Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Content Meets Virtuality

What could be cooler? Two things I'm very interested in are combining. It's like chocolate and peanut butter. I'm devoting part of Christmas break to mastering Drupal, a content management system and generalized toolkit for making all kinds of online things happen. And of course, I have a longstanding interest in Second Life. So today I learned about a SecondLife group devoted to marrying the two. So cool!

Location-Dependent Gaming

Long road trip with kids? Avoid complaints of "Are we there yet?" without numbing their minds with music or videos or the standard handheld video games. This New Scientist article discusses Backseat Playground, where the players interact with the game through a handheld computer and a GPS. The gameplay changes based on the car's position, and players interact with real-world objects - all from the back seat of the car!

Gaming With a Social Conscience

One of my student’s parents who works for the United Nations here in India, recently told me about a game that the UN Food Programme has developed. Called Food Force it is a free game whose purpose is to teach middle school students about global hunger. In the game, you take the role of a relief worker who as part of a team races against time to feed the starving inhabitants of Sheylan. The game play is very engaging and the graphics are excellent. It has become so popular that since it was launched in April 0f 2005 the game has been downloaded over three million times and translated into six languages other than English.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Military Games

Future Force Company Commander
The U.S. Army has paid for the development of a high-tech warfare simulation game to gain the attention of potential recruits. The game, Future Force Company Commander, takes place in 2015 and puts players at the controls of weaponry the military is currently using or developing. Reviewers of the game say while the game "creates strategic thinking and tactical presents an artificially rosy view of warfare". I remember when the first-person shooter game "America's Army" was available for free download a few years ago which tracks player's performance. The game also presents realistic tactical deptictions of combat but I still think the game leans toward a misleading representation of what military life is truly like. Sure, these are only games, and shouldn't be expected to truly capture what it's like in combat but I think they are being promoted as such. In particular, this more recent game suggests warfare can be directed from the remote safety of a joystick when in reality most new recruits will likely find themselves fighting on the front lines.

Games of the future...

I just read that today's high speed elevator has more computing power than the Apollo spaceshuttle that brought first brought man to the moon. The amount of Internet content also grows by over a million pages a day! Here is a really interesting article I found about the future of games. It gives a unique perspective by showing what game aspects were prophesized by experts of yesterday to finally become reality. Some were pretty far off!

-Nelly Aragon

Sunday, November 26, 2006


It is always challenging for new students to adapt to a new campus environment in many aspects. The challenges range from finding the buildings on campus to understanding the cultural background of campus, department, dorms, and even potential roommates.

I have seen an article on a project “MIT -GHOST” initiated by Comparative Media Studies and MIT’s Information Services & Technology department. The purpose of this project is to make MIT cultures accessible online by the prospective students.

In the article, it is claimed that the project is inspired by multi-player online games such as Second Life where users can generate content and represent their own cultural identities.
Likewise MIT Ghost provides the basic representation of the campus and the corresponding buildings. Via using the APIs and modtools, users can extend the representations using their own imagination and artwork.


Disaster Training and Katrina

I recently returned from a week of volunteer work in New Olreans. While there I had my eyes opened wide to the fact that there is still so much work that needs to be done and that there were so many things that went wrong during this disaster. I am not sure if the city of New Orleans had a disaster plan or training for their responders if something like this was to occur but there should have been. We have discussed several times in class and on this blog about how games could be used for disaster training and Katrina is a sad but true example. The situation with Katrina went wrong on many levels but there are lessons that should be learned from it. The picture you see is of the first home we worked on removing debris and gutting the house to the studs. You'd think there would be more rebuilding but sadly many people aren't even to that point yet, many have just returned their homes and need them gutted so the mold treatments can be done. New Orleans is several years off of recovery, don't let the downtown tourist areas fool you.

The World of AI and Games Pair Up to Help Patients

I found this article extremely interesting about how robots and games are being used to help stroke victims regain the use of their limbs. The work looks to be moving to also help MS patients and autistic children. The use of games helps build physical dexterity and allows patients to regain their movement and motor skills with the use of robots or robotic pieces. It's truly amazing how far we have come and the hope that we can now provide people who have been injured or suffer from a dibilitating disease.

