Monday, October 24, 2011

Serious Games Turn Nintendo DS Camera Into A Microscope


Serious Games challenging us to play a better future



Following my prior post Fun &Serious Game Festival Bilbao, organizers today announced that AfterZoom has won the Award for the Best European Educational Serious Game.

The first educational project by Abylight, AfterZoom is a Serious Game that teaches through entertainment. “We have added an educational component that can be gradually learnt without the need of lessons or exams,” says company CEO Nacho García. 

AfterZoom turns the Nintendo DSi/3DS camera nto a virtual microscope to find microscopic, capture and take care of them, using chemical substances to keep them alive and healthy. “Players thus learn, without noticing it, that there are different organic domains they had never heard of (bacteria, archaea, etc.) and kingdoms (Animalia, Protista, Fungi, Plantae). 


The video game, entirely developed and marketed by the Catalan firm, was produced with a subsidy of the Ministry of Culture, which has “contributed to significantly improve its quality,” says García. 

AfterZoom is only available via download from the Nintendo DSi/3DS online stores. It was released in July in North and South America and i Europe. On October 26, it will be launched in Japan. 

Nacho García considers the Fun & Serious Game Festival Award to be a “warranty and recognition of the game’s quality.

 “We’re now working on another game for Nintendo DSi, two for Nintendo 3DS, and one for iPhone. Next year we are releasing fewer yet more important games,” he revealed.  

The Award for the Best European Educational Serious Game will be granted at the Fun & Serious Game Festival award gala at the Campos Elíseos Theatre in Bilbao on November 8

The Fun & Serious Game Festival is sponsored by the Basque Government and Bilbao Town Hall, with the cooperation of the Provincial Government of Vizcaya, VaDeJuegos.com, DigiPen Institute of Technology Europe-Bilbao, Virtualware, El Correo, and APD.

About AfterZoom



AfterZoom takes place in a Lab where there are 3 main areas: the Microscope, the Sample Bank and the Chemical Lab.

•The Microscope is useful to search for organisms and other elements on the player's surroundings, which may be found in different places and at different zoom levels.

 •The organisms collected are stored in the Sample Bank. Here, one can also feed them so they are healthy. The healthier they are, the faster they'll grow and the less one will have to check on them.

 •The elements found with the Microscope are stored in the Chemical Lab, which is also where one mixes up new elements for the colonies, based on actual chemistry formulas.

 Almost all the organisms are in too wild a state to allow a capture. So, before one can store them, it is necessary to weaken them using other organisms from the Sample Bank in a role fight that only lasts 30 seconds.

Not all of the organisms have the same stamina nor strike force, which means that strategy is necessary to ensure a win when choosing the right organism to send into a fight.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Serious Games As Novel Approaches To The World Of Touch


Serious Games challenging us to play a better future


Via: MS Research - Two Extremes of Touch Interaction

Microsoft Research Redmond researchers Hrvoje Benko and Scott Saponas have been investigating the use of touch interaction in computing devices since the mid-’00s. Now, two sharply different yet related projects demonstrate novel approaches to the world of touch and gestures (find also Serious Games Bringing Interactive Properties to Everyday Surfaces).

OmniTouch gives users the ability to make an entire wall a touch surface, while PocketTouch enables users to interact with smartphones inside a pocket or purse, a small surface area for touch.

Both projects are being unveiled at UIST 2012, the Association for Computing Machinery’s 24th Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology, being held Oct. 16-19 in Santa Barbara, Calif.

OmniTouch: Wearable Multitouch Interaction Everywhere—co-authored by Chris Harrison, a Ph.D. student at Carnegie Mellon University and a former Microsoft Research intern; Benko; and Andy Wilson—is a wearable system that enables graphical, interactive, multitouch input on arbitrary, everyday surfaces.

It utilizes a pico projector to display the interface on a surface — whether it’s a wall, table, arm, lap, leg, or what-have-you — then employs a custom-built short-range depth sensor (similar to a Microsoft Kinnect) to track your fingers as they type.

Perhaps the most convenient aspect of the technology is how it can be operated on the go, requiring no special calibration for each new surface it is used on. The system adapts easily to surfaces of most textures in 3D space, so it works even when the surface is not flat, such as with your hand, or perhaps a tree trunk.

The only inconvenient aspect of the prototype is the bulkiness of the camera and projector, which are mounted on a user's shoulder like a large parrot. The good news, though, is that future prototypes are expected to be much smaller, closer to the size of a matchbox.


