Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Serious Business Of Serious Games - Forbes.com

Those of you working in corporate training shops might point your boss to this article. Forbes is about as close to The Establishment as one can get, and they're taking games seriously. Many good links from the article to the conference web site and elsewhere.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Second Life Thoughts

My first reaction to Second Life was that it was very frustrating to figure out where to go and how to get there. I actually had to get help from Dilek in order to end up at the SDSU campus. However, despite the initial frustration, I did think it was a pretty neat program and a great idea to create a campus where students could interact and collaborate with one another and other instructors.

I did find it difficult to walk around and look at things while I was trying to read the text that people were typing. I just had a very hard time trying to figure out what to do next because I was trying to do the last instruction I was given.

I did enjoy teleporting to different places, though I found some of them to be a little sketchy. I got a little nervous when there were lots of people around me in a certain world because I didn't know how to interact with anyone. I didn't know if there were certain "rules" that were supposed to be followed. Anyway, I still enjoyed some of the places I visited and I thought it was amazing how much detail there was in some of these worlds. This picture shows one of the places I visited. It actually had a place where you could sit and meditate which I thought was very cool. I enjoyed exploring this world.

beginning in second life

If you're doing some more exploring in Second life and considering that as your program of choice for the final project, I thought this was a good article about information you should start out with. I was overwhelmed and confused at first so I thought this was pretty comprehensive. -Nelly Aragon


Talk about frustration. . . I keep running into things and I can't seem to get to all the cool places that you all have been to. Mary - Where is the water slide???

One of the coolest experiences that I have had so far is flying! I frequently have flying dreams, and the sounds that Second Life makes when you fly are just like I would imagine. I know, it sounds dorky. I was flying over Korea this morning, but in Second Life the sun was setting, so I took a picture of me flying into the sunset.

Everyone that I have encountered in SL has been nice and helpful. I initially was nervous to talk to people and ask questions, but not anymore. I definitely need to explore more though. I really haven't figured out how to go places that are populated. Every place that I have teleported to has been pretty deserted.

Middle schoolers in Second Life

Here's a blog I came across of a teacher who has set up three islands in Teen Second Life for her middle school. She talks about the process she took to get approval through her district to set this "second life" up for her school. For her three islands: she plans to use one to orient them, one as a place for student work to be displayed, and one as a recreational/entrepeneurial island for students who have successfully completed tasks on islands 1 & 2. The 2nd island will be collaborative with other teachers. She plans on having students in other classes create and post the "new" style of book reports, projects in a museum-like atmosphere. Pretty cool.


My Second Life Exploration

My Second Life (SL) experience was intriguing and frustrating. After exploring the EDTEC campus and the International Spaceflight Museum in class last week, I couldn’t stop thinking about the endless educational opportunities SL could accommodate. I assumed that there must be other museums of equal value as the International Spaceflight Museum; however, after perusing the “places” I noticed that there were few other places designed with such an educationally validating focus. Two of the most interesting places in which I explored were the “Friends of the Urban Forest” (FUF) and the “Science Center.”

The “Friends of the Urban Forest” is a unique landmark where you are can buy a virtual tree (for L$5000) to receive a real tree planted by “FUF” in San Francisco. You can plant the tree in their virtual forest or on your own land. Although there is minimal educational content on the “FUF” land right now, I can see the various possibilities that could be interweaved in these types of environments (i.e. informational kiosks on the organization and its mission, note cards with the tree’s identifying information, interesting facts and realist pictures of the leaves, etc.). I am also intrigued by the multitude of opportunities to explore the implications of proactive virtual realities and others with similar goals (such as the impact of the integration between online games and real-life business, politics, social responsibility, etc.).

The “Science Center” states that its mission is to “1) facilitat[e] networking opportunities for those interested in science and science content in Second Life, 2) [use] exhibits in the Science Center on Info Island II to create a directory of science content, and 3) provid[e] learning opportunities for those interested in understanding science and creating science content in SL.” Interacting with all the “Science Center” content would take hours, and it makes it easy to understand and empathize with players who are enwrapped in virtual realities for hours on end, day after day. Some of the interesting features the Second Life “Science Center” includes are: clickable icons that deliver the latest Slatenight magazine, an informational art gallery with areas of sculptures grouped by artist, web links to science-related organizations, and molecule structures that double as note cards explicating the molecule and its history. Here is a picture of the entryway to the art museum:

