Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Cannes Lions: Serious Games Blending Monopoly & Google Maps Wins Gold

Monopoly City Street wins the gold award in the cyber category

Via: Webcore Games - 57th Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, 20-26 June 2010, Cannes, France.

The International Advertising Festival - Cannes Lions - is the world's biggest celebration of creativity in communications. As the most prestigious international annual advertising awards, over 24,000 entries from all over the world are showcased and judged at the Festival.

Winning companies receive the highly coveted Lion trophy, honoring the most creative film, film craft, print, outdoor, interactive, radio, design, sales promotion & activation and integrated advertising, as well as the best media, direct marketing, PR and Titanium ideas.

The Festival is also the only truly global meeting place for advertisers, advertising and communication professionals. Over 8,000 delegates from 90 countries attend seven days of exhibitions, screenings, as well as over 50 high-profile seminars, 30 workshops and master classes presented by renowned worldwide industry leaders. As the networking and learning opportunity of the year, Cannes Lions is the must-attend event for anyone involved in brand communication.


From this year the jury will reward the quality of craft as demonstrated in the design or technical execution of online content. 

MONOPOLY CITY STREETS / HASBRO / won the gold award in this category.

MONOPOLY’s brand essence is all about negotiation. The advertising agency`s brief was to amplify this brand value whilst also bringing to life MONOPOLY City, through an intense, rewarding and social experience.

DDB UK created a global online campaign that takes the game into the real world with a live worldwide game of MONOPOLY, using Google Maps to turn the globe into one giant gameboard!

Armed with $3 million in virtual cash, players purchase and construct MONOPOLY buildings on any street in the world. They earn rent and can increase the earning potential of their streets by adding schools, eco-friendly parks etc. Players can sabotage their opponents with chance cards by erecting prisons/sewage plants, negating all rent on a street and even demolishing buildings altogether.

For the demonstration version of the game, they have only loaded a very small portion of the streets dataset in order to run the game with much lower hardware requirements than the actual live game.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Serious Games Draw Passersby Into A Branded World

Serious Gaming with a  smile-activated vending machine

Sapient Nitro
Experience the ice cream van for the digital age; share your smile and choose a delicious Wall’s ice cream – for free!

Via: Mashable - Augmented Reality Ice Cream Machine Trades Smiles for Desserts

Customer experience company Sapient Nitro and ice cream makers Unilever have teamed up to train us all to smile for our just desserts — they’ve developed what they’re calling the world’s first smile-activated vending machine.

Sapient Nitro tested out the machine at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival last week. The machine uses augmented reality to draw passersby into a branded world — i.e. when one looks at the screen at the front of the machine, one’s face is outfitted with mustaches and other kinds of tomfoolery.

After it prompts you to smile, the dessert-vending device measures the wideness of your grin using facial recognition technology, snaps a pic, and, with your permission, uploads that snap to Facebook.  Next, you choose the free treat of your choice via the touchscreen at the front of the machine and collect your sweet reward.

The social media integration is what makes this campaign interesting. Although participants have yet to tag themselves in the photos featured in the gallery, we can imagine folks adding these snaps to their Facebook galleries, thus spreading word of the vending machine virally around the web.

According to Sapient Nitro, these machines will roll out to high-traffic locations like shopping malls across the globe over the next 18 months, and will accept cash as well as grins for the sugary products. Will you smile for your sundae?

Serious Games For Neurocentric Health: 31% Annual Growth

Serious Games as digital brain health vehicle

Via: SharpBrainsNew Report Finds A Brain Health Revolution in the Making, Driven by Digital Technology and Neuroplasticity Research

According to a 207-page market report released today by SharpBrains and prepared in collaboration with 24 leading scientists and 10 innovative organizations, revenues for digital technologies to assess, enhance and treat cognition, or digital brain health and fitness tools, grew 35% in 2009.

The report estimates that the size of the worldwide digital brain health and fitness market in 2009 was $295M — 35% growth since 2008, representing an annualized growth rate of 31% since 2005.

Healthy aging is the main value proposition today, but the report identifies lifelong drivers fueling a general desire to enhance mental wellness and performance: academic performance, sports performance, workplace productivity, driving safety, quality of life among older adults and clinical populations.

