Sunday, February 28, 2010

Online Water Conservation Serious Game


Serious Game to to successfully managing a river catchment


Via: ABC Catchment Detox Game

Catchment Detox is an easy-to-play but tough-to-master online Serious Game from Australia. Catchment Detox is an online game challenging the player to successfully managing a river catchment while creating a sustainable, healthy economy.

According to the experts that perform a similar juggling act in real life, “the challenge of planning and implementing activities on a catchment scale is a very complex issue, and the game to a large degree picks that up. The wonderful thing about the game is that there's instant feedback about the impact of industries and the cost of removing or changing land uses. In reality it's not so simple.”

Experts’ suggestions for doing well in the game, and in real-life catchment management as well are to keep that need to balance industry and ecology in mind, and to move industries away from the edges of watercourses.

 
In 100 turns, you decide how and where to plant crops, when and where to log forests, where and when to build factories or set up national parks.
 
Keep your eye on the impact stats to compare the economic and environmental pros and cons of your decisions.
 
Some activities bring in more money, but use a lot of water; others bring environmental benefits, but not much income. You can add or remove as many activities as you like (until you run out of money and/or turns!)
 
Catchment Fact Sheet – A System in Balance
 
The catchment of a river is the area of land that water falls on to feed that river. Every area of land on the planet is part of a catchment. As water moves over the land, it finds its way into streams and down into the soil, eventually feeding the river. Some water remains underground and this slowly recharges the river even when there is no rainfall. Not all catchments feed rivers that flow to the sea. Some are the source of rivers which flow inland, ending in a dry lake or wetland.
 
Every one of us lives in a catchment. Look at a map or street directory of your area and find the nearest stream, creek or river. If you are in the city it may now be just a drain or even a pipe under the ground.
 
The concept of a catchment is useful, because it is the scale on which many parts of the landscape work. The soil, plants, animals and water all function together in a catchment – anything that affects one of these will also have an impact on the others. The health of our catchments is vital for human existence because they are where all food is grown. The water you drink comes from a catchment near you. The oxygen you breathe comes ultimately from a growing green plant or algae. So catchments are part of our life support systems, and support the lives of all plants and animals.
 
In 2002, an assessment was made of the overall health of Australia’s more intensively used catchments.
 
The assessment looked at land, water and biodiversity in each catchment, including problems such as salinity, erosion, sedimentation, pesticide use, pollution, roads, native tree-cover, human population and pests.
 
The survey, done by the National Land and Water Resources Audit, found that the condition of 70% of Australia’s most populated catchments is merely average or worse than average.

Over the last 200 years people have been busy clearing land for farming, mining, building towns and cities and changing catchments which had been in equilibrium for thousands of years.

One reason they are so damaged is because we have not understood that changing something in one part of a catchment can have a huge impact somewhere else.

Catchments will benefit from a more integrated approach to management: where the impact of all activities – farming, development, tourism, and so on – are considered as part of the entire landscape and can be done in greater sympathy with the natural plant, animal, soil and water assets of the catchment.


Game Background
 
Catchment Detox is a major initiative by the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) and its partners to help Australians better understand and manage the environment they live in.
 
The free online game, begins with a catchment in critical condition and through virtual years, decisions must be made on how to restore and sustain it, balancing three basic factors: the health of the environment, the economy and population growth.
 
To assist players and give listeners a greater understanding of catchment management, ABC Local Radio decided to broadcast insights into five key elements of natural resource management: surface water, ground water, biodiversity, soil health and community sustainability.
 
The radio series broadcast over a two week period, coincided with a competition where the top player would win a trip for two to one of Australia's most pristine catchments - Lake Argyle in the Kimberleys. A special school prize was also available for school groups who registered.
 
Catchment Detox is an ABC initiative in partnership with eWater, the CSIRO, the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research and National Science week. Catchment Detox is based on an original idea by Natural Resource Management advisor Tim Stubbs and consultant Lucy Broad.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Serious Games Embedded In Our Everyday Lives

Like Minds 2010 on Serious Games

Joanne Jacobs at Like Minds 2010
At the Like Minds conference in Exeter this week, Joanne Jacobs looked at the opportunities for companies developing location-based services, augmented reality and gaming

Via: guardian.co.uk - Like Minds: Augmented Reality, Location Based Services and Serious Games

Full Article
Posted by Kevin Anderson Friday 26 February 2010 15.42 GMT - guardian.co.uk

At the Like Minds conference in Exeter, social media consultant Joanne Jacobs looked at three technologies - location-based services, augmented reality and Serious Games - and explained how and why companies needed to take these emerging technologies seriously. 

However, she was quick to say that while there were many opportunities to use these technologies effectively that a lot of them currently were "rubbish".

Augmented Reality (AR) seemed all the rage in 2009, but she said that its entering the "trough of disillusionment" crashing after the "peak of inflated  expectations", referring to the hype cycle coined by tech analysis group Gartner.

One AR application she found required you to buy a t-shirt, then sit in front of your computer with a webcam to play rock, scissors, paper with yourself. "It's hopeless," she said.

