Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Serious Games Educating On Teen Dating Violence

Serious Games spread awareness about the dangers of teen dating violence

Via: Jennifer Ann’s GroupTeen Violence Contest Winner 2010: Grace’s Diary

Grace's Diary is a Serious Game created by Hima in Bangkok, Thailand, in the form of a visual novel adventure, which was named the winner for the 2010 Life. Love. Game Design Challenge, an annual competition sponsored by the Jennifer Ann's Group to spread awareness about the dangers of teen dating violence.

The story is about a student named Grace and her best friend Natalie, whom she thinks might be involved in an abusive relationship. In the game you must search for clues that convince Natalie to review her situation and seek professional help for her troubles before it is too late to act.

Grace's Diary manages to seamlessly integrate the theme of relationship abuse into a sensitive and moving visual novel. In the first part of the game, in classic point and click style, you click on various objects in Grace's bedroom to trigger memories about her friend Natalie. When you remember something important to tell Natalie, you write it down on your memo pad.

Sometimes remembering something from one object can allow you to remember something from another object, so you have to click on objects more than once. Once you think you've remembered enough, you pick up your cell phone and call Natalie. Then, you click through a dialogue tree, sharing your memories with Natalie--if she'll hear you. There are two endings, so you may want to save before picking up that phone.
Here is a sensitive review by Joye:
The delicate, sketchy quality of the art and the restrained music quickly establish a sense of intimacy. It may seem like a minor challenge compared to escaping from a ghost or mad man in a horror game, but the very reality of the situation made it scary in a way that those games could never be. Most of us have known or will someday know a Natalie. How to intervene? Should we even try, or will we just make it worse? The biggest flaw in the game is that the dialogue is clearly written by a non-native speaker, and hasn't been properly edited. However, despite some awkwardness, some misspellings, and some grammar errors, the meaning is still easy to grasp, and perhaps more importantly, the emotions and personality of the characters come through clearly.
Frequently, this kind of Serious Games title is so forced, the characters so flat and predictable, and the plot so clearly just checking off boxes on a government list, that only an assignment could force you to play it. Grace's Diary doesn't try to force anything down the player's throat, nor does it allow "the message" to overpower its gameplay and plot. It's worth playing, not to "raise awareness" or to "learn the warning signs" or some other phrase that appears on a press release, but because the story of Grace's concern for Natalie, though sad and brief, is beautiful.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Serious Games Design Competition Sponsored by Disney Research

Serious Games Making Learning Fun

Via: SIGGRAPH 2010Disney Research Learning Challenge

The Walt Disney Company has a history of blending revolutionary creative content and superb storytelling with groundbreaking technology.

Now Disney Research in conjunction with SIGGRAPH is sponsoring a Serious Games Design competition - the Disney Learning Challenge.

Disney Research sponsors the Learning Challenge, based on the principle that fun and learning shouldn't be contradictory. The Learning Challenge is designed to show that sophisticated concepts can be conveyed via entertaining interactions on computers that will impart Active Knowledge of Learning Concepts. The challenge is to develop an engaging Learning Application that will delight, inspire, and reveal key learning concepts for children ages 7-11.

The learning application must be a layered activity that moves a child from minimal knowledge to active knowledge in one or more learning concepts via entertaining interactions on computers. The subject matter should be in the areas of math, art, science, music, or reading/writing and involve at least one of 10 key learning concepts.

The competition was open to individuals or teams (from collegiate students working with faculty advisors to working professionals) who had to submit work by 7 June 2010.

The grand prize is $10,000 to be awarded at SIGGRAPH 2010 in Los Angeles, California on July 28th.

About SIGGRAPH 2010

SIGGRAPH 2010 brings approximately 25,000 computer graphics and interactive technology professionals from six continents to Los Angeles, California, USA for the industry's most respected technical and creative programs focusing on research, science, art, animation, music, gaming, interactivity, education, and the web from Sunday, 25 July through Thursday, 29 July 2010 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. SIGGRAPH 2010 includes a three-day exhibition of products and services from the computer graphics and interactive marketplace from 27-29 July 2010.

EpicWin: Serious Games And Real Life Colliding In Unique Ways

Serious Games Turning Your To-Do List Into Role-Playing Adventure

My prior post Anecdotal Evidence: Serious Games As Persuasive Game-Life Integration, was built around some reflections on Jesse Schell’s Superb Presentation at DICE 2010: Design Outside The Box.

Despite the skepticism when Jesse Schell explored hypothetical scenarios such as teeth brushing earning sponsored awards from Crest, his talk did represent a “stake in the ground” for game designers getting sensitive to the rising of new core values for game creation, amongst them the value of "realness", the value of rewarding game-life achievements and the value of embedding games in our everyday lives.

