Monday, December 28, 2009

KTM Advance: Serious Games For Corporate Training

Serious Games development bridging cultural gaps


( – Based on complex educational scenarios, including realistic simulations and decision trees, KTM Advance’s training products (e-Learning, Serious Games, Blended Learning) are benchmarks for creativity and high quality 2D and 3D graphics.

KTM Advance also offers pre-production advice and assistance and Knowledge Management consultancy; particularly focusing on implementation issues such as distribution methods, change management and learner motivation. KTM Advance’s intensive collaboration with all actors involved in their customers’ projects are a key factor in the continued success of their programs.

KTM Advance has recently focused on the Serious Games Market.

Valerie Boudier, Knowledge Manager at KTM Advance says: "Serious Games are training programs that require for their developments very contrasted professional protagonists: when the professionals of education express their needs in terms of “pedagogical objectives”, “cognitive abilities” and “storyboards”, the game designers think in terms of “pitches”, “huds” “game play loops” and “triggers”….

KTM Advance’s team focuses on this cultural “gap”: filling it up requires a knowledge management approach as an intermediary stage. This approach conducts to the elaboration of a cognitive model that will provide the essential clues for the game designer to build up his game project."

KTM Advance's products are efficient and innovative training tools which are changing the complexion of the Serious Games market.

STARBANK the Game For BNP PARIBAS- A Serious Game To Learn How To Be A Banker

STARBANK the Game is a Serious Game designed for BNP PARIBAS, which aims at training new hires. It is a fully interactive builder/management strategy-type game, featuring engaging gameplay & an innovative pedagogical scenario.

The game was developed around a complex financial engine in concert with BNP Paribas. There are in-game missions designed to introduce the player to the structure of the BNP Paribas Group & demonstrate the interaction and interdependence of the Group's services & activities through the gameplay.

The player's goal is to build the bank of the future (2505) on a distant planet, progressing through 5 levels. To successfully complete these missions, the player will have to invest in and develop a full range of banking structures, activities & services while dealing with unforeseen market events.

To help the player decide on the wisest course of action, he can access to a control panel where he can see his cash flow, the profitability of his investments, the risks involved with his developments, and stock market fluctuations, all in "real" time.

As the player learns from his successes and mistakes, he is also indirectly absorbing the logic of the Group's structure and values, and his immersion in the game will strengthen his theoretical knowledge of the banking system.

Since the launch of the training program on March 09, Starbank the Game counts more than 95,000 connections and 20,011 players.

MOONSHIELD the Game - A Serious Game To Consolidate Thales Brand Recognition And Enhance Its Visibility As A Possible Employer

MOONSHIELD is a management strategy game in which the player pictures himself into the near future, where he or she will have to use Thales technologies to defend the Earth from deadly meteorites that could destroy all civilization.

The challenge: you take the command of a lunar base and will have to think quickly and use everything at your disposal to save the blue planet! As commander of MOONSHIELD, you can call on all the scientific resources of the Thales group to help you make the best decisions.

Figures: Results in terms of traffic and statistics went beyond Thales early expectations. The game's main goal - to develop Thales brand recognition abroad – has been fully reached as 70 per cent of the connected people live out of France. After a year, there were 200,000 connections including 120,000 different players. In addition to that, more than 80,000 people moved to Thales recruitment website via Moonshield the game.

According to Jean-Louis ONNIS, Recruitment and Mobility Program Director, Thales:

"Value for money for an investment such as Moonshield is really interesting. After the whole media fall out (Internet, press, TV interviews, social networks), we almost reached 100% profitability."

BLOSSOM FLOWER for MEA-I & Hewlett Packard - Learning Game To Help Micro-Entrepreneurs To Develop A Smart Use Of Technologies

BLOSSOM FLOWER is a management and role playing game (RPG) that helps micro-entrepreneurs to develop a smart use of technologies and focus on improving business management. They also can assess their weaknesses and strengths with regard to the new information technologies and acquire skills to use the relevant technology in a set of contexts.

The player’s mission is to manage and develop a flower business in a bad situation through the smart use of technologies: he needs to improve the turnover, the clients’ satisfaction and the manager’s well-being. To achieve this mission, the player runs the plantation, the office, interacts with the clients in the market place, and gets training, hardware, software and advice in the resource centre. The more the business grows, the more new situations occur, and the more skills the user develops.

About KTM Advance

In 1995 Pierre Breese, Industrial Property consultant and Jean-François Rapp an expert in Knowledge Management, created Advance, with the goal of helping companies develop and leverage their knowledge capital.

Over the next eight years the company became known as a benchmark for quality, obtaining strategic budgets in Knowledge Management Consultancy and Knowledge Collection and Capitalization, PSA Peugeot-Citroën being one notable example.

In 2003-2004, two e-learning heavyweights with a combined annual turnover of 5.7MF, merged with Advance:

• In 2003 the team of KTM System joined with Advance. They brought with them a wealth of expertise in creating and developing custom e-learning solutions for professional skills-oriented training.

• At the beginning of 2004 Millenium, a French leader in creating, developing, and accompanying specific Information Systems training came on board.