PocketTouch: Through-Fabric Input Sensing

PocketTouch: Through-Fabric Capacitive Touch Inputwritten by Saponas, Harrison, and Benko—describes a prototype that consists of a custom, multitouch capacitive sensor mounted on the back of a smartphone. It uses the capacitive sensors to enable eyes-free multitouch input on the device through fabric, giving users the convenience of a rich set of gesture interactions, ranging from simple touch strokes to full alphanumeric text entry, without having to remove the device from a pocket or bag.


 
Continual Evolution of Touch

Benko also stresses that both OmniTouch and PocketTouch are evolutionary steps of a larger effort by Microsoft Research to investigate the unconventional use of touch in devices to extend Microsoft’s vision of ubiquitous computing. He notes that PocketTouch has a lineage dating to the Mouse 2.0 project and work on the multitouch pen, while OmniTouch shares concepts in common with LightSpace.

“It’s interesting to isolate these projects,” Benko remarks, “But sometimes, it’s much more interesting to look at them as evolving toward a broader vision. We are trying to push the boundaries of this rich space of touch and gestures, making gestural interactions available on any surface and with any device.”

Monday, October 17, 2011

Serious Games Therapeutically Educating Diabetic Patients


Serious Games challenging us to play a better health


Via: Gluciweb

Time Out is a Serious Game for therapeutical education of diabetic patients, especially dedicated to young adults (find also Serious Games Improving Diabetes Self-Management Update)

The game suggests living an amazing adventure while discovering the daily life of a diabetic patient. The hero is a type 1 diabetic, holder of an insulin pump combined with continuous glucose monitoring.

Augustin is a self-made renowned watchmaker but also an inveterate gambler, heading financial ruin. The storyline begins with Augustin gambling with the lease of his shop and about to lose everything.

Time Out is a point and click game. The aim is to help the main character to resolve an investigation about a murder. At the same time, the player has to help the main character to manage his type 1 diabetes.



Diabetes is a frequent  lifelong disease, which prognosis is closely related to the the understanding that patients have of the desease and its continuous management.

Time Out is the second Serious Game produced bu Les Diablotines, a non-profit organization born at CHU de Caen (Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Caen, France),  dedicated to the development of educational programs for diabetic patients. They had  already conceived and produced "L'affaire Birman" in 2009, aiming at young children.

The English version shall become operational both online and for download next month.


Saturday, October 15, 2011

BAD 11: Serious Games On the Theme Food

Serious Games challenging us to play at building a better future


Blog Action Day 2011 on October 16 will be an opportunity to open the conversation about how food impacts all of us – individually and globally


Blog Action Day 2011 site announced last week that since this year’s event  coincides with World Food Day, BAD's topic will be FOOD (find also Serious Games Market Supports Blog Action Day 2011 FOOD ).


Whilst World Food Day  2011 theme focuses on Food Prices - From Crisis To Stability, Blog Action Day 2011 embraces a broader view.

Some topics suggestions for Blog Action Day posts are:
  • Slow Food, Fast Food: What does it actually mean
·         Malnutrition
·         Conflict over Food: Will new wars be about arable land?
·         Is your hamburger hurting the environment?
It takes 24 liters of water to produce one hamburger. That means it would take over 19.9 billion liters of water to make just one hamburger for every person in Europe.
·         Trading in the future of food. What is the impact of food speculation?
·         Will we be able to feed 9 billion people in 2050?
·         What food means to your culture

There are a number of Serious Games addressing the topic of FOOD and Serious Games Market Blog has dedicated a number of posts to the theme.  Here are some examples:

Adding Playnormous Serious Games Exhibit To The Woodlands Children's Museum - Adding a Playnormous exhibit to The Woodlands Children's Museum exposed young children to foods they've never seen before and gave parents a great opportunity to start healthy habits early," explained Playnormous Director of Marketing Melanie Lazarus, MPH. "Our ultimate goal is prevention of childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes using media kids love to play.”



The Growing Segment Of Ecological Conscious Serious Games – Includes Fate of the World,  the PC strategy game where players try their hand at juggling sociopolitical events, energy consumption, population growth, food production and natural disasters. As the head of a fictitious world environmental organization, the goal is to improve the global climate-change patterns over the next 200 years.


Anecdotal Evidence: Serious Games As Persuasive Game-Life Integration – includes Playful (Persuasive) Tray, an interactive, persuasive game built into an ordinary food tray to assist parents to improve dietary behaviors of their young children.


Friday, October 14, 2011

Serious Games to Excite Consumers About Life Insurance


Serious Games challenging us to play at building a better future


Via: Insurance & Technology - AXA Looks to Gamification, Serious Games and iPad to Excite Consumers About Life Insurance

Connie O'Brien, SVP of Internet strategy and development, tells Insurance & Technology that with life insurance ownership at an all-time low, insurers must engage a new audience.