However, our society is becoming much more visually oriented, and AR offers the opportunity to deliver better information. For instance, many stores already had online shops that would suggest alternate products. They already had that database. Why not develop an AR application that would allow shoppers to point their camera phone at something on the shelf and see other products they stocked?

Ikea offer a service where you could take a picture of your lounge and see their furniture in your own lounge.

Location-based services and geo-tagging also offer lots of opportunities. She said that geo-tagging offered the opportunity for better connections. We're seeing this now with location-based networks such as Foursquare, Gowalla and Google's Latitude.

"The only really useful communications tools are those that create better relationships between individuals," she said.

To develop location-based applications, she urged people to focus on already widely available technology. Instead of giving in to the hype around the iPhone, she urged participants to focus on larger opportunities. The iPhone only amounted for 16.6% of global smartphone sales in the last quarter of 2009, according to ABI Research said. In contrast, Nokia smartphone share increased to 40%, and Nokia smartphones are already capable of geo-tagging and location-based services.

She also talked about games, not video games, but what are often referred to as "Serious Games". Private equity was flowing into these types of projects because "it's cheaper to do drills in immersive environments or games than to do litigation or the clean up from errors," she added.

One problem with many serious games efforts was that they were too earnest. To be successful, serious game designers needed to understand people's motivations. "You have to give people the incentive to participate," she said.

These emergent media were currently used by early adopters, but with successful technologies, the gap between early adoption and the early majority is typically between three to five years, she said. To take advantage of these trends, companies needed to start now.

When done right, location based apps offer better connections, augmented reality offers better information and Serious Games offer you the ability to explore more effectively the environments in which you exist, she said.

About Like Minds Social Media Conference



Like Minds is a day of business community action, challenging the ideas of existing social media thinking and drawing up solutions that can be applied to better business practices and the wider society. The conference hosts a diverse range of speakers from around the world.

Keynote speakers and panellists from around the world converged on the Exeter Conference Centre on Friday February 26 (10am-8pm), along with large brand sponsors such as Orange Mobile and Kodak, national press, and leading global PR and advertising agencies such as Ogilvy Group.

The event explored the change in business towards greater levels of personalization for their customers, and the role that being ‘social’ plays in enterprises and charities as the world becomes more connected through social networking and mobile devices.

Scott Gould, the co-founder of Like Minds, commented: “Our aim with Like Minds 2010 is simple: to walk the talk. The challenge we face is not only to inspire people, but to give them the tools to immediately act on that inspiration.

“Our hope is that the new technologies and ideas we are discussing at the conference are used effectively only as tools to enable what is the most precious human resource – each other.”

Organizers were looking to build upon the success of last year’s event which attracted 200 attendees and reached over 200,000 online participators through Twitter.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Lure of the Labyrinth: Serious Games For Middle School Pre-Algebra


Serious Games reaching today's tech-savvy students in a contemporary way


Via: FableVision and Interactive Media Technology

PRESS RELEASE

FableVision Teams to Debut "Lure of the Labyrinth" Online Math & Literacy Game

A Collaboration with MPT & MIT Education Arcade Designed to Test the Efficacy of Gaming & Learning

(Boston, MA) February 18, 2009 – At last, the “pencil and paper” driven math class gets a brand new boost with the highly anticipated launch of Lure of the Labyrinth, an online pre-algebra middle-school math game developed to reach today's tech-savvy students in a contemporary way. FableVision, the award-winning educational media developer, in collaboration with Maryland Public Television (MPT) and the MIT Education Arcade, has applied the latest research in game theory, cutting-edge design, and a story-driven approach to produce a powerful learning tool to help all students learn regardless of their math ability.

 
In the world of Lure of the Labyrinth, students progress through three sections, or "wings." Each is related to a different math strand that is part of a typical pre-algebra curriculum: •Proportions (including fractions and ratios) •Variables and Equations •Number and Operations (including geometry, order of operations and modular arithmetic).
Each of the three wings includes three puzzles, and each of the puzzles has three levels. The levels progress from easy to hard. And, continuing with the "rule of three," students have to successfully solve each puzzle three times before they can eliminate a room.

 
FableVision created the engaging online game environment, marrying an immersive interface and compelling storyline with standards-based curriculum. An underground monster-inhabited world comes to life as students plunge into a shadowy factory on a mission to rescue their missing pet. Taking on a monster persona (avatar), students disguise themselves as “insiders” to maneuver through math problems.
 
Says Gary Goldberger, Executive Vice President of FableVision and executive producer of Labyrinth, "It's not a news flash that textbooks and lectures make some kids' eyes glaze over. While online gaming can’t reach all of the students we're losing in the areas of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), for some kids this approach may open a new doorway into a subject they may have avoided until now."
 
Lure of the Labyrinth can be accessed free of charge.Visit http://labyrinth.thinkport.org/, MPT’s K-12 education website.
 
“The aim of Labyrinth is to reach and teach students who may not otherwise feel successful in learning math,” says Gail Porter Long, MPT Senior VP & Chief Education Officer. “Quality educational games provide a flexible format to nurture valuable critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, setting the stage for future learning.”


