Tuesday, April 15, 2014

GlassLab To Launch New Serious Game Created With NASA at G4C Festival

Serious Games driving new collaboration models between commercial game studios and learning organizations

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On the first day of the upcoming 11th Annual Games For Change Festival, to be held in New York from April 22-24 and 26, Games, Learning, and Assessment Lab (GlassLab) leaders will take the stage to share the Lab’s unique collaboration model to accelerate the research, development and distribution of high-quality Educational Serious Games, in the talk Collaborating for Change

One of GlassLab’s most recent collaborators is NASA

GlassLab will take this opportunity to officially announce and launch the Lab’s second Serious Game, as a much-anticipated follow up to SimCityEDU: Pollution Challenge! released in November 2013: a tablet game created in collaboration with NASA.

According to the Fast Company website, the new Serious Game with the working title Heroes is set on a Mars colony, and tests students' mastery of the elements of argumentation, including claims, evidence and reasoning. GlassLab would also be in final talks with a few other big game development companies to adapt the assessment infrastructure to more big-name games as well.

About GlassLab

The nonprofit GlassLab brings together leaders in commercial games and experts in learning and assessment to leverage digital games as powerful formative assessment environments.

GlassLab aspires to create a new collaboration model between commercial game studios and learning organizations. It represents a groundbreaking collaboration between the nonprofit Institute of Play, the Entertainment Software Association, EA (Electronic Arts), and learning experts from Educational Testing Service and Pearson’s Center for Digital Data, Analytics & Adaptive Learning, among others. It was established in 2012 with $10.3 M in grants from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

SimCityEDU: Pollution Challenge! is GlassLab’s first Educational Serious Game built on the popular Electronic Arts‘ SimCity video game platform. It is a learning and assessment tool for middle school students covering the Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards.

Released to selected schools around the United States in November 2013, SimCityEDU: Pollution Challenge! is made of six different missions all centered on the theme of environmental impact.

With its realistic simulations of energy use and pollution, SimCityEDU goes beyond creating a context for learning. It was designed to gather evidence about students' systems thinking - creators want to use game-based assessments like these to promote the shift from traditional tests that are optimized for gauging memorized content knowledge, to start measuring how well people can think.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Serious Games Introducing Students To College Application Process

USC research-based Serious Games for education and social awareness

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FutureBound (formerly known as Collegeology Games) is a research-based suite of Serious Games designed to introduce middle school and high school students to college application process and access to higher education.

FutureBound was founded at the University of Southern California (USC), through a partnership between the Pullias Center for Higher Education and the Game Innovation Lab.

Through their work at USC with students in a face-to-face mentoring program, they understood that many qualified students high school students, particularly in underserved areas, were not getting the kind of college counseling they needed.  These were students who had done well in school, had met college requirements, but who lacked the support and knowledge to successfully complete the college preparation and application processes.

Tracy Fullerton, the director of the Game Innovation Lab, told The Journal, a publication dedicated to K-12 education technology: "Even those kids with good grades and ambitions to go to college didn't understand the strategy behind going to college"

After play-testing a prototype with over 300 high school students in Los Angeles, their intent to create one college access Serious Game evolved into the development of a suite of games.

FutureBound Games provide a safe environment to learn and experiment with higher education strategies and choices before it really counts. Available games are: Graduate Strike Force, Mission: Admission®, Application Crunch® and FutureBound.

Students can access the four games through either FutureBound's website or Facebook.

FutureBound is an action adventure Educational Serious Game for iOS (iPod/iPhone) and PC download that allows middle school students to take their digital character on a journey from middle school to college. Along the way, they take steps to prepare the character for higher education by overcoming common obstacles and honing important skills in the process.

Players battle doubts with their ambitions, which are guised as super powers. Players must collect passion around the world to fuel their ambitions and help NPCs (non-player characters) along the way.

