Monthly Archives: November 2012

learn more and relieve stress through video games

Sophomores Conner Pulliam, Jacob Oatman and Kevin Case play video games in their Tom Brown/Pete Wright apartment on Monday, Nov. 19, 2012. Photo by Lacey McKee.

Matt Johnston wrote about a Professor who affirms the power of video games.

“Johnny Nhan, an assistant professor of criminal justice and a part-time gamer, said that depending on the game being played, playing video games could be good. ”

To read the whole article click here.


Coding and Gaming

Why play when you can code? MakeGamesWithUs breeds next generation of gaming prodigies

Rebecca Grant wrote this article under the title “Why play when you can code? MakeGamesWithUs breeds next generation of gaming prodigies.

“A startup called MakeGamesWithUs is . . . teaching high school and college kids how to build iPhone games.

MakeGamesWithUs graduated from the YCombinator Winter 2012 and just launched its first social game in the AppStore. On the website, students take project-based tutorials that focus on hands-on, practical experience, rather than theory. Once they feel confident in their iPhone game development skills, they can begin building original games.

Students can engage with the MakesGamesWithUs community during the development process to get help, give/receive feedback, nurture ideas, and troubleshoot problems. As it nears completion, the MakeGamesWithUs team will incorporate professional art and music, help with debugging, and assist in adding trickier features. When the game is ready, MakeGamesWithUs will publish and promote the games for a share of the revenue.

To date, the startup has published seven games on the App Store. It just launched its first social game, Name That Jam!, where groups of friends challenge each other to name songs, earning more points the faster they guess. The game was built by a brother and sister team, still in high school, using MakeGamesWithUs’ Turn Based Multiplayer software development kit (SDK). This new tool makes it easy for aspiring developers to build social games, even without back-end knowledge.”

I believe that some of these kids will soon write better educational games than we have now.  They know what they need to learn and they know how to make games that are more fun for their own generation!

Gamers out-perform surgeons in robotic surgery simulation

Does your surgeon play Halo?  Perhaps she should!

“Researchers have found that high school and college-age gamers are better virtual surgeons than medical residents. Scientists from University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston had a hunch that students with a regular video game diet (high school sophomores who played two hours of games a day and college students who played four) would be primed for virtual surgery tools. They were right. When performance with those tools was measured, the game-playing students did better than a group of residents at UTMB.”

To read the full article by Colin Lecher click here.

6 Scholarships for Gamers

2012 Winner - David Doyle

2012 Winner of the The Penny Arcade Scholarship

David Doyle, University of Tennessee – School of Journalism

High school and College students really can earn real money for their College education through games!  Here is the list.

The Penny Arcade Scholarship   $10,000

The Evo College Scholarship, – two $10,000 scholarship awards as well as a $500 creative grant.

The Twitch & Alienware Scholarship Program  five $10,000 scholarship

The Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) G.I.R.L. Scholarship Program –$10,000 award and an optional 10-week paid internship at one of SOE’s studios.

The Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences awards four $2,500 scholarships each year.

To read more about the winners and details about these scholarships read the article by Matt Konrad by clicking here.

Gamification at Khan Academy

MMO Family

MMO Family  How Khan Academy redefines learning and gaming!

According to Karen Bryan, the Khan Academy employs some of the elements of gamification to keep learners engaged and motivated.

“Khan said that when he began to make his videos public, he expected that they would attract only the highly self-motivated learners. What he found, though, is that it’s become popular with a wide variety of students, from high achievers to students who are on the verge of failing their classes. On the surface, the skill trees are a type of extrinsic reward, and there’s incentive to keep watching videos and taking assessment tests just to see the next box fill in on your tree. But at the same time, users are intrinsically drawn to the site, and their primary motivation for using Khan Academy is actually the method of instruction itself. Millions of people have viewed the videos, and as the staff continues to translate the tutorials, even more people will be able to access the content on the site.”

To read the full article by Karen Bryan, click here.

Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand says school curriculum should be more like video games

Bill English

Bill English, Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand, told an audience of gaming and animation professionals and students; “…one of our single biggest challenges in education over the next few years, for the government – and I mean the state, not just in a political sense – whose educational processes are built around the industrial revolution to provide an environment where young New Zealanders’, whose minds are being trained by you, are able to learn a broader set of skills,” He was speaking at the seventh annual creative digital industries symposium Animfx in Wellington.

Slowly but surly, more politicians are affirming the power of games in engagement and learning.

To read the full article by Jazial Crossley click Here.