Here is brand new evidence:

EpicWin Rewards Real Life Work

EpicWin is an upcoming iPhone game by Rexbox and MrFungFung, to note down all your everyday tasks, but with a role-playing spin. Rather than ticking off your chores, completing each one improves and develops your character in an ongoing quest to level-up your in-game avatar.

Described on the game's website as a "playful productivity app", EpicWin is built around the idea that gamers like to level up. By getting points for your chores it's easier to actually get things done. We all have good intentions but we need a bit of encouragement here and there. Washing your car is an epic feat of stamina so why not get stamina points for it?!

Watch as your avatars stats develop in ways to represent your own life. Will you be a Maiden of Juggled Priorities, or a King of Win? The lifestyle you lead will decide.

Here is the pre-release trailer:

GK Supports Teachers to Incorporate Serious Games in Education

Developing and testing a gaming curriculum

Via: Global Kids' Online Leadership Program

Six New York City high school teachers, coordinated by the National Writing Project, sought assistance from Global Kids to bring their own designs for Serious Games into their classrooms.

The teachers have worked with Barry Joseph, Rafi Santo and other consultants from Global Kids this spring to develop and test a gaming curriculum. They created and documented a curriculum that has modules that can fit into different types of classes, including four core subject areas: * Computer Arts * English * Technology and * Art.

Paul Allison, technology liaison at the New York City Writing Project, who coordinated the demo project, says “We created a pilot curriculum and brought it to our classes two times a week this spring. Our study group met with Barry Joseph and his colleagues at Global Kids in Manhattan to learn more about gaming on March 24, April 22 and May 5.”

“At our first session, Barry Joseph and Rafi Santo presented an overview of gaming in the classroom, providing us with some context for our work together. They provided a detailed, tried and true Serious Games Resource List that we used to develop curriculum between sessions.”

"The second session was about building our own skills as game designers. Barry and Rafi gave us a Presentation on Game Design and Serious Games. Because most of us felt that we could learn more about Serious Games on our own, more time was spent on a Game Design Curriculum. This included activities for both offline (Grow-a-Game, Found Object Game Design) and online game design. For the online work we learned how to use Gamestar Mechanic in the classroom, basing our work on Global Kids Playing 4 Keeps curriculum (Games, Play and Emergence and Goals, Obstacles and Chance). There were many other resources, including these games that we played in Gamestar.”

“At the third session, we wrote reflections on our work together. Each of us also presented the work that we had done with our students in this pilot program this spring. Students played issues-based games in class, and they analyzed games to uncover the values and core meanings in them. Students also modified board games and digital games, and are beginning to design their own games around social issues.”

“At the same time, we built the rationales and the theoretical framework for including a curriculum like this into core classes in grades 6 -12.We are planning how we might involve other New York City Writing Project teachers in this work this fall. We are taking our classroom experiences and designing day-long workshops and regular study groups like our Tech Thursday group in the Fall 2010 and Spring 2011.”

Paul Allison delivered a brief presentation of this work at the Games for Change Conference in May, and shall hold a workshop at the National Writing Project’s Annual Meeting in November.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

HSE: Serious Games For Team-Based Lifting Operations

Serious Games creating immersive environments for lifting training

Using role playing training, even elements like wind, changing sea-states and shifting loads can be factored in and crews can learn to work through these challenges.

Drilling Contractor has posted a most interesting article on the use of Serious Games and Simulations for the challenges of non-routine engineered lifts.

According to Arnold Free, CMLabs Simulations, over the past 10 years, most fatal work accidents on offshore oil & gas structures have involved the use of lifting equipment.

The central causal factors are human error. In particular, the common factors are related to poor work planning and supervision. Mistakes are made during operations because workers are not always properly prepared for real work conditions.

This safety message is not new, and offshore industry groups such as API, NORSOK, OMHEC and the UK’s HSE have been working toward building training standards that define requirements for the entire lift team.

“But are the training organizations applying these new standards? Are they training the entire lift team to work together? Are they training not only for routine operations but also for difficult conditions and for the challenges of non-routine engineered lifts?”, Arnold Free challenges back.

His answer is no.

“In some cases, these skills can only be learned on the job. Teamwork is not built in a classroom; it is built through experience, challenges and adversity. But how do you train the team in collaborative planning and operations when access to operations equipment is nearly impossible? Moreover, it is too dangerous to use operations equipment to practice for emergency situations and non-routine or engineered lifts.”

Free also refers to a recent article in Chief Learning Officer magazine that drew important conclusions from studying industry surveys related to simulation-based training.

One significant finding was that simulation-based training was seen to have a positive effect and was recommended for ongoing or expanded use in every case. In equipment maintenance, for example, it was found that trainees achieved the same level of proficiency in nearly 60% less time. In truck driving, one hour in a simulator was found to be equivalent to four hours on the road, and operators used less fuel.

