Blog Archives

Play to Cure – Croud Crunching Data to Advance Cancer Research

From a press release from Cancer Research UK;

February 4, 2014

It’s been an ambitious and challenging project but the day to unveil it to the world has arrived.

We’re delighted today to launch Genes in Space – a unique and enjoyable game that you can download and play for free on your smart phone:

It’s a game, so first and foremost it’s fun to play – boring train journeys, queues for that gig or waiting for that friend who’s always late could be transformed into exhilarating space adventures.

But that’s not the exciting bit.

Well it is. But there’s more. Much more.

By downloading and playing this pioneering game, you will be taking part in research to help beat cancer. It might sound far-fetched, but it’s true.

We’ve been working with our scientists and gaming experts for months to build the game, which on the surface is a simple and entertaining caper through space. But underneath it’s a data crunching powerhouse that’s helping our scientists identify the DNA faults that could lead to cancer.

Here’s a little teaser of the game:

Element Alpha: real data

In the game, you take the helm of a spaceship to collect valuable and powerful ‘Element Alpha’. The stroke of genius is that in doing so you are actually helping our scientists to analyse piles of real life data.

That’s because the game is actually a fun interface to allow the public to assist our scientists in the serious business of spotting patterns in gigabytes of genetic information from thousands of tumours.

There’s lots more information about the fascinating science behind the game in this post. But in a nutshell, by finding the best route to pick up the most Element Alpha, you’re actually plotting a course through genuine ‘DNA microarray’ data.

Behind the scenes, the code of the game translates real microarray data like this…:

Microarray data

Microarray data

…into this:

Mapping a journey through space

Mapping a journey through space

No expertise required

The game’s ingenuity lies in its simplicity. Racking up the combined data crunching power of what we hope will be thousands of casual gamers will help our scientists spot the subtle patterns and peaks and troughs in the data, which correspond to DNA faults.

The power of Element Alpha is of course completely fictional, but the power of the data it represents could be exceptional. Our scientists will be trawling through the results as they come in and looking for crucial clues in the quest for new cancer treatments.

So what are you waiting for? Start collecting mysterious Element Alpha to help us solve the mystery of cancer sooner.

Download the game 

What Makes Serious Games Effective?

From Press Release:

New Research-Based White Paper Published on Serious Learning Games Game On! Learning, the thought leader in serious learning games for the corporate learning market, has just published a new white paper on serious learning games for the corporate training market called “What Makes Serious Games Effective? — 5 Questions to Ask When Evaluating Serious Games in the Workplace”. Share on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on LinkedInEmail a friend Serious Learning Games White Paper Research on serious games suggests improved job skills can be a result of integrating a serious game into your training program. But the same research shows that effective serious games are difficult to design, and they are rare. Gainesville, Florida (PRWEB) December 17, 2013 Game On! Learning, the thought leader in serious learning games for the corporate learning market, has just published a new white paper on serious learning games for the corporate training market called “What Makes Serious Games Effective? — 5 Questions to Ask When Evaluating Serious Games in the Workplace”. The white paper is authored by Dr. Rob Foshay, a principal of The Foshay Group, a consulting firm specializing in high-value strategies for e-learning product architectures, training, and certification. He is a practice leader for The Institute for Performance Improvement, and a Certified Performance Technologist. He is also a Fellow of the International Board of Standards for Training, Performance and Instruction. “Many organizations are currently investigating and implementing learning games”, said Bryan Austin, Game On! Learning’s chief game changer. “ Most are doing so to address the increasing lack of learner engagement of traditional elearning. What those implementing learning games are finding, though, is that they are not just engaging, but that well-designed learning games more effectively anchor knowledge and increase skill proficiency than their “traditional” classroom and elearning counterparts.” Many of corporate learners like games, and play them enthusiastically when at home. For corporate learning professionals, though, the interest is in serious games: those games that are designed to have learning outcomes relevant to the job. “What you really want to know is whether the game is effective in improving job skills, not game skills”, adds Austin. “Research on serious games suggests improved job skills can be a result of integrating a serious game into your training program. But the same research shows that effective serious games are difficult to design, and they are rare.” This research-based white paper provides key elements to look for in an effective serious game. This complementary white paper can be downloaded by clicking here. About Game On! Learning Game On! Learning provides inspired online game based learning solutions that create unmatched learner engagement and produce learners who will immediately and confidently apply their newly acquired skills on-the-job. Our revolutionary “serious games” feature a highly interactive, animated video game design, fun competition versus colleagues, learner-individualized feedback, and real world learning scenarios. An extraordinarily high degree of in-course skill practice helps ramp up employee performance, increase productivity, and move your organization more rapidly forward. We deliver lasting results in an unforgettable learning experience. It’s the most exciting thing happening in organizational learning today! We help you Get Your Game On!