Classroom Aid

game-based learningSome of the best and brightest minds in engineering, education, sociology, and computer science have been analyzing how to build, improve, and understand games for several decades. Their research has helped to yield games that are more effective (not to mention fun) than ever and that reflect our changing relationship with technology. Our friends at  Online Universities have compiled a list of greatest gaming scholars, maybe you can provide your suggestion to make it more complete. (this list isn’t in any specific sequence)


Kurt Squire:

Kurt Squire is an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Educational Curriculum and Instruction and is the co-founder of the Games, Learning & Society Initiative, an on-campus group of faculty and students studying game-based learning. He has written over 75 scholarly publications on gaming in education, often addressing the sociocultural aspects of gaming and the impact of gaming practices…

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Educational Games in Denmark

Jan Gejel's picture

Jan Gejel describes some of the opportunities and challenges for educational games in an article entitled “You Got Game! Learning Games and Games in Learning” for the International Conference The Future of Education.  Gejel is the European project manager at Aarhus Social and Healthcare College in Denmark.   This article explores important questions related to the future of games in education, particularly; why there are not more of these games, how will these games be paid for, and how might young developers and educational institutions work together.  This article is helpful for understanding the serious gaming context in Europe, in general, and Scandinavia, in particular.
Here are some highlights (to read the full article following the link at the end).

“In Europe the interest in learning games emerged in the beginning of the last decade. Again, the interest in games was a result of the increasing interest in technology in education: internet, software, e-learning, etc. Nevertheless, the explosion of the video games market did not at all result in the creation of games for education, of learning games. Still in 2012 very few quality learning games have been developed in Europe and the worlds of video games and education are still not in any kind of dialogue – apart from very few exceptions.”

“The video game market of entertainment games has grown at an incredible speed throughout the last decades, now worth the double of the film industry.”

“. . . now researchers and game developers are discussing what learning potentials are included in the very activity of gaming itself, and thus in the very design of video games, serious or commercial.  It is being debated that the very design of computer games, no matter the content, represents a very powerful learning process, due to the basic design elements in video games.
The focus is thus shifted from the entertaining form of video games to the learning potentials of the gaming itself. This shift caused a tremendous upswing in the interest in learning games and for the first time in Europe educational players joined the discussions and they showed a serious interest in games for education.”

“Dramatic different business models must be developed, if education should exploit the learning potentials of gaming.
Real encounters between the game world and the educational world must be organized, on an ongoing basis, through which (young) game developers and teachers and institutions can meet and develop mutual platforms of collaboration.”

To read the full article, by Jan Gejel, click Here.

Game developer explores the persuasive power of Games

Tadhg Kelly wrote a very compelling article on the limits of the persuasive power of games for TechCrunch.  Here are a few parts that I found particularly insightful.

“The root of the persuasive-game idea is that interactivity is better than passivity, and so by encouraging users to do stuff you likely imprint them with an idea more successfully. Largely this is assumed to be true because it sounds very positive on the one hand, and something that could be profitable on the other. The educational and computer-based training sectors rest upon it, as do the emerging fields of socially conscious games.”

Kelly is not so convince of this.  He goes on to write;

“Of course games can educate. Monopoly accidentally teaches its players about ideas like property rental, ownership, rates and income taxes. You don’t really realise it, but years later these ideas turn out to be useful. Scrabble teaches spelling and vocabulary without ever making a big deal of it. It’s just the skill you need to win the game  . . . The Settlers of Catan expands your understanding of resource management. Risk teaches geography (every Risk player knows that there’s a place in Asia named Kamchatka).”

Regardless of whether it is “accidental” or not learning takes place when people play games.  Kelly goes on to make several excellent observations about how games that are too preachy, commercial, or just badly designed are not persuasive.  This is all true of course, but the right solution is to design better games.

Read the full article by Tadhg Kelly on TechCrunch by clicking here


Tablet games for Etheopian children

More than 100 Million children have no access to schooling, so the One Laptop Per Child organization is experimenting with a new way to help them learn by;

“simply dropping off tablet computers with preloaded programs and seeing what happens.  The goal: to see if illiterate kids with no previous exposure to written words can learn how to read all by themselves, by experimenting with the tablet and its preloaded alphabet-training games, e-books, movies, cartoons, paintings, and other programs.”

The results:

“Earlier this year, OLPC workers dropped off closed boxes containing the tablets, taped shut, with no instruction. ‘I thought the kids would play with the boxes. Within four minutes, one kid not only opened the box, found the on-off switch … powered it up. Within five days, they were using 47 apps per child, per day. Within two weeks, they were singing  ABC songs in the village, and within five months, they had hacked Android,’ Negroponte said. ‘Some idiot in our organization or in the Media Lab had disabled the camera, and they figured out the camera, and had hacked Android.'”

To read the full story by David Talbot click Here.