These mergers enabled the new company to build on the natural synergy developed over an almost constant 8-year partnership, and unite with a common objective: better respond to the demands of the market and the challenge of helping our clients develop their human capital. The result was KTM ADVANCE.

The availability of KTM Advance’s team and the capacity to understand quickly the complexity of the customers activities are our main factors of success. KTM Advance works for large multinational clients whose levels of exigency are very high.

The company is expanding its expertise abroad and has just opened a new office in London, UK which will ensure a closer contact with existing and potential customers.

KTM Advance will also participate at the Learning Technologies exhibition, Olympia 2, 27-28 January 2010 (Stand 30) and hold a conference on Serious Games.

The following links to read more about:

Serious Games and KTM Advance’s generic kits that make Serious Games more accessible:

Serious Game Moonshield:

Monday, December 21, 2009

New Research: (Serious) Games Raise Kids IQ

Serious Games challenging us to play a better education

Via: Richard Carey > Digital Media - UC Berkely Study: Gameplay Shown to Raise Kids IQ

Richard Carey reports on his latest post the study conducted by Dr. Silvia Bunge, a neuroscientist at UC Berkley, concluding that some video games help enhance kids' reasoning and processing skills. Findings even yielded that some games helped in raising kids' IQ points.

Dr. Silvia Bunge, a neuroscientist at UC Berkeley, has long been interested in understanding the development of children’s intelligence. She’s been measuring kids’ intelligence and scanning their brains for several years in order to understand what exactly makes some brains function better than others. This has given her unique insight into the mental processes kids are capable of, and how to test for it. Last year, Bunge and her graduate students decided to see if they could train up, or sharpen, children’s minds. Their study might sound remarkably simple, but the results have been flat-out astonishing.

Dr. Bunge and her team went to an Oakland elementary school, where its history of low state test scores made them a suitable place to conduct the study. The kids' IQ averaged at 90, while their brain speed was measured to be at the 27th percentile. Background-wise, their parents were mostly high school dropouts. These are the kind of demographics that their objective seeks to address.

They selected games that required specific mental functions since they'd be giving a mental workout, if you may, for exercising forethought, planning, comparisons, and logical integration. Among the games selected were Rush Hour and Qwirkle. For the Nintendo DS, Picross and Big Brain Academy were put to the test.

Twice a week, the kids played the games for an hour and fifteen minutes. Every fifteen minutes the kids moved to a new table, to make sure their brains always had something new to figure out. (The neuroscientists thought it was important the sessions remained fun.)

After eight weeks, they ran some tests, and found that the kids' reasoning scores improved by 32% - in terms of IQ, that would be a sizable 13-point IQ gain. Typically, a year of school raises a child's IQ by 12 points on average - Bunge and her team were able to beat that with gaming sessions that total only 20 hours.

The study is reported by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman in their Newsweek blog NurtureShock, under the post New Research: $13 Christmas gifts = 13 point gain in kids’ IQ.

Here is the full article!

New Research: $13 Christmas gifts = 13 point gain in kids’ IQ
Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman

Shoppers, you might want to redo your gift list after you read this.

Dr. Silvia Bunge, a neuroscientist at UC Berkeley, has long been interested in understanding the development of children’s intelligence. She’s been measuring kids’ intelligence and scanning their brains for several years in order to understand what exactly makes some brains function better than others. This has given her unique insight into the mental processes kids are capable of, and how to test for it. Last year, Bunge and her graduate students decided to see if they could train up, or sharpen, children’s minds. Their study might sound remarkably simple, but the results have been flat-out astonishing.

First, they went looking for off-the-shelf board games, card games, and video games that demanded distinct mental functions. One group of these games was chosen because they’d give children’s reasoning ability a workout – these games require forethought, planning, comparisons and logical integration. The games chosen were card games like SET, the traffic-jam puzzle Rush Hour, and Qwirkle, a cross between Dominos and Scrabble. For the Nintendo DS, they chose Picross and Big Brain Academy. There were also two games for the computer – one called Azada, another called Chocolate Fix.

Bunge’s team brought the games to an elementary school in Oakland with historically low state test scores. The researchers asked some second, third and fourth graders to stay after school to play. The kids’ IQ averaged a 90, and their brain speed (a subtest of intelligence) ranked them at only the 27th percentile. The children’s parents, on average, were high-school dropouts. These were the kids every education policy hopes to target, and every thought leader has an opinion on how to improve.

Twice a week, the kids played the games for an hour and fifteen minutes. Every fifteen minutes the kids moved to a new table, to make sure their brains always had something new to figure out. (The neuroscientists thought it was important the sessions remained fun.)

After just eight weeks – twenty total hours of game playing – Bunge’s team retested the children’s intelligence. They were specifically interested in the kids’ reasoning ability. According to the classic theories of intelligence, reasoning ability is considered both the core element of intelligence and also the hardest to change. Allyson Mackey, Bunge’s graduate student who supervised the study, thought she might see gains of 3 to 6 points, at most.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Serious Games As Coca Zero Advergames For Avatar

Serious Games challenging us to play with advertising

Via: Total Immersion - Coca-Cola Zero™ Announces Global Film Partnership With James Cameron’s Avatar

Posted by Total Immersion on December 18, 2009

The Coca-Cola Company announced on Friday its Coca-Cola Zero brand has partnered with Twentieth Century Fox on a major global promotional campaign for James Cameron’s epic-adventure film AVATAR.