The multi-role interactive simulation is performed in a classroom setting with simulator stations for the operator, signalman (banksman), slinger and instructor. The team must work together to perform lift operations.
Highly Skilled Workers Turn Over
Arnold Free emphasizes that the Net Generation requires more diverse and more engaging learning methods. Classroom learning will have its place, but this needs to be combined with multiple instructional approaches – learning games (aka, Serious Games), interactive simulations, on-the-job and conventional learning by making mistakes.
Due to retirement, the offshore industry will lose significant numbers of highly skilled workers over the next decade. “It is a mistake to expect these students to effectively learn in a traditional classroom setting and/or using conventional e-learning tools”, he says.
PNI Training Centre in Stavanger, Norway, and CMLabs Simulations in Montreal, Canada, are taking steps to address the future training needs of the offshore industry by developing team-based learning using interactive simulation technology.
Using simulators to train drilling and crane operators is not new. The unique aspect is they’re training the entire lift operations team (crane operator, slinger, signalman/banksman) in an immersive role-play environment by combining operator simulators with serious-games learning techniques.
The first systems were installed by CMLabs and its partner Antycip Simulation in June 2010 at PNI’s campus in Stavanger. PNI will begin delivering team-based simulation training classes by September 2010.
Traditional simulation-based lift training addresses only skills development for the crane operator. With team-based simulation training, the operator, slinger and signalman (banksman) must all work together in a simulated offshore environment.
During the operation, the instructor observes the team’s performance. He can create fault conditions and monitor and log incidents. The simulated environment provides both typical faults, such as damaged lifting gear, out-of-date inspection certificates or crane faults, and the team must spot these problems.
More challenging situations can be created, such as high winds and changing sea-states, sling breaks, shifting loads and even crane system failures. The instructor monitors how the lift crew works through these challenges. The simulation logs all incidents during the training operations, and these can be reviewed by the team once the job is complete. This provides an effective, consistent and objective evaluation of team performance. It also provides an effective learning tool.
This interactive learning framework provides a new approach to developing skills and experience. It combines role-play with skills training and practice on a virtual work site. It involves applying theory and learning by doing, and it is physiologically engaging – all needed for training crews today and the younger generation tomorrow.
With this kind of training, organizations can more objectively measure student performance and train more students in classroom settings. It lowers training costs and provides the next-best thing to performing the actual work on the job. It also allows organizations to train teams on how to spot hazards or react instinctively to unexpected failures.
Simulation-based training will play an important role in preparing operators and support personnel for the work challenges ahead. The technology is rapidly being adopted by offshore, port, construction, mining and other industries. Simulation has been proven to speed skills development, improve learning retention and create safer operations teams. By combining simulators, interactive instructional content and team-based learning, we create physiologically engaging environments where students are immersed in the work.
About Arnold Free
This article is based on a presentation at the IADC Lifting & Mechanical Handling Conference & Exhibition, 13-14 July 2010, Houston.
Arnold Free, vice president of CMLabs Simulations, has more than 20 years of experience in building simulation and engineering software solutions. He holds a Ph.D. in engineering from Cambridge University, UK.

Notre Dame Is Exploring The Use Of Serious Games In Higher Education

A learning community exploring use of games in higher education

Via: Serious Games Learning Community Blog

During the 2010-2011 academic year, the Serious Games Learning Community at the University of Notre Dame is exploring the use of games in higher education. Their goal is to find or create games designed to improve learning – and implement those games in courses at Notre Dame.

Members of this learning community can be Notre Dame faculty, staff, or students interested in computer games, role-plays, board games, and related pastimes.

The first meeting of the Serious Games Learning Community will take place Thursday, July 29, 2010 — 11:00 am to 1:00 pm in the Dooley Room of LaFortune Student Center.

Friday, July 23, 2010

GameCareerGuide New Post: A Look At Serious Games

Serious Games will change the way we learn

Game Career Guide has just posted Liam Morrow's 3-page must read piece: A Look At Serious Games.

The article's opening statement "Video games will change the way we learn", gives us a taste of its across the board assertiveness.

Here are a few highlights:

"Video games will change the way we learn and learning from video games occurs in a variety of ways:

Video games develop a wide range of skills vital to other areas of learning including multitasking and analytical thinking. This occurs especially in open-ended games such as SimCity where in order to succeed players must manage several channels of information while assessing past mistakes simultaneously."

"When we play games we inhabit the lives of characters in completely different social groups and therefore experience ideologies and values different to our own. By experiencing new cultures, games teach us to understand the world from new perspectives."

"Video games also teach and encourage us to be creative and imaginative. They do this through end-user development techniques such as modding which allows the player to explore the game outside its original boundaries."

