"…. While consumers in the US spent $7.3 billion on gaming software last year [2004], they brought $9.5 billion of movie tickets and spent $15.7 billion renting and buying DVDs and videos". How close the figures of video and movies are, captured my attention.

The last part of the article … “Will Hollywood makes room at the table? Facing the triple threats of slowing growth, piracy, and the mounting influence of DVD retailers, they certainly should.” Make me thing that the synergy between Hollywood and the games industry definitely will raise the bar for the type of sophistication that the educational e-games will have to have.

Source: Fortune Magazine – April 18, 2005. Vol 151- No. 8. Page 40


Use of commercial games in education, teaching, and learning

Hello everyone,

Here is another excellent link which should come in handy for the research project portion of the course.

http://www.ceangal.com/games-and-learning/resources/

Game Research and Technology

Hello again,

This interesting link explores the symbiotic relationship which can exist between video game design and production and research by providing lots of useful links!!

http://www.red3d.com/cwr/games/

Enjoy!

Digital Games Research Association

Hello all,

I found the following link quite interesting.

http://www.digra.org

See you in class.

John

Game articles that Paul posted

I've read all four of these articles and they are very interesting and hot off the press. The Performance before Competence principle (opposite of what you usually get in school) in the Good Video Games and Good Learning article seems so important to learning. By interacting with what you are trying to learn, it has to make it more real and relevant.

In the Game Design and Game-Development Education article, the authors speak of the necessity of an interdisciplinary team to develop a good program curriculum. Sounds like universities could use advice from the game professionals, although academia probably couldn't afford to pay them as consultants anywhere near what they are making in private industry. It does looks like Southern Methodist University collaborated with game industry experts to create their 18 month certificate in digital game development.

I have included the link to the The Game Design Initiative at Cornell University here.

http://www.cs.cornell.edu/projects/game/

The “I still don’t quite get it” article was interesting in that it pointed out many skills that gamers acquire that are advantageous for other types of learning and communication. The author helps to dispel the myth that playing games is just a waste of time.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Usability

While this is not game-specific, I believe we are about to enter (or will at some point) into a web-authoring experience of some type. Even if we don't, I got this link from Dr. Bober in our 795A class, and wow, is it fab! The site is
www.useit.com, which is the property of Jakob Nielsen, who has been dubbed "The Guru of Web Page Usability" by The New York Times. I read a few of his periodic blurbs he calls "Alertboxes". Great stuff. Even if it isn't about games, per se, it is very valuable for instructional design and web design, which are the building blocks of a lot of what we are doing, and will be doing with games in the future.

My personal favorites were The Top Ten Web Design Mistakes of 2005 (yes, they are still making many of the very same old basic blunders in 2005) and R.I.P. WYSIWYG. (Stay on the lookout for Office 12 and the WYGIWYS.) It is so interesting. Exciting times are ahead.

Just had to pass it on...

Peggy

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Four Recent Game Articles

Here are the titles of four recent articles on games that I found interesting, and you might also. All four articles appeared originally in the Summer 2005 issue of the Phi Kappa Phi Forum magazine, Vol. 85, No. 2. These articles are all available as full text PDF files through the SDSU Lirbrary’s Public Access Catalog (PAC), using the Academic Search Elite (EBSCO) Database. Simply choose "publications" under "advanced search" and type in Phi Kappa Phi Forum.

Unfortunately, one cannot directly link to the full text files because the PAC is password protected. This is probably just as well, as now I will not have to worry about any midnight visits from the copyright police.

“Good Video Games and Good Learning,” by James Paul Gee.

"Game Design and Game-Development Education,” by Mohan Rajagopalan and David Schwartz.

“The Layperson's Guide to Creating a Computer Game,” by Jon Skinner.

“I Still Don't Quite Get It: Video Games and New Realities,” by Donald Marinelli.