Home schooling and unschooling

Indirectly related to gaming, is the trend towards unschooling. I am curious what others think about it. I have mixed feelings. I suppose it's like anything, there are good and effective games and not so good ones. And there are good schools and teachers and not so good ones. And there are parents with good ideas and not so good ones. To say "it depends" isn't a cop out, I really do think it depends on a lot of stuff.

Read more

Croquet Project

The Croquet Project is an international effort (including Duke University, Carnegie Mellon University, UCLA, Hewlett-Packard and Apple Computer) to promote the development of Croquet technologies in research, industry, and education.

Croquet is an open source software platform that supports communication, collaboration, resource sharing, and synchronous computation among multiple users.

Croquet's advocates argue that it can be used "to construct highly scalable collaborative data vizualizations, virtual learning and problem solving environments, 3D wikis, online gaming environments (MMORPGs), and privately maintained/interconnected."

Croquet "is also more extensible than S.L. in that it is free to share, modify and view the source code (due to a liberal license), it is not hosted on a single organization’s server (and hence governed by that organization), and it provides a complete professional programmer’s language (Smalltalk), IDE, and class library in every distributed, running participant’s copy."

We should keep our eyes on this...

Friday, November 24, 2006

Musical Performance Simulation Software


A new musical performance simulation software is available that allows music students to virtually play along with professional symphonies. Right now the software only supports students playing a handful of symphony instruments such as the flute and cello. However, they are currently developing a version that supports guitar students. Similar instructional products have relied on MIDI equipment to interface with software; often sacrificing the 'feel' that is so important in music. “In the Chair” allows students to use their own instruments which they play through a microphone plugged into their computer’s soundcard. This provides a practice environment that more closely resembles playing an instrument in the context of a real, live performance. The software’s recognition engine can detect a multitude of musical characteristics from a student’s playing. It provides them with immediate feedback on the timing, dynamics, tone, and pitch of every note they play.

Second Life Worm?

I found this article this week while cruising for some Second Life info. It presents the issue of a tool called copybot which allows people to replicate others' virtual identies and belongings without paying for the intellectual property. Which is something interesting that I hadn't known to be an issue in the VR world. I also learned that Adidas, Reuter's and Big Brother are using Second Life within their organizations which is very intriguing!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

More efforts to incorporate video games in the classroom

The vast majority of primary age students and high schoolers are hooked on video games. There is no question that these individuals see the value and entertainment that video games have spawned on their daily lives. With this in mind, researchers from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and MIT have developed a virtual reality game that goes into the Revolutionary War into great detail. These researchers see that potential impact that video games will have in the classroom. They have already developed a game entitled "Supercharge" which explores chemistry and provides students with an extension activity regarding atomic particles. Why not make learning fun? Teachers will be pleased and students will look forward to being in the classroom.

Serious Games

Is that an oxymoron? Apparently not, since there was a
Serious Games Summit in Washington DC.
Since I've been taking this class and playing around on SL and Lemonade Stand, to name just a few, I've also been blogging about my fascination with gaming as a leisure activity as compared with watching TV. Most of my peers do the latter. I found myself feeling a bit guilty for "playing," even in the context of a class. I blogged about it, pointing out the cognitive underload of TV to justify my choice and wished more "adults" would losen up and play online PacMan.
With so many serious games being created, I wonder if those less serious games won't be quite so snickered at.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Using Virtual Reality to Practice Surgical Procedures

For years, those training to become surgeons have had the grueling task of learning how to make incisions or stitch up an open wound. Much of these surgical procedures have been performed on animals and cadavers. Although surgical simulators have been implemented just recently, a break-through technology has been discovered and will undoubtedly impact the medical field.
Suvranu De, a professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, created a virtual reality simulation that allows the intern surgeon to perform surgical procedures in real time. Having such a medium will allow the intern to practice common procedures with confidence, not having to worry about any mistakes or mishaps that may occur.

Simulations & Learning Games Website

Here is a link to a website about games and simulations. This is a useful resource that provides names of and links to relevant books, magazines and articles, as well as information about organizations that focus on games/simulations and companies who are building tools and games for training and education. Check it out!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Online free educational game stores a variety of free educational games. These games involves various topics, such as vocabulary, geography, science, history, math, health, animals, etc. It provides games of different level that suits for different level learners. These games are suitable for Adult Basic Education, ESL and Literacy education. There are also games for students preparing college admissions and exams, such as SAT / GRE exams.