Utilizing the immersive characteristics of digital games, Labyrinth blends a compelling storyline with multi-level puzzle play to build pre-algebra skills in several core areas: proportions, fractions and ratios; variables and equations; and number and operations. “FableVision is dedicated to radical reform in education," declares Paul Reynolds, FableVision's President and Co-Founder. “This requires unprecedented creativity and innovation to reinvent how we reach kids and to excite them about learning, especially in areas like STEM — where we are facing a critical shortage of future professionals.”

Labyrinth can be played individually or in teams, and was designed to give all students a chance to learn and succeed. An online communication device allows players to exchange ideas and game strategies, and encourages collaborative game play.

MIT Education Arcade Creative Director Scot Osterweil led the design team, which incorporated fundamental elements of a good learning game. “Effective games allow students to succeed through trial and error. They learn to use the feedback from short-term setbacks to achieve success” explains Osterweil. “In the process they construct a deeper understanding of the math concepts.”

A team of Maryland middle school teachers worked alongside the development team to advise and to test the game at each stage of development. The game's website provides comprehensive educator materials to support teachers (especially non-gamers) before, during, and after game play. The materials provide a detailed “how to” for every aspect of the game, along with suggested small- or large-scale classroom implementation.

About FableVision

FableVision, an educational media developer and publisher, is on a mission to bring the world to a better place through positive media, storytelling and technology. Located at the Boston Children's Museum, the FableVision team enjoys an international reputation for its unique brand of innovative, technology-delivered storytelling and learning.

FableVision creates websites, digital games, animation, and books with key players on the education landscape, including PBS, Maryland Public Television, MIT Education Arcade, Sesame Workshop, Scholastic, KCET, Carnegie Hall, National Academy of Sciences, WGBH, Random House, Simon & Schuster, Pearson, Girl Scouts of the USA, SARRC, the Research Institute for Learning and Development, Boston University, and The Jim Henson Company.

Among its K-12 software products are Animation-ish&trade, Stationery Studio® and Get A Clue®, designed to promote creativity, writing, reading, and essential 21st century skills. Developed for learners of all types, BrainCogs®, Essay Express&trade, and SmartMoves&trade have been recognized as being particularly effective for challenged learners. FableVision's K-12 software product offerings are distributed worldwide.

For more information about Lure of the Labyrinth and project partners go to:

Lure of the Labyrinth http://labyrinth.thinkport.org/
MIT Education Arcade http://www.educationarcade.org/
Funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education Star Schools Program http://www.ed.gov/programs/starschools/index.html

Renault Academy: Serious Games For Conducting A Sales Interview

Serious Games increasing the efficiency of Renault’s sales force worldwide 


Via: Daesign - Renault Wins The Best Serious Game Of The Year at the International IntraVerse Awards 2010, In Monaco

The fourth edition of the International IntraVerse Awards (IIVA) has announced the results of this year’s competition.

The awards ceremony was held in Monaco in the context of IMAGINA 2010 (find also my previous post IMAGINA 2010: Serious Games Impact On Management, with members of the prestigious jury that included scientists and international experts in virtual worlds, Social Networks and Serious Games.

For 4 years now, members of Brent's Blog 2.0 managers, have worked to identify the best achievements, awarding the trophy LOOVE (L'Once d'Or Virtuel) in 7 categories, including Serious Games.

Daesign and Renault have won the Serious Games and All Categories Awards, with an impressive number of votes "according to Gilbert Reveillon President of the Jury. The game was developed to train and increase the efficiency of Renault’s sales force worldwide.


Over the 4 years, 100 case studies have been submitted, and this year 15 cases were pre-selected out of the 30 applications, leading to the following classification for Renault Academy:

Winner All Categories

- 1st Prize GOLD - LOOVE All Categories: RENAULT Academy
- 2nd Prize SILVER- LOOVE All Categories: RMIT Vast Park
- 3rd Prize Bronze - LOOVE All Categories: Assemblies
 Winner Corporate Serious Games Category
- 1st Prize: RENAULT Academy


International Launch

Renault Academy has decided to leverage the training and education of its dealer network across 40 countries. Developed in four languages, the game was tailored to Renault’s international network needs.

Renault is a pioneer in the use of Serious Games to train the dealer network, raising the interest of the media and other companies who eager to hear about the success of this approach.

These companies are benchmarking Renault Academy, to capitalize on the strengths that can result from making use of Serious Games for the sales force training.




Sunday, February 21, 2010

Serious Games Help New Recruits On The Ship

UK Navy serious game developed in Thinking Worlds


Via: Thinking Worlds - Maritime Warfare School (MWS) - Weapons Engineering Round - Immersive Learning Simulation

The Maritime Warfare School asked Caspian Learning to develop a serious game that reduces the “shock” new recruits experience during their first days on the ship and improves speed-to-performance in conducting a Weapons Engineering round.

Game Development Background

The Maritime Warfare School (MWS) at HMS Collingwood is part of the Royal Navy’s Flag Officer Sea Training organization, and its mission is not to be taken lightly: “To train Officers and Ratings for the Fleet who are ready to fight and win.” To achieve this mission, MWS uses a potent strategy: combining theoretical classroom studies with practical work.

