Monthly Archives: October 2012

Mobile games up – console games down!

According to Daniel Burris, “In 2011, video game sales fell by 8 percent. And in the first 8 months of 2012, retail sales of video games have plummeted an additional 20 percent in the United States.”  But Burris adds that this may be an opportunity for gaming companies to add educational gaming divisions to make up for falling sales in the traditional entertainment market.

“…There are many great programmers — people who know how to make interactive worlds come to life — who are going to be looking for new opportunities.  It is likely that many will turn to creating game-like education and training programs for the academic and business worlds. And if the big electronic gaming companies want to grow in a slump, they should start an education-gamming division rather than lose some of their best and brightest programmers by letting them become the competition”, Burris wrote.  Let us hope that these programmers could focus their skills on developing better educational and training games.  Imagine a school lesson or a corporate training session as engaging as Halo 4!

To Read the full article go to;


My son and I played Civilization 5 today for the first time – Awsome!  Today was a great day because my son wanted to play my favorite game of all time – Civilization (Civ).  I began playing Civ 1 back in the 90’s and I have to say that it has impacted the way I understand history, strategy, and yes civilization.  When I read Jared diamond‘s book, Guns, Germs, and Steel, I remember thinking “yes, that makes sense!” His thesis (location and resources matter) was confirmed by my experience in the simulation/game of Civ.  Whenever I started in the Americas, I did not do so well, but when I started in Europe or Asia, I did much better.

I have had a love/hate relationship with Civ.  I love it because it is so compelling and I hate it because, at times, I enjoyed it too much.  While in college, I remember limiting myself to only playing Civ during summer or winter breaks.  I remember erasing the game and breaking the CD – only to buy the next new version a year later.   I don’t feel so bad about Civ now – especially after all the research that I have read on the benefits of “moderate gaming”.  I’m nearly finished with my doctorate in education, and I have decided to do my dissertation on the topic of games and learning.  (Civ and “moderate gaming” have not  damaged me too much.)  In many ways, Civ has opened my mind to new ways of viewing the world.

My son turned four in September, he loves playing games on his Ipad and he also loves riding his bike.  I hope that he will continue to enjoy “moderate gaming” and every other good part of life.  He is already learning geography, strategy, and so many other things in Civ.  He really likes to fight the barbarians because, “they break things, and we are builders not breakers!”  I was so happy he wanted to play Civ today!  I named one of my cities after him – no one is going to take that city!

ETS Announces Winner of Assessment Game Challenge

tex playing video games

video games and education (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Educational Testing Service (ETS) today announced the winner of the ETS Assessment Games Challenge, a competition challenging software developers and educators to create a computer game or mobile app that acts as a K–12 math assessment.

A panel of judges comprised of ETS researchers and assessment developers, as well as external experts from the educational gaming community, selected the winner. Submissions were judged over four criteria: Reusability, Measurement Value, Originality, and Engagement

The winner is “Equations Squared” by Paul Gestwicki of Ball State University.  Equations Squared is a free, browser-based game in which students earn points by playing balanced mathematical equations. Higher scores are earned for playing more complex and interesting equations. The game features achievements that correspond to ETS’s Equations & Variables learning progression: badges are awarded to players who demonstrate high levels of learning, while demerits indicate where players may be struggling.

“We thank all of the creative developers who answered our call for educational measurement games,” says Malcolm Bauer, Senior Research Scientist at ETS. “We are pleased with the gaming community’s engagement in furthering mathematics education and with the education community in their embrace of games as part of a potential future of assessment”

The winner receives $7,000 from ETS and an all-expense-paid trip to showcase the project in a learning and game demo space at ETS in Princeton, N.J. The winner will also have a chance to discuss his ideas in a private meeting with Scott Paris, Vice President of Research at ETS. The winning entry in the ETS Assessment Games Challenge can be viewed at

About ETS ETS, a nonprofit organization, celebrates a 60-year history of advancing quality and equity in education by providing fair and valid assessments, research and related services for all people worldwide. In serving individuals, educational institutions and government agencies around the world, ETS customizes solutions to meet the need for teacher professional development products and services, classroom and end-of-course assessments, and research-based teaching and learning tools. ETS today develops, administers and scores more than 50 million assessments in over 180 countries, at more than 9,000 locations worldwide.

SOURCE Educational Testing Service

A false ballance: on the pros and cons of video games

  In a recent article in the Hindustan Times (, the author wrote many positive things about the benefit of video games for kids;

“As the games and higher levels get more complicated, the player has to learn how to manage unforeseen obstructions and changing variables to reach the end objective.  Kids have to think fast and act even faster whether that means changing strategy, making quick analysis and reaching decisions.  It is fascinating how quickly children learn to recognize inherent patterns in games and work out the logical way of solving them.”

Unfortunately the same author went on to list some of the typical “downsides” of games as well,

“Too much game playing will make Jack a dull boy, for sure. Children who play video games endlessly are also likely to have less time for the other important tasks such as schoolwork, reading, sports etc.  There is also an obvious bad effect of addictive game playing on children’s health, including obesity, postural muscular and skeletal disorders and strained eyesight. ”

All of these “downsides” have been or are being mitigated by better games and better gaming practices.


Gaming can be part of schoolwork now that better educational games are being adopted inside and outside of the classroom.  Researchers have found that before high school, students gain little benefit from traditional homework.


It could be argued that more kids are reading more because of video games than before.  They are not only reading more but composing more in online forums on their favorite games.


With the advent of the Wii and other consuls with sensors, more and more games have been created that require players to exercise and have fun in the process.  Good riddance to traditional sports, where too often only the best players get any game time, while the rest of the team sits on the bench watching!
Games hold the promise of helping students to learn more, exercise more, and socialize more than ever before!