The report includes a detailed trend analysis of four main market segments — Schools, Employers, Consumers, Providers — and forecasts the worldwide market to grow to $2 – $8 billion USD by 2015 provided a few bottlenecks are addressed.

“The convergence of demographic and policy trends with cognitive neuroscience discoveries and technological innovation is giving birth to a nascent marketplace that can fundamentally transform what brain health is, how it is measured, and how it is done,” says Alvaro Fernandez, member of the World Economic Forum’s Council on the Aging Society and Editor-in-Chief of the report..”

“As the brain is thrust into the center of the healthcare ecosystem, innovative cognitive health and brain fitness applications will play an increasingly important role in defining neurocentric health,” adds Jake Dunagan, Research Director at the Institute For The Future.

The Report

Transforming Brain Health with Digital Tools to Assess, Enhance and Treat Cognition across the Lifespan: The State of the Brain Fitness Market 2010

A majority among the 1,900+ decision-makers and early-adopters surveyed said they trusted the effectiveness of non-invasive options above invasive options to enhance critical brain functionality.

Professional and intellectual challenges were rated very effective by 61% of respondents, aerobic exercise and reading books by 42%, meditation by 38%, computerized brain training by 26%, taking prescription drugs by 13%, taking supplements by 12%, and self-medicating with drugs by 1%.

“We must do for brain health in the 21st century what we largely accomplished in cardiovascular health in the past century. It’s time to take scientific insights out of the lab and to identify practical applications, making the maintenance of good brain fitness a public health priority,” indicates William Reichman, MD, President and CEO of Baycrest.

Another Report highlight is the Competitive Landscape.

SharpBrains’ proprietary Market and Research Momentum Matrix identifies seven companies, out of over a hundred, as Leaders: Brain Resource, CogniFit, Lumos Labs, Posit Science, Ultrasis, United BioSource, and Scientific Learning.

The report includes in-depth company profiles of 32 companies and 10 innovation case studies: The ten finalists in the 2010 Brain Fitness Innovation Awards share how they are applying innovative neuroplasticity-based tools to enhance brain performance in the real-world. The ten organizations are: USA Hockey, Allstate, Nationwide, Arrowsmith School, University Behavioral HealthCare, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, Saint Luke’s Brain and Stroke Institute, Oakland Unified School District, Mental Health Association of Rockland County, and SCAN Health Plan.

Twenty-four leading scientists examine recent evidence on the value and limitations of a wide variety of non-invasive brain health tools, and discuss the implications for measuring and enhancing brain fitness across the lifespan.

You can read the report´s 5-page Executive Summary at

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Serious Games, Science Communication And One Utopian Vision

Serious Games challenging science education

Via: The Scholarly Kitchen - Serious Games, Science Communication, and Alix Vance`s One Utopian Vision

Posted by Alix Vance under Education, Experimentation, Research, Technology, World of Tomorrow

Architrave Consulting is a LLC founded by its principal consultant, Alix Vance. Alix is an information-industry veteran who has served as President of Paratext, a research database company, and as Executive Director in charge of the Reference Information Group at CQ Press, a division of SAGE. She has also previously led business development for EbookLibrary, a subsidiary of, in North America, and has provided vendor services to publishing societies and associations.

Alix is a member of the Board of Directors of The Society for Scholarly Publishing (SSP), serves on the Editorial Board of Learned Publishing, an ALPSP-SSP journal, and is a featured blogger on The Scholarly Kitchen

Alix has earned a Master’s degree in Clinical Social Work (M.S.W.) from Catholic University. She is also a visual artist and member of Studio 4903.

Here is the aforementioned article.

In 2004, Wired published an article entitled Better Science through Gaming, in which Kristen Philipkoski argued that the process of working with complex data sets could be improved via the adaptation of game-like technologies — and that “software for the life sciences has lagged the consumer market by 20 years.”