Fantasy Congress

Fantasy Congress "where People play Politics"

Fantasy Football. Fantasy Baseball. Fantasy Congress??? In Fantasy Congress, citizens "play politics" by drafting a team of real-life legislators from the U.S. Congress and score points as the legislators push bills through the steps to create a law. Your team is formed from a group of 16 legislators based on their seniority: 2 senior Senators, 2 junior Senators, 4 senior Representatives, 4 mid-range experience Representatives and 4 junior Representatives. Players have the choice to create a league of their own to play with family and friends or they can play against other citizens of the U.S. Each member of Congress has their own "bio," (as would the football or baseball players) along with their latest actions. Representative Henry Hyde, for instance, recieved 120 points because of a law that became public. Your next question would be, "well, what law became public?" You can then click on the legislation information to see a description of the legislation.

I think this is a great way to get the public educated and involved in politics. Educators can also create a fantasy Congress league for their classrooms to get more students involved in what could be a "dry" subject.

Book you have to check out

This is a book I found at the museum in Balboa park I went to this weekend. It really made me think of how artistic some games area and how much they've integrated into our culture. I really loved it, here's a little more desription:

I am 8-bit: Showcasing the talents of over 100 artists who provided their memories of pre-1995 video games on paper, canvas, wood, or somewhere in between.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Video game development boot camp

With a $1.2 million grant under their belt, the University of Denver is giving both low socio-economic students and high school classroom teachers the opportunity to learn the development of video games. Through a 2 week summe boot camp, the participants will learn how to create 2 dimensional video games such as Pac Man. From this training, these teachers will have the opportunity to teach video game development throughout the course of the regular school year. University of Denver realizes the popularity of gaming amongst teenagers. Surely mathematics and sciences are the core subjects linked to developing video games; the University of Denver provides video game development boot camp to lure students into these disciplines and gain an interest when they enter college.

Virtual Technologies for Autism

Dr. Dorothy Strickland heads a government funded research group that focuses primarily on using Virtual Reality (VR) to teach children with Pervasive Developmental Disorders such as autism.

During her research she developed this clever VR java applet to help children with autism associate facial expressions with emotions.

Also, second life is being used as a platform to practice socialization for people with Asperger's Syndrome (also from the Autistic spectrum of disorders).

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Virtual reality and the human limbs

A recent article in Science Daily notes that virtual reality is giving amputees the opportunity to regain any missing limbs. Through the use of a headset, patients are placed in a virtual world where they have 2 limbs. They control their missing limbs with any limbs that physically remain on their bodies. For example, in the virtual world, an amputated left arm movement can be manipulated by the amputees right arm.

Most amputees suffer from physical discomfort known as Phantom Limb Pain. However, using virtual reality and making one think s/he has and can move a missing limbs diminishes the pain. See virtual reality and amputees for more information.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Nobel Prize Educational Game

Do you want to understand the work of the Nobel Laureates? You worry that you can not understand? Here is the Nobel Prize Educational Game. By playing those games, you can increase knowledge in economic rules, physics, chemistry, etc. All these games were build on Nobel Prize-awarded achievements. It is fun! Games really makes difficult and boring learning to be fun.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Christmas gift for the brain

An article in CNN suggest Brain Age as one of the ten best gifts for gamers. Inspired by a Japanese neuroscientist Dr. Ryuta Kawashima, Brain Age features activities designed to help stimulate your brain through mental exercises. You solve simple math problems, counting people going in and out of a house simultaneously, drawing pictures and reading classic literature out loud. It's for the Nintendo DS and the claim is train your brain in minutes a day. It is designed to get the most out of your prefrontal cortex and they have MRI images on the web site to prove it. The design is supported by a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association which surveyed 801 older Catholic nuns, priests and brothers. The results linked reading newspapers and participating in other brain-stimulating activities with a reduced risk of Alzheimer's. I thought being celibate might play a part, but then I realized they were talking about Catholic priests. So you have the choice of either buying the game, become a devoted Catholic or forgetting who you are by age 80.