Monday, October 24, 2005

Homeland Security Comes to Second Life

At Bernie's suggestion, I've been exploring Second Life, a vast, online, multi-player simulation developed almost entirely by members across the globe. Recently, I came across a Real World blog by an "embedded" journalist in Second Life. (Yes, a real person, blogging as an avatar in an online simulation - wild).
The blog, New World Notes, by Wagner James Au, broke a story dated October 19, 2005, concerning (real) United States Homeland Security and other disaster relief organizations using Second Life to simulate and model emergency response behavior.
With a free Second Life membership, you too can visit "Response", a virtual community "owned" by a top East Coast University designed for organizations to safely practice and refine emergency procedures. An amazing real world/virtual world crossover.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Open Directory Project (Games section)

This website says that it is the largest, most comprehensive human-edited directory of the Web. And, that it is constructed and maintained by a vast, global community of volunteer editors. While I don’t know if this is true, they do have a good web of links to items about games. Take a look at the following part of the website: http://dmoz.org/Games/. I specifically went to Games: Board Games: Resources. They do have a great list of sites that you can visit. The Board Game Geek forum is listed, as is the Board Game Designer’s Forum (for beginners). I thought that was an interesting concept. Anyway, it is worth a good look, especially if you have gotten more interested in the gaming industry now that you are taking this class.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Musings on Motivation, Toys, and Flow

After last Monday’s class Motivational Analysis Exercise in which I observed as a “Mike” or Csikszentmihalyologist, I have been thinking a lot about motivation in general. More specifically, I have been reflecting about what I find motivating in terms of playing a game. As I grew up (at least chronologically) before the age of computers, the internet, and video based games, I started thinking about some of the toys and games I played with as a youth. This led me to locate the National Toy Hall of Fame, which has links for thirty one different toys. I played with most of them, with personal favorites being the Tinkertoy construction set, and Gilbert’s Erector Set. I was definitely in a state of flow as kid playing with these toys, letting my imagination run wild. These toys were just basically pieces that you could fit together anyway you wanted to, along the likes of wooden blocks or LEGO bricks. Like any toy, play occured while one was in flow, and typically quit when when boredom led to an out of flow condition.

The side of the Tinkertoy container encouraged users to submit unusual model constructions to the game manufacturer for evaluation. To wit, my Mom took a picture of something I made out of Tinkertoys and sent it in. A few weeks later, the company sent me a “Junior Tinkertoy Engineer” certificate “in recognition of creative imagination, ingenuity, and skill.”

This was really quite motivating to me back in 1963, and probably helps explain why I still enjoy building things.

Friday, October 21, 2005

An experiment using an educational multiplayer web game

Here's a blurb I found describing an educational game that is actually being used as an experiment in educational psychology. It may be something along the lines of geosense.net. You have to create a login and wait for someone to play. No one was there when I looked at it, but it sounded interesting.

Develop Problem-Solving and Creative-Thinking Skills
Created in the Department of Computer Science at Brandeis University, PatternBEE.org is an educational multiplayer environment where two players challenge each other with geometric puzzles using a rare version of Tangrams. The game is fun and challenging and builds skills in geometry, spatial rotation, problem solving and creativity. Also check out SpellBee and MoneyBee and, coming soon, GeograBee and CalcuBee.

Here's the site.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Can Video Games Stimulate Learning?

I liked this article about learning and video games. Researchers used a teaching game with features similar to commercial video games. I saw a lot of similarities between the motivational elements discussed in this study and the Making Learning Fun and ARCS readings for class. This study found definite motivational benefits to learning via video game.

http://cognitivedaily.com/?p=43

Monday, October 17, 2005

Middle School Students Creating Games

As our group worked on the Gold Rush game, it has really gotten me thinking about the whole game development process. Creating a game would be a perfect project for a middle school set of students, especially if the steps were broken down even more for them. It would include cooperation, problem-solving, thinking outside the box, conceptual design – all elements that would challenge but provide valuable learning for middle-schoolers. For any of the school teachers out there, this might be a great way to incorporate multiple subjects and state standards into one series of lessons.

