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.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Serious Games For Operating Room Risk Management

Serious Games offering multi-professional in-service training to every stakeholder in the OR

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Via: KTM Advance3D VOR (Virtual Operating Room)

3D VOR (Virtual Operating Room) is a collaborative and immersive Serious Game, under development by KTM Advance, targeting various defects in healthcare inside the OR due to a communication failure between the surgeons, the nursing staff, the anesthetists and the patient. 

The OR setting is one of the most frequent targets of healthcare malpractice suits.

Inside the operating room (OR), communication and anticipation are key for the patient's safety during and after the intervention. This is the context for the game that offers a multi-professional in-service training to every stakeholder in the operating room.

The game is centered on the effects of the communication between the surgeon, the nursing staff and the anesthetists upon crisis prevention and risk management inside the OR (control procedures, patient checklist).

Through 4 virtual surgery operations chosen on purpose (routine versus infrequent, benign versus vital, etc.) and carefully reenacted, the game explores the many reasons of a failure in the OR that can be related to bad communication.

To ensure that the learners collectively understand why an incident in the OR would occur as the mere result of an ineffective communication or a conflict, an intelligent debriefing is proposed in the same manner as mortality morbidity conferences (MMC).

3D VOR is a collaborative research project selected within the framework of the Single Inter-Ministry Fund 12th Call for Projects.

The Single Inter-Ministry Fund is a French program designed to assist in the development of new products and services with high innovation content, likely to reach the market within 5 years. The Single Inter-Ministry Fund (FUI) is restricted to funding R&D projects accredited by competitiveness clusters, while the projects must guarantee economic benefits for the country as a whole. With approximately 130 million euros available each year, the Single Inter-Ministry Fund issues two calls each year for project proposals.

KTM Advance and Novamotion have partnered with research experts in the fields of artificial intelligence (IRIT), ergonomics (CCLE) didactics (EFTS), healthcare (Toulouse University Hospital) and the Serious Game Research Network (Champollion University).

The picture is an illustration of the prototype currently being tested

The first working single player prototype was released in August 2014 and the multi-player prototype, integrating artificial intelligence, is expected for early 2015.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Serious Games Improve Understanding Of Type 1 Diabetes At School

Serious Games supporting children with Type 1 Diabetes in their school environment

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Created by Sanofi Diabetes, in collaboration with Ranj Serious Games, to address the need for greater understanding of Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) amongst children, parents, caregivers and friends in the school environment, the new Mission T1D Serious Game is now available, free of charge, from the Apple UK store. 

(Note: Right after publishing this post, I was notified by Sanofi-Diabetes that "With regard to the availability of the App there appears to be a delay. We are currently awaiting a confirmation date, which is imminent. As soon as we have it, we will let you know and send you the link.")

T1D affects 400,000 people in the UK and more than 29,000 are children (please find detailed stats under the section About T1D in UK).

Mission T1D aims to improve the understanding of living with diabetes and helps to share practical information to better support children with diabetes, especially in their school environment.

Dr. Sheridan Waldron, Specialist Diabetes Dietitian, says, "Children with diabetes and their families face many challenges in their daily lives as they care for a very complex life-long condition. It is essential that children, parents and caregivers have the knowledge and skills to manage diabetes but they also need their friends, teachers and other people in the school environment to understand and support them to care for their diabetes effectively. Sharing information and fostering a caring environment at school will help children with diabetes to feel normal, happy and ensure that they reach their full potential in a safe environment."

Game Context & Goals

The Mission T1D Serious Game by Sanofi Diabetes is aimed at kids with type 1 diabetes and their friends, parents and caregivers.

It takes place in a school setting and features educational messages adapted for primary school-age children.

Players make their way through a number of levels by earning points to advance though the game, each level providing short, practical and illustrated messages from "the sensei”, a wise old man, about living with Type 1 Diabetes at school along with a number of educational videos to reinforce key topics. Players can become a Grand Master at the end of each level after watching educational videos that explain key subjects including what T1D is about, everyday life with T1D, what is hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia and how to t have a healthy diet. Players are also invited to test their knowledge and understanding of living with T1D by taking part in the quiz.

The game is designed to allow children living with T1D to share basic knowledge about diabetes within their school environment in order to dispel any misconceptions. Furthermore, their peers can feel involved in helping their classmates through support and a better understanding of what it is like to live with diabetes.

The entire educational pack (game, videos and quiz), when used in a classroom setting, is also a useful toolkit for teachers, creating an understanding of diabetes that can easily be included into the curriculum. The desired outcome is for children with T1D to feel more supported and understood.

At home, parents or caregivers can also get involved by talking to their child about the app, finding out how it is being used and encouraging its use in and outside of school.

The game’s launch follows less than a year after Sanofi’s last diabetes-focus mobile game, Monster Manor, which encouraged players to regularly test and log their blood glucose levels.

Rebecca Reeve, Head of Professional Relations at Sanofi Diabetes says, "As a company, we have entered the diabetes gaming arena to improve health outcomes for children with Type 1 Diabetes. We are committed to making a difference to the lives of children who are struggling with the challenge of managing diabetes, especially in an environment where they can easily be made to feel different. We hope that the teachers, parents and carers for whom this game was developed will make it their mission to make this game a success."

About T1D in UK

In the UK 400,000 people live with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D), 29,000 of these are children.

The UK ranks the fifth highest in the world for the rate of children diagnosed with T1D. Of all the countries with data, only Finland, Sweden, Saudi Arabia and Norway have higher rates than the UK.

Each year in the UK more than 24 in every 100,000 children aged 14 and younger are told that they have this form of diabetes, which must be treated with insulin. The UK rate is double than in France (12.2 per 100,000) and Italy (12.1 per 100,000). According to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), the incidence of type 1 diabetes among children is increasing by 4% year on year, with the greatest rise in under-fives at a rate of 5% per year.

In addition to the medical complications that T1D causes, a child diagnosed with type 1 at the age of five, faces up to 19,000 injections and 50,000 finger pricks by the time they are 18.

In 2010/2011 the direct and indirect costs of type 1 to the UK were £1.9 billion and this figure is predicted to rise to a staggering £4.2 billion per year by 2035 if things remain as they are.

UK experts say it is unclear why the figure is so high. Unlike type 2 diabetes, type 1 is not linked to obesity or lifestyle; instead, genes do appear to play a role.

UK charities Diabetes UK and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) say it is vital that people are aware of the symptoms of type 1 diabetes because if left undiagnosed and untreated, it can lead to serious illness and even death. A quarter of the 2,000 children a year who develop diabetes are only diagnosed once they are already seriously ill.

About Sanofi

Sanofi is a multinational pharmaceutical company headquartered in Paris, France, as of 2014 the world's fifth-largest one by prescription sales. 

The company was formed in August 2004 when Sanofi-Synthelabo acquired Aventis, which were each the product of several previous mergers. The takeover was finalized on December 31 of that year, giving birth to Sanofi-Aventis. On May 6, 2011, Sanofi-Aventis simplified its name to Sanofi.

Sanofi has core strengths in the field of healthcare with seven growth platforms: diabetes solutions, human vaccines, innovative drugs, consumer healthcare, emerging markets, animal health and the new Genzyme. Sanofi is listed in Paris (EURONEXT: SAN) and in New York (NYSE: SNY).

Sanofi Diabetes strives to help people manage the complex challenge of diabetes by delivering innovative, integrated and personalized solutions. Driven by valuable insights that come from listening to and engaging with people living with diabetes, Sanofi is forming partnerships to offer diagnostics, therapies, services and devices, including innovative blood glucose monitoring systems.