New York-based life insurer AXA Equitable has never been shy about promoting the necessity of life insurance and annuities. After all, the company is famous for personifying this need as the "800-pound gorilla in the room." With a soft life insurance market, the company is redoubling its efforts to acquire new policyholders, using technology as an enticement.

In September, AXA released an online game, Pass it On, which uses a Serious Game "journey" as a metaphor for the journey of life and the opportunities to purchase insurance coverage for loved ones after death.


Players guide their virtual families to a better financial future by saving game currency, managing expenses, and making important decisions about life insurance, the company says. There are also sweepstakes and charitable components.

Watch the Pass it On! Video




Demonstrating how life products, which can be complex, work, in language or experiences that consumers understand intrinsically, is a major goal of AXA's latest initiatives.

This month, the company released an iPad app that explains in detail how its Athena Indexed Universal Life product works. In addition to standard fare like calculators, the app allows users to customize their needs and personal situations, and uses quizzes to educate users about life insurance coverage.

"It started as an interactive storybook for kids. We wanted to leverage the technology in order to teach people what the benefits of that product specifically are," O'Brien says. '"While our issues are certainly more serious than popping bubbles and twinkling stars, we thought it would be a good way to bring to life the content so that people could see not only why they're going through the process, but also get a really good understanding of why you need our product."

An ancillary benefit of the app is that it contains much of the sales material that distributors would normally give interested parties in a paper form. Making that available in a digital form is a way for AXA to make actually signing up for a policy easy, O'Brien adds.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Fun & Serious Game Festival Bilbao


Serious Games challenging us to play at building a better future


Via: Fun & Serious Game Festival Official Website

The Fun & Serious Game Festival was established in 2011 to recognize the best European video games of the year. Awards will be granted to the best productions and most brilliant careers in the video game industry, both for games developed for fun and those fulfilling cultural, educational, healthcare, or corporate purposes.

The Festival Awards Gala will be held at the Campos Elíseos Theatre in Bilbao on November 8, 2011.

On November 8 and 9, Serious Games professionals will get together at the 1st International Professional Conference on Serious Games, to be held in Bilbao, in the context of the Fun & Serious Game Festival.

In its first edition, the event aims at consolidating the video game industry in Spain and the European continent.

The conference will take place at the Euskalduna Conference Centre, next to the Guggenheim Bilbao Museum.



One of the highlights of the Fun & Serious Game Festival is the emphasis on Serious Games and the future prospects of video games developed for purposes other than entertainment.

“Serious games are converging in the virtual world and social networks, and immersive technologies will be used in the recruitment of professionals, evaluation, and continuous learning.” This is the future of the Serious Game industry in the words of the president of the Serious Game Jury, David Wortley, founding partner at Immersive Technology Strategies and Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA).

Those who attend the 1st International Professional Conference on Serious Games on November 8 and 9 will be able to listen to keynote speakers like Wortley himself, Samir Abou-Samra (CTO of DigiPen Corporation USA who has led simulation projects for Boeing and Renault F1), Jurriaan van Rijswijk (director of Serious Games for Health Europe and founding director of Games Factory Online), or Julián Álvarez (ICT consultant specializing in Serious Games at the French consulting firm Ludoscience and regular contributor to the annual report on the Serious Game Market produced by IDATE).

They will describe the contemporary scene of Serious Games and show the most successful applications with users and developers in the fields of health, education, worker training, and the promotion of culture.

Other keynote speakers at the Euskalduna Convention Centre and Concert Hall in Bilbao include the health psychologist Pamela M. Kato, who, after founding HopeLab and being a clinical instructor in Paediatrics at Stanford Hospital in the United States, is currently developing and testing a clinically validated serious game to train medical residents in patient safety; Gareth Mills, who, as head of Futures, Innovation, and E-learning at the QCA, has led major developments in the curriculum in England; Maurizio Forte, professor of World Heritage at the University of California, Merced, and of Virtual Environments for Cultural Heritage at the University of Lugano; and Tim Luft, who at Coventry University has supported the development of economic regeneration programs and has delivered projects in partnership with the European Union and UK Trade & Investment.

Serious Games Market Supports Blog Action Day 2011 FOOD

Serious Games challenging us to play at building a better future


Blog Action Day 2011 will be an opportunity to open the conversation about how food impacts all of us – individually and globally


Serious Games Market Blog support to Blog Action Day has now become a tradition.

In 2007 on the theme of the Environment, we saw bloggers running environmental experiments, detailing innovative ideas on creating sustainable practices, and focusing their audience's attention on organizations and companies promoting green agendas.

