Saturday, November 22, 2014

Serious Games Showcase & Challenge 2014 Finalists Debrief

SGS&C 2014 tallying results for Serious Games Awards

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Again this year, high quality games were submitted to the Challenge.  The entries came from a broad spectrum of government, academia and industry and included numerous international entries. 

Here are this year’s finalists, representing the best of the best:

Government Category

Czechoslovakia 38-89 by Charles University in Prague/Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic

As an immersive, first-person Serious Game focused on story exploration and narrative, Czechoslovakia 38-89 allows students to experience key moments of modern history from the point of view of a variety of characters, promoting a deeper understanding of the political, social and cultural aspects of this time period.

Eagle Eye by US Army PdM-Ground Maneuver & Camber Corporation
A fielded US Army training game that leverages an expansive and immersive 3D urban environment that puts the player in control of an Unmanned Aircraft supporting a Brigade Combat Team using their critical decision making skills.  As players progress through the game they are trained through intense real world situations.
Strike Group Defender: The Missile Matrix by Office of Naval Research and MIT Lincoln Laboratory

The US Navy’s first prototype multiple player, game-based software-training program that trains, tests and evaluates navy personnel employment and use of Navy Electronic Warfare tactics and systems in increasingly difficult wartime situations
Student Category
Hurricane Game by University of Central Florida

An interactive learning experience that allows players to explore and gain a broad understanding of the factors that influence storm impact on human populations, from the perspective of both the storm and the house builders”.

Cyber Heist by University of Utah

A two-player co-op experience where you team up with a friend to take on the futuristic Department of Education as either an eye-in-the-sky Hacker or a stealthy, cautious Thief.

The Shield: By Sword and Knowledge by Purdue University

An educational action-adventure game to teach vocabulary to English language learners. The game focuses on improving learners’ ability to recognize, spell, and pronounce vocabulary words in an immersive environment. 

Industry Category

Sound Scouts by cmee4 Productions Pty Ltd

A game played by children to assess their hearing on a mobile tablet with headphones. Created in partnership with the National Acoustic Laboratories, it incorporates scientific principles that enable to detect a range of hearing problems.

DragonBox Elements by We WantToKnow AS

Players learn to identify shapes based on their properties. As the game progresses, players use the definitions, postulates and theorems presented in Euclid’s Elements to solve increasingly sophisticated puzzles. 

The Underground Railroad by Muzzy Lane Software/National Geographic Education

Played from a first-person perspective, in a choose-your-own-journey style, the game immerses students in the action as they escape from a southern plantation and head north toward freedom.

The Radix Endeavor by MIT Education Arcade

Players take on roles of mathematicians and scientists and embark on quests that encourage them to investigate and interact with the virtual environment through math and science systems. 

Info Sentinel: Travel Security by MAVI Interactive LLC

In the game, players assume the role of agent "Sentinel", who is urgently called to help a company, following an information security breach. As the game progresses, players are asked to explore different environments to uncover potential vulnerabilities, handle incidents and perform corrective actions.

Hungry Birds by Digital Glass LLC

A fast-paced game where the player is a bird flying through a forest and has to eat as many moths as possible in 60 seconds. At the end of the game players see how the pressure to compete forced them to go after the easier-to-see moths, thereby changing the population mix - a demonstration of how natural selection works.

Lifting with Scissors by Serious Labs

A game that abstractly teaches users various safe protocols and features of the scissor lift. From environmental hazards to choosing the right machine for the job, players will gain a better understanding of when and how they should use their scissor lifts.

Far-Plane: Beyond Boundaries, Series 1: Managing
Boundaries by Triad Interactive Media, Inc.

A role-playing game that teaches essential leadership skills through exciting challenges and quests. Set on a resource-starved planet torn among warring factions, players navigate complex political environments, unite diverse peoples and build strategic alliances to save the world. 

Nanocrafter by University of Washington - Center for Game

A synthetic biology game created to educate and entertain players while advancing science.  As players progress through the game, they learn how to utilize DNA strand displacement reactions to construct a variety of mechanisms that will assist them in solving the increasingly complex puzzles. 

Robot Factory by Simcoach Games (formerly known as Etcetera Edutainment, Inc.)