To remain true to its purpose, MWS is in a constant state of performance improvement, searching out gaps between training and real life at sea. One of the gaps MWS recognized was new and recent recruits had little or no opportunity to experience day-to-day life on board a ship such as the type 23 frigate and had no understanding of the ship’s layout and how to navigate from one area to another. Consequently, MWS asked Caspian Learning to develop an immersive learning simulation that exposes learners to a type 23 frigate and some of the core daily tasks that new and recent recruits will perform during their first visits out to sea. MWS’s primary objectives for the simulation were to:

• Reduce the “shock” that learners experience during their first days on their assigned ship

• Improve speed-to-acceptable-performance in conducting a Weapons Engineering Health and Safety round on board a type 23 frigate

Game Context


To meet MWS’s objectives, Caspian Learning developed a photo-realistic immersive 3D interactive game titled Weapons Engineering Round - Immersive Learning Simulation.

The game was developed using Caspian’s core Thinking Worlds™ technology. In the instructor-led mode, trainers present the type 23 frigate simulation, leading learners through many of the ship’s compartments such as the Combined Radar Office and Gyro Room, and they guide learners through a typical round. In the free play mode, learners navigate for themselves, immediately discovering that on board the ship is a saboteur creating faults in the machinery and putting the ship’s crew in danger. Learners must find and fix the errors, locate the saboteur, and disarm his bomb before time runs out. In doing so, learners explore the ship and its cramped noisy compartments, interact with the equipment they will use on the job, and assemble knowledge about the critical importance of the machines.




About Caspian Learning

Founded in 2002 by two neuroscientists, Caspian Learning developed the award-winning Thinking Worlds 3d simulation tool. Thinking Worlds uses globally unique technology that allows instructional designers to create fully immersive 3d simulations at costs previously restricted to 2d development. Thinking Worlds has been utilized in the rapid development of immersive 3d simulations for clients including, QinetiQ, Volvo UK, cBeebies and the European Union.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Globe 4D: Serious Games As Interactive Interfaces


Serious gaming with an interactive globe


Via: Interactive Multimedia Technology - Globe4D: See How The Earth Changed Over Time

Globe4D is an interactive, four-dimensional globe that started as research project at Leiden University, The Netherlands. It's a projection of the Earth's surface on a physical sphere. It shows the historical movement of the continents as its main feature, but it is also capable of displaying all kinds of other geographical data such as climate changes, plant growth, radiation, rainfall, forest fires, seasons, airplane routes, and more.


Globe4D Vision

Flat screens in classrooms and museums are outdated when it comes to learning about the earth. Globe4D extends the functionality of traditional globes found in many households and schools by allowing people of all ages and backgrounds to learn in an entertaining way about how a planet changes over time.



Research: Adaptive Serious Games For Learning

A challenging theme for the next-gen of educational games


Via: Gaming Lab

Gaming Lab Blog has recently posted Scenario Adaptivity in Serious Games that provides some food for thought when building Serious Games context for learning.

The author is a PhD student in Game Technology at TU Delft University, in the Netherlands. He is working on semantic modelling and adaptive gameplay in the Computer Graphics and CAD group.

According to the author, “Serious Games are becoming increasingly established, but they are still coming of age in terms of player experience. Most Serious Games are developed ad-hoc and lack sound theoretical foundations, which leads to a number of drawbacks: they are predictable, impersonal and limited by stereotyped training scenarios. In particular, Serious Games should be designed to prevent (i) training modules from following rigid patterns, (ii) unattractive and predictable game-play, (iii) little advantage being taken of user data collected throughout the game and, worst of all, (iv) little knowledge being employed to guide the course of the game. For example, it would not be effective if all medical trainees in a certain course would have to follow the same timed procedures, in the same standard scenarios, independently of their personal skills or difficulties; and it would be (pedagogically) even worse if their final scores could not be traced back to particular in-game moments. Trainees might just learn how to play the game, instead of how to think and act in similar scenarios.”

The author adds:

“Many researchers agree that Serious Games have to become more challenging, unpredictable and user-centric, to be fully embraced as an effective way of knowledge transfer. To prevent the shortcomings above, Serious Games should include virtual scenarios that adapt to what and how players need to learn in a given context. This scenario adaptivity should benefit players, by providing them with more flexible challenges and a broader range of (pedagogically) meaningful ways to solve them.”

With his research, the author expects to contribute with a methodology for supporting the creation of such adaptive virtual scenarios. This methodology should focus on adapting scenarios to: what players need to learn, how they should learn it and what did they failed to learn.”

The argument is that instructors already possess this specific knowledge and, as so, are in a privileged position to steer scenario adaptivity to the expected benefits. The Instructor would use his knowledge on what should be learned by a specific player, to automatically generate virtual scenarios that are suited to player characteristics and learning goals. The Instructor would create in-game situations where objects and events adjust, in real-time, to players’ performance and the way they should be learning.

The author’s main goal is to embed such knowledge into game worlds and objects, which will become more meaningful in different ways of adapting to benefit players.

