Saturday, October 30, 2010

Nat Geo's Great Migrations Serious Game – MOVE!

Serious Games simulating the zebra and wildebeest migration

Serious Games to move as millions and survive as one

A new Social Serious Game is being hosted at the NGC website as part of the promotion for their upcoming seven-part series, Great Migrations that begins November 7. 

Narrated by Alec Baldwin, the series is the biggest programming event in the Channel's history, taking over 3 years to make and tracking over 420,000 miles of animal migrations across 20 countries in all seven continents.

Great Migrations Social Game MOVE! extends the magnificent experience of Great Migrations online via social game, and simulates the zebra and wildebeest migration.

MOVE! puts the viewer at the head of the herd and challenges each herd to survive the 150-mile trek through a salt and sand desert hundreds of zebras make in Botswana and complete the 300-mile journey wildebeest make across Kenya and Tanzania each year.

Players can participate in one of 14 regional teams that will be playing real-time across the globe, and invite Facebook friends to join to build the biggest herd and complete the most migrations.

Here is the full press release.


In Celebration of the Global Programming Event Great Migrations, Premiering Sunday, November 7, 2010, ‘Move!’ Puts the Viewer at the Head of the Herd and Brings to Life the Arduous Journeys Zebras and Wildebeest Take Each Year. Join one of 14 Global Teams!

(WASHINGTON, D.C. – OCTOBER 25, 2010) In celebration of the seven-part global programming event Great Migrations, which premieres on National Geographic Channel (NGC) on Sunday, November 7, 2010, NGC has partnered with digital agency Neo-Pangea to extend the magnificent experience of Great Migrations online with the social game MOVE! Simulating the zebra and wildebeest migration, MOVE! puts the viewer at the head of the herd and challenges each herd to survive the 150-mile trek through a salt and sand desert hundreds of zebras make in Botswana and complete the 300-mile journey wildebeest make across Kenya and Tanzania each year.

Players can participate in one of 14 regional teams that will be playing real-time across the globe, and invite Facebook friends to join to build the biggest herd and complete the most migrations. With potential risks looming at every turn — from unforgiving terrain to ferocious predators — the decision to keep moving or stop to graze could be one of life or death. The rain compass will guide players toward the migratory path, while the visualization of other migration leaders will allow players to “power up” when strength in number becomes crucial for survival.

MOVE! captures the magnitude of Great Migrations by immersing viewers from around the world into the exhilarating experience of animal migration in real time,” said Brad Dancer, senior vice president of research and digital media for National Geographic Channel. “By allowing players worldwide to collaborate with each other to complete the challenge, this game highlights the interactive entertainment the Global Migrations Website provides, and underscores the global nature of Great Migrations.”

The most ambitious television event in the network’s history, Great Migrations is a seven-part global television event that premieres November 7, 2010, at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT and includes four core hours chronicling epic animal migrations, narrated by two-time Emmy, three-time Golden Globe winner Alec Baldwin. Additional hours include a scientific investigation of animal migrations; a behind-the-scenes look at the advanced technology, dramatic challenges and passion required to capture these spectacular shots; and a music hour, Rhythm of Life, set to original music by film and television composer Anton Sanko.

About National Geographic Channel U.S. (NGC)

Based at the National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C., the National Geographic Channel (NGC) is a joint venture between National Geographic Ventures (NGV) and Fox Cable Networks (FCN). Since launching in January 2001, NGC initially earned some of the fastest distribution growth in the history of cable and more recently the fastest ratings growth in television. The network celebrated its fifth anniversary January 2006 with the launch of NGC HD, which provides the spectacular imagery that National Geographic is known for in stunning high definition. NGC has carriage with all of the nation’s major cable and satellite television providers, making it currently available in more than 70 million homes.