The focus of the piece was GeneSifter, a genome analysis software developed by a video game programmer with a background in life sciences (updated in March 2010):

Based on the original program written by Olson, scientific director at VizX, and Jeff Kozlowski, head programmer at VizX, GeneSifter uses XML to aggregate information from public and private genome databases like the National Institutes of Health’s GenBank, Ensembl in the United Kingdom, and GeneCards in Israel.
It can shorten a project from months to hours. Some even say it’s almost as fun as a video game, at least compared with the alternatives.

Other examples of Serious Games for science are being pioneered by the Federation of American Scientists as part of their Learning Technologies Projects Group:

In order to help advance our research, as well as promote our vision of what we feel should be the future of learning, FAS has opted for more than a mere academic involvement in the creation of a new model for learning. We are actively involved in the creation of games and simulations that we feel represent some of the best ideas for such models.
Links to FAS games, simulations, and related projects which include Medulla, Immune Attack, and The Digital Human Projects can be found here

Further inspiration can be drawn from educational communities that focus on experiential, multi-sensory learning. The Lab School of Washington is a leading school in Washington DC for bright, motivated students (grades 1-12) with moderate-to-severe learning disabilities.

“Lab” incorporates gestural content interactions in its curriculum and summer programs and cultivates skilled debaters, strategists, and communicators — without relying on text-focused skills. Students at Lab learn quantitative analysis and perform risk-reward assessments via simulations. They develop refined reasoning capabilities by encountering dead ends and taking calculated risks to surmount problems — repeatedly, until them become experts. Their particular requirements and mission position Lab, and others of their ilk, as incubators for interactive learning.

Even for mainstream students, gaming is a ubiquitous, informal learning vehicle. From a January piece in the New York Times, If Your Kids Are Awake, They’re Probably Online, the average time per day spent by people ages 8-18 gaming is one hour and thirteen minutes compared to 38 minutes per day spent using print.
Dr. Michael Rich, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital Boston who directs the Center on Media and Child Health, said that with media use so ubiquitous, it was time to stop arguing over whether it was good or bad and accept it as part of children’s environment, “like the air they breathe, the water they drink and the food they eat”.
Over the course of the next 15 years, this community of users who experience content versus strictly reading it will comprise the community of scientists, researchers, and society members who are our customers. It may be difficult for traditionalists to make the conceptual leap from journal or book publishing to scientific simulations and instructional gaming. However, as economics and culture align, these will become part of the fabric of the industry.

Not everyone will thrive in a transformed business landscape. For centuries, scientific publishers have been scribes and disseminators of content who have translated the activity of science into a linear, replicable, two-dimensional experience. Sometimes even the most accomplished companies can’t transition outside their core specialties. (Apple, for example, is an exemplary device manufacturer and marketing company that has been comparatively ineffective in the software space. Microsoft, conversely, has excelled in software but failed to make headway in devices.)

Is it better, then, for publishers to focus on the curation and filtering of content, leaving user services development to others? Or should they be cultivating new skills that prepare them for a different future?

Related topics were discussed at the 2010 Society for Scholarly Publishing Annual Meeting, and experts recommended that publishers explore the edges of the envelope. Paraphrasing:
The future of scholarly publishing requires publishers to curate and filter specialized information in ways that increasingly involve provision of knowledge services versus strictly information delivery. 
Reinvention is not accomplished by pouring content into other containers that are, upon closer inspection, glossier versions of their predecessors that pay homage to the same conventions.
If experimental evolutionary strategies will help publishers compete with start-ups and deep-pocketed technology companies (which lack publishers’ subject-matter expertise and commitment to scholarly and scientific mission), what supports are there for those wishing to invest in more radical innovation?

I have a Utopian vision.

Let’s consider driving our own change by creating a self-disciplined and self-reinforcing ”flywheel” incubator (akin in its aims to Google’s famed 80/20 innovation policy) that is responsible for exploring and pioneering next-generation, extensible, specialty-content-based technology services on behalf of a scholarly publishing collective, which offers participants economies of scale and knowledge transfer. This could be a community start-up for the technology fringe, channeling the ethos that created BioOne and the model for the FAS’ LTP.