GenCon 2005 - November 17-20th

I’m not sure if this has been mentioned previously, but GenCon (http://www.gencon.com/) is coming up November 17-20th in Anaheim, California. This is the 38th or 39th year of it. It is kicking off National Games Week (http://www.nationalgamesweek.net/) Nov 20-26th. They cover every type of gaming from card games, board games, computer games to role playing games. Has anyone ever been and can give some feedback on what it is like to attend? I would be interested to know if anyone in the class who is a “gamer” can tell us anything about the Industry Guests of Honor. Are they well-known gurus in gaming?

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Monopoly: Icon of Americana

Out of the department of American Studies at the University of Virginia comes a project using Monopoly as an example of how "A game is an extension of social man". This project, called Packaged Play, is a fascinating look at how games like Monopoly are a mirror of man as a social being. I wasn't even looking for something for the blog, but while helping my son do a search for Monopoly-related images for a chemistry project (don't ask), I happened upon this site and HAD to share it. I encourage you to visit the PackagedPlay site and see for yourself, but knowing how short we edtec students are on surfing time, here are a few of my favorite insights:
"Ever wonder why there were only 32 houses and 12 hotels? Well, the answer is provided under the section of frequently asked questions:
To maintain a balance in the game, there have always been exactly 32 houses and 12 hotels in the Monopoly game. If it were possible to improve all the properties, it would be difficult to force opponents into bankruptcy.
Building shortages are not merely a realistic aspect of the game, but also one intended to perpetuate the game's underlying, ruthless nature. A smart player will scramble to develop their properties, hiking up rents, and thus stripping their "opponents" of the capital needed to develop their own color group. Camaraderie among players is further discouraged by the prohibition of favors."

"Identity. Means. Nature. Layout. Leisure. These elements that made Monopoly can likewise be attributed to the value of game play in exporting and defining a culture. The success of Monopoly was due not only to its ingenious use of the game's underlying principles in marketing it, but also to the cultural mechanisms enacted by it (though not intentionally)."

"In plays, there are genres, stages, lines, actors, a hero, a villain, a climax, a conclusion, and most of all, a moral or lesson embedded in the plot. Now parallel this to game play. In games, there are types, boards, rules, players, a winner, a loser, chance, an outcome, and the values learned from playing the game, as ingrained by its objective.
An individual sits down to play a game. They are a "player." Their "stage" is the board, upon which they act out this newfound role. Their "lines" are framed by the rules they must follow in order to suit the objective, or "plot." At the rattle and roll of the dice (the climactic moment) the outcome is evidenced and the conclusion realized. And so the curtain falls as the "hero", the winner, conquers the "villain", the loser."

There is sooo much more to savor here...check it out if you can.

Peggy

Friday, October 14, 2005

Most Important Games Ever Made?

The “Most Important Games Ever Made,” is a list of fifty video/computer-based games from 1 UP.com . All fifty of the games listed, such as Pong, Zork, and Tetris, are linked to individual pages which describe game details, provide resource links, show a list of progeny descendant from the original game, and offer opinionated musings as to why each game on the list is historically important.


I don’t think that very many Apple customers would agree with this, but “The Macintosh” computer made the list as game number 22! Ironically, the linked page says that “creator Steve Jobs discouraged the development of Mac games for fear the machine would be seen as a toy.”

Whether these are or are not the most important games ever made is something I am not qualified to venture an opinion on, and of course is certainly open to debate. However, by reading the historical background of the games presented on the site one can trace the evolution of video/computer-based games, from 1962 to the present.


Thursday, October 13, 2005

Player Motivation Model in Online Gaming

Just found a website called The Daedalus Project: the psychology of mmorpgs. (mmorpgs: massively multiplayer online role-playing games)

It looks like it's probably quite interesting. The page I was looking at in particular has a Model of Player Motivations for mmorpgs. Looks like a factor analysis was done; 10 factors were identified which clustered into 3 high-level constructs: Achievement, Social, and Immersion.