"As the games industry learns to accept the teaching potential of games we will see developers supplement more educational content in their creations resulting in games becoming a recognized and respected learning tool."

Read the full article at

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Serious Games In Education Bill Passed in NC in July

An act to enact tax incentives for gaming companies

Via: Savvan's Blog - State Legislators pass economic development bill for the Interactive Digital Media (IDM) Design & Development Industry in North Carolina

Savvan's Blog reports today that NC State Legislators worked to pass an economic development bill providing a tax credit for Interactive Digital Media (IDM) that hire programmers within North Carolina. Industries likely to benefit most from this bill are education, military, government, and corporate training.

“The RTP (Research Triangle Park) area is a hub for development of entertainment games and advanced learning technologies, and this bill will help keep it that way,” said Linda Savanauskas, a Raleigh digital education specialist and owner of Savvan Consulting.

Savanauskas said that the entertainment industry generates revenue in RTP/NC, with 5 of the 10 leading global game engine companies located here. She added, “North Carolina is also a leader in the education industry’s immersive technologies, known variously as advanced learning technologies (ALTs), 3Di (i standing for “immersive”), and Serious Games.

The bill passes in the House, as the economic development bill and now it goes to the Governor for her signature. The House was able to secure the headquarters credit and provide an across the board 15% credit. If a company does collaborate with a participating community college or university, then up to 20% of expenses may be eligible for the credit.

Savanauskas helped build early support for this effort by educating key legislators. In early spring, she arranged meetings with key ALT business leaders and government officials to discuss the monetary and training value of the local entertainment game industry and educational games.

Here is the today's press release from the Triangle Game Initiative

Digital Media Production Incentives Introduced for North Carolina Companies

RALEIGH, N.C., July 22, 2010 - The Triangle Game Initiative, a non-profit trade association for the North Carolina interactive entertainment industry, today will support Governor Beverly Perdue as she signs a new law that will offer companies economic incentives for interactive digital media productions in North Carolina.

Effective January 1, 2011, companies will receive a 15 percent tax credit on compensation and wages for employees involved in digital media production, or the creation of a platform or engine that runs such digital media.

Industry executives and supporters from the region will gather at Epic Games' headquarters in Cary, N.C. to witness the signing of House Bill 1973 and listen to Governor Perdue, state representatives and senators offer remarks about the investment in the state's interactive digital media industry.

"The passage of this legislation marks a significant investment in the future of North Carolina's interactive digital media industry," said Alexander Macris, president of the Triangle Game Initiative. "Our state is home to one of the largest concentrations of game development companies in the United States. These incentives will not only help keep North Carolina competitive on the national stage, it will produce compelling ROI for the state's graduates, skilled work force and research and development infrastructure."

"Game developers and publishers are keen to operate in regions that support and sustain the growth of their operations, especially as the current economic climate places a premium on cost-effectiveness," said Wayne Watkins, project manager, Wake County Economic Development. "Adding to the quality of life, creative class and top-notch technology community North Carolina currently boasts, we now have targeted economic development tools that can help both existing companies as well as companies looking to relocate operations."

About Triangle Game Initiative

Triangle Game Initiative is the trade association for the Raleigh-Durham, N.C. interactive entertainment industry. Its members are market-leading companies and prominent industry figures who have gathered in the Research Triangle area to master the arts and sciences of gaming. The Triangle Game Initiative's mission is to build a thriving community of companies and professionals dedicated to the advancement of the interactive entertainment industry in the Triangle region.

SGI Newest Serious Game Wins Best Learning Game Award

Serious Games placing historical studies within a context

Serious Games Interactive newest educational game Playing History has just won the 1st European Best Learning Game competition in the category Best Professional Game with a Budget over 40.000 Euros.

While in their Global Conflicts game series SGI wanted to give the players an authentic experience and made the product closer to a simulation than to an actual game, in their new game series Playing History, their main focus is to allow the players to learn through exploratory discovery, and the adventure-game elements are therefore very strong.

The Playing History game series places you in historically significant and interesting time periods, where you will get the chance to meet major historical personalities and experience history in the making.

The game series is expected to be launched later this year:

• Episode I: "The Plague" (Autumn 2010)
• Episode II: "The Slave Trade" (Winter 2010)
Playing History: The Plague is the first episode in the game series that focus on The Plague pandemic known as “The Black Death”. Intended for 8-13 year olds, through various challenges and fun mini-games players shall learn facts about the plague and 14th century Europe.

Mental Maps

The Playing History series supports knowledge and understanding of:

• People, events and societies of significance in the past

• The distinctive features of life in the past and why certain societies, people and events are regarded as significant.

• The diversity of people in the past, their knowledge, class difference, traditions, values and morals.

Students have the opportunity to place their historical studies within a context and an overall chronological framework so that they progressively develop a mental map of the past.