Set to be activated in over 30 countries, the partnership centers on bringing consumers unique access to exclusive and authentic content from the world of AVATAR in a variety of exciting ways.

Chip York, Worldwide Entertainment Marketing Director, The Coca-Cola Company, said: “AVATAR shares the same aspirational, edgy and unconventional brand values as Coca-Cola Zero. Working so closely with the studio and filmmakers has allowed us to create authentic and exclusive content that provides fans’ unique access into the world, deepening their AVATAR experience.”


In an effort to provide consumers with the most compelling information about the movie, the digital team at Coca-Cola Zero collaborated directly with studio and filmmakers to create a must-visit destination for AVATAR fans. The site will feature regular “live” journalist reports from the moon of Pandora, providing fans exclusive views and insights into this spectacular world.

Stafford Green, Group Director, Interactive for The Coca-Cola Company said: “Accessing is one of the best ways to prepare to go and see AVATAR. Through our partnership with the studio and filmmakers, Coke Zero makes it possible to delve deep into this exciting film before you get to the movie theater.”

Visitors to will be able to access exclusive AVATAR imagery, wallpapers, games and applications as well as regularly updated, real-time AVATAR news.

AVATAR Producer Jon Landau explains: “AVATAR will provide a unique immersive experience for moviegoers, and this promotion with Coca-Cola Zero will bring fans even deeper into the amazing world of Pandora and James Cameron’s vision.”
Augmented Reality (AR) Experience  

Special AR enabled Coke Zero packaging featuring the AVTR mark will provide consumers with an immersive AVATAR related experience. Through the use of AR technology – a web based application that enables the user to interact with 3D motion graphics – Coke Zero consumers will be able to maneuver a Samson helicopter, a vehicle featured in the movie.

Users can unlock the AR experience in a number of ways including holding a promotional pack in front of a webcam, accessing the experience at or taking a picture of the AVTR mark or Coca-Cola Zero logo from some camera phones.
Once unlocked, consumers can use a computer keyboard to trigger different actions including; shooting a missile, maneuvering the rotors of the helicopter and shooting its guns. will include a call-to-action telling the visitor to use one of the activating symbols against their webcam to initiate the experience.

AR Serious Games For Public Parks and Castle Keeps

YDreams serious gaming with interactive technologies

Via: YDreams - Interactive technologies for public parks and castle keeps

The last quarter of 2009 has seen some pretty YDreams cool project rollouts, ranging from works in public parks to sprucing up medieval castle keeps.

Augmented Reality Scenic Viewer Adds Virtual To Real

Inaugurated in early October, the project involved revamping Santarém’s Portas do Sol Garden by deploying cutting edge tools such as Augmented Reality-enabled Virtual Sightseeing units to explore the pretty surrounding landscape, interactive tables and displays for learning more about the city’s rich history as well as the Roman digging site located right in the park and, to round things off, multimedia audio-guides for making sure no stone is left unturned.

YDreams brand new scenic viewerfor parks, monuments and heritage sites. Featuring a truly intuitive interface and enhanced Augmented Reality (AR) technology, The Virtual Sightseeing viewer provides a funway
to explore information about the world that surrounds us

Aiming the Virtual Sightseeing® unit at a specific point in the landscape gives you instant access to multimedia content tagged to geo-referenced landmarks. All contents are displayed on a brand new intuitive interface that combines learning and entertainment in an enriching experience that will attract tourists anywhere

The Virtual Sightseeing® unit also comes in a version adapted for users with special needs. Specificallytargeted at the visually and hearing impaired, it allows them to listen to and read descriptive text about the landscape as they maneuver the device.

Medieval Castle Keeps

The  project kicked off in late November and takes us further north into Portugal’s Serra da Estrela region; the city of Guarda to be more precise, where alongside a medieval castle keep equipped with 21st century multimedia technologies by YDreams, we also conceived the brand new Visitors Center, including the scenographic design and interactive tools for investigating what the city has to offer, and the interesting archaeological finds on display at the center.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Serious Games As AR Extensive Deployment For Avatar

Serious Games Connecting Film and Filmgoers Worldwide

Via: Total Immersion



AR Experiences Connect Film and Filmgoers Worldwide, In Biggest Mass Deployment of Augmented Reality to Date

LOS ANGELES (Dec. 17, 2009) – You’ve seen the trailer -- now grab a bite of Augmented Reality to accompany your Big Mac as you gear up for the Dec. 18 opening of 20th Century Fox’s “Avatar.”

Augmented Reality pioneer Total Immersion announced that it has teamed up with McDonald’s on a global promotion for the film at its restaurants in 40 markets around the world – the most extensive deployment of AR technology to date. The promotion kicked off earlier this month, on hundreds of millions of McDonald’s boxes -- and, on Dec. 18, on the web.

