Sunday, May 30, 2010

Playware: Serious Games With Robots In Mind


Serious Games as playful aspects of robotics


Via: MIT Media Lab - Playware: Robots at Play

Professor Henrik Hautop Lund, Center for Playware at Technical University of Denmark (who I was fortunate enough to meet f2f at the Games For Health 2010 yesterday closing in Boston), has also delivered his talk at the MIT Media Lab complex on May 28.

Professor Henrik Hautop Lund is known internationally for his work in bringing robotics to use in novel ways. He has recently founded the Center for Playware to focus even further on how playful aspects of robotics may provide motivation for any citizen to perform different kinds of interaction with the robots of our future daily life. Lund has shown how the combination of a modern artificial intelligence, modular robotics and entertainment may provide novel opportunities in play, rehabilitation, sport, music, and teaching, because the approach provides non-expert users easy access to the technology in a playful and motivating way.

About Playware

Professor Lund defines Playware as the use of technology to create the kind of leisure activities we normally label play, i.e. intelligent hardware and software that aims at producing play and playful experiences among users and of which e.g. computer games are a sub-genre.

He has developed a system composed of different modular robotic devices, which can be used e.g. as a multi-sensory room in hospital settings. The system engages the user in physical activities, providing immediate feedback based upon physical interaction.

The devices such as modular robotic tiles and cubic I-BLOCKS, make it possible to create applications with different stimuli and to dynamically change parameters for explicit immediate feedback to the users, thus not requiring any prior knowledge of the application.

The modular robotic tiles have been used in various therapeutic setups:


Modular robotic tiles for cardiac rehabilitation at the hospital Sygehus Fyn Svendborg


A child with autism playing with the modular robotic tiles

Children creating music with the cubic I-BLOCKS:

Serious Games Engaging Next Gen in Community Planning

Serious Games to attract a younger audience to community planning meetings


Chinatown Residents Play ‘Participatory Chinatown ' as Part of Revamped Urban Planning Process

Via: Muzzy Lane - Community Planning Embraces Games To Attract A Younger Audience

NEWBURYPORT — Just because community meetings are serious business doesn’t mean they can’t be fun, too. A new project in Boston’s Chinatown proves just that – by combining games, virtual interaction, and physical deliberation to help residents better shape the future of their neighborhood.

Last week, more than 50 Chinatown residents gathered to play Participatory Chinatown, an immersive 3D game developed by Newburyport-based Muzzy Lane Software in partnership with the Asian Community Development Corporation (ACDC), Emerson College, and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC).


“We are passionate about the belief that gaming is a great medium to reach multiple generations, with a tremendous opportunity to enhance the way people interact,” said David Martz, vice president at Muzzy Lane. “Well-designed games can be a powerful means for communication, persuasion, and teaching. Why not use them for positive change as well as for fun?”

Participatory Chinatown runs on Muzzy Lane ’s “Sandstone” platform, which allows the game to be played on locally-networked computers for community meetings or directly from the web at http://www.participatorychinatown.org/, so residents can continue the experience at home.

The game asks players to complete “quests” as virtual residents, allowing them to walk the neighborhood streets in someone else’s shoes.

“Residents were thrilled to discover their favorite hang-out spots or even their homes in the game,” said Janelle Chan, Acting Executive Director of ACDC. “Cheers broke out after residents received the results of their deliberation. I don’t remember ever seeing or hearing that at a community meeting.”

In most communities, including Chinatown, attracting younger residents to planning meetings has been a challenge. Participatory Chinatown attracted an audience with an average age of 30.

“Our hope is that when people have a collective experience through the video game, and then talk about it, they’ll gain a better understanding of the complexities of Chinatown, and then they can plan together for the future of their area,” said Holly St. Clair, Director of Data Services for MAPC.

“This is a great example of the positive potential of immersive games. Computers are allowing people to become active participants thanks to software like Participatory Chinatown,” said Bert Snow, Vice President of Design for Muzzy Lane Software. “Developing this project has been an interesting challenge, and it’s a good fit for our Sandstone game platform, which was built with this kind of serious-game project in mind.”