There seem to be infinite amount of educational opportunities for Second Life. I was disappointed by the lack of popular museums and educational places; for example, it would be interesting to go through the Louvre and see and read about paintings and artwork. The most important opportunity I recognized is that Second Life can afford contextual learning in realistic environments, which generally provide rich educational experiences. I am also fascinated with the social and collaborative capabilities and the concept of virtual campuses. It seems like a viable and obvious option for distance education and I bet it will eventually replace programs like Macromedia Breeze because it is free to use (although, I’m assuming you don’t have to pay to create a “place”). Of course, we would need to consider the implications of providing class in these environments (i.e. accountability, attendance, attention-span, unwanted guests, etc.).

my second experience in SL with Mari

This morning I was in SL and to try to go around in different places (teleports) and explore SL. First I visited German Castle Ruin. I saw bunch of people talking German. I understand that I am in the wrong place :). I try to speak them English, some of them responded and they said they know little English. Luckily I met Mari and she invited me in a teleport that we traveled through in history, which was England castle (I am not sure). We discussed several things that I was curious about SL; such as how people teach in SL, applications (distance education, conferences, etc), little bit its history, how can we design a teleport in SL, etc. When we were talking we heard some animal noices (lion and sheep). We discussed how these types of noises could affect on people learning during the class. It was a beneficial conservation for me. Thank you Mari again. Here is my snapshot with Mari, sitting together next to a waterfall.

Great ideas for using Second Life

I found this post (via Robert Scoble extremely interesting. It's about John Hartman (he blogs about Second Life and virtual worlds on his Thought Plasma blog)
is using machinima (which is a recording of Second Life’s environment and avatars) to do corporate training. This seems to tie in perfectly with the types of things we are looking at and discussing. Sound like he has some great ideas for using Second Life.

What do you think?

Prices rising in Second Life

Linden Lab is increasing prices for new Private Island sales except for qualified educators and non-profits. This must mean it's getting that much more popular.

Official Linden Blog » Price for New Private Islands to Increase

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Real life education in Second life

I found this article quite interesting. The paper in general explains what the second life is, its importance on education, tips for educators to create their own land, strategies to use SL in education, etc. When I was scanning through the paper, I read several case studies that teachers experienced when using SL such as opportunities, motivation, collaboration, or on the other hand barriers, and difficulties. One of them was about student project and they designed a plan for using SL as a tool for introducing Morocco (Casablanca island). The project also explains how SL helped communication and collaboration.

Second Life experience

This is the first time I heard about SL and experience SL in this class. I was confused at beginning and I think information in this virtual world is really overwhelming. But later I found it was not that difficult as it looked at beginning. It just takes time to practice. Hanging around in different places, talking with others, singing in a team, it is interesting. And I seem to understand why it is called second life. It is really a proper name for this game or this virtual world. Everyone can experience a different life or a life that they can not have in real world. I am thinking it may be used to do psychotically consulting.

I tried to go to different places, including the Help Island, Iris, and SDSU. It is so cool that I can fly in SL, that is my dream in childhood. One funny thing is when I sat down and stood up again, I do not know why I flied up. And when I tried to land on the ground, I found I can not land down. Keeping press the page down button, I was just hanging and struggling over the ground. Somebody near me told me that it seemed I was hanged up. And another guy told me it seemed that I was animated and I can go to Tool menu and click the stop all animation button. It seemed work. Teleport is a function. I can use search function to find any place I want to go and teleport directly to that place. And I found when I greeting somebody near me, some of them greeted back and some of them just run away.

This guy is called Earfull. I met him in the Halloween store. He is interesting. I talked with him for a while. He asked me how to run. And he was so excited when he flying. When he saw I can also fly, he was surprised like a child. He called himself superman. And he taught me how to build things. He is nice. Following are two snapshots of the Luxor in Las Vegas and the House of Zen.


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) uses Second Life to present interactive educational demonstrations about oceans, climate, weather, etc. Some of the examples are tsunami, submarine ride, hurricane, and melting glacier. I watched the tsunami simulation. It was both amazing and scary. I think using SL as an educational tool for this type of topics (which cannot be experience or cannot be taught in real classroom environment )is great for both students and adults.

The NOAA's sim is called Meteroa. I teleported there, I could not find anybody to talk.

Reality Bytes - article by Henry Jenkins

Interesting article posted by PBS and written by MIT Media and Comparative Studies professor Henry Jenkins debunks eight myths about video games. The myths include game availability and youth violence, violent game play and youth aggression, children as the primary market for video games, girls playing computer games, impact between training soldiers to kill and kids playing games, games as a not a meaningful form of expression, how game play is socially isolating, and finally how game play is desensitizing. The article also includes interesting links to articles and websites under the Sources at the bottom of the article. Jenkins' website is also worth a glace.