Research on Adaptive Games, Adaptive Game-Based Learning and Adaptation Engines

Via: Gaming Lab

According to Gaming Lab, Adaptive Games are a growing research interest. The thesis is that an intelligent game that is able to adapt itself to the characteristics of an individual player will provide a much better gaming experience and ultimately attract a wider audience.

At the same time Prof. Dr. Helmut Schauer, from Universität Zürich, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät, Informatik, Institut für, states that “Adaptive Game-Based Learning is a fundamental issue for the next generation of educational games where progress is controlled in accordance to the learners’ behavior.”

“The major aim for an adaptive game-based learning system is to support and encourage the learner considering his needs, strengths and weaknesses”, he says. “This new kind of educational game rather becomes a personal trainer than a training machine. Not only the degree of difficulty of the tasks is adjusted to the learners’ ability level, but also the system reacts to personal learning styles and preferences.

This research seeks to assess the impact of adaptivity for the learning outcome of an educational serious game. The goal is to create a generic control module that “calibrates” the adaptation between the educational game and the player.

Relevant parameters shall be determined experimentally in a prototype of a learning game. The crucial question of how to measure learning success still has to be investigated. The results will be classified and should indicate specific learning types for educational games.

(The results of this thesis should lead to guidelines for the design of adaptive learning games - Weitere Informationen).

Another research, Adaptive Serious Games Using Agent Organizations, from Universiteit Utrecht, states that increasing complexity in Serious Games and the need to reuse and adapt games to different purposes and different user needs, requires distributed development approaches.


“The use of software agents has been advocated as a means to deal with the complexity of Serious Games”, say the authors. “Current approaches to dynamic adjustability in games make it possible for different elements to adjust to the player. However, these approaches most use centralized control, which becomes impractical if the complexity and the number of adaptable elements increase. The Serious Games we are investigating are developed using complex and independent subtasks that influence each other. In this paper, the authors propose a model for game adaptation that is driven by the player, the game objectives and the agents. In particular they focus on how the adaptation engine determines tasks to be adapted and how agents respond to such requests and modify their plans accordingly.

“The use of software agents has been advocated as a means to deal with the complexity of Serious Games”, say the authors. “Current approaches to dynamic adjustability in games make it possible for different elements to adjust to the player. However, these approaches most use centralized control, which becomes impractical if the complexity and the number of adaptable elements increase. The Serious Games we are investigating are developed using complex and independent subtasks that influence each other. In this paper, the authors propose a model for game adaptation that is driven by the player, the game objectives and the agents. In particular they focus on how the adaptation engine determines tasks to be adapted and how agents respond to such requests and modify their plans accordingly.

The Press On Adaptive Games Promise High Scores For Everyone

Via: New Scientist

Extracts

Computer games have had an element of adaptability for decades, says Julian Togelius at the IT University of Copenhagen, Denmark. "If you play well the game gets harder and if you are lousy it might get easier," he says.

Togelius and colleague Georgios Yannakakis want to take this adaptability one step further by creating games that "learn" to identify whether an individual is a fun-junkie or a challenge-seeker, and then tailor later sections to suit these tastes. Two people might ultimately play very different versions of the game - but both should be satisfied by the experience.

To investigate the idea, the researchers altered the game Super Mario Bros, varying parameters such as the number and type of enemies and the size of gaps between platforms in response to how the players fared. The game also records a player's moves, including how often they run and jump, and the time spent standing still.

Volunteers then played two slightly different versions of the game and were quizzed about which version they found more challenging or predictable, fun or frustrating. The researchers used algorithms to identify which particular suite of parameters is associated with different gaming experiences.

Some early results appear obvious. "If you die by falling too often down gaps that is indicative of frustration," says Yannakakis. However, the approach goes beyond "common sense" associations to uncover those that are not so readily apparent, he says. In Super Mario Bros, for example, hitting bricks to release coins or stomping turtle shells and throwing them - activities not necessary to accomplish the overall goal - positively correlate with a fun experience, Togelius says.

While some games developers are interested, "there is also considerable resistance to these ideas", says Ian Bogost at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. "Some wonder if this effort destroys the potential for art to produce the unfamiliar or disturbing."

Friday, February 19, 2010

International Leadership For Serious Games Gathering


Discussing ways Serious Games can advance on a global basis


Via: Games Beyond Entertainment Week

Ben Sawyer has just announced that he is beginning to roll out the great new event called Games Beyond Entertainment Week. This is a week worth of conferences to be held in Boston, Massachusetts, starting on May 24, 2010.

Games Beyond Entertainment Week is a series of one and two-day conferences designed to explore Serious Games and emerging market opportunities for videogames and videogame technologies.

Featuring over 10 unique events including the 6th Annual Games for Health Conference, Games Beyond Entertainment Week is focused on networking, promotion, business development, and knowledge sharing of interest to both the videogame industry and the multitude of sectors using or investing in videogames to further their specific organizational missions.


Games Beyond Entertainment Week anchored by the 6th Annual Games for Health Event

Last year Games for Health featured just over 400 attendees and was a great event. This year they're doing more. Under the banner of Games Beyond Entertainment Week we may find a number of events looking at areas including mobile Serious Games, and games for education, defense, and corporate training.

