Thursday, December 22, 2005

Your Feedback

This class taught me some useful concepts and ideas about the way educators can motivate and challenge students though e-games. The skill I am now lacking, and I am sure it will come with time, is the ability to gage how much time to spend on an e-game and how to correctly implement it. I would like to know if there are any teachers who would like to provide feedback of an e-game experience.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Role Playing Alternatives To Second Life

While not an environment like Second Life, Conflict Lab, winner of the 2004 Apple Design for Education, offers media-rich, interactive web-based role-playing based on national and international conflict scenarios. Currently used in university level courses, Conflict Lab offers students the opportunity to participate in opposite sides of a structured negotiation process. Unique resources provide just-in-time coaching, and help participants learn negotiation, communication, leadership, team-building, critical thinking and conflict resolution skills.
Conflict Lab currently offers eight high-quality on-line simulations ranging from environmental and political concerns to cross-cultural and domestic situations. Each one offers a complex and thoughtful experience into the complexity of conflicting views and solutions in a visually enticing interface.

The Future of Games

"Gaming achieves new respect and market acceptance" predicts Mark Anderson in his prognostications for 2006 in the article, Industry Expert's Predictions for 2006. This expert claims a 70 to 80% accuracy for his predictions. Of course, we could all predict this as well.

BTW, I wonder if there's a game like "last word" where siblings try to get in the last word before the others fall asleep, in the world of blogging? If so, I might win.

Friday, December 16, 2005

one solution for eprentice permission problems

If you're having trouble seeing stuff you've uploaded to eprentice, it's likely because file permissions don't seem to be getting assigned correctly within eprentice right now. I'm taking care of the problem by using Filezilla to reassign permissions after uploading files. (Once a file's permission is correctly set, it will stay correct on subsequent file updates.)

Filezilla is a free, stand alone, PC only, FTP program. You can get it here:
Easiest choice from that screen is the .exe file.

Once you've downloaded and run the file, FileZilla will be ready to go. You can just fill in the ftp address, username, and password at the top to connect (or you can go to File->Site Manager to set up a connection you can reuse later).
Once you're connected, navigate to the eprentice folder where your files are. Note the permissions to the far right of the folder/file names. To work correctly, they should read: -rwxrwxr-x. Right click on the name of any file needing to be changed and choose "File Attributes". Change the numeric value to 775 (or click all the permission boxes except "write" under "Public Permissions". That should do it.

On a Mac, you should be able to accomplish the same thing with Fugu or maybe Fetch.

A Holiday Game: Get Santa Drunk

Hi All,'s not at all educational. But if you're like me, you are working very hard trying to finish your last few projects....particularly the egame project. A little diversion never hurt anyone as far as I know, and it certainly lightened my spirits and made me smile. Hope it does the same for you.

(Well, it could be considered instructional, if you consider that it is tuning your fine motor skills.) You must use your directional keys to move Santa toward the drink.

Santa's Little Helper

I ran across this simulation game in a Distance Learning email. This Canadian company comes up with a holiday-themed exercise every year. Last year it was regarding Negotiations. This year was Time Management. So Santa's Little Helper guides you through a project where you have to set up a Santa event at the mall with lots to do and limited time.

Really cute! However, I tried to do it and I kept getting hung up but it has some really neat aspects to it.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

New Video Game Designed To Have No Influence On Kids' Behavior

Here's The Onion's hilarious take on a (fictitious, of course) video game that turns the motivation models on their heads:

Electronic-entertainment giant Take-Two Interactive, parent company of Grand Theft Auto series creator Rockstar Games, released Stacker Tuesday, a first-person vertical-crate-arranger guaranteed not to influence young people's behavior in any way.

"With Stacker, the player interacts with an environment full of boxes—lightweight, uniformly brown boxes with rounded corners—and uses diligence and repetitive hard work to complete his mission," said Doug Benzies, Stacker's chief developer. "We're confident that the new 'reluctantly interactive' content engine we designed will prevent any excitement or emotional involvement, inappropriate or otherwise, on the part of the player."

The entire article is worth a read for more than a few laughs.