Water Slides - SL

Found a couple of cool places and even had a Corona at a little hut beside a beach. Very cool. I then traveled to a place called Maryland (a relative or kindred spirit maybe?) anyway...it was a "prop" place where you could try on and try out different s&m clothes and props. Hmm...I no longer believe it was a relative!
Then I found a water slide and actually got to slide down it. Much more my speed!
I think SL could be used to explain all sorts of hypothetical science materials, let alone the capabilities of self-paced instruction in anything where the student moves through space/time as they conquer and understand material.

Video Games in Education

Group: Video games can reshape education is a MSNBC article on a yearlong study by the Federation of American Scientists that researched how video games can be converted into learning tools. What they found was that video games don't lose patience with kids and they teach skills such as: analytical thinking, team building, multitasking, and problem-solving under duress. They determined that future research was still needed on the features that promoted learning and how to test the skills students learn while playing video games.

My thoughts on this article are two-fold. One, I love that they are doing research into whether this is a viable option for schools and teachers to incorporate another technology into their classrooms. The students of today's world are technologically savvy which makes incorporating technology, such as video games, into classrooms much easier. On the other hand, I'm not so sure that video games would teach the skills above better than interacting with peers and teachers to solve problems and increase analytical skills. I am sure that video games can teach these skills, but I'm not convinced it's a better or more effective solution.

Harvard Law School - SL

When I was trying to learn more about second life and its application in education, I came across this web page (Sim Teach/ Second Life Education wiki). I found comprehensive educational projects in second life. Some of them are; Idaho Bioterrorism Awareness and Preparedness Program, Harvard Law School's CyberOne: Law in the Court of Public Opinion, NOAA Comes to Second Life, etc. I found Harvard Law School Cyber One class pretty interesting. Here is the video that class’s professor introduce how he can use second life in his class.

SL experience

I went to three different regions starting with the spaceflight museum for a presentation about the Hubble space telescope. There were 30 people attending but I not sure if they were real people I didn't try talking to anyone. Next I went to a haunted house that I think was in Meadow Brook there wasn't any one around except a few ghosts. This is when I found how to use the map to teleport and ended up at a night club but I didn't have time to learn how to dance or talk to anyone before the area was shut down because of problems. There doesn't seem to be a lack of things to do. I didn't interact with anyone but I liked exploring the different places and taking snapshots. I think this could be used with the life skills program with middle schoolers. Each room could focus on particular social skills.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Virtually better doesn’t mean safer in real life

It is reported that a security breach was discovered on September 6 and more than 650,000 accounts were affected.

"The exploit was shut down but the hacker could have seen a lot of information, including passwords. This data seen by the hacker included 'Second Life' account names, real life names and contact information, along with encrypted account passwords and encrypted payment information. The hacker is not thought to have gotten away with any credit card information.

In August, AOL fired at least three of its employees because they released private information about 658,000 of its customers. As Dan pointed out in Privacy Breach Affects 650,000 Users of ‘Second Life’ Game, privacy breaches are unfortunately gaining proportions and are becoming more frequent. So with this trend, how to protect players' privacy may be a challenge for Linden Lab. And in a social environment like SL, players also need to learn to protect themselves. Internet safety for kids in such a virtual world also needs to be considered seriously before use a game such as SL in Education.

Thoughts of SL

I was really fascinated with Second Life. To me, it seemed like a chat room with virtual reality capabilities. I do find the commands quite confusing at first, but extensive practice gave me the hang of it. At this point, I'm still trying to understand the whole ordeal of Second Life. I was able to visit some type of museum along with Jerry.

Virtual parenting with Eccky

I think this could have some interesting applications. "Eccky" could be the answer to population control in China. Couples could use it for a compatibility test before they get married. It’s a cross between “The Sims” and “NeoPets” which have Web portals to develop and try out avatars and virtual environments, with casual games. MSN would like to incorporate simulation games into their communications and Web networks. I think that means you would be able to have a virtual baby with someone in Second Life.

How to Teach a Digital Game (Part One)

From Academhack here is a basic write-up, a sort of “Things to think about if you want to teach a digital game". It is the first post in a series on this topic and includes a link to a graduate Computer Games Studies course being taugh at UCSD this fall.