Muzzy Lane led the Participatory Chinatown team as they traveled to Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, May 12, 2010, to present the project to senior White House Staff in conjunction with National Lab Day, an Obama Administration initiative to bring hands-on learning into the science classroom. For more information, visit http://www.nationallabday.org/

The results of the community meetings will feed into the 2010 Chinatown Master Plan. The project is funded by a grant from the MacArthur Foundation's Digital Media and Learning Competition. For more information, visit http://www.participatorychinatown.org/

Muzzy Lane Software is an innovative developer of 3D single and multiplayer games. Based in Newburyport, Mass, the company creates its own branded games and works with partners to produce private-label games based on the company’s Sandstone platform. Sandstone delivers true 3D games in the browser, as a web service, with tight integration between the games and the web. Muzzy Lane provides simple web tools that support the customization of Sandstone games. For more information, visit http://www.muzzylane.com/

The Asian Community Development Corporation (ACDC), a 22-year old community-based organization, serves the Asian American community of Greater Boston, with an emphasis on preserving and revitalizing Boston’s Chinatown. ACDC develops physical community assets, including affordable housing for rental and ownership; promotes economic development; fosters youth leadership development; builds capacity within the community and advocates on behalf of the community. 

Emerson College is the only comprehensive college or university in America dedicated exclusively to communication and the arts in a liberal arts context. It is internationally recognized for excellence in its fields of specialization, which are communication, marketing, communication sciences and disorders, journalism, the performing arts, the visual and media arts, and writing literature and publishing. 

The Metropolitan Area Planning Council is a regional planning agency serving the people who live and work in Metropolitan Boston. An independent state agency, MAPC’s mission is to promote smart growth and regional collaboration. MAPC is guided by its regional plan, “MetroFuture,” which engages the public in stewarding the region’s future. 


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

M. Andersen and Serious Games: How To Hack Higher Education

Serious Games as an impactful way of showing that Math is a journey not an answer


Via: PREZI

Maria H. Andersen has posted on Prezi a superb presentation on Playing To Learn Math that speaks for itself.




Maria H Andersen In Her Own Words

Officially, I teach mathematics at Muskegon Community College (Algebra through Calculus). I also have a consulting business, Andersen Algebra Consulting, through which I conduct professional training for faculty, author textbook materials, and consult for software and Internet companies in the industry. I am on the tail-end of a Ph.D. in Higher Education Leadership (ABD), researching math instructors' knowledge of, attitudes towards, and practice of specific instructional techniques.

For the last few years, I've been really interested in technology and math, education and technology, and the future of higher education, and that has manifested itself in a blog/website http://www.teachingcollegemath.com

In my ideal job I would get to teach (but not have to teach too many classes), have time to do a lot of writing and thinking about how to "hack" higher education, have the budget to play with lots of cool technology and attend any conference of my choosing, the time to do research about teaching & learning, and to have the freedom to explore what needs to be explored at the moment. Dream on!

Specialties: Professional development for math and science faculty (particularly related to technology), speaker on topics of technology and higher ed, expertise in practical technology for higher education, writer (education and/or mathematics), production of camera-ready copy and graphics for mathematics publications, and general knowledge of the organization higher education.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Reposted: HP Catalyst Initiative Serious Games As Sandboxes of Innovation

Serious Games supporting STEM + Education


HP is building a global network of consortia to develop more effective approaches STEM education

Via: Flux - Futurelab and HP Team Up To Launch The HP Catalyst Initiative

HP is building a global network of consortia that is developing more effective approaches to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. The goal is to create international collaborative “sandboxes” of innovation that explore the future of STEM education —a future where students use their technical and creative ingenuity to address urgent social challenges in their communities and around the world.

By bringing together organizations that now work independently to create a global network of consortia that provide a cohesive, student-centered approach to STEM+ education, HP can be a catalyst for innovation that improves student performance. Through this initiative, HP is joining education leaders in collaborative ventures that address STEM+ education in new ways.

The HP Catalyst Initiative is funding up to five consortia in 2010. Each focuses on a specific innovation theme for transforming STEM education.

Here are the 5 Innovation Themes:

• The Multi-Versity. This consortium investigates and demonstrates new and best practices in online education for STEM students and the professional development of instructional faculty. The long-term goal is to provide students with new learning opportunities from a variety of institutions that can be applied toward certification and degrees.

This consortium will be lead by the Sloan Consortium (USA)

• Pedagogy 3.0. This consortium creates new models of teacher preparation that will better equip teachers to facilitate 21st century learning experiences for students. Projects engage new teachers during their pre-service and induction years, plus in-service master teachers, teacher education faculty, and engineering/science content experts and faculty. The long-term goal is to prepare and retain more STEM+ teachers, enhance the STEM+ expertise of master teachers and faculty, and improve student success in pursuing STEM+ degrees.

This consortium will be led by Futurelab (UK)

• Global Collaboratory. This consortium enables students to participate in collaborative problem-solving to address urgent social challenges using the power of collaborative grid computing. This theme builds on the HP/UNESCO Brain Gain Initiative

This consortium will be led by the CSIR Meraka Institute (South Africa)

• The New Learner. This consortium engages formal and informal education institutions as they explore how to build a network of learning opportunities for students. The goal is to create new models of student-driven STEM+ learning that are engaging, lead to higher school completion rates, and promote “learning how to learn.”