The Playing History web portal includes several features that make it possible for students and teachers to interact with each other in an online community. Teachers are able to monitor students’ playtime and activities, as well as see the end results.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

2010 Serious Games Showcase & Challenge - Call for Serious Games Entries

Serious Games for innovative training solutions

November 29 - December 2, 2010, Orlando, Florida, USA

Serious Game developers are invited to submit their original PC-based serious game to the Fifth Annual I/ITSEC Serious Games Showcase & Challenge.

The goal of the Serious Games Showcase & Challenge is to promote innovative game-based solutions to training problems. Finalists in the Serious Game Showcase & Challenge will be selected by a panel of Serious Games leaders in the military, industry, and academic fields, and will be invited to showcase their serious game at I/ITSEC 2010, where over 18,000 attendees will view and vote on each of the finalists.

The Challenge is open to a wide range of contestants; categories include student, government, and business. Awards will be provided to top contestants in those categories.

Entered games can address any training objective pertinent to High School age or older audiences. All entries will be judged in four primary areas: Use of Gaming Characteristics, Solution to a Stated Problem; Playability/Usability; and Technical Quality.

For the purpose of the Challenge, entries will be considered a serious game if they have gaming attributes, involve an assigned challenge, and employ some form of positive and/or negative reward system.

Serious Games Improving Training and Performance Metrics

How a Serious Game Improved Trainee Performance by 60%

Via: Thinking Worlds - Improving Navy Recruits‟ Performance: A Serious Games Study

Following my prior post Serious Games Help New Recruits On The Ship where I addressed the Serious Game conception, here is the story of how the Royal Navy used this Serious Game to transform training effectiveness on a crucial operational area on board ship – Engineering Safety Rounds Inspection.

Historically, this was the Maritime Warfare School’s worst performing course. Compared to classroom training, the immersive learning experience of Serious Games improved trainee capability, cut failure rates by 54% and reduced the needs for additional resource requirements.

A Performance Problem

What would you do if 13% of all new recruits were failing one of their most critical courses? How would you cope with a failure rate that was 200%-300% higher than most of your other core training subjects and the cost to retrain failed recruits kept on rising? Clearly, figures like these would be unsustainable in most training and performance programs and this was no different for the training officers of the Royal Navy’s Maritime Warfare School (MWS), where improving performance and reducing cost were constant operational goals.

Upon identifying these unfavorable statistics, the MWS began evaluating current training methods for the course in question - the Engineering Safety Rounds Inspection - and officers were able to identify several factors. Getting on board ship for the first time was a shock for new recruits and this, coupled with the close spaces and complex operational environment, proved too challenging for many new recruits to complete without further training.

A solution was needed to reduce this initial shock period, shorten the learning curve and provide a safe practice environment for recruits to carry out their Safety Rounds Inspections, prior to boarding the ship for the first time. It was also necessary that whatever solution was reached, training officers could still assess the recruit's technical aptitude and fault finding skills during the trial inspection.

It was decided that the best and most cost-effective solution was to create a Serious Game: a fully immersive, 3d virtual ship that would enable trainees to walk through it and perform duties as if they were actually on board.

Serious Game Requirements

In order to achieve this, the MWS, in conjunction with award-winning Serious Games development company Caspian Learning, began production of the virtual ship and met with subject matter experts from the specialist school to start building the course content.

It was clear that the finished game would need to meet the following key requirements:

 Allow trainees the ability to role-play scenarios
 Allow the trainees to explore an accurate representation of the ship - a Type 23 Royal Navy frigate.
 The ability to have trainees observe an instructor walking through the scenarios whilst also having access to a separate self study mode.
 The ability to interact with the environment.
 The ability to re-use the assets (art content) for further applications (such as recruitment or experimentation).

What Was Done?

To meet MWS‟s objectives, Caspian Learning developed an immersive 3D interactive game titled Weapons Engineering Round - Immersive Learning Simulation with their Thinking Worlds™ technology.

Thinking Worlds™ is a globally unique engine that has a range of proven learning interactions and behaviors designed into it. The engine allowed Caspian Learning to develop and utilize high fidelity 3D environments, such as the exterior and interior of the Navy frigate in the MWS game. It also allowed highly interactive game challenges to be used to target core learning outcomes.

As required by the brief, the recruit’s immersive experience on board the ship begins not by sitting behind a computer screen but by being able to follow the instructor as he navigates through the ship using the instructor-led mode built into the game. Trainers can first present the ship to recruits on a projector screen.

As if they were on board a real ship, the trainers lead the learners through many of the ship’s compartments – the Combined Radar Office, Gyro Room, Bridge, Mess, SCOT Office, 4.5 area, Ship Control Centre, FWD SIS, FWD 911, and CMR. Additionally, the trainers guide the recruits through a typical Engineering Safety Rounds Inspection that involves photo-realistic device and compartment checks. During each round, and in each compartment, trainers examine and elaborate on equipment. By the time the lesson is complete, recruits are familiar with the importance of their jobs and the critical nature of the machinery on the ship.