Second Life - Measure of Society

I was able to get Second Life to function on my lap top to some degree, but wish I could get it to operate adequately on my PC. I have always been one to want to create a "new me" and personalize things, so could easily see myself spending some time exploring.

I am far from a prude, but it has bothered me considerably that my children are exposed to "sleaze" on a day-to-day basis. Just walking in the mall, I can regularly point out "what not to wear" as we make our trek from store to store. It is very hard to find appropriate clothes for 9 years olds....everything is too skimpy or too mature.

When I started playing with Second Life, I liked that I could suddenly make "myself" thin and beautiful. However, I dislike that no matter how I adjust my clothes in "appearance" (without "shopping"), that my jeans are too low and my shirt too high.

This alone suggests alternative purposes in Second Life. I can see this being a magnet for lonely people, or a platform for other "alternative" activities.....say like those I have seen on Real Sex (HBO). I doubt if I would want my children participating in a teen or kid version of this game. It seems a perfect place for sexual predators. Everytime that I am approached by a stranger, I anticipate that I am going to be propositioned. I remind myself that many people involved in the game are like the rest of the students in our classroom....but what do I know about what the rest of you do when alone with your computers? (wink, wink, nod, nod, say no more, say no more - Eric Idle).

Monday, December 12, 2005

Interesting Article

I just read this article.,1284,69806,00.html?tw=rss.TEK It wasn't this way when I went to school. I am out of the loop in terms of high schools and their implementation of technology in the classroom. Is this article the norm?

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Mirriam Webster online offers wordgames

I use the Miriam Webster online dictionary often. Once upon a time they had some very interesting vocabulary-building word games on their site, that I accessed everyday while studying for the GREs. Recently they changed the types of games they offer. While not vocabulary-building games anymore, they are more animated, and actually more fun, than the previous games. You can log in and play their word game of the day (which obviously changes each day), or choose from a larger pool of word games. Its worth a visit and gets my wheels spinning when I've hit a mental or creative block:

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Problems with Second Life

I'm having the same problem over and over in SL and just wondering if I am the only one? Every time I click on the file menu the program crashes and my computer freezes. I have to force quit all programs because nothing on my computer will run.... so I have to restart every time. Any suggestions? (Besides buy a new computer)

Virtual schools

While designing our e-game I've been online with two different virtual schools. They are very different from each other. Virtual Schools is one and Sim Teach is the other. I was overwhelmed by both of them. I wanted to just log in and start playing. One of them had to many directions and the other not enough direction.
Virtual Schools used cartoon like figures and schools. I wandered the halls and walked into the classrooms. When I walked in I couldn't find out what to do, so I just walked out. The only thing that I could find is my desk with a list of things to do. The directions for this site went on forever and that was very frustrating. After reading pages and pages of them, I just wanted to play so I skipped to the end of them. Since they were so long any thing that I did read I forgot by the time I got to the game.
While on Sim Teach I found out how to log in and create a classroom. I chose my students and met the rest of the staff. After I did that I didn't know what else to do. So I logged off.
It may have been just me being impatient, but both of these virtual simulations were not very useful to me.

Second Life for educators

While doing some research for my e-games project I found an option for educators in Second Life. You can create a private island, which provides the space for a secure “intranet” for restricted membership only. You can restrict access of the classroom to individual students enrolled in the class. Any educators interested in using Second Life should contact the company at

Friday, December 09, 2005

SL & Businesses – Should more well thought out precautions be in place to help transition to Education?

As a side note to Bernie’s entry about SL businesses, I want to find out what others think about the direction this kind of virtual world might take. I think there is both an amazing side and a disturbing side to the virtual business phenomenon that seems to be growing out of Second Life and similar 3-D environments. The amazing side is that people can make real money by creating virtual clothing or pets, purchased by virtual people in a virtual world with virtual money. The disturbing side is some of the virtual creations I’ve seen. To me some of them lead to a place that maybe we shouldn’t go in a free online worldwide venue? Like for instance, Pixel Dolls, a virtual store in SL, sells clothing like the outfit pictured (not even the most provocative example).