About Neo-Pangea

Neo-Pangea is an innovative digital agency that specializes in digital video production, Web design, 3-D design, interactive experiences and live-environment multimedia. It has created successful promotions for Fortune 100 brands across the globe such as National Geographic Channel, Comcast and Wal-Mart.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Motion Capture Leverages Serious Games For Health

Serious Games from Fitness to Physical Therapy

One of the launch games for Microsoft’s Kinect, Your Shape: Fitness Evolved, and a motion-capture based interactive game developed by Austrian researchers to aid in physical therapy both use a similar projection of a digital avatar in order to instruct players on appropriate motion for each activity.

Specialists from the Institute of Software Technology and Interactive Systems at the Vienna University of Technology and Interactive Systems worked with Serious Games Interactive to develop a physical therapy game that works in conjunction with a motion-capture system and “data suit” made of small reflecting balls—sensed by an eight-point infrared camera system. The system is compared to the yoga portion of Ubisoft's upcoming Kinect title Your Shape: Fitness Evolved, which achieves similar goals.

Your Shape: Fitness Evolved

Kinect combines a camera, depth sensor and array of microphones in order to identify and track the people in front of it. It's an all-body experience with no controller required, lets players interact with games and software directly. Simply step in front of the sensor and Kinect recognizes you and responds to your gestures.

For Your Shape, that means the player’s body is displayed on screen, so it’s a breeze to accurately match the movements of the personal trainer. The game also monitors the player, giving advice about movement and posture and measuring calories burned.

The game’s developer, Ubisoft Montreal, has designed Your Shape to be a legitimate — and affordable — alternative to going to the gym, with plenty of choices. Players can be guided by a personal trainer or hop into a variety of classes and mini-games, from yoga, pilates and tai chi to tests of balance and coordination. You'll control the game intuitively with your voice and body as you create your desired fitness experience.  The idea is that Your Shape’s fitness programs are tailored to each individual based on current fitness levels and goals.  

Your Shape: Fitness Evolved and the Kinect for Xbox 360 shall hit stores on November 4.

Serious Gaming To Fund Creative Projects: Gameful Funded @ Kickstarter

Serious Games that challenge us to play at building a better world

Kickstarter is an online platform that enables just about anyone to raise funding from interested individuals.

Kickstarter works like a Social Serious Game: it is a new vehicle to fund creative ideas and ambitious endeavors, spreading them fast and wide, and engaging a large group of people who can be a tremendous source of money and encouragement.

It is not about investing: people who start projects on the platform to get funded by others retain 100% ownership over everything, but need to find a way to give people an incentive to pledge. Kickstarter is powered by a unique all-or-nothing funding method where projects must be fully-funded or no money changes hands.

Kickstarter also doubles as a publishing platform where project creators can keep anyone or only their backers how the project is doing with text, pictures and videos.

The Gameful - a Secret HQ for Worldchanging Game Developers, project by Jane McGonigal, has successfully raised its funding goal on September 29. Initially seeking $2,000 in supportive donations, it now appears at Kickstarter’s Hall of Fame, where the 100 most popular projects in Kickstarter history (since 2009) reside.

“Gameful means to have the spirit, or mindset, of a gamer: someone who is optimistic, curious, motivated, and always up for a tough challenge. It’s like the word “playful” -- but gamier”, says Jane.

Gameful proposition: an online "Secret HQ" where you can connect with other people who believe in the power of games to make us better and change the world. Jane has conceived it as a collaboration space, a cross between a professional network and a creative brainstorming space. The goal is to make it easy for anyone making or playing world-changing games to find collaborators, mentors, jobs, ideas, and funding. And of course, to discover fun new games to play.

Pledges Gamification

Pledges were to a certain extent “gamified":

Pledge $12 or more - FOUNDER'S REWARD (210 backers)
Pledge $24 or more - SECRET BACK DOOR ACCESS (83 backers)
Pledge $48 or more - MEGA BRAIN MELD (165 backers)
Pledge $98 or more - HERO'S 12-PACK (6 backers)
Pledge $144 or more - THE AWESOME CIRCLE (56 backers)
Pledge $288 or more - SECRET FIERO MONSTER (12 backers)
Pledge $576 or more - THE AWESOME BOARD (23 backers)
Pledge $1,012 or more - THE GAMEFUL FAIRY (25 backers)

Those who showed their generosity were uniquely rewarded: each backer was given a hand-numbered puzzle piece. The original idea was: “If the site reaches 500 backers, all the pieces would form a 500-piece jigsaw puzzle that would reveal a “secret mission.” McGonigal has left it completely up to the community of backers to decide how and when they will get the pieces together.

