Sunday, August 24, 2014

Serious Games For Peace Competition: PEACEapp Call For Entries

Serious Games to promote cultural dialogue and conflict management

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Via: PEACEappUnited Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC)

Game developers, technologists and peace builders around the world are invited to submit Serious Games that facilitate dialogue and prevent violence.

The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and Build Up have launched PEACEapp, a global competition to promote digital games and gamified apps as venues for cultural dialogue and conflict management.

PEACEapp builds on the success of Create UNAOC – a competition for apps and games that promoted intercultural dialogue run by UNAOC and its partners in 2012.

The competition asks entrants to engage with questions that are central to building peace. How can we create new spaces for dialogue and shared action aimed at preventing violence? Is the key to provide opportunities for contact among individuals of different cultural or religious backgrounds? Can sharing stories also encourage mutual respect for cultural and religious values? Or is it about offering people tools to question and reframe their identity?

These questions are essential to the work of UNAOC, given its mandate to promote intercultural awareness. These questions are also closely linked to UNDP’s work on conflict prevention and peace building.

Supported by a range of partners including Games for Change, the Institute for Economics and Peace, the MIT Center for Civic Media and the ICT for Peace Foundation, PEACEapp is intended to give developers the chance to showcase their work – new, existing or in progress – and engage with questions that are central to building peace.

Of all the technological tools increasingly available to peace builders, Serious Games present opportunities that are particularly relevant to fostering dialogue that prevents violence.

“The very nature of social media and much of the new technology that continues to emerge around phones, tablets and other devices promote human togetherness, tolerance and inclusiveness. Potential for so many areas of our lives is increased, including to help prevent conflict and promote peace. I hope that web, app and game developers around the world take up this challenge. UNDP is excited to be working with PEACEapp to promote conflict management and dialogue”, said Jordan Ryan, Director of UNDP’s Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery.

PEACEapp Competition Rules

The competition is open to three kinds of entries at all stages of development – from prototypes to fully developed apps:

(i) Digital games & gamified apps developed purposefully for this competition
(ii) Already existing digital games
(iii) Creative re-purposing of existing digital games to meet the aim of PEACEapp

PEACEapp’s international jury will select five winning entries: three that are fully functioning and two that are under development. The three fully functioning games or apps will receive an award of USD$5,000 each. The two under development will receive mentorship from expert partners. In addition, one member of each award-winning team (completed or under development) will be invited to the Build Peace conference in April 2015 in Cyprus to share their product with conference participants.

The deadline for applications is October 15, 2014. Winners will be announced by November 30, 2014.

Digital games and gamified apps submitted to PEACEapp will be reviewed by an international jury according to the criteria described at

To submit a digital game or gamified app, entrants must complete the entry form on PEACEapp website in English and submit a video walkthrough or presentation of a working game / app, game / app alpha, beta prototype or implementation plan for using an existing game / app by October 15, 2014. Participants must be 13 years or older.

Make sure to check the eligibility criteria, rules and regulations at

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Free Assessment & Analytics Technology For Serious Games Developers

GlassLab to open up the technology so other Serious Games developers can provide insight into what kids are learning 

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Via: GlassLab  – Playfully
and Education Week - GlassLab Opens Opportunity for Education-Game Makers

In summer 2012, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in cooperation with the MacArthur Foundation, made a significant investment to establish the Games Learning and Assessment Lab (GlassLab), which includes top game developers, learning scientists, assessment designers and researchers from multiple fields and disciplines, housed at Electronic Arts and Co-Lab (Zynga).

The program was divided into two teams to mitigate conflict of interest and guarantee independent validation of assessments developed by the program.

The programming and development group (GlassLab) was tasked to design and develop state-of-the-art, game-based formative assessments. These assessments are being developed in response to the climate of student disengagement that currently exists in many classrooms. By leveraging the popularity of digital video games and by applying Evidence Centered Design (ECD), the game-based formative assessments address the needs of both students and teachers for reliable and valid real-time actionable data within a motivating learning environment. This work is being conducted by the Institute of Play, the Educational Testing Service (ETS), Pearson, Inc., Analytics and Adaptive Learning, Electronic Arts (EA), and the Entertainment Software Association (ESA).

Concurrently, the Foundation tasked the SRI-led research team (GlassLab-Research) to independently conduct research on the qualities, features, inferential validity, reliability, and effectiveness of the assessments that were embedded within the GlassLab game products. The GlassLab-Research work is being conducted by experts in assessment, learning sciences, science education, and learning technology at SRI with the support of external consultants.

Last month GlassLab announced that it is moving to provide free assessment and analytics technology to third-party digital learning game developers, including an initial cohort of five groups beginning this fall.

The goal is to help those developers more efficiently capture the torrents of data generated from student game play, process that information for signs that students are mastering academic standards, and display the results to students, teachers, and others via easy-to-use dashboards.