While "learning" doesn't make the list of the 10 factors, many of the identified factors are most certainly important to consider in creating an educational game - or an online learning environment. Check it out.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Game Theory & Prisoner's Dilemma

I was recently reading and article that talked about game theory and Prisoner’s Dilemma (if both prisoners refuse to talk, they both win because the police have less proof. If one talks, the other one gets a harsher punishment. The dilemma is that neither can make a good decision without knowing what the other will do). Are there board games out there that put into play this type of dilemma where players can both win if they can figure out the other’s strategy? In cards, it seems like this is how bridge is played? Any thoughts on this?

Tivitz

If you aren’t familiar with Tivitz, it is a really interesting educational game. I went to a middle-school where one of our labs is located and observed a Tivitz tournament that was amazing. Students that are not exceptionally good student in Math were so involved in this game. What is really great is that each time the game is played it is completely different because the students are creating new math problems. Also, it can be played at any level depending on the roll of the dice and the game board. They have an online version as well, but the kids seem to really love the board game even more. I definitely want to go through and review it more to see how closely it fits all of the elements we have discussed for board games. Take a look at http://www.tivitz.com/. Robin O

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

NASA Games

I did a few of these activities. Very interesting. I did better with sound and pictures than with the written word when it came to short term recall. The literature on the NASA site said that short term recall is better when using sound. I believe that. I've also always heard that our strongest sense that invokes emotion is the sense of smell. I remember years ago hearing about how realtors were using the technique of having "freshly baked" cookie smells in homes that they were trying to sell. Maybe they don't use that strategy any longer. But then, I haven't been to any open houses recently!

5 Cognitive Psychology Games from NASA

Here are five games direct from the NASA Cognition Lab , located at NASA's Ames Research Center in Northern California. The lab conducts research which involves modeling the human operator in human-machine systems, and does basic and applied experiments on normal human perceptual and cognitive processes. Current modeling efforts focus on the task of the human operator in Air Traffic Control.

These five games explore recognition, mnemonics, recall, interference, and encoding areas of cognitive psychology.

Recognition,

The Mnemonicizer, (the mnemoic device device)

Human Memory:Recall,

Interference,

Short term Memory: Encoding and Rehearsal

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Have You Hugged Your Kid Today?

Fascinating article, entitled LeapFrog's Game: The local toymaker wowed Wall Street, but the educational frenzy it spawned may not be in children's best interests.

Unlike the companies behind toy crazes that pried every lemonade-stand nickel from the palms of young consumers -- Beanie Babies come to mind -- LeapFrog has focused its marketing efforts on busy moms and dads. The strategy has paid off -- a playroom strewn with educational toys now has the same sort of social cachet as a Harvard sticker on a
Volvo station wagon. "There is a certain fashion to toys," says Sandy Springer, director of merchandising for Imaginarium, an educational toy retailer operated by Toys R Us. "Parents today are more savvy about what's out there for their children. If you give too many generic toys and not enough educational [toys], you are not seen to be an intelligent, in-the-know parent." It's not just the parents. The learning frenzy is also fueled by pervasive marketing that tries to cast just about every plaything as educational. Manufacturers and retailers of children's products from mobiles to Matchbox cars are hyping the learning angle, and even the simplest toys have fallen victim: Rattles now "inspire confidence" in infants, and the red rubber playground balls we all know from elementary school are now said to foster an understanding of rules in toddlers. One Amazon.com teacher review of Baby's First Blocks from Fisher-Price claims, "The toy naturally introduces your child to important mathematical concepts," in addition to allowing the kid to "to practice visual discrimination." A wooden puppy-shaped xylophone from Babystyle isn't billed just for early music development, but also as "great for developing baby's hand/eye coordination." And at KBtoys.com, Crayola Sidewalk Chalk is peddled, not to draw hopscotch games or simply have fun, but to inspire your budding "little outdoor artist."