Going Solo

In the free play solo mode of the game, recruits immediately discover that on board the ship is a saboteur who is creating faults in the machinery and putting the ship’s crew in danger. The recruit must find and fix the errors, locate the saboteur, and disarm his bomb before time runs out. In doing so, the recruit explores the ship and its cramped noisy compartments, interacts with the equipment they will use on the job and assembles knowledge about the critical importance of the machines.

Key Performance Metric

A key performance metric for the UK Military is Brought Up To Standard, or BUTS rate for short. The Military rigorously measures human performance and for those recruits that fail to make the required standard, they go on to receive additional BUTS training. This demands a considerable investment in additional training resources, cost and time off the job.

It is the BUTS measurement that was used to determine the effectiveness of the Serious Game lesson in comparison to the traditional classroom lesson. The measurement was taken over 10 classes, throughout the term.

Serious Game Makes Serious Impact

Before an immersive learning simulation had been used to deliver this course, the pedagogical approach had been more traditional; delivered under normal classroom conditions. This meant that recruits spent a lot of time reading from text books and watching PowerPoint presentations.

These methods were not very engaging and far from realistic. The missing context made it difficult for new recruits to fully appreciate their responsibilities and the consequences of not doing their jobs properly. Despite the comprehensive classroom training, new recruits were still heavily susceptible to a shock factor when they boarded for the first time. BUTS rates were 200% - 300% higher compared to other courses.

After using the Weapons Engineering Rounds Serious Game to deliver the course content the BUTS failure rates dropped substantially by almost 60%. The 6% failure rate was now lower than the average for other courses.

How Did The Recruits React?

As well as measuring the BUTS rates, a questionnaire was tailored specifically to the program and given to all of the recruits who took part in the trial period. Of these 116 trainees, 99 questionnaires were returned and the collated results of this survey can be found at the Caspian Learning website1. In general, the trainees found that the simulation was easy to use, relatively intuitive and did aid their understanding of the subject matter being taught.

Feedback from training officers corroborated the results of the questionnaire and the introduction of the serious game package and the overall reaction from MWS has been positive and already discussions are taking place for further content and course development.

Training officers were invited to comment on their own feelings to the course and a summary of some of their comments are below:

“The majority of the students find that the game facilitates their understanding and aids the learning process.”
“Less time is spent using PowerPoint, a welcome break for both instructors and trainees.”
“The simulation has been smoothly integrated into the overall lesson plan.” “Overall, Caspian Learning’s Serious Game has been well received and has enabled a fuller understanding of one of the most important roles the trainees will conduct once they join their ship.”
“The lab setup worked well allowing the instructor easy access to the student PCs as required.”
“The noise level in the class is much less than normal. This is due to the increased concentration levels and focus of the trainees on what they’re doing.”

Undoubtedly, the introduction of the Serious Games package into the MWS Engineering Safety Rounds Inspection course has generated a marked improvement in trainee capability and a greater understanding of the module. This is particularly evident in the reduction of BUTS activity necessary after the course. We can confidently say this is a direct result of the introduction of the game as no other element of the course had been altered.

The qualitative results support the quantitative BUTS data and the overall feeling from this collation of feedback is that the immersive learning simulation has enabled greater trainee understanding of the subject and has enhanced the way this subject is delivered.

Final Words

The use of Serious Games technology to deliver a key element of career training in the Military has proven successful. The avatar based Serious Games package delivered and deployed by Caspian Learning has enabled trainees with no previous experience of a Royal Navy warship to successfully conduct Weapons Engineering Safety Rounds in a safe, but effective, training environment.

The game picked up the Best Game Award at the eLearning Age Awards 2009. The simulation is designed to run

A video overview of this game can be watched online from the following link:

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Exploding Places: Serious Games Played Live On the Streets

A new outdoor mobile phone game set in Woolwich

Via: Active Ingredient - Exploding Places Going Live 24/07/10

A new outdoor mobile phone game is to be piloted in London on Saturday July 24th 2010:

Exploding Places - a prototype of a new outdoor mobile phone game set in Woolwich, created by Active Ingredient in collaboration with Horizon Digital Economy Research, University of Nottingham and commissioned by Stream.

Exploding Places takes you on a journey through time and space. You arrive in a fictional Woolwich in South East London, create your own community and place them in the real world Woolwich. Over the space of an hour you and your community travel through 120 years of local and global history. The First World War passes in just a few minutes as you play the game to ensure your survival.