In 2008, on the theme of Poverty, the event similarly focused the blogging community's energies around discussing the wide breadth of the issue from many perspectives and identifying innovative and unexpected solutions.

In 2009, on the theme of Climate Change, we focused on Climate Change Serious Games, and also on a niche topic: Climate Change & Video Games - Why Gamers Would Be Rather Good at Fighting Climate Change and Saving the World.

The topic for Blog Action Day 2010 was Water - One day. One issue. Thousands of voices. We then focused on Blog Action Day: Serious Games For Water Conservation

Yesterday the Blog Action Day 2011 site was unveiled, announcing that since Blog Action Day 2011 coincides with World Food Day, BAD's topic this year will be FOOD.


Food is something that we all share in common, but is distinct to each of our cultures. The way we produce, distribute and consume food is crucial to our shared future and the unhealthy imbalance of food scarcity in developing world and food over-abundance in the developed world is unsustainable for us all.

Blog Action Day 2011 will be an opportunity to open the conversation about how food impacts all of us – individually and globally.

About Blog Action Day

Blog Action Day is an annual event that unites the world's bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day on their own blogs with the aim of sparking discussion around an issue of global importance.

First and last, the purpose of Blog Action Day is to create a discussion. Bloggers are asked to take a single day out of their schedule and focus it on an important issue. By doing so on the same day, the blogging community effectively changes the conversation on the Web and focuses audiences around the globe on that issue. Out of this discussion naturally flow ideas, advice, plans, and action.

Blog Action Day was founded by Collis & Cyan Ta'eed in the summer of 2007.


With the support of their team at Envato in Australia as well as numerous volunteers, they recruited over 20,000 bloggers to write about the issue of Environment on October 15, 2007 - making the first Blog Action Day an immediate and quite unexpected success. In 2009, Collis & Cyan asked the team at Change.org, the world's leading blog network for social issues, to take over responsibility of Blog Action Day and expand its reach.

After overseeing Blog Action Day for the past two years, Change.org announced yesterday that they are handing the reins over to VOICE, an organization incubated at Oxfam and supported by ONE.org, Save the Children, WaterAid, the UN Foundation and others.

VOICE
connects bloggers with non-profits, charities and established media and helps them to blog at global events like the G20 Summits and UN Climate Change Conference. They couldn't be better suited to run Blog Action Day going forward.


Monday, October 3, 2011

New At Spongelab: Serious Games For Playing With Science


Serious Games challenging us to promote STEM education


Via: SPONGELAB BETA New Spongelab Content

Following my prior The New Spongelab Site Is A Serious Game Itself, Spongelab has been busy playing with science – its website dedicated to the global science community offers amazing new Serious Games and interactive learning tools.

Biochem Gems is a deceptively simple looking puzzle game where players are tasked with assembling basic biochemical structures from their constituent pieces. Players may connect 3 identical pieces for points, but are also tasked with building a target molecule if they wish to succeed. There are 4 main stages to the game (carbohydrates, fatty acids, nucleic acids and amino acids), each containing 3 - 5 levels. After completing these levels, players are granted access to a "freeplay" mode, where they are free to work towards a leaderboard topping high score.


Biochem Gems is match-3 games based on the building blocks of life (learn to assemble carbohydrates, nucleic acids, fatty acids and amino acids)

In Build-a-Frog, Build-a-Worm, and Build-a-Fish players can explore the stunning anatomy of these organisms.




As always, earn credits and experience points for trying out these new interactives.

Updates At Spongelab.com Beta

The new Spongelab learning platform is growing rapidly. With currently over 300 stunning images, videos, and animation as well as over 170 simulations, Serious Games and interactives - spanning biology, chemistry, physics and space science - the community is doubling every month and they have new content being added from all over the world, at all levels of learning. They’re also in the final stages of releasing an updated reporting system steered from the feedback from all players.

All users can create lesson plans, connect video links, create case studies and add assessment questions. Gain credits and experience points for everything you do: from playing Serious Games to creating classes – everything earns you points.

About Spongelab Interactive

Founded in 2007, Spongelab Interactive is a Toronto-based educational gaming design and production company that aims to inspire a new generation of learners to be passionate about the natural and scientific world.
Recognizing the instructional potential of video gaming, the Spongelab Interactive team creates interesting and intuitive online programs that challenge students through discovery-based learning.

Thanks to a team that combines educational, technical and scientific expertise, Spongelab Interactive has created Genomics Digital Lab (GDL), a series of biology Serious Games based on curriculum for Grades 7 through 12.
The company’s award-winning GDL games currently boast users from over 50 countries worldwide.

Spongelab Interactive is building on these achievements by using educational design with advanced web and gaming technology to produce more Serious Games is biology, in particular for university level students.