During the month and into January, product packaging in the U.S. for Big Macs will feature an AR “Thrill Card” on the side of each box, delivering an up-close experience with the rich environments of Pandora, and revealing insights into the characters, fauna and flora from the movie. Displayed before a webcam, the perforated “Thrill Card” becomes a portal into three unique, immersive Pandora environments – the Pandoran Rainforest, the Hallelujah Mountains and the Tree of Souls.

Players control their AR experiences by moving and tilting the “Thrill Cards” through the world of Pandora. They are invited to “Touch the Mysterious Anemonids” where they watch the Pandoran Rainforest light up as they touch the bioluminescent Anemonids. Players are then beckoned to “Navigate Across Ancient Vine Bridges,” where they can show their balancing skills by crossing the shaky vines to reach the Hallelujah Mountains . In the third scenario, “Find Mystical Woodsprites,” players explore the willow tree in search of the mystical Woodsprites, and watch them come to life.

“The McDonald’s/Avatar promotion delivers augmented reality on an unprecedented global scale,” said Bruno Uzzan, CEO, Total Immersion. “It’s by far the widest use of AR we’ve ever seen, potentially touching hundreds of millions worldwide. At the same time, it signals the arrival of digital experiences, to complement durable goods in the marketplace – a trend we expect will accelerate in the months and years ahead.

“Augmented Reality does more than engage customers – it enlightens and entertains as well,” he said. “We’re as excited about the upcoming release of ‘Avatar’ as moviegoers worldwide, and this promotion with McDonald’s extends both the trailer and the energy building around the film. We’re absolutely thrilled to be part of this, and to offer a technology that conveys to consumers the magic of the movie.”

About Total Immersion

Total Immersion is a global leader in augmented reality. Through its patented D'Fusion technology, Total Immersion blurs the line between the virtual world and the real world by integrating real time interactive 3D graphics into a live video stream.

Leading the augmented reality segment since 1999, the company maintains offices in Europe (France and the UK), Asia and the U.S. and supports a network of more than 50 partners worldwide.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Reimagining Learning Competition: Submission Countdown

Serious Games shaping digital learning environments

Via: Digital Media and Learning Competition Official Site Reimagining Learning



Durham, NC and Irvine, CA – December 16, 2009. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, in collaboration with the University of California, Irvine, Duke University and the virtual network HASTAC, launched the third annual open-call competition that will provide $2 million in awards to innovators shaping the field of digital media and learning. President Obama named the Digital Media and Learning Competition as part of his initiative to improve education in math and science in a speech on November 23rd. The competition is supported through a grant to the University of California, Irvine and administered by HASTAC.

The competition seeks designers, inventors, entrepreneurs, researchers, and others to build digital experiences—the learning labs of the 21st century—that help young people interact, share, build, tinker, and explore in new and innovative ways. In a new component for 2010, Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA) and Electronic Arts (EA), in cooperation with Entertainment Software Association and Information Technology Industry Council, will team with the competition to support the development of new science and math-related levels or adventures in popular existing games.

There are two types of awards. Detailed information about these awards can be found online at

• Learning Lab Designer awards, which will range from $30,000-$200,000, are for learning environments and digital media-based experiences that allow young people to grapple with social challenges through activities based on the social nature, contexts, and ideas of science, technology, engineering

• Game Changers awards, which range from $5,000-$50,000, are for creative levels designed with either LittleBigPlanet™ or Spore™ Galactic Adventures that offer young people engaging game play experiences and that incorporate and leverage principles of science, technology, engineering and math for learning.

Each category will include several Best in Class awards selected by expert judges, as well as a People’s Choice Award selected by the general public.

The online application system will open on January 7 and will include three rounds of submissions, with public comment at each stage. In February 2010, a special competition will be opened up to youth from ages 12-17.

"Digital media provides an important opportunity to re-imagine learning in the 21st century," said Connie Yowell, Director of MacArthur's education grantmaking. "Through the competition, we may find that games such as LittleBigPlanet™ and Spore™, which offer opportunities for collaborative and complex problem solving, can be powerful tools to engage the next generation in science, technology, engineering and math - in and out of the classroom. By working with Sony Computer Entertainment America and Electronic Arts, the Digital Media and Learning Competition will be able to tap into the innovation and scale of private industry to advance teaching and learning."

Information about applying for the competition can be found online at The website includes details about timeline, application requirements, project descriptions from the first two Digital Media and Learning Competitions, and opportunities for asking questions, following blogs and news feeds, and learning more about the competition.

“Learning labs promote learning together with others, by interactively doing, trying, sometimes failing. They help us to reimagine and expand our understanding of learning across all domains of knowledge,” said Cathy N. Davidson, Duke University Professor Davidson, along with David Theo Goldberg, Director of the University of California Humanities Research Institute, are co-founders of HASTAC and manage the competition as a team.

"We're thrilled by the opportunity to participate and support the Game Changers competition. If you provide creative people with the right tools, great technology, and a collaborative environment, amazing things can happen,” said Jack Tretton, president and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America. “We’re extremely excited to have LittleBigPlanet™ and PS3 serve as the vehicle for this national challenge and we greatly look forward to all the new innovations that will come out of this as a result."