Second Life Experience

Probably I would have never tried this game before this class. I got dizzy and had a big headache after playing SL for 15 mins! But overall, it was a very positive experience; it is amazing to see the cool and interesting things that are being developed in S.L, including the SDSU campus. Mari (whom I met in First Life last May in China) and Marguerite have done a great job. I loved the SDSU t-shirt and the lounge. Since I enjoy hanging around or studying in cafes, i chose to take this snapshot.

My main challenges were moving around in S.L., I got frustrated in several occasions, and understanding the different options available in the game. It is so easy to get lost or confused; and that is one of my main concerns about S.L. I wonder if all newbies experience this and if this could discourage/frustrate learners when using SL as an educational tool.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Alternative Flying in Second Life

While wandering around Second Life I found an airfield with free demo flights using a variety of different aircrafts (from bi-planes to balloons to hovercrafts). You can visit the location by clicking on this SLurl: Abbotts Aerodrome

Make sure to read the instructions on how to fly each particular vehicle or you may end up underwater or parked on the runway. There is also a skydiving area if you are so inclined.

Here's the a shot of me in a VTOL (Vertical Takeoff and Landing) ship hovering about one of the launch areas.

This really isn't much of an educational use but it was fun to fly around Second Life in a more conventional way :)

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Video Games as Training Tools

A blog post from Berkun Blog citing a CNN article on the topic and the full American Federation of Scientists report on how games like Quake, CounterStrike and Warcraft teach people basic teamwork and communication concepts.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Interactive Storytelling

I read an interview with game designer Chris Crawford in Dr. Dobb's about the future of computer games and interactive storytelling. With his new company StoryTron, he is betting that interactive storytelling will be used in training and education, as a social interaction simulator. There are three programs: SWAT (StoryWorld Authoring Tool), which is a visual development environment to create a storyworld, the Storyworld Engine, and the Storyteller, which is used to play. It's still in beta.

New Generation Learners and Video Games

The George Lucas Educational Foundation publishes an excellent website and magazine devoted to educational reform. Their October 2006 issue focuses on the new generation of learners and how they will radically change the way we teach. Not surprisingly video games will play a prominent role.

In the article titled Let the Game Begin, Jenn Shreve examines the traditional ideas of how videogames can reach unmotivated students and also challenge gifted students. Beyond that she documents a do it yourself approach to gaming in the classroom in which students in tandem with teachers design games as a way to both reinforce content and thinking skills. Also touted as a another tool for teachers are “serious games” such as the Harvard designed River City and Making History produced by Muzzy Lane. While video games will never replace instruction they will serve a more prominent role in the future classroom.

Video Games Have Educational Value

It’s official! Last week The Federation of American Scientists came out with a statement declaring that video games can redefine education. Citing a years worth of study, the FAS has “discovered” that video games can teach skills such as analytical thinking, team building, multitasking and problem-solving under duress which employers will be looking for in the future.

The article goes on to say that while the audience is obviously there, the gaming industry has thus far been resistant to pouring dollars into R&D as the titles just don’t make money. It also calls for additional academic research into which features of gaming facilitate learning and how to measure the skills students learn in games. The idea being that the federal government would help underwrite the cost of the research. The article ends with a terrific quote from Don Blake, a technology analyst for the NEA. Blake states, “Ultimately teachers need to see games as a way to help — not as a threat.”

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Looking for Sim Labs in Second Life

After participating in our class meeting, I went back in and started looking for educational resources. I went to the ICT library which is a good resource of things to find in Second Life. One resource intrigued me. It was called "Social Simulation Cyber-Research Lab: Games", but when I tried to find it, I could not get a hit in the search. Has anyone been there and seen it? or know how to access it?

Game Design & Development

I was browsing the internet for nothing in particular when I stumbled upon GameDev.Net. It's main focus is on game development but there are some interesting resources and forum discussions. It also has a Game Dictionary which I loved browsing through. Here are some examples I found under Game Design:

Avatar: A Buzzword used by the virtual reality community to mean a "'representation of the user".

Design Theory: The underlying and abstract thought behind the simple idea of making games 'fun'. Simple to understand, hard to master. Anybody can write up a design document with countless revolutionary, inventive, and well-documented ideas. It is only a true Design Theorist who can make that design document produce a fun and addictive game.

Critical Path: The necessary route from start to finish in a game. Everything that must be done to complete a game is considered to be within the 'critical path'. This holds especially true in linear games, where a player is forced to proceed along a specified path. Often the critical path is shown to the player with 'primary objectives' or 'main goals' of a level or the game as a whole. Other, smaller objectives or secondary goals that are not required to finish the game are considered “non-critical path."