Educators explore 'Second Life' online

Educators explore 'Second Life' online

This article is about educators using Second Life. It features Rebecca Nesson who teaches a class offered by Harvard Law School and Harvard Extension School. Nesson uses SL for class discussions, office hours and to introduce international perspectives from distance students all over the world. The article continues to discuss common benefits and drawbacks for using SL in an educational setting. "Second Life on it's own doesn't force anyone to do's a blank slate and whether it develops into a useful tool depends on what sort of structures are created within." -Marc Prensky

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Making Physics Fun

I slept through physics in high school because it was sooo boring, and in college physics seemed very "plug and chug" - memorize a formula, apply it to a few textbook exercises and canned labs, then regurgitate it on the test. Obviously, Richard Feynman was not my instructor! I couldn't relate physics to real life, since I had developed a bias against the subject. Perhaps I would have been more engaged if I learned about physics through videogames.

The Wall Street Journal Online has a free article about how physics make videogames fun by making games seem real, but not too real, thus giving the player a plausible escape from reality. Basically, physics drives the gameplay, and not just for shooters - it is used in creating the look of flowing water, trees swaying in the breeze, and don't forget gravity! There is a reference to the blog, which reviews and lists physics-focussed games. (One is Line Rider, referenced earlier this month in the EdGames blog.) There is also a startup that is developing a specialized physics processing unit (PPU) which promises to further enhance gameplay - read a preview of the PhysX PPU at PC Perspective.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Game in training

Many companies and organizations are now using game in training. Such as GametoTrain, it does learning and training based on game-base learning approach.
aims at performance-based training, but it also realize the game effect in training and developed games for training. There are also many such companies and organizations, such as Virtual U.

It has showed that games not only work for kids but also for adults. It adds fun and relieve learning stress. Why it works discussed several effect the game in organization training. It states that game not benefit learners but also benefit the trainers. Trainers use it to figure out what parts of their course content need adjusting and what topics need to be reviewed. However, does game and simulation really increase the learning effectiveness? Games and simulations in workplace eLearning is a study that tried to answer the question by explore following question:
  • How games and simulations can be used to create an effective eLearning product?
  • How does the use of games and simulations succeed in offering the user an engaging learning experience?
It included the market research of the US for games and simulations in eLearning. And it also had case studies for three elearning games, The Business Challenge, The Monkey Wrench. Conspiracy,The MoneyMaker. According to the authors, it is difficult to find quantitative evidence on learning effectiveness of elearning with game and simulation. But apparently game and simulation can spark interest for learning. And engaging the users is a condition of effective learning. However, to maintain engagement throughout the learning process and ensure effective learning, relevant content and design is also important. In addition the authors mentioned that flexibility and storytelling are also important engagement features.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Do You Have A Future In Second Life?

You might...

Reuters reports that IBM is ramping up its push into virtual worlds with an investment of approximately $10 million U.S. dollars over the next year. Big Blue will increase it's presence in SL (already over 300 employee avatars) and develop its own 3D intranet. Hmm... wonder what a proficient instructional designer with Second Life experience would be worth?

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Second Life in New York Times

Matt Gross recently wrote an article, “It’s My (Virtual) World,” published in the New York Times. The article reflects on Gross’s weekend spent in Second Life’s virtual reality. Gross describes Second Life (SL) as a “casual travel destination” that is not really a game in the sense that we usually understand them; it’s not like the multiplayer online role-playing games with the primary object being winning a competition. Gross adds, “The goal is simply to interact with the million-plus other residents, explore the planet and, in a unique twist, create new parts of it.”

The article also enables neophyte Second Lifers to slightly understand the technical side of the virtual world as well as various business implications; in particular, growing attention from companies like American Apparel who are looking to advertise and sell their products in the virtual world. Additionally, Gross mentions events he attended based on recommendations found at

This is a useful resource for our class and others interested in the vast opportunities within SL. At the end of the article Gross even lists his own recommendations for places to visit, shop, see, and do. Furthermore, Gross writes vividly about his experiences, making this article an interesting read.