Over 100 groups—including research organizations, small startups, established commercial players, and more—submitted applications to be part of the initial cohort of developers with whom GlassLab will partner, according to Executive Director Jessica Lindl. 

Among other things, the groups will receive computer code that integrates into their existing games to help collect data and access to an Assessment Engine that processes that data against key academic standards.

Lindl said that GlassLab assessment experts from Pearson and ETS will also work directly with the third-party developers to figure out how the data generated by their games connect to academic standards.

The model for the new partnerships will be a recently completed pilot effort involving GlassLab and Washington-based iCivics, a nonprofit that develops web-based learning games such as Argument Wars, meant to help students learn the skills of evidence-based persuasive argumentation, which happens to be a key piece of the new Common Core State Standards (please find also Serious Games Boost Civic Education In The Classroom and iCivics 2013 Report: Serious Games Reaching 35,000 Educators Across 9,000 Schools).

Through the partnership with GlassLab, iCivics has been able to generate a much more robust portrait than was previously possible of what students are learning in Argument Wars.

In addition to knowing if a student won the game and was engaged while playing, iCivics can now see a portrait of the reasoning strategies and other mental processes used by the student. That information is aligned to academic standards and fed back to teachers to help them know what type of instructional help each student needs next.

"Because GlassLab has its own argumentation game (Mars Generation One: Argubot Academy, currently in beta-testing and expected to be publicly released this August), researchers were able to do sophisticated reliability and validity testing”, Lindl said (Please find also ELA Serious Games Infused With Stealth STEM Content).

Mars Generation One: Argubot Academy, offers an example of how that technology works.

In the game, players—typically middle school students—find themselves in a settlement on Mars where disputes are resolved through formal arguments. To succeed, players must search for evidence that can support the claims they are trying to make. They also must critique others' arguments, determining whether the evidence presented supports the claim effectively. Players advance by winning argument "duels" against opponents.

“Over the course of a complete 90-minute cycle of game play, players might engage in eight or more such duels and be asked to critique 20 claim-evidence pairings”, said Seth M. Corrigan, a research scientist for learning analytics with GlassLab.

The tools that the group has developed are used to gather, organize, and analyze the resulting data to create a model of what students know and have learned. First, the types of telemetry data generated by players' clicks and other in-game decisions deemed relevant through extensive analysis are located and stored in secure, custom-built databases. Then, that information is fed into an "assessment engine" that determines what students' game-play patterns reveal about their mastery of three specific common-core standards related to argumentation and reading informational texts. Finally, those results are reported back to students, teachers, parents, and others by digital dashboards.

As part of its new effort, GlassLab is also preparing to introduce a website that teachers will be able to access directly to find games and related instructional materials, and monitor students' progress.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Netherlands Shapes Its Serious Games Market Into A Global Benchmark

The Netherlands as a major player in the Global Serious Games Market

Courtesy of © 2013

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Via: NOM - Investment and Development Agency for the Northern NetherlandsSerious Games: A Serious Matter For The North

The large scale adoption of Serious Games implies disrupting the status quo - in other words, a step change as opposed to a linear one.

According to management guru Richard Pascale, discontinuity is more successfully promoted and sustained when disruptive changes are aligned at personal, social and institutional levels. In this context, alignment stands for linking organizational goals with team and personal goals.

Hard evidence points to The Netherlands as the current global benchmark in aligning those three spheres of influence in support of Serious Games large scale adoption.

A Few Value Metrics

According to the recently released PwC's annual Global Entertainment and Media Outlook 2014-2018, the global aggregate spending on video games in 2013 was US$ 66.0 billion.The double digit CAGR experienced in previous years shall no longer be achieved, but with 6.2% CAGR being forecast up to 2018 bringing total video games revenues to US$ 89.0 billion the game industry still has a huge potential.

The Dutch game industry is keeping pace with the global trend in the sector. According to Games Monitor 2012, the game industry - one of the top nine business sectors in The Netherlands - has roughly doubled since the last survey in 2010. Its growth is about 50% higher than any other industry in the Netherlands' region. Generating between US$ 200-300 million each year, it employs more than 3,000 people, mostly in smaller companies: 70 percent of them employ five or fewer people and approximately 10 companies employ 50 people or more.

While the market for entertainment games is dominated by foreign companies, Dutch firms are excelling in the Serious Games Market.

As reported by Control Magazine based on Games Monitor 2012 findings, "The Netherlands house 330 game companies, with 57% involved in the production of Serious Games, while 44 Percent of the Dutch game industry is exclusively dedicated To Serious Games" (often called Applied Games by the Dutch Serious Games community). This percentage is significantly higher than in any other national game industry and Dutch studios are considered international market leaders in Serious Games.

It is notable that the Dutch game industry places the emphasis on Serious Games. Whereas Serious Games account for 10 to 15 percent of turnover in the sector worldwide, in The Netherlands the ratio is roughly fifty-fifty.

In the Northern Netherlands the focus on Serious Games is even sharper: entertainment games are only made to a small extent.