As someone who used to be a classroom teacher and currently still work with middle school students, I can see the potential for a platform like Second Life being completely integrated into our teaching tools. However, as this transitions over to educational use, educators need to be aware of the potentials, both good and bad. Yes, it can breed creativity, create a more intense learning experience, etc. But, on the other hand, are people thinking also about the safety guards that would need to be in place to make sure students have a safe and productive experience? SL’s teen site is a step in the right direction, but I also know that teens have a way of getting around being an “adult” to join something. And, if they manage to get into SL, it is far less likely that their parents will discover them in a virtual world.

Does anyone else have thoughts about this?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Farming the monsters for digital gold

Interesting article from Australia about money making in virtual worlds. This is only the beginning, I think!

Toy or Tool?

Last night’s review and discussion of some of the motivational issues involved with game design got me thinking about a challenging word game I came across recently. The importance of challenge, according to Malone and Lepper, “depends critically on whether one is intrinsically or extrinsically motivated to participate in an activity,” and whether or not one views an activity as a “toy or a tool.”

Etymologic! bills itself as the toughest word game on the web. Definitely challenging, it presents 10 randomly selected etymology (word origin) or word definition puzzles to solve, which are presented in the same 4 answer multiple choice format that the 670 game research study is using. Players are warned to beware, that the distracters are quite plausible, and that some of the true answers are hard to believe, but documentation for all answers is available.

I got three out of ten on my first try, which probably explains why I have worked as an audio engineer rather than as an etymologist. An English major would probably regard this game as an engaging tool, while I defintiely regard this game as a toy that I would rather not play with often.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

My Second Life

Up until a month ago, I didn't know what Second Life was. I saw the words "Second Life", but had no clue what it was all about. So I downloaded the software and thought I would give it a try. I began just playing around, not attempting to read the directions. (Something I do quite often that sometimes comes back to bite me in the butt) I was able to navigate though the "site/world", but failed to understand why people used it. I saw people talking and asked myself what were they talking about and why would strangers just begin talking with one another? It wasn't until I met A* that I knew why so many people enjoy Second Life.
A* describes himself as a 32 year old husband, with one child. He asks me how I was doing. I said fine and asked him why was he on Second Life. I told him that I was doing some research for class and that his comments would help me understand Second Life. I wanted to know why people spent so much time, buying things, making things and all the other things that make Second Life so incredible. He told me to follow him to a place where we could talk. Not knowing why we had to go to a "secret place" I felt a little weird, but it is only a game, right?
We went to a place where we were able to talk alone. He told me that he is not 32, doesn't have a wife nor a child. He is 58 and lonely. He spends his nights at home traveling through Second Life, looking for people to talk to. He uses Second Life as a way to interact with others, who don't judge him by age, weight, build, clothes, or and other superficial item. He is A*, that's it.
This example showed me one of the truely remarkable charactaristics of Second Life. You are who you make yourself. You can act, look, and talk the way you want to, with any repecussions. You no longer need to go with the crowd, you can be yourself. You can be anyone you want to be. Just ask A*, the 32 year old father and husband.

* Name removed to protect privacy.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Peace Games

I have been reading about Peace Gaming. This concept, described by Utsumi Takeshi, involves global simulations involving "civilian" factors such as economy, manufacturing, and trade. It is an answer to the concept of war gaming, which is competitive and zero-sum.

Utsumi Takeshi's paper on Globally Collaborative Environmental Peace Gaming is a particularly interesting read. In it he describes initiatives in creating a global peace gaming system that uses a grid of computers around the world.

Gaming and Simulation for Online Instruction

The December 2005/January 2006 issue of Innovate, the journal of online education, has an interesting article titled Applying Gaming and Simulation Techniques to the Design of Online Instruction, by Carolyn Rude-Parkins, Karen Hughes Miller, Karen Ferguson, and Robert Bauer. The article offers a number of considerations for software designers and educators seeking to incorporate gaming and simulation techniques into course-specific software. One does need to log in with a password to access Innovate content; however sign up is free.

Apparently, even for the U.S. Army, games are becoming an increasingly important tool in education, as the image on the left shows. Described in the article is a recently developed online course for Army captains at the U.S. Army Armor School in Ft. Knox, KY.

The Army contracted with the University of Louisville and its partner Northrop Grumman Mission Systems to design and develop the course discussed in the article.