Games – Horizon Report 2011

Posted by Todd Bryant in General | Tagged | 2 Comments

I’ll be co-presenting the introduction of the gaming portion of the Horizon Report at ELI 2011 with Libby Evans from UNC.  I’m posting the notes here so everyone will have access to the links of examples.  I’m sure I’ll update this again before Monday.

I’m just going to run through a quick series of examples of games used or created in education.  These don’t even include those mentioned in the Horizon Report, and I’ll have a link at the end to my notes that includes these games and many others, so don’t worry about catching links as long as you get the last one.

  1. Games as sims – One of the great educational benefits games and simulations have is to demonstrate in a practical manner a problem with a multitude of variables.  Players need to first demonstrate an understanding of the complexity of the problem before they can advance.  We see many of examples of these in business/economics and with environmental simulations, particularly global warming.
    1. Global Warming Interactive
      1. (nice about this one is model is based on a dissertation that’s available, so can critique/analyze underlying assumptions.  Fiddaman%20Dissertation%20Climate%20FREE.PDF)
  2. Persuasive Games  (maybe a slide of the book Persuasive-Games)
    1. Games are especially effective at promoting understanding and empathy by placing the player in a situation in which they are unaccustomed.  Ian Bogost has categorized many of these types of games as “Persuasive Games”.  They can be designed to express a political view, desire for social change, or promote a charity.  Great for introducing a class to current events, especially those not well covered in the new.
    2. Alice and Kev – Student game designer Robin Burkinshaw set up characters in Sim 3 without money or a home then shared their stories from the game.  Also a great example of games, even single person games are social and use social media to connect games, in this case, blogging.
      1. (slide)
    3. Darfur is Dying – NGOs are using persuasive games to spread their message.   One of the earlier and more successful games was Darfur is Dying
      1. (slide)
    4. Haiti Earthquake  – A more recent example is “Inside the Haiti Earthquake” which includes professional quality documentary footage.
      1. Inside the Haiti Earthquake – (slide)
    5. Great source for these types of examples:
      1. Games for Change – (slide)
  3. Games as crowdsourcing tools – People can perform better than computers with many puzzles, especially those involving space and patterns.  Scientists create games to help with their research.
    1. Phylo players help scientists research for genetic diseases
    2. Fold-It is simliar, though now it’s proteins.
  4. Alternate Reality Games – These games have the real world as their environment.  Clues or the story is usually distributed via the internet by a game master then players work together and play in the real world until the puzzle is solved or the story is complete.
    1. Evoke – how to save the world (the real one)
  5. Games as object for study themselves whether as art, digital story or as example of a concept
    1. “Portal” as assigned reading for a required freshman seminar at Wabash College, “Induring Questions”. Portal  is played and discussed along with passages from  Erving Goffman’s Presentation of Self
  6. Games as creation tools – We tend to think of games as being something that comes pre-packaged and played.  More and more games, however, are being used as a creative resource to alter the game itself or to create a new medium.   In order to extend shelf life, many publishers (think LittleBigPlanet, Sims, Civiliation) now include tools to make it easier for players to create and modify within the game.
    1. Machinima – creating movies using video from a game.
      1. Skits in foreign languages – Sims comes with camera icon, just click and saves action from game as an avi file.  Subtitles and audio can be added via IMovie or any other video editing software
        1. (slide)
    2. Modding – slight more adventurous
      1. Civ IV Mod  – Both Civ IV and now Civ V come with tools to modify any variable in the game including maps, technologies, governments, social policies and populations to create historial scenarios.  This mod was created for a class at Dickinson College for students to play the role of Montezuma or Cortes.  Discussion focused around the importance of variables not included within the game.
        1. (slide)
      2. Rome Total Realism – Mod and active community for altering Rome – Total War to be an accurate sim of the period.
        1. (slide)
    3. Platforms – the daring
      1. Inform 7 – Is a platform for creating text games (MUDs) aka Zork type games.  Keep in mind, even though it’s simplified programming, it’s still programming.  Creators layout spaces based on the direction and description then write “if then” statements based on what the player may type.  We had students create a scenario based on their research of life under a fascist regime of their choice.)
        1. (Show screen shot of the Baghdad game)
      2. Scirra – A free and open source platform for creating games.  While the user doesn’t need to know a programming language, the logic is the same.  Objects are created, then each user action (clicking etc) must correspond to an event (player moves forward, block changes color, etc).  Has the look and feel of visual basic.  The creation of the game itself is an intellectual undertaking.  Would make a for a fascinating intro to programming course.   Be sure to check the forum for starting tutorials.  Also keep in mind .99 is permanent beta, they’re skipping to 2.0 due to memory issues.
        1. (Have screen shot in  ppt)
      3. Venatio Creo – Simpler though also easier to use platform for creating games and developed by students from Ursinus
  7. Start Libby – other examples in education
    1. Econ 201 from UNC Greensboro is an example of a game that has been used as a course for several years. It was developed in-house.  It’s single-user.
      1. (See the trailer, read more information)
    2. The Moonbase Alpha isn’t used  in a course I’ve found, but it’s a good example of industry working with the government to develop an educational game. It’s multiuser and requires collaboration, according to the NASN blurb.
      1. (download the game)
      2. (NASA’s information page about the game)
    3. WoW is a commercial game that is generating a fair amount of interest regarding its educational aspects. It’s an example of using a game that’s already developed and re-purposing it for education.
      1. “Virtual Worlds, Real Leaders: Online games put the future of business leadership on display.”
      2. “Reflections on Play, Pedagogy, and World of Warcraft.”
      3. Dr. Steinkuehler – WoW for at risk students and other articles
    4. Finally, the MIT game suite looks terrific… except they’re just prototypes, so there’s no link to the games. The descriptions for each game are really well-done and can provide a guide for how to think about games and learning.
      1. (Index of prototypes, not available for download)
    General links and resources
    1. Horizon Report Delicious links on games –
    2. Notes from faculty workshop at Dickinson College for games –
    3. Bryan Alexander, Gaming in the Liberal Arts

2 Responses to Games – Horizon Report 2011

  1. Pingback: Seven games for learning « NspireD2: Learning Technology in Higher Ed.

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