"Video games from the Spore™ franchise innately embody the themes of learning, exploration and creation of scientific and educational curriculum," said Lucy Bradshaw, Vice President and General Manager of Maxis. "Thousands of Spore players have already re-created stunning gameplay around real science such as protein synthesis and dinosaurs using the Adventure Creator Tool within Spore™ Galactic Adventures. We look forward to offering this Adventure Tool in the Game Changer competition to provide an entirely new group of young minds with a new way to embrace science and education, but through a familiar avenue like video games."

The 2010 Competition winners will join an existing community of 36 awardees from 2007 and 2008, including a video blogging project for young women in Mumbai, India; a cutting-edge mobile phone application that lets children conduct digital wildlife spotting and share that information with friends; a project that leverages low-cost laptops to help indigenous children in Chiapas, Mexico learn by producing and sharing their own media creations; and an online platform for 200 classrooms around the world that allows young people to monitor, analyze, and share information about the declining global fish population.

The Digital Media and Learning Competition is funded by a grant from the MacArthur Foundation to the University of California Humanities Research Institute and Duke University and is administered by the Humanities, Arts, Science and Technology Advanced Collaboratory (HASTAC), a virtual network of learning institutions. The competition is part of MacArthur’s Digital Media and Learning Initiative, which is designed to help determine how digital technologies are changing the way young people learn, play, socialize, and participate in civic life. Answers are critical to education and other social institutions that must meet the needs of this and future generations.

About the MacArthur Foundation

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is a private, independent grant making institution dedicated to helping groups and individuals foster lasting improvement in the human condition.

The foundation launched its five-year, $50 million Digital Media and Learning initiative in 2006.


HASTAC (pronounced "haystack) is an international network of educators and digital visionaries committed to the creative development and critical understanding of new technologies in life, learning, and society. HASTAC is committed to innovative design, participatory learning, and critical thinking.

The infrastructure for HASTAC is provided by Duke University and the University of California Humanities Research Institute (UCHRI), under the founding leadership of Cathy N. Davidson (Duke University) and David Theo Goldberg (Director, UCHRI).

Established in 2002, HASTAC has taken a leading role in next-generation net sciences: the computational, social, and humanistic understanding of the role of distributed, digitally-supported relationships that extend throughout education, community-based learning organizations, the economy, and global partnerships. 

About National Lab Day

National Lab Day is an organization dedicated to transforming science and math learning across the country. Over 200 organizations representing 6.5 million professionals and educators have already pledged support for National Lab Day. These organizations have sent a letter to the President detailing their commitment to bring hands-on, problem-based learning to millions of students through National Lab Day's year round programs.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Serious Games Reduce Digital Disconnect Home X School

Serious Games powering up the moment kids enter school

Via: EdTech ToolsTrends: The Digital Promise

EdTech Tools has blogged about The Digital Promise: Transforming Learning with Innovative Uses of Technology, a white paper on literacy and learning in a new media age, by Jeanne Wellings and Michael H. Levine.

The paper reviews what technology can do for schools, pointing the first steps toward more rigorous standards and assessments. It also includes steps to encourage teacher innovation; the role of video games in education and some interesting literacy-relevant technologies developed by Apple.

Under the section First Steps Toward Rigorous Standards and Assessments, the authors state that “children have embraced the digital world in creative ways on their own time, but an increasing number now report being bored or disengaged in school. Many complain that they must “power down” the moment they enter a school campus.”

This supports the views of proponents who argue that wise deployment of stimulus dollars should aim to reduce the digital disconnect that exists between home and school and entice children with engaging digital learning experiences.

The authors add: “Today’s children use digital technologies simultaneously. They naturally interact with devices and interfaces that did not exist a decade ago. Most of their encounters with digital media occur out of school, where adults are often unavailable to guide them. These facts offer educators clear direction as they reinvent failing schools and revamp educational practice: technology must be a key catalyst."

According to the authors, “researchers at media labs in prestigious universities such as Harvard, Stanford, MIT, NYU, USC, and Carnegie Mellon University, pioneering philanthropies such as the MacArthur and Hewlett Foundations, and industry leaders such as the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, have concluded that the key to engaging the 21st century digital generation involves harnessing its passion for media and technology and incorporating it into rigorous, more participatory learning experiences.”

Students today must, of course, master foundational skills like reading and numeracy, but they must also learn to communicate, create, analyze, and solve complex problems in a networked, global environment.

They take a stand by saying that global awareness and collaboration skills can also be uniquely enhanced with the use of technology and quote Andrew Zucker’s article Transforming Schools with Technology, (2008) that reminds educators that networked technologies allow students to regularly and strategically reach out from their schools to communicate and learn from the real world.

The authors highlight the fact that funding and innovation grants, are increasingly demanding that educators raise the bar and adopt rigorous assessments linked to research-based, internationally benchmarked standards in English, language arts, and mathematics for all students. Many states are increasing the rigor in their standards by pushing learners to apply, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate ideas.

In an effort to help educators identify and develop content to support new literacy skills, increase rigor, and engage contemporary learners, the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) adopted a new definition of literacy in 2008 that defines what 21st century students need to be able to do:

• Develop proficiency with the tools of technology

• Build relationships with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively and cross-culturally

• Manage, analyze, and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information

• Create, critique, analyze, and evaluate multimedia texts

• Attend to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex environments

In my view, Serious Games address most of the above.