If you like reading up on game design and development, GameDev.net is an excellent resource to keep bookmarked.

first snapsot and experiece in SL

I took this snapshot yesterday when I was in the class and discovering the second life. It was pretty interesting and amazing. I am not sure how I can use SL in education now, but I enjoyed a lot talking with my friends, using gestures, taking snapshots, and visiting the other teleports. This was my first and favorite snapshot yesterday. I just wanted to learn if any presentation is going on the panel, but suddenly I found myself on top of the panel and looking around the scene with my cup of coffee. It was so funny. The thing that I like most I can change my appearance whenever I want, which I cannot do in my real life.:) However I found it difficult when I want to sit and use the camera control (I was lost). Anyway, it was wonderful experience to me. See you in the SL.

Monday, October 23, 2006

inform 7 tips

I found a good site that gives tips on creating text based adventures if anyone feels like they are leaning that way. Here is one article in particular that shows how to get started and what to look out for:

Nelly ARagon

OUr first group photo in the classroom

Learning from Gaming

The Holistic and Integral Education blog has a nice post about James Gee's book "Why Video Games are Good for Your Soul"

Among the discussion points are how game developers use the latest research from neuroscience and are guided by many "learning principles".

Another worthy entry from this same blog is on Games and Gaming in Education

Gaming & Simulation Links

Elliot Massie has just unveiled a new site called "Learning Links" There is a section for Gaming & Simulation. There are only a couple of links there now but it's still new and it's probably a good thing to bookmark and keep as a reference.

Additionally there are many other training/learning categories with lots of great resources.

Link to the Gaming & Simulation category:


Scott Adams IF Online

Like several of my other classmates I too must admit that in the carefree days of my misspent youth, I squandered innumerable hours playing IF. My drug of choice was the Scott Adams series.

Prompted by C. Michael Pedersen's posting and facilitated by Google I found that there are an astonishing number of sites devoted to this groundbreaking series of IF games, including the official site of Scott Adams himself, complete with links to Java versions of all the classics.

Surprisingly enough the games play as well in Java on my Pentium 4 as they did on my TI-99-4A and without the hassle of cassette tapes!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Bowling $20

popcorn and a coke.

A merry go round. I usually get dizzy, funny I didn't this time.

Immersion and reflection in educational games

As we all know games provide an immersive environment that promotes motivation and experiential learning. Many educators, however, feel that this immersive environment very often does not lead to learning unless it is accompanied by some sort of reflection. Most designers recommend that this reflection take place at the end of a game, otherwise it tends to disrupt the emotional flow of the game and becomes a boring, didactic session. I have come across an article that tries to get around this issue of reflection by trying to incorporate this reflective activity as part of the game design so that it continues the flow of the game instead of disrupting it.

Here is a link to the article which a word document.


If this link fails to access the paper, then do a Google search for the following title:
"Game, Motivation, and Effective Learning: An integrated model for Educational Game Design" by Brad Paras and Jim Bizzocchi


It's snowing, and yes that's a Canadian flag in the background. Great place, here. There's a water slide, sky diving and snow-mobiling, a gondola and caves to explore although I haven't quite found them. Instead I found myself under a floor. It looked like a cave entrance.


When I was reading this article, I thought that every time educators look for innovative ideas that how a class could be more enjoyable for their students. However, this simulation is for educators and helps them to improve their teaching skills and classroom management. Everybody can play this simulation, but their role is being teacher and each time they play, they encounter a different classroom settings and students. I did not play it, but looks enjoyable.

Brass Lantern: the adventure game website

This website has a plethora of information regarding Interactive Fiction Theory and especially Inform 7. The site consists of many short articles ranging from information designed for beginners to specific updates from the older version of Inform6 to the current Inform 7. I found this article especially helpful to gain a basic understanding of what interactive fiction is and it provides a good overall view of the concept itself.

Harvard Does it Again

Here is an article about a course at Harvard that meets exclusively in Second Life. Check it out: http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/1005/p13s02-legn.html


We Got Game: Serious Gaming for Training

We Got Game is about Etcetera Edutainment's rollout of a new video game simulation for Forklift Training. Etcetera Edutainment builds video game simulations (known as serious gaming) for training purposes in manufacturing, mining utilities and health care industries where "accidents can mean hundreds and thousands of dollars in damages or even death." The heart of the article is towards the end where it talks about the benefits of video game simulations in relation to hands-on training. 1.) Simulations foster sound decision-making under pressure 2.) Mouse Click and High Score is recordable which makes training effective and meaningful for the players 3.) Demographics: More than 60 percent of adults age 18-35 actively play interactive video games.