Robot Factory utilizes, across over 100 different shift tasks (in the game two-minute levels are called shifts), an increasingly complex and compounded combination of different types of cognitive challenges.

Combat Medic by Virtual Heroes

An immersive application with the goal of instructing combat medics on optimal treatment techniques of the top three causes of preventable death on the modern battlefield and supplements the 68W combat medic training courses. 

ACT! - Awareness Combats Trafficking by Engineering & Computer Simulations, Inc.

The game presents an occurrence where a young girl is tricked into being trafficked by a seemingly legitimate modeling scout. It is the player’s job to identify red flags signifying that Macy may be in trouble, with the help of a trusted police officer and a mutual friend of the player and the victim.

Picked from a field of the above finalists, winners will be announced early December with 7 awards to be reaped:

Best Game Government Category; Best Game Student Category; Best Game Business Category; Best Game Mobile Category; People’s Choice Best Game; Students’ Choice Award and Best Game Special Emphasis – Social Media Crowdsourcing for Peer. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Serious Games Market Back from Sabbatical in Italy

Serious Games Market exploring the boundaries of what can be achieved outside a game

Dear Serious Games Community,

I've been traveling about Northern Italy over the last few weeks and immersing in the historical-geographical regions of
Lombardy, Veneto and Friuli.

My deep apologies to all for my anticipated email backlog. Please do not hesitate to re-send messages that I have not yet replied as I exceeded servers' capacity.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Serious Gaming To Balance Global Water Demands @ Eco Challenge 2015

Serious Games for learning integrated water resources management through an ecosystem approach

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The 3rd edition of the Eco Challenge, an online Serious Game competition targeted at pre-college youth, aims to create a context for learning about integrated water resources management (IWRM) through an ecosystem approach.

IWRM is a process that promotes the coordinated development and management of water, land and related resources, in order to maximize the resultant economic and social welfare in an equitable manner without compromising the sustainability of vital ecosystems.

The game – Aqua Republica, developed by UNEP-DHI Center, is designed to help players cultivate self-directed learning skills and develop domain-specific knowledge as well as the ability to transfer conceptual knowledge to new situations. Players get to exercise independence in setting goals and making decisions as well as how to achieve the game’s objective within a given framework.

The UNEP-DHI Center is a United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) dedicated to improving the management, development and use of freshwater resources from the local to the global level. The Center is hosted at DHI, an independent, international consulting and research-based not-for-profit foundation of more than 1000 employees, with offices in 26 countries, and with more than 30 years of experience in water resources management.

Since its inception in 1996, the Center has become a core resource for UNEP’s work on freshwater issues and in delivering UNEP’s Programs of Work. The Center’s ability to draw on DHI’s expertise in water and project implementation, as well as those of a broad network of partners, is one of its greatest strengths.

UNEP-DHI Eco Challenge 2015 provides an exciting learning opportunity for students aged 11-17 through the online Serious Game competition.

The competition is structured in two-tiers - national and international. Teams from 12 countries, Australia - China - Hong Kong - India - Indonesia - Korea - Malaysia - Philippines - Singapore - Taiwan - Thailand - Vietnam, are ranked nationally and top teams invited to play in the international round.

Competition dates are flexible, between October 2014 and March 2015, and students can play online from anywhere in the world.  All participants receive a certificate acknowledging their involvement and the top three teams awarded with cash prizes, trophies and medals.

Eco Challenge 2014 experienced an amazing success when a total of 420 teams from over 50 schools across 10 countries in the Asia-Pacific region participated in the challenge. 

About Aqua Republica – The Strategic Water Resource Serious Game

Aqua Republica is an online Serious Game that aims to raise awareness and educate stakeholders about the importance and challenges of managing limited natural resources in the face of multiple and often competing demands, in their drive towards sustainable development.

The game environment allows players to interact and make decisions on the management of a catchment, with real time simulation of hydrological processes, developments and water resources management options.

While the world of Aqua Republica is fictitious, the challenges of managing a limited supply of water resources in a situation of growing demand between multiple users and uses are based on real life scenarios. 

A turn-based strategy game, players are given 12 turns (translated to 20 years) in each game. There is no time limit to making the next turn, thus allowing discussions and deliberations before moving on to the next turn.