The last line of the article is priceless:
...parents can make it a priority to set aside some time on a regular basis, shut off the television and all the gadgets, and rather than seeking a leap, simply offer their kids a lap.

There is also a lot of great stuff in between warning against letting an electronic [or any other type] gizmo rear a child.

Peggy

Games for Grandma

The following section was taken from a literature review entitled, "Social Effects of Electronic Interactive Games". It can be found in its entirety at http://www.mediascope.org/pubs/seeig.htm#research%20and%20literature%20review This was the part I found especially interesting:

Although the majority of the current research is focused on the impact of video games on adolescents and young children, the use of video games to help improve the perceptual motor skills and self-esteem of elderly adults merits these studies a separate section of their own. A few interesting findings of this area's eight studies include:
  • Elderly adults who played video games responded faster on a reaction time task than those who did not play video games (Clark, J.E. et al.).
  • Significant improvements in self-esteem were found in elderly adults exposed to video games for eight weeks (McGuire, F.A.).
  • Video games were used to improve a variety of perceptual-motor skills in a group of senior citizens. Subjects also reported improved coordination, better driving habits and few minor mishaps in the home (Drew, B., & Waters, J.).
  • In an evaluation of the adaptation and use of video games by elderly adults, the games were shown to encourage concentration and focus attention. Although the games created some anxiety and fear of failure, most subjects enjoyed the games and developed a feeling of mastery (Weisman, S.).
  • Video games could be used as a non-threatening tool for the diagnosis of physical and mental problems (Weisman, S.).
I think it will be interesting to see what the generation that grew up playing video games and remembering nothing different will do. I read another article that said that video game creators are looking in to "going gray" with some of their titles to try to keep people playing well into their adult years and increase their market share. It might have a neat side effect of fewer instances of dimentia and Alzheimer's, possibly. I think I might give ol' Mario and Luigi a call...it's been years...

Peggy

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Games, Learning & Society program officially launched at Wisconsin-Madison

Games, Learning & Society program officially launched at Wisconsin-Madison: "A small plug for the new Games, Learning & Society program offered through the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Details here:

http://website.education.wisc.edu/gls/index.htm

Areas of study include digital literacies, digital game-based learning environments, gender and gameplay, and MMOGs. "

Friday, October 07, 2005

Cool Web Site to Explore

Here's a really attractive web site that really leads to exploratory learning. If you look around, you can find information about serious games and using them for vaarious corporate educational purposes. I won't tell you how and where to find this info. That's part of the fun!

good resource for board game rules

Hi all,

Here is a good board games rules resource I came across.

http://www.everyrule.com/boardgames_az_list.html

Forty percent fewer failures through a game?

Have you ever wondered why you have not been able to attain your vision? Or why the changes you make never seem to last? If so, then perhaps The Manufacturing Game® is for you!

The Manufacturing Game® experience provokes participants into exploring their mental models and thinking systemically; it encourages collaboration through team learning and enhances communication.

This is done through an innovative "high-touch, high-tech" learning lab using accelerated learning technology. The goal of the game is to “create a profound change in beliefs and commitments about defect removal, and an immediate action plan for dramatically lowering defects in the participants' processes. This is the paradigm shift needed for an organizational change effort to work. Typical improvements have been forty percent fewer failures and a third lower costs within a short time frame.”

Further, the learning lab “incorporate a highly integrated system of learning technologies into a single experience that compresses time and space and allows participants to quickly see the consequences of their decisions and strategies without the fear of failure or reprisal.”

Believe it or not, all of the above gets accomplished through a 4' x 6' board game which takes six hours to play!