Companies can develop training simulations anywhere from $50,000 to $500,000 and companies like Etcetera Edutainment are hoping to turn serious gaming into a very big business.

Second Life and the Economy

It's a Sunday morning and as I am having my morning cup of coffee along side my husband - me on the laptop, him reading the newspaper - I am thinking about and working on my 670 class assignments and I glance over at my husband and ask, "Honey, have you ever heard of Second Life?" he replies "Why yes, darling, I just finished reading an article about it. Here it is." What a coincidence, I thought! I should blog about this article for the EdGames blog.

The U-T article is about the booming population and economy that is growing in Second Life. Users are able to sell things in Second Life with real $$ (I had no idea you could do this!). And some are actually buying real estate. Pretend real estate!! Buying and selling virtual "stuff" seemed a little strange to me at first. But now I can see why big companies like Nike, Nissan and Amazon would use the virtual world to advertise and sell products. Now that the virtual population in Second Life has reached one million and is still growing, companies and entrepreneurs are taking advantage of the new possibilities for making money in the virtual world.

Music and Second Life

During my first foray into Second Life, one of the things that struck me initially was the presence of music. Intrigued with the possibilities I did a quick Google search that yielded some interesting results.

According to this article that first appeared in the September 7, 2006 issue of Rolling Stone magazine, Second Life has already proved itself a viable way for musicians (both established and aspiring) to connect with their existing fans or an new audience.

Established musicians like Susan Vega have recently performed “live”. While retro groups like Duran Duran are also setting up shop hoping to recapture some of their 80’s glory. With authentic and far more diverse audiences so easily accessible will it be long before schools begin to use Second Life as a base for performing? The possibilities are nearly endless.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Shakespeare as a MMORPG

For those of you who don't know, MMORPG stands for Massively Multi-Player Online Role Playing Game. Apparently, a professor at Indianna University, Edward Castronova is creating a new MMORPG based on the Shakespeare play Richard III. That in and of itself is interesting, but to make it more interesting, Castronova will actually be using this game to do social-science research. Because he can create parallel worlds with different aspects changed, he can see how it affects the players in each game.

The article also talks about how this could be used as a learning tool because players are immersed into the play. They can learn about Shakespeare's plays by actually "living" in the play itself. It gives players a feeling of living during that time period. I also thought it was somewhat appropriate to talk about teaching in virtual worlds when we're about to embark on a new project where we use simulations (similar to virtual worlds) to increase knowledge.

DNA-based computer plays Tic-Tac-Toe

I read an interesting article about biocomputing and games. Researchers at Columbia University and the University of New Mexico (including some high school interns) have developed MAYA-II, a DNA-based computer that is unbeatable at Tic-Tac-Toe as long as it gets to start first. It does take quite a while to complete a game - 2 to 30 minutes to calculate a move. The techniques used in developing the biocomputer game may be useful for computing that needs to be performed in fluids (e.g. analyzing a drop of blood) that does not need to be performed rapidly.

NewScientist article


Friday, October 20, 2006

But Mom, THIS is my homework!

I saw this interesting article on the plane coming home today. It's about how video game design is becoming a serious part of computer science programs and how it is one of the "hottest" majors in America right now.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Play Infocom Games Online

I loved the old Infocom text based games but haven't thought about them in years.

After reading about the interactive fiction applications for this week's assignment, I dug around and found the following web site with a JAVA applet that enables one to play 18 of the classic Infocom games.

Play Infocom Games

Although I no longer have my small green monochrome monitor to light up my bedroom, I'm eager to get back to slaying dragons in Zork and shoving babel fish in my ears in Hitchiker's Guide. :)

Reuters and Harvard in Second Life

Read More on Reuters
CyberOne: Law in the Court of Public Opinion is an actual class offered to Harvard students and the public. Here's their blog.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Edheads-Activate Your Mind

I was reading a friend's blog and found an amazing educational games website, Edheads . For now, there are "virtual hip surgery","The odd machine","virtual knee sugery","weather"and "simple machine" 5 educational games on it. I love the interactive animations there!!

About Edheads http://www.edheads.org/

Edheads brings you high quality, free educational activities for your classroom

Edheads helps students learn through educational games and activities designed to meet state and national standards. We partner with various school systems in the United States, which help us research, design and test our activities every step of the way!