Serious Games Could Reduce Digital Disconnect Between Home and School

Under the section Video Games in Education, the authors affirm that digital games have been shown to help children gain content and vital 21st century skills from literacy to complex problem solving.

“Educational digital games (Serious Games) offer a promising and untapped opportunity to leverage children’s enthusiasm and help transform teaching and learning in America. These games allow teachers to tap into their students’ existing enthusiasm for digital games to engage, expand, and empower them as learners (Thai, Lowenstein, Ching & Rejeski, 2009).”

Opening its doors to sixth graders this fall, Quest to Learn (Q2L) (object of my previous post Serious Games & The Future Of Learning) is a new public school for digital kids in New York City, sponsored by the Institute of Play and several key partners including the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The school uses the underlying design principles of video games to create a variety of engaging learning experiences for middle and high school students, with the goal of teaching traditional and 21st century skills and literacy.

The authors conclude this section with a reference to a recent study by the Education Development Center on the integration of public media assets that found that preschool children who participated in a media-rich curriculum incorporating public television and video games into classroom instruction developed the early literacy skills critical for success in school.

Additionally, children who participated in the literacy curriculum outscored children in the science curriculum on all five measures of early literacy used in the study.

GDC 10 Serious Games Summit: The Unconcerned

Serious Games reflecting a serious real world situation

Via: Game Developers Conference 2010 - Serious Games Summit

SGS Session: Prototyping for Engagement and Metaphor

Speaker: Borut Pfeifer (Freelance Game Programmer/Designer, Plush Apocalypse Productions)

Session Description

By looking at the prototyping and development process for The Unconcerned, a character based puzzle game set during Iran's election protests, this talk illustrates methods of dealing with the conflicting needs of creating game mechanics that reflect a serious real world situation, while providing engaging feedback and gameplay for players.

Idea Takeaway

Attendees learn best practices and pitfalls to avoid while prototyping serious games that attempt to have both engaging gameplay and deliver a deeper social message.

Game Concept

The Unconcerned (working title), is a 2D puzzle/action title that follows a father and mother searching through rioting crowds in Tehran for their lost daughter. Players interact with the protesters (who react differently depending on which parent the player controls), maneuver past barricades, sneak past police, and occasionally fight or avoid violence.

Though the game will focus on the family's emotional story, Iran's complex political situation will serve as subtext. Borut Pfeifer believes that "Games have the power to put people in other's shoes, to illustrate what effect roles have on a person. Meanwhile, there are those in the game industry that argue that games cannot or should not approach such controversial topics. Games, as preeminent art form of the 21st century, must and will bring to light difficult issues, in ways that can inform, entertain, make us question the world around us, and hopefully inspire us to change it."

To fund The Unconcerned, the programmer has added the game to donation-ware platform Kickstarter, where he hoped to raise $15,000 for artwork, sound effects, music, and research over 85 days. If the project receives enough backers, he would consider animating characters with a rotoscoping style similar to the technique used in Out of This World and Flashback.

In a recent post Pfeifer reveals that despite not meeting the funding goals, he is making good progress on the game, and hopes to have finished the prototype by the end of the year. He also assures it will be done in the fall of next year.

At least 5% of royalties from sales of the game will go to two charities, Children of Persia ( and the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center (


Via: Kickstarter - Video Game Set in Iran During the Post-Election Riots

The game is set in Tehran, Iran, during the post-election riots that took place this summer. You play a father and mother looking for their lost daughter, amidst crowds of protesters and police. It's a puzzle/action game, set from a 3/4 overhead perspective in 2D. Characters on the street will react to the father and mother differently (because of their gender). You have to get past the obstacles of crowds and police barricades taking into account these differences, sneaking past police, and occasionally having to fight or avoid violence. The game is meant to be about 2 hours of play, downloadable via PC and Xbox.

About Borut Pfeifer - Freelance Game Programmer/Designer, Plush Apocalypse Productions

Borut Pfeifer is a freelance game programmer and designer. With over 9 years experience in the industry, Borut has worked at companies like Radical Entertainment (where he worked on AI and gameplay for SCARFACE: THE WORLD IS YOURS), Sony Online (where he was lead gameplay programmer on the PS3 launch title UNTOLD LEGENDS: DARK KINGDOM), and Electronic Arts.

His articles on game programming and development can be found in books like the Game Programming Gems series, the AI Game Programming Wisdom series, and Gamasutra. He was an invited speaker at AIIDE 2008, and has also taught technical game design at the Vancouver Film School.

If you'd like to know more about him you can check out his blog about video game design & meaningful games, at The Plush Apocalypse:

GDC 10 Serious Games Summit: Picture The Impossible

Serious Games bringing people back into the city

Via: Game Developers Conference 2010 - Serious Games Summit

SGS Session: Picture the Impossible: Building a Successful City-Wide ARG on Shoestring Budget

Speaker: Elizabeth Lawley (Director, Lab for Social Computing, Rochester Institute of Technology)

Session Description

In 2009, the Rochester Institute of Technology's Lab for Social Computing partnered with the local newspaper to build an ARG targeted at bringing people back into the city, teaching them about local history, and giving back to local charities.