This consortium will be led by the Agastya International Foundation (India)

• Measuring Learning. This consortium develops and demonstrates new approaches for using technology to measure STEM+ competencies that are often not assessed in school.

This consortium will be led by Carnegie Mellon University (USA)

How to Apply

STEP 1: Download and read the Request for Proposals. To facilitate writing the proposal, you may also download the proposal questions (MS Word Format) and use this document as a template for your proposal.

STEP 2: Download and review the HP Catalyst grant equipment catalog

STEP 3: Register intent to apply before 30 June 2010. To register your intent to apply, please visit the online application website hosted by ISTE.org. Registrants will be provided with additional instructions about the online application link and process.

STEP 4: Download the HP “Terms & Conditions of Grant” (NOTE: these documents are currently being updated and shall be prompted June 1st).

Proposals due: 5:00 pm PT, 9 August 2010

Recipient announcements: 3 September 2010


Reposted: Caspian and Bohemia Shaping The Military Serious Games Market


Strategic ventures shaping the future of Serious Games Market


PRESS RELEASE

Bohemia Interactive and Caspian Learning Announce Industry Shaping Partnership

London, UK, 18th May 2010 - Summary: Bohemia Interactive and Caspian Learning announce a formal partnership which will help shape the future of the military simulation and serious games market.

Bohemia Interactive, the foremost military Serious Games organization and Caspian Learning, the leading rapid simulation and Serious Games company are forging a formal partnership that will bring exciting new offerings to military markets around the world. Given the technology and heritage of both organizations, this strategic venture will herald new offerings to the military sector and help to solve current training and simulation issues experienced by defence customers.

Bohemia Interactive has been serving the military simulation community for almost a decade, and will bring its gold standard and industry leading simulation product “VBS2” to the partnership. VBS2 – Virtual Battlespace 2 – is a fully interactive, three-dimensional, PC-based synthetic environment specifically developed for military training, mission rehearsal and analysis.

Caspian Learning will bring its multi award winning and globally unique 3D simulation authoring software and engine, Thinking Worlds, to the partnership. Thinking Worlds will enable the strategic venture to capitalize on both the true thin client delivery mechanisms of Caspian’s core technology and the rapid simulation and scenario editing capabilities of the authoring interface.

The fusion of the current gold standard military Serious Games product – VBS2 – with the thin client and rapid development cycle of Thinking Worlds, will be a powerful and compelling proposition to defence clients around the world.

Peter Morrison, CEO of Bohemia Interactive Simulations, said “We are both delighted and hugely excited by the opportunities that this new partnership offers us and our clients. Caspian Learning has delivered a unique simulation capability with Thinking Worlds. Fusing this capability with our own technology and experience will enable us to take new types of 3D simulations out to our customers in locations even closer to theatre through thin-client content delivery.”

Graeme Duncan CEO Caspian learning stated “The many synergies between the organizations including management approach and technological ideas will deliver both short term and long term benefits to the market. Bohemia is the leading serious games organisation within the military sector and we are delighted that we are able to work with the team and the technologies to drive innovation even further.”

The first step results of fusing the two technology platforms together will be showcased at ITEC this year, in booth E120. The benefits of blending high fidelity 3D simulation with rapid scenario generation and thin client delivery will be available for all to see.

Screenshots of VBS2 and Thinking Worlds Integration:



About Caspian Learning

Founded in 2002, Caspian Learning is the developer of the multi award-winning 3D authoring tool Thinking Worlds. Caspian Learning’s Thinking Worlds uses globally unique technology that allows instructional designers to create fully immersive 3D simulations at costs previously restricted to 2D development. By utilizing Thinking Worlds, Caspian has positioned itself as the global leader in the use of 3D games and simulations technology within learning, having developed over 50 applications for clients such as IBM, BBC, QinetiQ, Volvo, The Ministry of Defence and the European Union.

About Bohemia Interactive

Bohemia Interactive Simulations is a world leader in providing simulation and integrated training solutions for military organizations. With origins in the gaming industry, Bohemia successfully exploits game-based technology and applies this to breakthrough, military-specific simulation products. Our primary focus is the development of the Virtual Battlespace (VBS) series, which is used in daily training and mission rehearsal by premier military organizations worldwide including the ADF, Canadian Forces, UK MoD, US Army and USMC.