Not only do teachers and students appreciate our free activities, Edheads has been recognized by almost every major award on the Web for our excellent educational content!

So dive into an activity to let the fun and learning begin!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Video Games: More than child's play for leaders

I'm in Toronto for the rest of the week. This morning, as I flipped through Canada's newspaper, The Globe and Mail, a headline jumped out at me. "Video Games: More than just child's play." Perfect, I thought. I was just going to browse the web for gaming articles for the EdGames blog.

The article speaks of how a simulation was used with Ontario Power Generation, Inc.'s managers as part of a leadership-development exercise. The task at hand was turning around a failing technology company. OPG manager Judy Wood says that the intent is to "teach managers to become better decision-makers through computer simulations where, as in life, every choice has a consequence." Hopefully these managers will take the experience, the feelings, the set backs, and the consequences that were dished upon them for their decision making, and apply what they have learned to their daily job responsibilities.

The article goes on to discuss how simulations and video games have become a popular tool for training and as part of a blended learning experience in training programs.

It's a quick read, and is relevant to Allison's 685 class in that it covers some use of simulation for performance improvement.

If you're really into it, The Globe and Mail had a company create their own simulation on running a hockey team. You can play it as well on globeandmail.com.

Here is the article:
Video Games: More than just child's play

Thursday, October 12, 2006

John Keller’s New Website

I stumbled on John Keller’s new motivation design website when searching the web. I figured Bernie would post it, but I’m going to beat him to it. :) I thought everyone would be interested in taking a look.

Here’s the link:

Simulations & Adult Learning

Kellye Whitney’s (2006) article, “Simulations Build on Adult Learning to Accelerate Skill Building Application,” explores the popularity of simulations used by organizations for adult learning. Rommin Adl, CEO and President of Strategic Management Group Inc. (one of the largest simulation and multimedia training companies in the world), is cited throughout the article. Adl explains that simulations are popular because they allow adults to “learn by doing in a risk free environment” (Whitney, 2006). Other factors that favor using simulations for organizational learning are the ability for customization, engagement, motivation for adult learners who often lose interest quickly, and tailoring to different learning styles. Popular subject matters covered are project management, business acumen and leadership; all relevant to topics we frequently discuss in the EDTEC program, in particular performance technology. In relation to concepts we have discussed in class, Whitney (2006) discusses aspects of simulations that create an engaging experience, including “high levels of competition, employ[ing] humor and us[ing] real-world examples.”

Organizational learning via simulations is pragmatic; however, there are issues that are commonly considered, such as the cost and over-concentration on technology and not learning. The cost is usually justifiable because the ultimate ROI is actual results on-the-job, but somehow we need to figure out how to measure these results. I thought Adl’s statement nicely sums up the paradigm instructional designers often face: “A lot of technology companies get hung up on the technology, and they sacrifice the basic learning objectives and application that you want to get out of it” (Whitney, 2006).

Here is the link to the online article:


Whitney, K. (2006, October 4). Simulations Build on Adult Learning to Accelerate Skill
Building and Application. CLO Magazine. Retrieved October 5, 2006, from

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Playing Games with Kids

I came across this site Board Games To Go
and one particular podcast New Gamer and Gamer Dads that I thought was very intersting. The podcast is by Mark Johnson and he is interviewing David Gullett. They are just talking about the nature of playing games with their kids. Some of it is talking about how they interact with their kids while playing games and how playing games provides some bonding time for them. They also talked about specific games that they have played with their kids and what worked and what didn't. It definitely brought back memories of playing games with my family when I was younger and how I hope to do the same with my kids someday. I also thought about the fact that my husband and I play A LOT of games compared to most people and we thought it was great when we finally found some friends that knew the games we were playing. That is what they talk about in the beginning of the podcast since he is kind of a new gamer. Anyway, it just made me reminisce and I think it might do the same for you.

Real World Virtual Training

I just saw this company present to a conference I attended today. They take digital photos, video, etc. and recreate real life facilities virtually. The are to scale and fully operational just like the real thing. What I saw allows students to perform the actual tasks virtually. The company's website is http://www.3dinternet.com if you look in the Services menu under Interactive training and Virtual Tours you can see some samples of their work. Very cool!

They can even customize it to include real people and their actual voices. Sort of a glimpse into the future of training.