Participants have three roles to play: Operations, Maintenance, and Business Services. The object of the game is to satisfy customer demand by producing and shipping the finished product and returning a profit to the company. Over the course the game, players see a simulated year of plant operations.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Entertainment Technology Center, CMU

It's back again. The Experimental Gameplay Project at Carnegie Mellon aims to generate 50 games this semester. Four new ones every Wednesday. Each week has a theme, and this week's is Temperature. Seems appropriate as we bake under these Santa Ana winds.

Games … not just for fun … architects on board!

Browsing for topics to post, I found a link to some seminars called GameSetandMatch II.

This initiative of a dutch professor (Ir Kas Oosterhuis) – “ …discusses current and future transformations within digitally driven architectural practices through innovative cross-disciplinary collaborations in general and real-time collaborative design, engineering and prototyping processes in particular

I visited the link of the Prof Oosterhuis (http://www.oosterhuis.nl/gsm2/flash/), and one of the goals of the seminars is “ … to discuss the interplay between architecture and computer game design”.
Further in the page is pointed that both computer game design and architecture organize spatial relations.

In my case, even though I consider myself a visual person, when it comes to understand space, and re-interpret in 3D something in 2-D is really a challenge. I found interesting the approach to use the gaming simulation, to do not exactly to compete against others but to have your own sand play to practice skills.

One of the sentences I read just kept bouncing in the back of my mind …
“Computer game designers are thereby stretching the boundaries of what is possible in the virtual world” …

Can then people with any background at all in building, design (based in out of the box propositions) my house in the future ? …

Sounds as an interesting mix … computer game designers & architects.

Earth Contest

Games and geography... two of my favorite things are combined in Earth Contest.

"A new online reality game where players face extreme challenges and face their worst fears all while trying to beat the GameMaster. Using Google Earth placemarks and web pages, we've created the world's biggest interactive game.

In order to beat the GameMaster, you must follow the clues and utilize the Checkpoint feature to move ahead. Once you've beaten the first GameMaster, you'll advance to the BIG GAME of EARTH CONTEST where you'll compete with other self proclaimed super sleuths for BIG REWARDS!"

Google Earth, you probably already know, is the coolest new application to arrive in a long time. Once they release a Mac version, I expect to be losing a lot of time there exploring the globe and probably playing EARTH CONTEST.

Games as social facilitators

The new Wired has an article on Nolan Bushnell, video game pioneer. He has an interesting take on what (video) games should be all about:

"These days when you say videogame, people think of immersive games that take over your life and require three thumbs to control," Bushnell says ... "My goal is to create games that almost retreat into the background. I'm interested in bringing them back to their role as a social facilitator, the way party games help people to interact. The game should be secondary to the social interaction between the players."


Bushnell is creating a chain of restaurant/arcades with the following in mind:

The big idea behind uWink Media Bistros is to counter all these negative trends [video games emphasizing sex, violence, complexity requiring significant individual investments of time] at once. Bushnell hopes to create a social oasis where customers leave their anxieties at the door and join together in a childlike spirit of play. The games will be simple and wholesome, giving customers an easy way to meet and interact, thereby diminishing the anomie of insulated modern existence.


The social interaction piece is certainly important for educational games, too ...

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Online Guide to Traditional Games

This week while you're getting your game ready for playtesting, take a break and scan The Online Guide to Traditional Games. It's a nice overview of the oldest board games and their variants. Might give you some fresh ideas.

My favorite image comes from this description of Pachisi.

"The Indian Emperor Akbar I of the 16th century Mogul Empire, apparently played Chaupar on great courts constructed of inlaid marble. He would sit on a Dias four feet high in the centre of the court and throw the cowry shells. On the red and white squares around him, 16 beautiful women from the harem, appropriately coloured, would move around according to his directions. Remains of these boards can be seen today in Agra and Allahabad."