Serious Games Hit The Mining Industry


Serious Games for mobile heavy equipment


Via: ForgeFX - Caterpillar Provides Cost Saving Training Simulators

In order to compete in today’s mobile heavy equipment market manufacturers need to deliver training solutions along with the equipment. Market leaders in the construction and mining industry are increasingly using Serious Games to deliver virtual training systems.

Caterpillar Is Using Serious Games As A Training and Marketing Tool

A great example is Caterpillar Inc. also known as CAT, the world's largest manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines, and industrial gas turbines. Caterpillar achieved better than expected earnings in Q1, with 2010 revenue estimated between $38 billion and $42 billion. On average, analysts are estimating a $2.66 profit on CAT shares in 2010.

CAT delivers increased safety and cost savings to their customers through Caterpillar Virtual Training Systems and their custom line of mobile heavy equipment training simulators.

These 3D training simulators are made available to the public via the Cat Simulators website.



CAT sells their simulators to customers requiring training on Large and Small Wheel Loaders, Mining and Medium Off-Highway Trucks, and Hydraulic Excavators. The prices range from $11,000 for their Motor Grader Simulator to $25,000 for their Mining Truck Simulator.

Introduction to Cat® Simulators Virtual Operator Training Sim

See how heavy equipment operators can train in a cutting edge virtual environment as part of an overall training program. Organizations that use heavy equipment simulators can create a training model that leverages safety and production; plus many cost-reduction benefits such as reducing fuel consumption, engine-use hours and unplanned maintenance caused by misuse. Organizations that utilize simulator instruction as part of an end-to-end training program enjoy operators that are more confident, safer and better retain training when using actual machines.


CAT Equipment Operator Training Sims are suited for both inexperienced and experienced operators and designed to increase the bottom lines of companies that are using real-world CAT heavy equipment.

The Mining Truck Simulator, for instance, trains operators on equipment-specific tasks like loading, hauling, and dumping. The simulator tracks an operator's performance and delivers a scoring report across more than 20 different criteria, including the user's scenario execution time, total time spent in reverse gear, average break temperature, and number of collisions - valuable data when assessing an operator's ability.

Cat® Simulators Dealer Testimonial


Cat Simulators Walk Around – Inspection Procedures

The newest member of the Cat® Simulators product family, the Wheel Tractor-Scraper, features next generation software. Heavy equipment operators can experience a rich graphic presentation, set in both day and night environments. The cutting edge technology ensures a training experience second to none as operators learn essential skills needed to operate actual machines.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

MASA Life Serious Games Development Framework

Serious Games Development solution


Via: MASA Group - Empowering Life

MASA Life is a complete solution used for the development of virtual characters enabling you to easily create compelling training and simulation experiences and enhance Serious Games with player and non-player controlled actors.

NaturalMotion, Trinigy, Mobility Art and Presagis have all partnered with MASA to provide leading game technologies and services adapted for Defense and Security under a common framework.


MASA Life is a complete Serious Games Development solution enabling you to easily create compelling experiences for immersive training, part task trainers, cultural training simulation, tactical training and virtual prototyping.

Latest PRESS RELEASE

Krauss-Maffei Wegmann Licenses MASA Life Form for Enhanced Training Realism

NORFOLK, VIRGINIA (May 2010) — MASA Group is pleased to announce that Munich-based Krauss-Maffei Wegmann GmbH & Co. KG (KMW) has standardized on the MASA Life Form Serious Games development framework for immersive training.

“Krauss-Maffei Wegmann is a very demanding customer that consistently innovates and uses leading technologies and methods in a continued effort to provide the most realistic training experiences possible. We’re really fortunate to have KMW as an early adopter of our MASA Life Form product and services as they will help keep us on the cutting edge of innovation.” ~ Mark Phillips, Vice President International Business Development, MASA Group.

"Krauss-Maffei Wegmann concentrates on very high fidelity ground based simulations for vehicles and infantry. This is critical in immersive training applications for MOUT (Military Operations in Urban Terrain) which require increasingly detailed environments, character AI and realistic animation.

The closer you are to the immersive environment the larger the challenge to create a realistic training experience. We are looking forward to using MASA Group’s COTS tools for Character AI (MASA Life Brain) and Procedural Animation (MASA Life Form) so we can concentrate on producing results that exceed our customer expectations.”~Alex Baumeister, Manager Development & Technology, Training & Simulation, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann.

About MASA

MASA Group is a leading provider of advanced software solutions using Artificial Intelligence technologies for modelling and simulation. By leveraging technology and open standards, MASA software brings together exercises preparation, behaviour modelling, command staff training, crisis management simulation, after-action review, doctrine and equipment analysis in a most cost-effective way. Rapid implementation, low cost of ownership, high fidelity, reusability and ease of use are the specification of MASA COTS. The group operates out of Paris (France), Norfolk (Virginia, USA) and Singapore.