Mekong e-Sim: A Cross-Disciplinary Online Role-Play Simulation

Primarily developed by Australia's University of Adelaide and University of Technology, Sydney, the Mekong e-Sim is an online learning environment that immerses students in the complexities of authentic decision making, helping them develop the communication, collaboration, and leadership skills they will need for future success.
ELI's Innovations & Implementations series highlights innovative teaching, learning, and technology practices in higher education. Each Innovations & Implementations piece provides a practical overview of an innovation, focusing on its significance and implementation issues. Use Innovations & Implementations to explore innovative practices that might be of value to your institution.
Go ELI and download the paper

ELI is a great resource for teaching, learning and technology issues in higher education.
ELI on Games and Simulations

Monday, October 09, 2006

UK Study Supports Potential Role For Games In Class

No idea how rigorous the research is.

"The report, which included national surveys of primary and secondary teachers and school children aged 11-16, was designed to offer an overview of those participants' use of and attitudes towards commercial computer games in schools. The research also included ten case studies across four separate schools involving the use of EA's The Sims 2, Atari's RollerCoaster Tycoon 3, and Sunflowers Interactive's Knights of Honor.

...Interestingly, but not wholly unexpected, of those teachers surveyed, the most common factor cited in favor of using games in the classroom was “motivating students.” 37 percent of teachers involved in the study noted that they would not use games in the classroom, with many indicating that they believe games offer “little or no educational value.”

...The study also produced expected findings, including games being played more often by boys (50 percent as compared to 21 percent of girls), while younger children were found to be more frequent game players than those who were older....

Read more

Second Life Article

Back in May of 2006 Business Week ran a story about the online community Second Life. From a woman who has made $250,000 buy and selling virtual land to a stay at home father who makes $2,000 a week selling animations of residents (players) hugging and cuddling, the potential for financial gain is incredible. The article also briefly explores the potential ways that some companies are using this type of virtual community for online training and community building. Check out the slideshow and podcast as well as the article

My Virtual Life article

Short Podcast with the Author

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Girls Creating Games

Girls Creating Games is an after-school program developed by the Research and Training department at Education, Training and Research Associates (ETR) in collaboration with the a middle school, a comunity-based agency and UC-Santa Cruz.

This program aims to promote and increase girls' skills and interest in information technologies. Activities include computer game design (using Flash), pair programming, identity exploration and mentoring from female adult role models.

The learned lessons are very interesting. Check them as well as some of games developed.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Immune Attack-educational video game

Immune attack is an educational video game created by FAS (The Federation of American Scientists). The goal of the game is to engage students in one of the complicated biology topics, immunology. Instead of reading from classroom textbooks, students can play the video game and they can learn the concept of immunology in an excited way.

“Human body tissue structures serve as the playing field in this first person strategy game where immune cells face off against bacterial and viral infections. A teenaged prodigy with a unique immunodeficiency must teach his immune system how to function properly, or die trying. Using a nanobot and aided by a helpful professor, the teenager explores biologically accurate and visually detailed settings in pursuit of this goal.”

I found this video game very interesting and exciting because the topic itself “immunology” is an abstract topic and it must hard to explain to students. Presenting this topic in an interactive manner (game, animation) makes it possible for the students to watch things that cannot be shown by any other medium. In this case, the topic is easy to learn and become enjoyable. Also, I believe audio, graphics, feedback, and questions increase the learner’s interest in the topic and strengthen their skills.


Der Noggin-Meister

This article features an interview with Richard Tait, whose board game "Cranium" has won "Game of the Year" four times over the past five years, and has sold over 16 million copies. One of its unique features is that it allows everyone the opportunity to excel, since it challenges different areas of intelligence. Some people report that their children turn off video games in order to play Cranium with the family!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Controversial Video Game

"Bully" is a coming-soon video game in which the player is a kid at a boarding school fighting back against other kids. It is programmed to be released this October and there have been a lot of controversy including lawsuits to block their sale.

Parents and teachers are afraid "Bully" is going to be a bad influence to kids despite the fact that the game has been described a facilitator of social networking and skill development.

You can find a trailer of the video game here:

Educational Games Video

Educational Games Video
This video includes a discussion of the opportunities that exist for major game developers to create educational content. Some of the reasons mentioned for the lack of development include the popularity of violence in games and false notions that there is no market for educational games and educational games cannot be engaging. They go on to discuss the importance of educating school administrators, teachers, and parents about how some video games are aligned with state educational standards to help challenge they myth that games do not have educational value. The video shows some examples of educational computer games that simulate the Revolutionary War and WWII to teach about history, politics and economics.