Exploding Places is a Serious Game played live on the streets of Woolwich. You play on the phone screen and through headphones, as you walk the town’s real streets. You can interact with other players, join together and respond to conflict or difficulties in each other’s communities. The ultimate goal is to build a thriving community that grows and creates a new generation, based on health, wealth, knowledge, participation and your contribution to the game.

The game will be partly broadcast on the BBC Big Screen in central Woolwich giving public audiences the chance to watch the game unfold.

Exploding Places encourages us to explore and discover Woolwich in a new way, meet other players in both the real and fictional world of the game and experience the history and geography of Woolwich in a playful way.

Exploding Places is part of the exciting creative endeavor called locative or pervasive gaming, bringing new and emerging technologies into the public realm.

To play you must first register a place:

Go online

Or call 020 8858 2825

Once registered, come to the launch event and play:

When: Saturday 24th July 2010, 11am - 5pm

Where: The Tramshed, 51 – 53 Woolwich New Road, London SE18 6ES

Directions: British Rail / DLR: Woolwich Arsenal, then 2 minute walk to The Tramshed

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

mygameIQ: THE Distribution System For The Serious Games Industry

Pragmatic's new platform for AAA titles emphasizes Serious Games

Via: mygameIQ New Channel Based, Digital Distribution And Content Management Platform

Westlake Village, Calif., July 11, 2010 Pragmatic Solutions, Inc. announced earlier this week the launch of its new channel based, digital distribution and content management platform for gaming - mygameIQ™.

mygameIQ will provide a platform for AAA browser-based and downloadable game titles, emphasizing the world of Educational, Serious and Independent games.

“By celebrating the unique world of gaming, we will create a new community of Serious Games users” said Robert Brown, COO of Pragmatic Solutions, Inc., the creators of mygameIQ.

Pragmatic has been working as one of the America’s Army Development teams since 2004, being accountable for the middleware that includes Authentication, Matchmaking, Statistics and Dynamic Content Delivery, as well as for the Honor Program that supports America’s Army growth and positioning as a worldwide leader. With 11 million registered users, America’s Army is possibly the most successful Serious Game of all times.

In recent years, Pragmatic has begun to focus on America’s Army distribution via its Deploy System and has expanded this technology to deliver multiple games, while creating a unique user experience.

With its roots firmly established in the Serious Games industry, Pragmatic has decided to create a distribution platform that would focus on the Serious and Educational Games markets, as well as on the burgeoning Independent Game Developers segment.

Pragmatic's insight was that the somewhat untapped and often overlooked Serious Games market, which some estimate to the value of $2 billion annually, is not being given the credit it deserves by traditional AAA gaming audience.

“That is when we set out to celebrate the different gaming genres, using our distribution system to bring the AAA audience to Serious Games and the Serious Games audience to AAA titles”, says Robert Brown.

Pragmatic is incredibly proud to be able to bring such Serious Games offerings as America’s Army as well as some amazing titles from Global Kids, like Tempest and Ayiti, all of which are examples of blending game play and education resonant in today’s top Serious Games. As Pragmatic continues to add titles to mygameIQ, their value proposition is to be acknowledged as THE distribution system for the Serious Games industry.

mygameIQ is designed for casual and core gamers alike and is presented in a unique Channel format: players can browse the Big Download, “Free to Play” or Knewton “Smart Games” channels, or enjoy one of the addictive advergames produced by Dole Nutrition Institute. Players will be able to download and launch the games right from their desktops, so all of their games are easily located, allowing them to spend more time playing.

To download a copy of mygameIQ, please visit 

About Pragmatic Solutions, Inc.

Headquartered in Westlake Village, CA, Pragmatic Solutions, Inc. is a data modeling innovator that has developed technology for data collection, interactive data analytics, inference and adaptive learning systems. Pragmatic has created a digital application that brings gaming right to the user, and provides an interactive community based on the user’s interests and behavior.

Leverage™ is Pragmatic’s comprehensive data collection and analysis platform. The Leverage SDK consists of multiple interfaces to support any game or application, tailored for both Entertainment and Serious Games markets. 

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Serious Games Getting More Students Into Stem Fields Of Study

NASA’s Experiment: Serious Games to Repair A Crippled Lunar Base

Via: NASA Moonbase Alpha

Last week, NASA launched a free online 3D Serious Game on Steam that allows players to step into the role of an exploration team member in a futuristic 3D lunar settlement.

Moonbase Alpha is a NASA-funded game using the Unreal engine, where up to six players can team up in order to save a near-future lunar base crippled by a meteor strike: you and your team must repair and replace equipment in order to restore the oxygen production to the settlement.

Team coordination along with the proper use and allocation of your available resources (player controlled robots, rovers, repair tools, etc.) are key to your overall success.