Simulation Game Used for Disaster Training

This article "Games Tackle Disaster Training" was very encouraging to any of us who know that disasters do occur. Basically, the CDC has started creating simulation games to train health care workers on how to deal with disasters. There are many benefits to this type of learning...saves money, people can train on their own time schedule, creates more realistic scenarios than other types of training, they can cross train for different jobs. The first game was developed to train health care workers and first resonders on dealing with an Anthrax breakout. Trainees learn how to distribute meds and how to notify the public without causing panic. They are scored on their speed and appropriateness.

I think this is a great use of a simulation type game. Obviously, they can't create a real breakout and when simply discussing a scenario or even role-playing, a trainee does not get the full effect. But now they can respond like they would in a real situation and figure out what they need to work on. What a great idea!!

Serious Games Conference

Did you miss the Serious Games Summit in Washington D.C. on October 30th and 31st? Fear not! The presentation materials for most of the sessions are freely available for download. The audio files however are $7.95 a piece.
The Serious Games Summit D.C. gives professionals from the public and private sectors, policymakers, contractors, military personnel, government administrators, educators and experts in the game development arena an opportunity to meet and learn from successful serious games applications, as well as forge links between the traditional videogame industry and program managers for homeland security, state and local governments, military agencies, and educational institutions.
While performing my content analysis for our eGame project I found useful material from this conference and discovered a SecondLife alternative called

Finding two useful things from one site... you've got to love the Internet!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Video Games & The Classroom

I'm always up for finding new ways for students to learn. For the most part, I've seen teachers spending half their time with classroom management as they try to cover material for their students to learn. I think a working academic environment is one where students are engaged in the learning. They need a hook, something that will capture their interest and attention.

Video games are the hottest trend among primary students and middle schoolers today. After doing a search on learning and video games, I found this article:

The article discusses the option of integrating video games/simulation into the school curriculum. I think such an idea would be effective because 1) computer graphics/animation is hot commodity among kids and 2) students will be engaged to learn.

Educational Games by Kids for Kids

A group of Brooklyn teens at South Shore High School with help from Global Kids (a non-profit group that strives to prepare urban youth to become global citizens and community leaders. ) and Gamelab have just developed and released Ayiti: The Cost of Life.

Ayiti is a role playing game that allows you to take responsibility for a family of five in rural Haiti. The player can experience the struggles of a family on the edge as they try to stay healthy, stay out of debt and become educated.

The game play is fairly simple and straight forward which coupled with the excellent graphics and solid thinking make this simulation one that kids at a variety of grade levels could enjoy and learn from. As an instructional tool it has excellent potential for initiating discussion and thinking about a variety of issues including human rights, poverty, and population issues. Very cool stuff. Apparently the groups next foray is to develop a Global Kids Island in Teen Second Life.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Edutopia Article on Second Life

Edutopia is a magazine/interactive website created by the George Lucas Foundation that emphasizes using technology in schools. This article from their most recent magazine is a general overview of Second Life that tells us little we haven't already figure out. The end of the article however, sends you to the Global Kids' Digital Media Initiative which is a blog dedicated to technology used by and for kids. It includes diary entries and wonderful real life experiences using programs such as Second Life. (Plus the URL is how great is that?!)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Alice-Learn to Program Interactive 3D Graphics

I found this happenedly. I think it is very interesting. Alice is is a 3D interactive graphics programming environment created by the Stage 3 Research Group at Carnegie Mellon University. Novices can easily use Alice to create a 3D world with 3D objects. Here is its gallery.

The Educational Possibilities of a MMVW

The Educational Possibilities of a Massively Multiplayer Virtual World (MMVW) in Open Content explore the educational possibility of MMRPG, especially Second Life. In the article, the authors state that learners cannot be passive in a game or simulation. “Students engaged in educational games and simulations are interpreting, analyzing, discovering, evaluating, acting, and problem solving.” They think this learning approach to learning reflects constructive learning, where knowledge is constructed by the learners as they are actively problem solving in an authentic context. As the authors state most modern games provide a community for player to interact socially. This is consistent with the concept of constructive learning that collaboration is important. In a multiplayer game, players are provided with social experience within the game itself. In a massively multiplayer game, hundreds or even thousands of people can be playing at the same time. This surely increases the social interaction level, but at the same time, it may also increase the complexity and uncertain level.