Caspian Learning’s Serious Games Challenge Winners Announced

 A Planet in Peril: Plagiarism was voted as the winning entry



London, UK, 10th June 2010


Entries from all around the world were submitted to Caspian Learning’s Serious Games Challenge and yesterday they could finally announce the winners.

The company behind the award-winning 3D authoring tool, Thinking Worlds, yesterday announced the winners of its Serious Games Challenge.

Caspian Learning, the UK-based performance simulation and Serious Games experts, launched the
challenge at the recent Game Based Learning conference in London and opened it up to all users of its Thinking Worlds technology.

The company challenged both novice and expert users alike to create the most innovative Serious Game in just 30 days. The entries were whittled down to two finalists whose games were selected based on how well the entrant used Thinking Worlds innovatively to create a game with a good storyline and good use of learning interactions within it.

Lee Rushworth, Marketing Executive for Caspian Learning, announced that A Planet in Peril: Plagiarism was voted as the winning entry by experienced instructional designers at the company. The game was developed by a small group of Communications Media and Instructional Technology doctoral students (who jokingly refer to themselves as Random Precision Studios) from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP).

Mr Rushworth said: “All of the entries we received were of a very good standard, considering that no training had been given to the entrants, but there were one or two that stood out above the others.”

A Planet in Peril: Plagiarism was one that really stood out to us as a well-produced Serious Game built with a great sense of humour and some innovative uses of Thinking Worlds interactions that even we hadn’t thought of.”

The game, which is currently in a beta release, follows the story of a student who uncovers the secret of a group of aliens, disguised as academics, at his university campus. The aliens have prophesied the end of the world, which is set to occur due to a student’s excessive plagiarism, and it’s up to the hero to put the pieces of this puzzle together in order to prevent disaster. While working through the challenges players learn about what is, and what is not plagiarism, including ways to avoid it.

The game is targeted at the college and university level but has application for high school students. The final version of the game will be released in the fall.

The idea was pure serendipity... and a little luck. Ryan L. Sittler, Assistant Professor of Library Services at the California University of Pennsylvania (and one of the lead designers for “Random Precision Studios”) said: “I am working on my PhD at IUP and am an avid game player. My State-System colleague, Dr. Kelly Heider, suggested that I create an information literacy game. I knew I could never do it on my own, so I asked some other doctoral students to help get it off the ground. Fortunately, they were interested! It was in our initial conversations that we settled on one information literacy concept – plagiarism – and developed the ridiculous end-of-the-world scenario.”

This team included Chad Sherman and David P. Keppel as the other lead designers (handling the majority of game production) and Dana Covitz Hackley, Chrissy Schaeffer, and Laurie A. Grosik assisting with pre-production and documenting the process for a potential future publication.

After developing the initial concept, David worked on creating custom objects and environments for the game. “Objects can be scaled in size, but environments cannot be. I had to spend a little time tweaking and resizing the original models until I got the scale right. Luckily, this was easy to do using Caspian tools.” After this, it was up to the designers to find a way to make all of the ideas actually work. Chad took the unusual story and turned it into a playable game. He found that, while there were minor problems related to learning the program, Thinking Worlds allowed for just about anything to be developed. “We had some small issues with characters not following a spline properly. Fixing it really just required us to change the starting or ending points. Most of our difficulties came from inexperience with the software and not knowing if it had any limitations; we basically had to teach ourselves how to use it but it also freed us to be creative and think outside of the box.”

Caspian Learning is committed to making the creation of 3D performance simulations and Serious Games more accessible to traditional learning and development providers. 

If you would like to contact any of the IUP Communications Media and Instructional Technology doctoral students that worked on this project, or have feedback about the game (including bugs!), please email Ryan L. Sittler at

About Caspian Learning

Founded in 2002 , Caspian Learning is the developer of the award-winning 3D authoring tool Thinking Worlds. Caspian Learning’s Thinking Worlds uses globally unique technology that allows instructional designers to create fully immersive 3D simulations at costs previously restricted to 2D development. By utilizing Thinking Worlds, Caspian has positioned itself as the global leader in the use of 3D games and simulations technology within learning, having developed over 50 applications for clients such as IBM, BBC, QinetiQ, Volvo, the Ministry for Defense and the European Union.