However, thanks to community-building efforts, Gameful has unlocked not one... but two secret missions:

The first mission: a 500-piece puzzle for the first 500 Kickstarter backers.
The second mission: a 1500-piece puzzle for the friends of Kickstarter backers who have pledged at $98 and up. (They each get a bonus 11 memberships/puzzle pieces to share with friends.)

As Jane says “that mission may be harder to accomplish... because who knows how far and wide those extra puzzle pieces will spread? But if any group can figure it out, it's Gameful...”

Going Live Countdown

Gameful is set to launch Oct. 28 at exactly 10:28:10 a.m.

Note: Jane McGonigal is also releasing a new book, "Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World" coming out January 20, 2011

Friday, October 15, 2010

@ Forrester: Why Tech Companies Should Take Serious Games Seriously

Serious Games making the company's value proposition more clear and compelling

Via: Forrester Blogs - IBM Shows Why Tech Companies Should Take Serious Games Seriously

Serious Games communicating your value proposition more effectively than any ROI calculator

Tom Grant, Ph.D., Senior Analyst at Forrester Research, serves Technology Product Management & Marketing professionals, helping product managers in IT companies hone these critical skills and help the company decide which areas the product management organization needs to emphasize. 
He has recently blogged about how Serious Games do a lot more than just grabbing our attention: they are a powerful tool for a B2B company like IBM to market its products and services in a way that engages the customer more deeply, making the company's value proposition more clear and compelling.
Tom provides hard evidence on how IBM has been making a serious investment in Serious Games for quite a while (e.g. overview of the work IBM has done with USC, the BPM game INNOV8 and CityOne)

"Games can explain where a company's products and services fit into the machinery of the real world. Someone might quibble with the details, but if they're quibbling, they're engaged. And if they're engaged, you're communicating your value proposition more effectively than any ROI calculator", he says.

Tom goes even further:

"This different way of communicating value removes the need for the vendor to gratuitously shove its corporate face into the picture. If you play CityOne, you'll face situations in which IBM's potential role is obvious, without needing to insert a spinning, pulsating IBM logo to make the point."

"The current realities of B2B marketing make it even more important for vendors to find tools like Serious Games that can communicate value more effectively through indirect channels of communication. As Forrester's regular surveys have shown repeatedly, business buyers are increasingly self-reliant in their evaluation and purchase of a technology. They're not waiting for a salesperson to come to them; these buyers are mounting their own investigations, during which they may find you, and may find you appealing. Or not."

Today, B2B marketing feels a lot more like The Sims, in which you can influence outcomes in the larger world, but not dictate them. Given the new rules of the B2B marketing game, any tool that makes it easier for potential customers to understand you is a major force multiplier. That's just one reason for taking Serious Games seriously.

Please find the full article here

Video Games Serious Business In Massachussets

An Emergent Video Game Cluster


Lisa Eckelbecker TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF reports that a video game cluster (my note: and maybe a Serious Game one) has emerged steadily in Massachusetts.

The state's nascent video game cluster employs an estimated 1,200 people at 76 companies with about $2 billion in annual revenue and although it represents a tiny sliver of the state's economy, it's still considered one of the nation's top video game locations, along with California, Texas, Washington and New York.

According to Michael Cavaretta, one of the founding members of the gaming special interest group of the MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge, "it makes a lot of sense for us to focus on the industry”. “It's a growing industry. It's going to continue to grow. It is becoming ubiquitous at this point. People who are becoming young adults have grown up with video games. They don't know a world without video games, and despite the name, it's not all fun and games.”

When The Princeton Review ranked the top eight video game design programs at U.S. colleges earlier this year, three were in Massachusetts: Becker College of Worcester, at No. 4; Worcester Polytechnic Institute of Worcester at No. 7; and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology of Cambridge at No. 8.