Since its inception, MASA Group's reference shareholder is Qualis SCA, an industrial equity holdings firm formed in 1993. In Fiscal Year 2008, companies within the Qualis portfolio generated revenue of €900 million and operating profit of €26 million.

MASA Group employs 60 people on three continents. For more information, please visit http://www.masagroup.net/

About Krauss-Maffei Wegmann

Krauss-Maffei Wegmann GmbH & Co. KG with offices in Germany, Greece, the Netherlands and the USA is a worldwide leading provider of armored wheeled and tracked vehicles. KMW develops, manufactures, and sells training and technical support for combat vehicles with customers in over 30 nations worldwide. In addition to their extensive product portfolio including hardware and support services, KMW also develops extensive vehicle simulations and embedded training solutions.


For more information, please visit http://www.kmweg.com/

Thursday, May 20, 2010

STANFORD Magazine: Serious Games As An Apollo Program For Math Education

Math, like Video Games, is not something you know, it's something you do


Via: STANFORD Magazine May-June 2010 – Teaching Math

KEITH DEVLIN is executive director of the Humanities Sciences and Technologies Advanced Research Institute at Stanford.

His recent article Wanted: An Apollo Program for Middle-School Math, published under Farm Report News – Lecture Circuit, takes a stand for videogames adoption on a national level to produce a turn around in the mathematics performance of high school students.

Here is the full article:

“The United States ranks much worse than most of our economic competitors in the mathematics performance of high school students. That national slide begins in middle school.”

“We now have the knowledge to turn that around and raise the level of mathematics performance across the board, within a single school generation, so that we are No. 1 in the world. All it would take is a national investment of between $150 million and $250 million over a five-year period to build and put in place a system that could achieve that change with the existing school system and the existing teachers. The focus would be that middle-school math where the national slide begins.”

“That sounds like a lot of money for an up-front investment. But thought of as a national initiative, it's a tiny amount. The payoff for the nation's health and future prosperity is far greater than the long-term benefits we got from the far greater investment in NASA's Apollo Program to put a man on the Moon.”


“Admittedly, the comparison extends to the risk of failure as well. I believe we can do it because I've spent the last four years working with a large software company trying to do just that; but until we actually build such a system and schoolchildren start to use it, we clearly cannot be totally certain, any more than we were sure Neil Armstrong would complete the round trip safely.”

“Whether we actually will launch an Apollo Program For Mathematics Education I don't know. When the company I was working with realized it would cost several times more than the $50 million budgeted, they abandoned the project. From the standpoint of a commercial enterprise, that's absolutely understandable; but thought of as a national investment in our future, even $250 million is peanuts when you consider that this would be a onetime cost. Once the system is built, every child in the nation could use it, year after year, and the only recurring costs would be maintenance of the system.”

“What is this magic system? A simulator. In other words, we should teach children math the same way airlines train pilots, medical schools (now) train surgeons, and the U.S. Army trains soldiers. Sound crazy? If it does, it's because you probably have a false impression both of the technology we were trying to use and of what mathematics is.”

“The technology? Short of building the system and getting kids to use it, there is every reason to expect the approach I am advocating will be extremely effective. Why? Because today's students have a natural affinity for this technology. There is another name for digital simulators. We call them videogames. True, for some readers, probably most readers over 30, that word might evoke an image of fast-action shooter games. But remember, books range from trashy novels to great works of art and, perhaps more to my point, textbooks. The large software company I was working with was a videogame company.”

Math Is Not Something You Know, It's Something You Do

“And mathematics? Math is not something you know, it's something you do. At heart, mathematics is a way of thinking about problems in the world. Yet, almost all attempts to improve middle-school math education have ignored the thinking and focused on improving basic skills. Get that thinking right, however, and the skills—which are the scaffolding for that way of thinking—come easily.”

“Numerous studies, over many years, have shown that ordinary people of all ages can achieve mastery of middle-school mathematics when they need it to do something that matters to them. They master it rapidly to a level of 98 percent accuracy. The fancy name for this kind of process is "situated learning," and Stanford was one of the pioneers in this area, but in practice it's just something that evolution has equipped humans to do.”

“So why haven't we been teaching middle-school math this way for generations? Because it's impossible to provide full curriculum coverage this way, even to a single person, let alone to class-sized groups of children. With videogame technology, however, you can.”

“Our starting point was the hugely successful online fantasy game World of Warcraft, which currently has over 15 million players. That game is played in a fully immersive, 3D-rendered, virtual world. It took five years to build, at a cost of $50,000,000, which is where we got our initial price estimate. What we did not know at the outset was just how much more difficult (hence more costly) it would be to build such an environment that incorporates learning experiences covering all of middle-school math.”