The creators hope that this suite of games will provide another layer of support for students, as well as some valuable insight into the realities of higher education.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Serious Games Encouraging Responsible Behaviors In Energy Consumption

Serious Games designed within the framework of a European cross-media awareness program

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The Serious Game 2020 Energy, by French multimedia studio Tralalere, was designed within the framework of ENERGY BITS, a European cross-media awareness program for teenagers (12-17 years old) financed by the Intelligent Energy Europe program, and that campaigns on sustainable energy use.

ENERGY BITS encourage more responsible and efficient behaviors in energy consumption and promote renewable energies. It involves 13 partners from 9 countries in Europe and beyond.

The game comprises 9 missions under three themes: energy saving, energy efficiency and renewable energies, and three levels: individual, local, and global. 

Game Context

For more than a century people have been using and depleting energy resources carefree, as if they were endless. In 2020 the world could find itself in a deadlock. The player has the power to go back in time and to rewrite history. 

The player’s objective: to reduce the consumption of energy, increase energy efficiency and choose the best renewable energies. He finds help with 3 advisers: economical, environmental, social, but it is up to the player to take the good decisions to improve our collective future!

Gameplay Modes:

  • In « Play mode », the player must go through three missions which will cover each level (individual, local, global) on three different themes (energy saving, efficiency, renewable energies).

  • In the « self-guided itinerary », the participant is free to choose the number of missions he wants to go through without any constraints of levels and themes. This mode allows the educator to select exactly the module corresponding to his teaching project

The game is free, available to play online at http://www.2020energy.eu/en/serious-game or from iTunes at https://itunes.apple.com/en/app/2020-energy/id577118438?mt=8

Have a taste of it!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Serious Games Developing Social Skills In Children With Autism

Social Clues - Serious Games built on evidence-based practice interventions

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Social Clues is a puzzle-adventure Serious Game for the iPad focused on person-to-person communication to help children with autism and developmental disabilities improve social skills.

Social Clues is the brainchild of husband and wife team Karen Okrent M.S. CCC-SLP and Jeremy Bernstein, USC MBA Candidate 2014. Karen, a Speech Language Pathologist, works daily with students with autism and developmental disabilities teaching pragmatics and communication skills. Jeremy, a marketing and creative-industry focused MBA candidate, previously worked in animation and advertising in addition to directing a special-needs social activities program. 

Today the Social Clues multidisciplinary team is comprised of therapists, engineers, game designers, artists and musicians.Development is based out of the University of Southern California, but members contribute from across the country. Team members have professional work experience at renowned companies such as Disney Animation, Nickelodeon Studios and Microsoft. 

The game presents an interactive narrative in which players’ choices (actions and dialogue) advance the story and affect the outcome. Players control Pete and Kate Mum as they search for their lost toys while exploring 3D storybook levels based on real-world situations.

In order to find the lost toys, players need to navigate conversations, and problem-solve everyday scenarios such as waiting in line, dealing with flexibility, and joining a group. Pragmatic lessons and social learning goals are purposefully chosen for each level and character type, and are re-enforced through gameplay.

Maintaining conversations

Recognizing others’ emotions

Players’ actions are tracked utilizing behavioral metrics that allow parents and therapists to monitor players’ skills progress and behavioral change. Analytics show trend lines for both skills development and decline, enabling parents to build customized levels tailored to their child's needs. 

Social Clues provides an engaging cast of characters, thought-provoking scenarios and fun mini-games that teach and model behaviors for application in everyday lives.

Social Clues is being developed initially for the Apple iPad, with future potential for additional touch screen devices and platforms.

A Curriculum Built On Evidence-Based Practices

Many interventions exist for autism, but only a few have been proven effective through scientific research; these interventions are called “evidence-based practices”. The learning objectives, and key gameplay mechanics, in Social Clues have been developed from the ground up using core principles of several “evidence-based practice” interventions, including Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), Errorless Learning, Social Narrative, and Discrete trial training (DTT).