There are several ways in which you can successfully restore the life support system of the lunar base, but since you are scored on the time spent to complete the task, you have to work effectively as a team, learn from decisions made in previous gaming sessions, and make intelligence decisions in order to top the leaderboards.

The game is just the first release from NASA’s Learning Technologies program, which aims to help raise interest in the space program through gaming - the same way America’s Army did in military recruitment.

Tech Reviews spoke with Daniel Laughlin, project manager of Learning Technologies, to learn more about the game and what we can expect to see in the future.

The game was co-developed by Army Game Studio and Virtual Heroes, two of the leading developers of "Serious Games." And according to Laughlin, NASA's decision to move into the game space was influenced a great deal by the success of the studios' previous releases.

"The project was inspired in part by America's Army," Laughlin said. "It started as an effort to prove we could create a commercial quality game using NASA content that is fun. NASA was looking for a project at the same time the Army Game Studio was looking to branch out from America’s Army. It helped that Army Game Studio and NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center are co-located at Redstone Arsenal in Alabama. Virtual Heroes has a history for with America’s Army so we were excited to see them selected to support the Army Game Studio on the game."

“Though development of the game didn't start until last year, Laughlin actually began researching the prospect of using games as an educational tool back in 2004. The main impetus for the project was the decline in interest in STEM education—science, technology, engineering and mathematics—amongst the American population.”

"The US is facing a crisis in technical fields," explained Laughlin. "There are not enough students studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics to fill our national needs in those areas. NASA literally cannot function without STEM graduates. The big goals for NASA Education are to get more students into STEM fields of study and graduating into STEM careers. It’s also the president’s goal with the Educate to Innovate initiative. Moonbase Alpha was developed in support of those goals."

The entire game can easily be completed in 20 minutes, putting it squarely in the ‘proof of concept’ category. However, this is the testbed for what NASA eventually wants to build: A full blown MMO.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Adam Gerson’s Superb Presentation: Serious Games In Construction

Serious Games presentations for safety and health professionals in the Pacific NW

Adam Gerson, CIH CSP, is the Occupational Safety and Health Manager at the U.S. Department of Labor, who believes that collaborative Serious Games can be useful for OSHA related health & safety training.

Adam has just created a superb PPT presentation - Virtual Simulators as Alternate Training Techniques for Construction Equipment Operators & Generation X and Y, intended primarily for safety & health professionals in the Pacific NW.

Adam’s upcoming talks are listed below by date and group:

• August 13th – Residential Construction Safety Group at the Mechanical Builders Association (MBA)

• September 16th – Professional Development Conference for the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE)

• October 7th (tentative) – Monthly Safety Meeting at the Washington Association of General Contractors (AGC)

• November 10th – Puget Sound Area Safety Summit (PSASS)

The Case for Action

According to the Construction Industry Institute, CII’s October 2009 White Paper Serious Gaming in Construction, authored by Aivars E. Krumins, P.E., some companies have begun going to high schools and even elementary and middle schools to introduce students to engineering and the construction industry.

According to the same WP, The following two questions need to be addressed:

• how to introduce the construction industry to school age children in a way that will hold their attention and increase their awareness about the industry

• how to train both the crafts and management about the industry in a quicker and more effective manner.

Serious Games may be a means to help address both questions.

White Paper Extracts

Serious Games have been used in a variety of industries as well as the military, but there was little knowledge of what was available for the construction industry.

There have been two games available on the market for several years now, “Construction Destruction” and “Caterpillar Construction Tycoon”. Construction Destruction was released in 2003 and its objective is for the player to complete projects on time and under budget using seven large construction vehicles in nine different environments.

Caterpillar Construction Tycoon was released in 2005 and the player is in the role of an international contractor where again you manage construction vehicles on different jobsites while managing budgets and schedules.

A more recent game, “World of Goo” was released in 2008 (please find my prior post World Of Goo: Construction Sim Turns Physics Lesson Into A Serious Game). The foundation of the game is a physics simulation which defines how the structures bend and break.

There are other computer games that could be considered to be associated with building and construction; these include the various versions of Sim City and Roller Coaster.

In the UK, the Charter Institute of Building is backing the construction of the ACT-UK Simulation Center. The center is intended to provide a pioneering form of simulation training combining virtual reality and professional actors.

A parallel effort is being lead by the University of Salford (UK) to develop a Virtual Construction Site Simulator. This is being sponsored by ManuBuild – Open Build Manufacturing, an industry-led collaborative research project on industrialized construction, partially funded by the EU.

Both of these simulators are geared towards construction managers and foreman and offer what is referred to as ‘experiential’ learning.

CII has recommended a research project to investigate the state-of–the art in Serious Gaming, particularly in identifying how game technology can be adapted to help the craft workers, foremen, superintendents and construction managers better understand what they do and become more productive.

A potential longer term goal might be a training simulation center for construction.