Packages of Events:

Serious Games Festival & Conference (Monday, May 24)

A daylong conference followed by a late-afternoon demo and exhibit festival dedicated to Serious Games.

Emerging Markets & Communities Day (Tuesday, May 25)

A collection of single-day events & tutorials of involving key social & knowledge communities including:

º Games Accessibility Day
º Virtual Worlds & Health Day
º Out & About : The Mobile Serious Games Conference
º Emerging Markets in Videogames Symposium
º Serious Games Production & Design Bootcamp
ºiPhone Production & Development Bootcamp

The 6th Annual Games for Health Conference (Wednesday, May 26 - Thursday, May 27)

The premiere two-day event following the extensive uses of games for health & healthcare.

Please find  more information at http://www.gamesbeyondentertainment.com/

One of the events under consideration is an International Leadership for Serious Games Gathering. As part of Games Beyond Entertainment Week, organizers are planning an international Serious Games leadership event on Friday May 28.

In my view, this would be a fantastic opportunity to get together and meet each other, and discuss ways Serious Games business can advance on a more global basis.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

GDC 10 – Blossom: Immersive Entrepreneurship Serious Game


Serious Games developing entrepreneurial skills


Via: Game Developers Conference 2010 - Serious Games Summit

SGS Session: Blossom - Immersive Entrepreneurship Training

Speakers: Jelena Godjevac (CEO, MEA-I / Hewlett Packard)

Session Description

This session is a case study of an entrepreneurship training game.

Micro-Enterprise Acceleration Institute (MEA-I), a not for profit organization, sponsored mainly by Hewlett-Packard, develops and implements worldwide innovative immersive training programs to improve IT and business skills to create job opportunities.

Their online strategy is to create an engaging immersive learning program to foster entrepreneurship. The focus is to use IT technology in a business context, which combines rich and interactive media content (videos, simulations, serious games, exercises, assessments) with a face-to-face approach in order to engage young audiences around the world.

Blossom is a management and role playing game, where the player manages and develops a business through the smart use of technologies. This development is part of a unique Social Innovation program focusing on entrepreneurship education of underserved populations worldwide.

Game Context and Background

On 19, October 2009 HP EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) unveiled some of the success stories so far that have underpinned the GET-IT graduate entrepreneurship program in 2009.

The GET-IT program launched in 2007 provides IT training to unemployed youth and graduates between the ages of 16 and 25, and helps potential entrepreneurs acquire IT skills with the aim of enabling them to become better placed to create and run their own businesses.

With this program HP also aims to address one of the most critical needs to qualify younger people on IT and entrepreneurship skills to enable them to contribute to the economic development of their countries.

GET-IT City and Serious Games

Those who do not live close to a GET-IT training centre in EMEA are able to access some of the courses online. HP and its partner MEA-I have created a web portal where any potential young entrepreneur can log on for training and advice.

The online Serious Game (please find also my related post KTM Advance: Serious Games For Corporate Training) called Blossom enriches the GET-IT City portal and looks at management role playing.

The player’s mission is to save, manage and develop a flower business, to increase turnover and to improve customer satisfaction. To achieve the mission, the player runs the plantation and the office, interacts with the clients in the market place and gets advice in the resource centre. The more the business grows, the more new situations occur and the more skills the player develops.

GET-IT is part of HP’s social investment strategy aimed at innovating teaching and learning to help young entrepreneurs in achieving success in their future careers. The program provides IT equipment, a cash donation, access to the GET-IT curriculum (T-Tools) as well as a training of trainers for the respective local partner organizations.

With the help of its partners MEA-I, UNIDO, World ORT, HP has rolled out the GET-IT program in over 100 centers in 30 countries in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, reaching more than 100,000 young people through combined online and offline training courses. HP and its partners plan to grow GET-IT even further to reach over 500,000 young people by the end of 2010.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Serious Games Blended Easily Into Entertainment Games


Serious Games Travel Back To Renaissance


Via: Educational Games Research - Exploring the Renaissance Through Videogames

John Rice, in his superb Blog Educational Games Research - Research And Discussion Concerning Instructional Video Games, provides us with some great insights on how “shortly after Assassin’s Creed 2 came out, gamers noticed the rich historical detail included in the game’s setting.”

“The protagonist”, he says, “who players guide through the game, is sent back in time to Italy, AD 1499, there to prowl around buildings and streets and attack villains. The developers, self-avowed history nerds, hired consultants to ensure the buildings were rich in period detail.”


Here are the extracts of The Wall Street Journal article Time Travel Gets Closer To Reality (opinion - January 12, 2010), reporting on their efforts:

“They hired Renaissance scholars to advise on period garb, architecture, urban planning, weaponry and the like. They took tens of thousands of photographs of interiors and streets. They used Google Earth liberally to piece together the ground-up and sky-down perspectives through which the action flows. …






The game’s creative director, a Montrealer named Patrice Desilets, lived in Italy for some years, where he acquired a feel for the vivid intrigues of the Renaissance. He grew fascinated, he says, with the notion that “finally people can control time, and relive the past, through games.” The producer, Sebastien Puel, was born in the south of France, in the fortified medieval French town of Carcassonne, and grew up surrounded by history. The head writer, a Harvard graduate from Los Angeles and former screenwriter, Corey May, was driven, he says, by the challenge of “telling a story that feels real and is set among real people who existed.