“The cost is why I think it could be done only on a national level. But the payoff would be huge. As a nation, I don't think we can afford not to try.”

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

6rounds: Serious Gaming With Real Life Meeting Point


Serious Games offering people a real place to feel close to one another and to have fun together


Via: Google I/O 2010

PRESS RELEASE

Create Multi-User Activities And Games With 6rounds Video Chat Api Within 15 Minutes

6rounds is a flash-based social entertainment platform that challenges traditional video chatting methods by creating a beautifully designed, simple to use, and user friendly platform.

It offers people a real place to meet, video chat, collaborate, feel close to one another, and to have fun together. By combining webcam chats, interactive activities and real-time games, 6rounds has managed to bridge the gap between the offline and online worlds in an entertaining, playful, fun and friendly experience.


6rounds is an interactive online environment, based on a combination of webcams, real-time games, media activties and social engagements.

In September of last year, 6rounds was chosen to be featured as one of the first six Google Wave extensions, and the only video chat extension to date. It is constantly updating new versions of the extension, as well as launching new and exciting wavy features. Such features include a live snapshot stream containing snapshots taken from sessions within all waves. In addition, 6rounds was invited to participate in Google I/O this week, where it will be announcing the launch of its developers API.

Using 6rounds simple API, developers can quickly and easily transform their existing social activities and games into 6rounds video chat experience, or create new inspiring applications, within a mere 15 minutes. Both can leverage the platform's inherent ability to deploy gifts, effects, and background themes into the video chat environment. Furthermore, the developers will soon have the opportunity to embed their activities in a stand-alone widget, anywhere across the web, which will allow even faster distribution of their products.

“As developers ourselves, our focus was to create something that will speed up the development process and concentrate on game functionality instead of platform boundaries” says Gadi Srebnik, VP Product Director of 6rounds. “Typical social activities are focused primarily on an asynchronous experience. 6rounds finally changes this”, states Co-Founder and COO, Ilan Leibovich.

Developers are invited to create real-time multi-user rich activities through 6rounds API. They can incorporate their activities with video streaming and text chatting, sync users’ events and mouse movements, customize the user backgrounds and webcam effects, as well as use visual gifts to enhance the video chat experience. These features create a breathtaking experience for the users and prolong their interaction within the platform.



In addition to the launch of its developers API, 6rounds has plans for quite a few more announcements this year. Such announcements include its much anticipated Facebook video chat application, as well as its ability to support many-to-many video chat sessions. Stay tuned for more updates, or check out the 6rounds Blog.

It’s also important to mention that 6rounds video chat experience is a cross-platform environment whose core components can be integrated into other websites and social networks. Whether it be through its current destination site, or through external widgets, extensions and applications.

6rounds is leading the way for an open video chat platform and is welcoming all developers to join it in creating a live, real-time, face to face, streamed web.



Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Toytek Serious Games Coming To The iPhone


 Serious Games expanding your vocabulary and general knowledge


Via: ToytekThe Ultimate Alphabet Game To Be Submitted to Apple On May 20th - (Now Postponed to Next Week)

Toytek has developed Mike Wilks’s bestselling book The Ultimate Alphabet for the iPad and the iPhone, creating a unique Serious Game context for expanding both vocabulary and general knowledge.


The Ultimate Alphabet is a collection of 26 paintings, each depicting a collection of objects starting with a particular letter of the alphabet. Unlike children's alphabet books, it contains unusual words, with the paintings in a realistic style, but rendered surrealistic by the strange juxtaposition of subject matter. Wilks himself appears at least once in every painting, as does his trademark snail. Each letter is itself represented several times, typically in braille, morse code, semaphore, and sign language as well as in its printed form.


 According to Wilks the book contained depictions of 7,777 words in total ranging from just 30 for the letter X to 1,229 for the letter S, taking a total of 18,000 hours to complete. A single object may be described by more than one word beginning with the same letter: for instance, a Dalmatian is also a dog and a witch is also a woman. Conversely, the same word may refer to more than one class of object: thus the leg of a tripod and the leg of a human being count as two separate words, and the image for K depicts several types of king. However, as Wilks points out in his Introduction, "anyone with expertise in any particular subject will certainly be able to identify more in these images than I have intentionally included".


The letter A contains 361 objects/ things to find and name.
Try and spot an amputee (he is also an athlete although not animate), an abbey, an apricot, an atlas (naming the oceans and continets that you find there), an artilleryman and his ammunition, an aardvark, an autogyro (why would it be upside down?), an ark full of animals, an aerial paled by the distance, the Egyptian god Annubis and a close colleague...