PICTURE THE IMPOSSIBLE incorporated casual online games, newspaper puzzles, and location-based activities. Built on a budget of less than $50,000, the game attracted thousands of players and succeeded in all of its goals. In this presentation, Elizabeth Lawley, RIT's game design lead on the project, discusses the planning process for the game, the technical infrastructure implementation process, and the ongoing game development and management process. She will also discuss the challenges of game design partnerships between industry and academia.

Idea Takeaway

Participants will take away key lessons in community-based game planning, marketing, implementation, and management. They will also gain an understanding of how various components of the game (web-based, newspaper-based, and location-based) appealed to different target populations.

Game Background 

The Rochester Institute of Technology and the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle newspaper have teamed up with Microsoft Bing to transform Rochester, New York, into an urban playground between September 12th and October 31st with Picture the Impossible

The Alternate Reality Game (ARG) aimed at showcasing the city of Rochester through a series of online puzzles, live events, and clues hidden within the daily newspaper.

Mobile-enabled participants could even test their wits against geo-locative puzzles designed by SCVNGR 

Participants were encouraged to join one of three factions, each supporting a different local charity. Players in the Tree, Forge, and Watch factions raised money for Golisano Children’s Hospital, Foodlink, and Wilson Commencement Park, respectively. The experience culminated with an invite-only Halloween ball for the top 300 contestants. Players also had the chance to win prizes from Kodak, a company originally founded in Rochester. 

Picture the Impossible provided an excellent opportunity to develop community bonds through play, while promoting local charities at the same time. 

Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) are often touted for their ability to capture attention on a global platform. The same techniques that lead to the formation of massive global communities can also serve to foster closer connections within local communities, while providing unique ways for tourists to experience cities. 


The game engaged members of the community in the exploration of the City of Rochester and encouraged creativity and charitable giving: the points players scored each week helped local charities earn contributions from sponsors.

Players participated in a range of activities, including casual Web-based games, games that bring players out to events and locations throughout the city, and games that involve the tangible aspects of the Democrat and Chronicle newspaper itself.

Each week, activities focused on a different theme related to Rochester; these themes were Arts and Crafts, Local Food, Rochester Firsts, Performing Arts, the Imaging Industry, Famous Figures, and Social Justice. 

Using Bing Maps for Gameplay

Players needed to locate notable places in Rochester, then click on the map to identify where they were. The closer participants' clicks were to the actual point, the more points they got.
If players didn't know where the point was they had to hurry and guess, since time placed into the game as well. There were 7 weeks worth of maps  to choose from and players got 15 seconds to click somewhere on the map to identify where the respective landmark was in Rochester.

A fun game if you know anything about Rochester; or, a fun way to learn about different places around Rochester.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

GDC 10 Serious Games Summit: Code Of Everand

Serious Games improving road safety behavior

Via: Game Developers Conference 2010 - Serious Games Summit

SGS Session: Code of Everand: Designing The Serious Casual MMO

Speaker: Kevin Cancienne (Director of Game Development, Area/Code)

Session Description

Code of Everand is a lushly rendered, browser-based MMO that hides a more serious purpose in plain sight. Learn how Area/Code applied a holistic design philosophy to a serious but mundane topic -- road safety for kids -- and produced a serious game that refuses to sacrifice fun. This session will argue that Serious Games can benefit by embracing the constraints of their subject matter and refusing to compromise on the unique benefits of the medium.

Idea Takeaway

How to translate a serious but seemingly mundane subject into compelling gameplay - How to communicate about gameplay with a government client - How to use the constraints of your serious purpose for all they're worth.
Game Background
On November 19, The UK government's Department for Transport (DfT) launched Code Of Everand, a free multiplayer online game to engage children making the transition from Primary to Secondary school, on the topic of road safety.

The aim is that players will improve their road safety behaviour and apply what they have learned in the game, to the real world as a learned response. The Department for Transport’s aim is to reduce child pedestrian casualties and deaths among this age group by allowing young people to practice good road safety behaviors through a channel which is known to be very popular among those making the transition to Secondary school.

The DfT developed the project with Area/Code, the studio behind Discovery Channel’s Sharkrunners and Drop7 for iPhone.

The DfT said that it chose to create the PC title after internal research found that new media channels were required to engage its target audience. Aimed at 9–13 year olds, Code Of Everand “encourages and rewards repeat play so these good behaviors are reinforced and become habit in the real world”.

Code Of Everand is the result of over two years of work with the Department For Transport by Area/Code principals and designers Frank Lantz and Kevin Slavin, not only because of its size and ambition, but also because of the complexities of developing it for a government body. The project, after all, has gone through several incarnations and has been on the brink of cancellation twice.