Imagine that.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

COTS Games in Education

Here's an interesting email just posted to one of the lists I'm on:

From: John Kirriemuir

Hello,

My first posting, so a short bit about myself. I am an independent
researcher, who is also part of GERN (Games and Education Research Network) at the University of Bristol in the UK:

http://www.bris.ac.uk/education/gern/

I study the use of COTS (Commercial Off the Shelf) games in education, learning and teaching.

The use of COTS games in curriculum-based education is a subject that's increasingly arisen in the games and education research overlap in the last few years. By COTS games, we mean those that you get from a computer and video game shop, and are designed purely for fun/entertainment - not for learning.

The most popular types of these games, being used in education, seem to be:
  • Business and economic simulations, such as Sim City, Zoo Tycoon, and RollerCoaster Tycoon. Some of these have a cross-curricular role; for example, Zoo Tycoon encourages economic skill development, while at the same time educating about animals and their habitat.
  • Dance mat-based games, used in physical education.
  • Historical re-enactment games, such as the Civilization and Age of Empires series.
There is a small blog that points to some examples here:

http://silversprite.blogspot.com/

More detailed examples, with descriptions from teachers of how the games were used, are available in this 4Mb Powerpoint presentation:

http://www.bris.ac.uk/education/research/networks/gern/gdc05.ppt

It's a fluid and fast-moving field, with a number of game developers and publishers looking to see if they can use their products "out of the tin", or whether modification and substantial teacher support materials are required. Various hook-ups between the games sector, academic research sector, and education sector, are popping up. For example, NESTA FutureLab (a UK research unit) and EA games are collaborating to find ways in which games can be used effectively in the classroom:

http://www.nestafuturelab.org/about_us/press_releases/pr8.htm

Do EDTECH mailing list subscribers use such games (or different "pure" computer games), and if so how do you use them to assist in delivering curriculum-based education? Or, would you consider using such games, but don't due to some impediment?

John Kirriemuir

survey05@silversprite.com

University of Bristol / Silversprite

Monday, October 03, 2005

eschools News Online article on game design major/minor

Here is a recent article on new gaming curricula. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute offers a minor in game design and will be soon offering it as a major. Apparently, there are about 50 institutions that offer gaming curricula. I am sure that number will be exploding within a short amount of time.

The Buttkicker

The Buttkicker is a computer gaming add-on designed to add more realism to video games. It's a metal device that attaches to office-type chairs and rumbles when a game emits low bass frequencies.

At first glance it doesn't seem to have much relation to the world of education, but if we remember that training simulations are usually better to the extent that they can mimick real world situations, this device may have a place.

I remember watching a video about flying airplanes where there was a similar set up. The seats actually shook a bit in coordination with appropriate moments in the movie, and it did add to the experience.

MSNBC has a report on the Buttkicker here.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

ROP readings

The authors talk about the three types of rules:

Operational: Rules of Play

Constituative: Rules that exist below the surface (logical and mathematical)

Implicit: Unwritten rules (etiquette, good sportsmanship, etc.)

In Stephen Sniderman's article titled "Unwritten Rules", he makes interesting analogies about games and the "real world". He talks about the unwritten (implicit) rules that underlie the written rules that tend to be dependent on culture. Probably the biggest unstatable rule that is universal is being a good sport and having good etiquette. This would be a good example of one of his statements, which is
"the most powerful rules, the ones least likely to be violated, are those that are not stated explicitly, those that people have to infer or intuit. To state a rule is to invite players to break it, but to leave a rule unstated is to make its violation almost literally "unthinkable.

In conclusion, he makes the case that games serve one very important social function, which is as abstractions of "real-world" situations. The article is here.

don'tclickit

This was interesting. Although they said that the interface was different, to me, it is still a navigational structure where you make the decisions on what part of the site you want to check out. You just aren't clicking. It is a more elegant design, however.

Something that was said in class the other night make me think of an idea which may already exist. What if (in a game or a website), instead of the player navigating around the board or website, the board moves around you. I'm not sure if the player would have control within the game or be at the mercy of everything moving around them. Does anyone know if there is anything like this?