Overall, though, Assassin’s Creed II is as close as we’ve managed to get to real time travel. The grown-ups can lap it up as a kind of virtual tourism. For the high schoolers, still the main audience, the video offers a kind of education by stealth. History matters more if your life depends on it, even as Ezio, and even if you’ve got lives to spare. "...

John further explores other academic efforts such as Rome Reborn that offer students the opportunity to explore architecture.
 


John also refers to another major game focusing at least in part on the Italian Renaissance, shipped yesterday: Dante’s Inferno.


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Are Wii Games Getting Serious?


Serious Games blended easily into entertainment games

Upcoming medical action puzzle game where you can explore six different disciplines: Trauma Team lets players take on the role of a general surgeon, diagnostician, emergency medical technician, orthopedic surgeon, endoscope technician, and medical examiner


Here are two great examples of Serious Games blended easily into upcoming Wii entertainment games:

Trauma Team for Wii - Six Ways To Play Doctor

Publisher: Atlus Co.
Developer: Atlus Co.
Genre: Simulation
Release Date: Apr 20, 2010

The makers of the medical action series Trauma Center blow the genre wide open with Trauma Team for Wii, bringing six exciting and creative gameplay modes.

PLAY AS A GENERAL SURGEON, DIAGNOSTICIAN, EMT, ORTHOPEDIC SURGEON, ENDOSCOPE TECHNICIAN, OR MEDICAL EXAMINER


The Trauma Center series has become quite a cult hit since its beginnings in 2004, but the actual game is extremely faithful to the operating room experience: some players declared it the best medical-themed game series around.
For Trauma Team, Atlus has nearly wiped the slate clean, and started over with a new foundation that includes much of what you usually think Trauma Center is all about -- but adds even more. Trauma Team's big selling point is that it, naturally, focuses on a team of medical professionals instead of just a couple of surgeons.
With a completely original approach to story cut scenes, Trauma Team delivers the thrills and drama of 6 specialists, 6 gameplay types. Try your hand at general diagnosis, where a keen, analytical mind comes in handy, or put yourself on the edge as a paramedic, where every ticking second could mean the difference between life and death!



Endless Ocean Blue World

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: ARIKA
Genre: Simulation, Exploration
Release Date: Feb 22, 2010
Nintendo WFC: Yes 

Journey into the blue once again with this Wii game where players get to explore the ocean and interact with its sea life

Endless Ocean: Blue World builds on the ocean experience first introduced with Endless Ocean™.

While the last game emphasized relaxation, this one is designed with more adventure in mind. Divers might find themselves escaping from or calming down attacking sharks, exploring shipwrecks or finding treasure.

Endless Ocean: Blue World also has more creatures and improved graphics designed to fully immerse players in an ocean environment that they can freely explore at their own pace.

Players dive into oceans all around the world to discover the fish, mammals and various sea creatures unique to each region while learning about their habits and behaviors. By selling salvageable items for money, players can buy decorations for their island and buy coral to attract new kinds of fish to their own private reef.



The ocean is teeming with life. Hundreds of real-life species are there to be discovered, from seahorses to giant whales. The game also includes a storyline that players can follow as they choose. The plot involves Oceana, a woman who investigates the “Dragon’s Song,” which her father, a prominent ocean explorer, was searching for just before his death.

US Manatee Debut Trailer


Friday, February 12, 2010

Serious Games To Discuss Violent Extremism

Serious Games preventing violent extremism


Via: PlayGen - Choices and Voices

A simulation that encourages young people to explore and discuss issues underlying violent extremism

According to PlayGen's Choices and Voices site, evidence shows that the long-term solution to tackling violent extremism lies in prevention. The most effective way to prevent young people from turning to violence is to encourage open and honest conversations on attitudes, ideas and choices in a safe and positive environment.
 
PlayGen developed an interactive simulation that encourages young people to explore and discuss the underlying issues and adverse influences, which can lead to divisions and tensions in communities. In two separate scenarios, the player faces a number of moral dilemmas in which their decisions will define their own outcomes and those of their friends and family.
 
Issues explored within the game include:
 
•Peer pressure and the seductive powers of adventure and secrecy
 
•Social exclusion, isolation and the effects of not fitting in
 
•Bullying, humiliation and exposure to violence
 
•Feelings of underachievement and the need for purpose and respect
 
Choices and Voices supports the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) Preventing Violent Extremism toolkit and contributes to specific areas within the citizenship, PSHE (Personal, Social, Health & Economic Education) and SEAL (Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning) curriculum.