‘Serious gaming’ and dementia friendly design innovation and new research on how video games improve aging brains

old people video games

                                                                                    Chip Simons/Getty

Older people who play videogames enjoy sharper brain function, says a new study.

Josh Dzieza writes that;

“Someday doctors may tell you to beat two levels and call them in the morning. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, have found that a driving videogame can improve memory and attention among older players, lending new scientific support to the burgeoning field of therapeutic software.



In the game, called NeuroRacer, players drive a car along a winding road while keeping an eye out for road signs that occasionally pop into view. They’re supposed to click on certain signs and ignore others while maintaining control of the car. It’s not exactly Grand Theft Auto, but it requires players to multitask, something that becomes increasingly difficult as we get older. A preliminary study of the game showed just how badly age wears down our ability to switch attention: people in their 20s were 26 percent worse at choosing the right signs when they had to drive at the same time, while people in their 60s and 80s were 64 percent worse.

But the exciting thing about the study is that it found elderly players got better—a lot better—with practice, and that this improvement carried over to other mental activities. After playing the game for 12 hours over the course of a month, players in their 60s and 80s outdid 20-somethings playing for the first time. More importantly, separate tests found that this improvement carried over into other cognitive functions. Elderly players’ memory and attention improved, mental powers not directly targeted by the game—suggesting that the brain can continue to change late into life, and that properly designed games might be able to direct this change, counteracting some of the mental decline that comes with age.

“Previous work has shown that the brain is plastic,” says Dr. Joaquin Anguera, the lead author of the study, using the neuroscience term for the brain’s mutability. “Other studies have shown that games can improve cognitive function. But the most important thing we found is that videogames can have beneficial effects on other tasks if they’re properly designed.” Not only did elderly players perform better on tests of working memory and attention, but EEG imaging found that brain activity in the prefrontal cortex, an area involved with attention, began to resemble that of younger adults.”

To read the full article by Josh Dzieza click here;

Media release from FightDemenitia.org   on October 23, 2013;

“Internationally recognised dementia friendly design principles and practices will be showcased at a ground-breaking, dementia learning facility in Parkville to be opened later today by Ita Buttrose AO, OBE, Alzheimer’s Australia National President and Australian of the Year.

The first of its kind in Australia, the new facility showcases dementia friendly design features with the intention of educating and calling for all workplaces, homes and public spaces to commit to becoming dementia friendly.

Maree McCabe, Alzheimer’s Australia Vic’s CEO said through this undertaking, Alzheimer’s Australia Vic is taking the lead in tackling dementia and ensuring people living with dementia receive the best care and support possible to enable and empower them to have the quality of life they deserve.

“With the prevalence of dementia in Victoria projected to increase to 141,000 by 2030, we are responding to the need we have for new and more sophisticated approaches to learning.

“We are committed to creating the better-skilled, quality aged and healthcare workforce we need for the future.

“Being dementia friendly is about developing ways to promote social inclusion as well as awareness about dementia. It is about the ways in which society as a whole, not just the aged and health care sectors, embraces people with dementia to ensure their needs are addressed in both the physical and social environment,” Ms McCabe said.

A major feature of the project is the Perc Walkley Dementia Learning Centre that will create a multi-sensory simulation using light, sound, colour and visual content while incorporating ‘serious gaming’ technology to create a virtual reality experience – Aged and healthcare workers will be taken in to the world of dementia.

The Centre includes doughnut shaped mood lighting, a massive ten metre by two metre wall that can have a seamless image projected across its width and breadth, an interactive touch screen and gesture- sensor technology.

“The intention is to lead our course participants into thinking differently in their approach to caring.

“After 30 years of caring for people with dementia, their carers and families, this facility empowers our organisation to deliver on our purpose and showcase our important dementia friendly design messages throughout Victoria and indeed the world,” Ms McCabe said.

Features such as carpets, wall colour, signage and clear fronted cupboards can greatly impact on a person living with dementia and their ability to successfully negotiate their environment.