Sneaky Teaching

Want to make some money? Hidden Agenda is a contest that seems to be right up our alley:

"Welcome to Hidden Agenda—a contest designed for the college student with a penchant for video games, a passion for innovation and a hankering for $25,000. If you think you’ve got the skills, pull together an ace design team and build a fabulous new video game. The winners will get it all—the fame, the fortune, bragging rights and maybe even a date with that hottie in economics.

So what’s the hidden agenda? Well, you can’t build just any game for anybody. It has to be a genius game for a middle school crowd. So fun, in fact, that they don’t notice it ‘s also teaching them something. That’s the “stealth education” aspect. Shh!"

At the very least, we should look closely at the winners!

Interactive Fiction Example

This website is part of a class offered through the open courseware section of Utah State University. The class is part of their Educational Technology program and is taught by Professor Brett Shelton, Ph.D. The website offers examples of Game Design Projects including an interactive fiction game called Voices of Spoon River.

Games: Does simple mean better?

From Wendy Wickham I found this post featuring a discussion with Professor Daniel Gopher on the fact that more realistic simulations may not necessarily be more effecitve for training.

"The need for physical fidelity is not based on research..."

"...a simple environment may be better in that it does not create the illusion of reality."

Simulations can be very expensive and complex, sometimes even costing as much as the real thing, which limits the access to training. Not only that, but the whole effort may be futile, given that some important features can not be replicated, and even result in negative transfer, because learners pick up on specific training features or sensations that do not exist in the real situation.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Grading the Educational Value of Popular Video Games

This is a MERLOT Resource. MERLOT can be thought of as kind of clearing house for educational materials which are peer reviewed and passed on. The review process is slow, but there's alot to be found there.
Read More about the what this MERLOT contributor wrote

Go to the site directly,

News at Seven

News At Seven is a system that automatically generates a virtual news show. Once it has assembled and edited its material, News At Seven presents it to the audience using a graphical game engine and text-to-speech (TTS) technology.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

US Government Agency in Second Life

Who would have thought the US government was hip enough to use Second Life for spreading educational messages? The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has set up a presence in SL (217, 220, 61) for the express purpose of extending it social message online.

Here is an interview with the John Anderton from the CDC who leads "an initiative to advance public health using new media, to recruit new persons into public health careers, and to reinvigorate old public health brands that have fallen by the wayside." Kudos for someone in the US government who knows how to use the Internet beyond using "THE GOOGLE".

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Corporate Training Simulations & Blogs

I recently received ASTD’s “The Buzz: Training News from around the World” and some interesting headlines and abstracts caught my attention in relation to this course. The first headline/article reviews the growing interest in using simulations for training among many corporations. A couple of the popular simulations are similar to ideas the class posted to the Moodle forum for Inform 7 and Second Life. The second headline/article explains how organizations can use blogs for their benefit, especially when they have made mistakes and need to publicly own up to them. I have included the headlines and abstracts that I originally read and links to the full articles.

"Business Simulations for Corporate Training
WebProNews (09/26/06) - Adams, Gabriel
Companies are increasingly using business simulators as training tools. These computer games recreate an aspect of the industry to help employees learn new skills or sharpen existing ones. Role playing simulators are suitable for customer service representatives and call center employees, as they mimic phone interactions. There are also leadership training simulators that enable employees to use leadership skills to make decisions and employment simulators that help those in charge of hiring assess recruits. Additionally, there are simulators for product development, legal compliance, and nearly all other aspects of a business."

Link to article:

"Mistakes Were Made
Inc. Magazine (10/06) Vol. 28, P. 65; Freedman, David H.
Blogs are often used by companies to tout the latest innovations at their factories or as an internal communication device between managers and employees. However, experts note that these communications tools could be used to admit mistakes publicly in order to stave off scandal, fines, and reputational damage. Executives could also use the medium to foster open communication about mistakes throughout the company, fostering a more ethical culture. Mayo Clinic, for instance, has developed a blog system in which its residents issue complaints about errors and other problems at the facility, workers admit their mistakes, and logs are made of what changes were made as a result. The clinic claims that the blog has helped improve care at the facility, and many experts agree that logging mistakes can help the entire firm learn from them and become more efficient. The one downfall of these confessional blogs would be that executives or managers opt to bring down those that confess honest mistakes, rather than use those confessions as a learning tool to improve the firm overall."