There are 436 objects to find begining with letter C.
Look out for a celibate catholic clergyman or cleric and his somewhat relevant pet, a carved cryptogram and also a clue to crack it with, a cliff bathed in crepuscular light, a clarinetist and his clarinet, a camouflaged chameleon, a cave or cavern complete with cracks and crevices, a crowing cockatrice and a curious face on a clock that needs to be thought about.

Over the iPhone
 


The challenge is for the player to find thousands of strange, wonderful and obscure words while exploring these dreamlike landscapes. Clues and anagram puzzles are offered to assist the player in completing each Letter.

Release date: Submitting to Apple on the 20th of May
Category: Word Puzzle Games
Platform: iPhone & iPod Touch
Developer: Toytek

View the demo:

Monday, May 17, 2010

HP Catalyst Initiative: Serious Games As Sandboxes of Innovation

Serious Games supporting STEM + Education


HP is building a global network of consortia to develop more effective approaches STEM education

Via: Flux - Futurelab and HP Team Up To Launch The HP Catalyst Initiative

HP is building a global network of consortia that is developing more effective approaches to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. The goal is to create international collaborative “sandboxes” of innovation that explore the future of STEM education —a future where students use their technical and creative ingenuity to address urgent social challenges in their communities and around the world.

By bringing together organizations that now work independently to create a global network of consortia that provide a cohesive, student-centered approach to STEM+ education, HP can be a catalyst for innovation that improves student performance. Through this initiative, HP is joining education leaders in collaborative ventures that address STEM+ education in new ways.

The HP Catalyst Initiative is funding up to five consortia in 2010. Each focuses on a specific innovation theme for transforming STEM education.

Here are the 5 Innovation Themes:

• The Multi-Versity. This consortium investigates and demonstrates new and best practices in online education for STEM students and the professional development of instructional faculty. The long-term goal is to provide students with new learning opportunities from a variety of institutions that can be applied toward certification and degrees.

This consortium will be lead by the Sloan Consortium (USA)

• Pedagogy 3.0. This consortium creates new models of teacher preparation that will better equip teachers to facilitate 21st century learning experiences for students. Projects engage new teachers during their pre-service and induction years, plus in-service master teachers, teacher education faculty, and engineering/science content experts and faculty. The long-term goal is to prepare and retain more STEM+ teachers, enhance the STEM+ expertise of master teachers and faculty, and improve student success in pursuing STEM+ degrees.

This consortium will be led by Futurelab (UK)

• Global Collaboratory. This consortium enables students to participate in collaborative problem-solving to address urgent social challenges using the power of collaborative grid computing. This theme builds on the HP/UNESCO Brain Gain Initiative.

This consortium will be led by the CSIR Meraka Institute (South Africa)

• The New Learner. This consortium engages formal and informal education institutions as they explore how to build a network of learning opportunities for students. The goal is to create new models of student-driven STEM+ learning that are engaging, lead to higher school completion rates, and promote “learning how to learn.”

This consortium will be led by the Agastya International Foundation (India)

• Measuring Learning. This consortium develops and demonstrates new approaches for using technology to measure STEM+ competencies that are often not assessed in school.

This consortium will be led by Carnegie Mellon University (USA)

How to Apply

STEP 1: Download and read the Request for Proposals. To facilitate writing the proposal, you may also download the proposal questions (MS Word Format) and use this document as a template for your proposal.

STEP 2: Download and review the HP Catalyst grant equipment catalog.

STEP 3: Register intent to apply before 30 June 2010. To register your intent to apply, please visit the online application website hosted by ISTE.org. Registrants will be provided with additional instructions about the online application link and process.

STEP 4: Download the HP “Terms & Conditions of Grant” (NOTE: these documents are currently being updated and shall be prompted June 1st).

Proposals due: 5:00 pm PT, 9 August 2010

Recipient announcements: 3 September 2010

Caspian and Bohemia Shaping The Military Serious Games Market


Strategic ventures shaping the future of Serious Games Market



PRESS RELEASE

Bohemia Interactive and Caspian Learning Announce Industry Shaping Partnership

London, UK, 18th May 2010 - Summary: Bohemia Interactive and Caspian Learning announce a formal partnership which will help shape the future of the military simulation and serious games market.

Bohemia Interactive, the foremost military Serious Games organization and Caspian Learning, the leading rapid simulation and Serious Games company are forging a formal partnership that will bring exciting new offerings to military markets around the world. Given the technology and heritage of both organizations, this strategic venture will herald new offerings to the military sector and help to solve current training and simulation issues experienced by defence customers.