The game shall be presented and discussed at the upcoming Serious Games Conference 2010 to be held on February 22nd and March 25th 2010 – London, Session: Serious Games for Police & Community Engagement.  This session aims at looking at a range of gaming examples from the UK dealing with subjects such as preventing violent extremism, drug use, gang violence and drink driving.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Power Of Serious Games For Training Critical Skills


Serious Games preparing warfighters

Via: US ARMY PEO STRIProgram Executive Office For Simulation, Training & Instrumentation

Every Soldier who deploys uses some type of simulation to train critical warfighting skills. Simulations help soldiers hone their skills, rehearse their missions and return to their families safely when their missions are complete. PEO STRI responds quickly to critical, emerging requirements with innovative acquisition and technology solutions and puts the power of simulation into the hands of America's warfighters.

Headquartered in Orlando, Fla., the U.S. Army PEO STRI executes an annual budget of more than $3 billion. In addition to providing interoperable training and testing solutions and program management, PEO STRI provides life cycle support for the Army's most advanced training systems around the world.

PEO STRI Major Drivers: Fidelity, Realism and Cost-Savings

PEO STRI plays a fundamental role in sustaining the quality and viability of U.S. Soldiers by providing them with the best available training enablers. Adaptive, versatile and full-spectrum training ensures we never place our Soldiers in a fair fight.

Over the past year, PEO STRI made significant strides to combine the virtual and constructive training environments by integrating Synthetic Environment Core and One Semi-Automated Forces. Building commonality and interoperability among training systems lends itself to greater training fidelity and realism for the Soldier, and a significant cost-savings for the Army.

Background

In 1974, the U.S. Army recognized the need for new training technologies in the face of the advancing Soviet threat in Europe and established the Project Manager for Training Devices (PM TRADE). In 1976, the Army consolidated PM TRADE with the Army Training Device Agency. During the late 1980's, PM TRADE moved from the Navy base to Central Florida's Research Park.

The Army proved the importance of simulation and training in 1991 with a swift victory in Operation Desert Storm. The U.S. Army's Simulation, Training and Instrumentation Command was activated on August 1, 1992, in Orlando, FL. Then in 2003, Brig. Gen. Stephen Seay became the first Program Executive Officer for PEO STRI. On June 2, 2005, Dr. James T. Blake was named the organization's first civilian leader. The partnerships that have been established and nurtured for over the years have produced a thriving and responsive simulation industry that is proudly referred to as the Center of Excellence for Simulation and Training.

The organization executes programs valued at more than $3 billion with a workforce of nearly 1,200 military, civilian and contractor personnel. PEO STRI's Acquisition Center manages more than 1473 contracts valued at more than $14.5 billion. The Army acquisition agency sustains 335,000 training systems at 600 sites worldwide, including 19 foreign countries.

Simulation Sample

Warfighters' Simulation (WARSIM)

WARSIM trains and provides mission-rehearsal capabilities for Army and joint commanders and their staffs during war, conflict and peacetime. WARSIM portrays activities associated with post-employment operations such as war termination and post-conflict operations including restoring order, supplementing civilian government, providing humanitarian assistance, redeployment, reconstitution and demobilization.

The simulation accounts for the time and space factors associated with large unit movements (division and corps) as well as the differences between heavy and light units. The simulation allows all units, including combat support and combat service support units, to be committed to combat operations in response to threats in a rear area.

The WARSIM system uses a software computer-based simulation and associated hardware to support the planning, decision-making and operational execution of unit commanders and their staffs from battalion through theater level as well as the training events in educational institutions. Designed and built using modern computer technology, modern software engineering techniques and verified and validated algorithms and databases, WARSIM will allow units worldwide to train using their organizational real-world command and control equipment. The system is compliant with the High-Level Architecture (HLA).

Synthetic Environment Core (SECORE)

SE Core encompasses the Army's overarching strategy of developing virtual simulation systems that help make warfighters the best trained in the world.

The two primary initiatives under the SE Core program are the Architecture and Integration (A&I) and the Database Virtual Environment Development (DVED). The A&I's primary mission is architecture analysis and development of the Virtual Simulation Architecture (VSA) to provide a Common Virtual Environment (CVE) that links system and non-system virtual simulations into a fully-integrated and interoperable training capability.


The VSA utilizes a product line approach that emphasizes systematic reuse and interoperability and provides the foundation and guidelines for developing Common Virtual Components (CVCs). The CVCs will enable plug-and-play operation and will be designed to provide common training elements for use within the Army's virtual simulation domain.

Through commonality, the VSA and CVCs will reduce future development and life-cycle costs. In addition, A&I is integrating the U.S. Army's One Semi-Automated Forces (OneSAF) into both the Close Combat Tactical Trainer (CCTT) and the Aviation Combined Arms Tactical Trainer (AVCATT) systems. DVED's primary mission is to rapidly generate correlated simulation system runtime databases for supported simulation systems. A master SE Core database is populated from a union of multiple authoritative data sources by using a DVED-defined software architecture, processes and a suite of commercial and government-off-the-shelf database development software tools. The DVED architecture and tools will enable the generation of master SE Core databases in hours or days vice months. The DVED effort will also develop common virtual vehicle models, common virtual sensor simulation software and virtual simulation components. With SE Core as the foundation, the Army will leverage existing virtual simulation systems as well as expand the overall use of virtual simulation within live, virtual and constructive environments to support ongoing Army transformation.