Link to article:

SL experience

I've had a variety of reactions to the time that I've spent in SL. The first was, "What is this and what the heck is going on?" The second was "Well this *IS* kind of cool". This must be what it's like to be stuck in new, foreign locale and not knowing much of the culture, none of the directions and having no one to rely on or lead you around to show you the ropes.

Although I did find a couple of people who were very friendly and helpful...and several Germans who kept asking me how they could get a job.

SL on Flickr

This is very cool. Photos from Second Life on Flickr. Check out Second Learning's photos which are specific to SL and learning.

SL in Business Week

Business Weeks has this article "How to get a Second Life". It is a great tip sheet that gives you some insight on things such as designing your avatar, buying real estate, understanding the culture, etc.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Newest Time Waster: Line Rider

The Newest Time Waster: Line Rider

It all started as an assignment for an illustration class. User ~fsk created a simple flash game where "...users "draw" their own ramps, hills and slopes with a pencil tool and then send a virtual sledder along the route until he swoops, swerves and crashes." According to, who hosts the game, more than four million people have viewed the game so far and over 325,000 have downloaded it. Interestingly enough, user ~fsk says Line Rider is not a game because there are no goals to achieve and there is no score. Yet, millions of people are creating unique paths that are showing up on YouTube and various video blogs. Paths range anywhere from 45 degree angles to a detailed roller coaster ride with obstacles, bridges, and tunnels.

After I read this TIME article, I decided to try it out myself. I basically view this as a constructivist approach to physics. You eventually learn how to create lines and curves that will make the virtual sledder keep sledding instead of falling over. If a line is too steep, your virtual sledder will topple over and its back to the drawing board with your newfound knowledge. It is all about predicting where the sledder will land after going down the line that you drew or after a loop you created. It's fascinating just watching the sledder and seeing what he'll make of the path you created. I can see how you can get lost in something like this!

I went on to You Tube and searched for Line Rider and there were 2,174 Hits. It's pretty amazing what people are doing with this simple interactive Flash game. Here are some examples that I thought were pretty cool: Line Rider and Half Pipe

Political and Social Games

After receiving the 1000th political phone message, I starting looking for articles and came across this from the BBC about online political games from the 2004 presidential elections. I did a Google search to see some current games and found some interesting topics. For example, 3rd World Farmer challenges players to keep themselves and their families alive while managing a farm in Africa. Along the same lines is "Darfur is Dying" a glimpse of what it's like for the millions who have been displaced in Sudan with the idea of showing how to help end the genocide. There is certainly a large variety ranging from drugs to religion. One I found particularly disturbing was "Ethnic Cleansing" the player can choose either a skinhead or a Klansman and runs through a ghetto murdering black people, before heading into a subway to murder Jews. When the player reaches the "Jewish Control Center", they must kill Ariel Sharon to win the game. Finally, I found one in Second Life "Exchanging Cultures" each player becomes a diplomat who must attempt to understand the cultures of the people that he/she is building relationships with, as well as share elements of his/her own culture. A refreshing alternative to "Ethnic Cleansing". Why does it seem like the people with the worst agenda's are the first to get their message to the masses using new technologies ?

Even the Nobel Prize Foundation Uses Games!

I was looking for some science activities when I came across the Nobel Prize site. Surprisingly I found a link on the site that has games so kids can learn about the work of Nobel Laureates. It was really quite interesting, I learned quite a few things I didn't know!

- Megan

Will Buddy Builder Make Kids Safe?

While pointing to this: - U.S. FTC's Buddy Builder game teaches social-networking safety, someone on SlashDot had this to say:
"Your tax dollars at work. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has launched an online quiz-show style game called Buddy Builder to test young users' abilities to spot potential threats on social networking Web sites. Naturally, the teen audience this is intended to reach is not going to go near the game except as a joke."

It's an interesting challenge. How do you reach this audience on topics like net safety (and drinking, smoking, drugs, etc.) without coming across as lame?