At the beginning of each turn, the player will be presented with a “News” screen, providing updates on the latest events in the game environment.  These events can either be random or triggered by an action taken in the earlier turn. The player can then evaluate the new state before playing the next turn.

Together, these “triggered” and “random” events provide a realistic simplification of the real world so that the player can play and learn through experience, the conflicts and trade-offs that exist in a river basin, and how to best manage it to achieve optimal outcome.

To score in the game, players have to understand and apply the concepts of land fertility (which affects the placement of farms), gradients of land forms (which affects location of factories), population growth to water supply, power consumption vis-à-vis industrial development.

The goal of the game is to achieve the highest possible score at the end of the 12 turns.

Alone or together with groups of players, you plan and develop a river basin with multiple stakeholders. Your area initially contains a river, a small urban area that includes some businesses and light industry, a few farms and a small power station. Your aim is to create prosperous living conditions for the population in a healthy and sustainably managed environment.

As time moves on, drivers such as population growth, climate change and actions of other players, force you to adapt to survive and thrive. For example, you may need to decide to clear a forest area to open up land to expand industry. However, developments are costly, take time to implement, impact the environment and other users, as well as your score.

Science Behind The Game

Aqua Republica game mechanics revolve around real science. Numerical computational models (by MIKE BASIN from DHI) are used in real-time to generate a realistic game environment especially in terms of water resources and hydrology. This allows players to also gain an insight into working with nature while developing their communities.

The virtual environment consists of two layers – a water allocation and hydrology model based layer and a game layer which uses the results of the model and links it to social, economic and environmental factors.

Integrated water resources management (IWRM) is a broad topic and there is not yet a version of Aqua Republica that can accommodate all the scopes. So to overcome this problem, Aqua Republica is split into core and unique versions.

The core version of Aqua Republica is a framework of game features and game modules which can be assembled into various unique versions. A partner will typically be interested in developing a unique version for their own use with a specific focus.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Serious Games For Collective Training Inside A Virginia Class Submarine

Serious Games creating highly immersive environments for subsurface special operations

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As anticipated on my prior post,  Serious Games For Subsurface Special Operations Training, the crew at RealTime Immersive Inc. has been working on Serious Games for Subsurface Spec Ops using Virtual Attain™ CryENGINE®.

They are now focused on the development of a highly immersive Subsurface Special Operations environment for collective training within a Virginia Class Submarine.

Below is the latest preview trailer in the company’s Subsurface Special Operations development efforts. This video is real-time, in engine footage. The amount of detail put into every single asset is incredible. Combining this along with the stunning environment and cinematic value shown in the trailer makes RealTime Immersive Inc.'s work a fit-for-purpose simulation for military use.

Realtime In-Game Video Segment Demonstrating The Subsurface Special Operations Environment Inside The Virginia Class Submarine

About Virtual Attain™ CryENGINE®

Virtual Attain is a CryENGINE® powered solution inspired by efforts inside the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Special Operations Command. Virtual Attain is designed to be used by soldiers who have previously received training, such as patrol operations, casualty evacuation, call for fire, egress, and special operation tactics.

Virtual Attain’s use of robust review features allows players to make critical decisions during high-pressure, time-limited situations. Students can enhance their situational awareness in hostile environments by taking individual skills previously learned from real world environments and putting them into practice in a simulated team environment.

About RealTime Immersive

RealTime Immersive is a simulation and Serious Games company that leverages on the market demand for new methods of effectively improving human performance, derived from a scenario of increasing costs associated with live training combined with decreasing budgets at all levels of government, military and commercial organizations.

The Orlando-based company has recently expanded its corporate operations into the hub of simulation and training in the Central Florida Research Park. The new space, located at 2501 Discovery Drive, Suite 100, houses RealTime’s development team dedicated to empowering its Serious Games and simulation customers to create high-retention live, virtual and constructive (LVC) learning experiences using Virtual Attain™ CryENGINE®.

RealTime Immersive and Virtual Attain are registered trademarks or trademarks of RealTime Immersive, Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries. CryENGINE is a registered trademark or trademark of Crytek GmbH in the U.S., Germany, and/or other countries.  All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.