Code Of Everand is set in a land crisscrossed by spirit channels, hazardous lines of creatures which players, known as pathfinders, must battle using magic to dissipate. Exploration takes place using a top-down view, but the turn-based battles are experienced in first person view, requiring players to look around the scene for threats.
It's an ingenious device, effectively equating road crossing with the random battles that happen throughout traditional RPG environments. Players must also accrue Concentration Points, which aid in the defeat of enemies - a reference, of course, to the importance of paying attention when crossing busy streets. 
As a Pathfinder in Code Of Everand, you use your powers to safely cross the Spirit Channels, restoring peace where there is conflict, leveling up, making friends and undertaking quests to uncover the secret of the mysterious Code Of Everand
Although it sounds overtly didactic, this is an impressively rich RPG in its own right. There are dozens of attacks to collect, each more effective on different types of enemy. Talking to NPCs opens up quests, just as in a standard role-playing game, and once you've completed them you earn cash which can be spent on on an array of clothing, armor and weaponry options. The inventory is impressively complex, providing a wealth of customization possibilities, and progress is auto-saved so you can pick up the game whenever you're in front of a computer with a web browser.

There's a social element too. Inhabitants can communicate with each other via a series of set conversational phrases, and can accompany each other on quests - apparently some tasks can only be completed in this way.

Bridging Serious Games X eLearning Chasm

Serious Games challenging us to play and learn

Via: Networked Learning Design – Patrick Dunn on Distinctions Between Serious Games and e-Learning

In his post I was wrong: games ARE an alternative vision, Patrick Dunn states that “games are an utterly different vision of learning, separated from e-learning by a huge and uncrossable chasm”.

He starts with a recall of his three-year old post Games are not an alternative vision. His basic argument then was that we need to get away from either/or distinctions when we're discussing Serious Games and e-learning. The latter can be very game-like; the former can be like e-learning. If we think of all the elements that go to make up an online learning experience - narrative, interactions, media, scoring, timing, user contributions, characters, questions etc. etc. - we can assemble these in various ways. Depending on the elements you choose, and how you assemble them, you move up and down a spectrum at one end of which is a "pure" game, while at the other end there's "pure" e-learning. Somewhere in the middle there's an invisible, and very blurry line.”

Now he is beginning to wonder whether he was wrong; he repositions himself by stating that games are an utterly different vision of learning, separated from e-learning by a huge and uncrossable chasm.

His first seeds of doubt were sown in a couple of projects where he was working with experienced and talented e-learning professionals who just couldn't make the leap into gaming.

According to Dunn, the distinction is not a technical one. It's about culture, values and beliefs, those invisible guides that we're not aware of most of the time, but which channel our behaviour and shape our assumptions. He further explores this distinction, by considering that there are at least four diametrically opposing belief sets underlying the two types of learning experience:

• E-learning designers believe that people learn through "content". Games designers believe that people learn through "experience".

• E-learning designers believe we must be "nice" to our learners in case they go away. Games designers believe that we can challenge people and they'll stick with it.

• E-learning designers believe that we learn step by step (hence linearity, page-turning etc.). Game designers believe we absorb lots of things all at once (leaps and discontinuity).

• E-learning designers believe that learning experiences are emotionally neutral. Game designers always seek an "angle", an attitude.

Patrick Dunn closing thought: “It's clear that there's a chasm of belief and values that sometimes just can't be bridged.”

Alternative and Inclusive Approaches – Embracing The Confusion

Some of the polarities addressed above by Patrick Dunn are quite similar to the tension that exists between experiential and didactic learning.

As I learned from Richard T. Pascale in our previous work with a global oil company, polarities are often to be managed – not problems to be solved. I’ve also learned from him how some organizations manage on the edge, using conflict to stay ahead.

The tension between traditional learning, serious games and participatory culture could well harness the future of education.

As stated by Christopher D. Sessums, at EduSpaces Social Network, “what many of us focused on teaching, learning, and computing are currently experiencing is a certain tension between top-down structures (“school”) and bottom-up forces (“learners”) that ultimately requires us to begin rethinking what the future of education should look like.”

“And like the tension surrounding the integration of new media with the old, the learner-centric/participatory concept has been surrounded by conflicting expectations from administrators and teachers who hold close to a more prescriptive/prohibitionist stance and those who subscribe to a collaborationist stance that seeks to empower learners in ways heretofore considered rare or experimental.”

“Many scholars and writers argue that we are in a period of transition where one educational paradigm is being nudged out by another.”

He quotes Henry Jenkins directly: “None of us really knows how to live in this era of media convergence, collective intelligence, and participatory culture. These changes are producing anxieties and uncertainties, even panic, as people imagine a world without gatekeepers…”

“Any early adopter of educational technology can easily agree with Jenkins’ assertion above. We are looking at a new way of thinking and engaging one another that does not map easily onto the conventional forms of teaching and learning as we know it. There is no consensus on how to work this thing, no right answers, no way to tell what far reaching effects this new media will have.”

Jenkins frames this struggle in terms of what it means to be “literate” in this era. In other words, who has the right to participate and on what grounds? Who has a voice and what rights do learners/speakers really have given current institutional constraints? Who determines how we educate our young thus determining how we shape our collective future?

Christopher adds: “The reality is, we will probably remain in a state of transition and transformation for some time. The uncertainties surrounding the convergence of old and new approaches to teaching, learning, literacy, and participation empowered by technology will continue to challenge us on many cultural fronts. When asked what I feel about this state, my response is generally Embrace the confusion!”