Bohemia Interactive has been serving the military simulation community for almost a decade, and will bring its gold standard and industry leading simulation product “VBS2” to the partnership. VBS2 – Virtual Battlespace 2 – is a fully interactive, three-dimensional, PC-based synthetic environment specifically developed for military training, mission rehearsal and analysis.

Caspian Learning will bring its multi award winning and globally unique 3D simulation authoring software and engine, Thinking Worlds, to the partnership. Thinking Worlds will enable the strategic venture to capitalize on both the true thin client delivery mechanisms of Caspian’s core technology and the rapid simulation and scenario editing capabilities of the authoring interface.

The fusion of the current gold standard military Serious Games product – VBS2 – with the thin client and rapid development cycle of Thinking Worlds, will be a powerful and compelling proposition to defence clients around the world.

Peter Morrison, CEO of Bohemia Interactive Simulations, said “We are both delighted and hugely excited by the opportunities that this new partnership offers us and our clients. Caspian Learning has delivered a unique simulation capability with Thinking Worlds. Fusing this capability with our own technology and experience will enable us to take new types of 3D simulations out to our customers in locations even closer to theatre through thin-client content delivery.”

Graeme Duncan CEO Caspian learning stated “The many synergies between the organizations including management approach and technological ideas will deliver both short term and long term benefits to the market. Bohemia is the leading serious games organisation within the military sector and we are delighted that we are able to work with the team and the technologies to drive innovation even further.”

The first step results of fusing the two technology platforms together will be showcased at ITEC this year, in booth E120. The benefits of blending high fidelity 3D simulation with rapid scenario generation and thin client delivery will be available for all to see.

Screenshots of VBS2 and Thinking Worlds Integration:



About Caspian Learning

Founded in 2002, Caspian Learning is the developer of the multi award-winning 3D authoring tool Thinking Worlds. Caspian Learning’s Thinking Worlds uses globally unique technology that allows instructional designers to create fully immersive 3D simulations at costs previously restricted to 2D development. By utilizing Thinking Worlds, Caspian has positioned itself as the global leader in the use of 3D games and simulations technology within learning, having developed over 50 applications for clients such as IBM, BBC, QinetiQ, Volvo, The Ministry of Defence and the European Union.

About Bohemia Interactive

Bohemia Interactive Simulations is a world leader in providing simulation and integrated training solutions for military organizations. With origins in the gaming industry, Bohemia successfully exploits game-based technology and applies this to breakthrough, military-specific simulation products. Our primary focus is the development of the Virtual Battlespace (VBS) series, which is used in daily training and mission rehearsal by premier military organizations worldwide including the ADF, Canadian Forces, UK MoD, US Army and USMC.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Harvard Panel: Evolutionary Biology Looks At Videogames


Who plays games (and Serious Games) and why


Via: Harvard Alumni Affairs & Development (AA&D)

Who Plays Games and Why: Evolutionary Biology Looks at Videogames

Wednesday, June 2, 2010
5:30-7:30 pm. (registration begins at 5:00 pm.)

Science Center
One Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA

The Harvard Alumni Association invites you to a panel session: a discussion with Harvard Human Evolutionary Biology Professor Richard Wrangham, Emmanuel College Psychology Professor Joyce Benenson, and game developers Noah Falstein and Kent Quirk.

Electronic games are competing with television for that essential resource: consumer attention. But exactly who is playing these games? And what is their appeal? Indeed, why do people find games “fun” at all, from simple board games to immersive 3D fantasy worlds? Is there a biological reason that males and females play dramatically different kinds of games?

The many genres and formats of games will be surveyed in a brief multimedia overview, with a look at the different populations that play these different games. Then, human-behavioral scientists will collaborate with game-design professionals to explore the biological roots of our attraction to these experiences.

Panelists include:

Noah Falstein, President, The Inspiracy (design and production of entertainment and Serious Games).

Richard Wrangham, Harvard College Professor, Ruth B. Moore Professor of Biological Anthropology, Director of Graduate Studies of Harvard's Department of Human Evolutionary Biology, author of Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence.

Joyce Benenson, Associate Professor of Psychology at Emmanuel College, and Associate Member of Harvard's Department of Human Evolutionary Biology.

Kent Quirk, Director of Engineering for Client Software, Linden Lab (creators of the “Second Life” virtual world).

Dan Scherlis (moderator), Principal, Scherlis.com (executive production and market strategy for online games and social media).

Alumni and friends of the Harvard community: $10
Undergraduate Students: complimentary
Register here

To register, Non-Harvard attendees should call the main Harvard Alumni Association number, at 617-495-1093, or mailto:haa_alumnieducation@harvard.edu