The use of the same colour paint on walls, door frames and doors, for example, can make it difficult for some people living with dementia to identify and find their way into a room. The move to Parkville also opens the doors to the development of stronger relationships and collaboration with research neighbours, The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, Melbourne Brain Centre, National Ageing Research Institute and the University of Melbourne. Alzheimer’s

Australia Vic will retain its Hawthorn offices at 98-104 Riversdale Rd from which we continue to provide our Victoria-wide Family Services. The 155 Oak St, Parkville site will be dedicated to Learning Services.

This initiative was funded by the Lorenzo and Pamela Galli Charitable Trust, jointly funded by the Commonwealth and State governments through funding from the Home and Community Care Program, and other private donors. Alzheimer’s Australia Vic would like to acknowledge their generosity.

In Victoria almost 74,600 people are living with dementia. Alzheimer’s Australia Vic is the charity representing people with dementia in Victoria. As the peak body, we provide specialised dementia information, education and support services. Call our National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500 or visit www.fightdementia.org.au/vic”

Media contact:

Sam Watson 9816 5745 / 0437 453 113 / sam.watson@alzheimers.org.au  or

Christine Bolt 9816 5772 / 0400 004 553 / christine.bolt@alzheimers.org.au

Game Trains Artificial Intelligence to Map the Brain

I usually write about how computer games help humans to learn.  Today, I write about how humans (while playing games) help computers to learn.  In the process, the humans advance brain science and learn about neurology.  I am one of the 70,000+ who have played eyewire, a game that was created by;

“…scientists at MIT, Eyewire is a browser game that lets players take on the challenge of mapping neural pathways in brains — no scientific background required. By playing, gamers are not only mapping neurons, but also training artificial intelligence algorithms to better understand how to map neurons themselves, what Amy Robinson, Creative Director at Eyewire, calls “augmented intelligence”. The more that gamers play, the better the computers get.”

from Singularity Hub – http://singularityhub.com/2013/07/10/70000-have-played-eyewire-game-that-trains-computers-to-map-the-brain/

By creating a map of all the connected neurons in the brain, we advance understanding and treatment of alzheimer’s, dementia, mood disorders, and other cognitive diseases.  The human connectome has 86 billion connected neurons, so mapping this is impossible for humans to do quickly.  But, by using the Eyewire game, we can quickly teach the Artificial Intelligence software to map our connectome much faster than we could.

So, stop playing Farmville, and start playing a serious game!

Map the brain, save your brain, and learn a little brain science!

The world will be a better place.To play Eyewire click here – http://eyewire.org/

To read the full article by from Singularity Hub click here; http://singularityhub.com/2013/07/10/70000-have-played-eyewire-game-that-trains-computers-to-map-the-brain/

The Serious Games Association has created a helpful list of educational games.

The Serious Games Association has developed a helpful list of educational games with detailed information about each one.  They also include an option to list new edgames. Enjoy!

“Games are changing the way children learn, helping them think differently and stimulating new ways people of all ages can use their minds. This section of the directory will list games created for use in schools and universities at home learning and vocational training.”

Here are the first three games;

CyberCIEGE
for PC
Education Level(s): 9-12, College/University Subject(s): Science
CyberCIEGE is a network security simulation packaged as a video game. It covers a broad range of cybersecurity topics. Players purchase and configure computers and network devices to keep demanding users happy (e.g., by providing Internet access) all while protecting assets from a variety of attacks.
Past/Present
for PC, MAC
Education Level(s): K-6, 9-12 Subject(s): History
Imagine a learning experience where players are thrust into the everyday hustle and bustle of life in America a century ago. That’s what happens in Past/Present, a fully realized interactive 3-D “virtual world” in which a player “becomes” a fictional character, or “avatar”, who is caught up in the big issues
Ludwig
for PC
Education Level(s): 9-12 Subject(s): Science, Physics
OVERVIEW Ludwig is a physics adventure on renewable energy for adventurers of 11 years old and up. It´s a new type of learning game, which not only conveys knowledge, but is also really fun! Ludwig was developed in cooperation with physics specialists, teachers and pupils and is based on the physics

To read their full list click here;

http://www.seriousgamesdirectory.com/proj/education/

https://i2.wp.com/dl.dropbox.com/u/61681492/Serious%20Games%20Association%20Logo%20Member.jpg

Educational Games in Denmark

Jan Gejel's picturehttps://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/graphics/flags/large/da-lgflag.gif

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.