The education sector has responded to these trends by developing courses and curricula to support the development in the gaming sector.

At the higher education level, students at the Hanze University of Applied Sciences can take the Game Design & Development program, and a Game Development specialization has been set up at NHL Leeuwarden. Festivals and competitions are organized and there is a monthly game industry get-together. In order to provide support for the companies, the education sector, public authorities and organizations with an interest in the development of Serious Games such as the Police, University Medical Center Groningen and the publishing company Noordhoff Uitgevers have created the GameAcademy. This initiative is supported by European funding.

Although the sector has not been given the status of northern spearheads such as energy, water, healthy ageing or agrifood, the growth potential is recognized by all, including NOM (Investment and Development Agency for the Northern Netherlands). Serious Games are found in industry, defense, shipbuilding, but also in softer sectors such as education and healthcare. Given the attention being paid to the spearhead Healthy Ageing, there are certainly opportunities for the North in the latter sector.

According to Albert Sikkema, GameAcademy Director, the game industry is on the verge of a breakthrough. “The beginning of April was an important milestone in this context”, he says. “The GameAcademy has convened a meeting for the highest level of the northern business community. We are looking to connect these companies to the game developers, starting off with the larger organizations such as Gasunie, the NAM, FrieslandCampina and UMCG. They have the most options open to work on new developments. After that, the use of Serious Games could fan out to the small- and medium-sized business sector. But those companies will have to give the nod and place orders, otherwise the game industry will not get the boost it needs to rise above first division level.”

“The education and healthcare sectors have recognized the possibilities offered by Serious Games as an instrument for improving skills, but that is less true for the business community”, adds Thijs Helfrich, founder of Wildsea in Leeuwarden. That is where the sector will have to start making its money.”

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Serious Games To Train Platform Workers How To Recognize Hazards

Serious Games increasing workers’ capabilities in dangerous situations

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Via: ABiz IND MediaTraining in Progress

For over 75 years, Frank’s International has been setting new standards in tubular and oil & gas services worldwide. The company’s roots date back to 1938, when Mr. Frank Mosing founded Frank’s Casing Crew & Rental Tools, which resulted in continuous and steady growth into a multi-service tubular company.

The Casing Services Division represents the core of FI’s operations. They began to design and manufacture their own equipment because the "off-the-shelf" tools available would not meet their criteria for ruggedness or dependability.

FI’s casing division demands the highest standards of training, testing and maintenance on all tools and equipment to ensure a safe, efficient and productive work environment.

As reported by ABiz, Jacke West, training director for Frank’s International, was looking for a training solution to better prepare workers with limited on-site experience to the intense operations happening on a platform, when he walked through the doors of Louisiana Immersive Technologies Enterprise (LITE) a few months ago.

LITE’s product development team has expertise in immersive, multi-person, interactive training environments that increase a worker’s capabilities and effectiveness in environment familiarization, training on complex machinery and in dangerous situations, and in measuring competency and retention of information.

When LITE first met with West, he needed a product that was engaging and effective, but after the first consultation, in which he was introduced to LITE’s IVLE (Immersive Virtual Learning Environments) product, he knew it would be a winner.

Working with West over the next few months, LITE took his original PowerPoint and textbook-based training program and elevated it to a high-end, immersive, virtual reality training Serious Game. This Serious Game environment was designed to train platform workers how to recognize hazards, when a dangerous situation requires a stop work order, and how to rig up a bail. During sprint reviews of the project, West and a few of his team members were able to come in to LITE’s facility and test the game at different levels of development. Throughout the process, the trainees who work on the equipment and perform the job duty were able to provide LITE with technical feedback and scenarios to ensure that the program was as true to life as possible.

Not only are Frank’s International employees able to train remotely, anywhere in the world, but training managers could potentially have the capability to receive data on how the trainees learn and correct learning gaps as they happen. This function is an added capability that Frank’s International can incorporate into its training program.

“Frank’s International wanted a program that allowed our workers to learn and retain information for safety reasons,” West says. “LITE has exceeded our idea of what the future of training looks like, and our workers are excited about learning on this game-based technology.”

About LITE

LITE, Louisiana Immersive Technologies Enterprise, is a political subdivision of the State of Louisiana and the only facility of its kind in North America open to both industry and academia. It was created as a partnership between the Lafayette Economic Development Authority, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and Louisiana Economic Development. 

LITE, a $27 million, 70,000-square-foot facility located at the Research Park of the University of Louisiana Lafayette

Conceived as a magnet for economic development available to businesses and organizations, LITE is a 3-D immersive visualization resource center, hosting clients in commercial industry, government and university sectors.

LITE's leading-edge facility features a comprehensive set of advanced visualization systems, focusing on immersive training called Immersive Virtual Learning Environments. To add an even deeper layer of immersion, LITE also utilizes the Oculus Rift, the 3D stereoscopic, virtual reality goggles that place players inside the environment for a fully immersive experience.