The industry is considered so attractive that at least 10 states offer incentives such as tax credits to video game companies, often through the same offices that offer financial enticements to the movie industry.

"Carving out incentives for a single company is bad policy, but creating incentives for an entire industry is a reasonable strategy that has worked in the past to help the biotechnology industry in Massachusetts", said state Rep. Vincent A. Pedone, D-Worcester. 

The article wraps-up by stating that some game industry proponents draw parallels between the industry and biotech in Worcester, which developed over more than 25 years and had a home in a research park built on land once owned by the state. Kevin O'Sullivan, president and chief executive of the Worcester-based economic development organization Massachusetts Biomedical Initiatives, said biotech took off in Worcester after years of research determined the city and its colleges and work force were ripe for the industry. "The video game industry needs to conduct the same sort of examination", he says.

Blog Action Day: Serious Games For Water Conservation

Serious Game to to successfully managing a river catchment

Via: ABC Catchment Detox Game

Catchment Detox is an easy-to-play but tough-to-master online Serious Game from Australia. Catchment Detox is an online game challenging the player to successfully managing a river catchment while creating a sustainable, healthy economy.

According to the experts that perform a similar juggling act in real life, “the challenge of planning and implementing activities on a catchment scale is a very complex issue, and the game to a large degree picks that up. The wonderful thing about the game is that there's instant feedback about the impact of industries and the cost of removing or changing land uses. In reality it's not so simple.”

Experts’ suggestions for doing well in the game, and in real-life catchment management as well are to keep that need to balance industry and ecology in mind, and to move industries away from the edges of watercourses.

In 100 turns, you decide how and where to plant crops, when and where to log forests, where and when to build factories or set up national parks.
Keep your eye on the impact stats to compare the economic and environmental pros and cons of your decisions.
Some activities bring in more money, but use a lot of water; others bring environmental benefits, but not much income. You can add or remove as many activities as you like (until you run out of money and/or turns!)
Catchment Fact Sheet – A System in Balance
The catchment of a river is the area of land that water falls on to feed that river. Every area of land on the planet is part of a catchment. As water moves over the land, it finds its way into streams and down into the soil, eventually feeding the river. Some water remains underground and this slowly recharges the river even when there is no rainfall. Not all catchments feed rivers that flow to the sea. Some are the source of rivers which flow inland, ending in a dry lake or wetland.
Every one of us lives in a catchment. Look at a map or street directory of your area and find the nearest stream, creek or river. If you are in the city it may now be just a drain or even a pipe under the ground.
The concept of a catchment is useful, because it is the scale on which many parts of the landscape work. The soil, plants, animals and water all function together in a catchment – anything that affects one of these will also have an impact on the others. The health of our catchments is vital for human existence because they are where all food is grown. The water you drink comes from a catchment near you. The oxygen you breathe comes ultimately from a growing green plant or algae. So catchments are part of our life support systems, and support the lives of all plants and animals.
In 2002, an assessment was made of the overall health of Australia’s more intensively used catchments.
The assessment looked at land, water and biodiversity in each catchment, including problems such as salinity, erosion, sedimentation, pesticide use, pollution, roads, native tree-cover, human population and pests.
The survey, done by the National Land and Water Resources Audit, found that the condition of 70% of Australia’s most populated catchments is merely average or worse than average.

Over the last 200 years people have been busy clearing land for farming, mining, building towns and cities and changing catchments which had been in equilibrium for thousands of years.

One reason they are so damaged is because we have not understood that changing something in one part of a catchment can have a huge impact somewhere else.

Catchments will benefit from a more integrated approach to management: where the impact of all activities – farming, development, tourism, and so on – are considered as part of the entire landscape and can be done in greater sympathy with the natural plant, animal, soil and water assets of the catchment.

Game Background
Catchment Detox is a major initiative by the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) and its partners to help Australians better understand and manage the environment they live in.
The free online game begins with a catchment in critical condition and through virtual years, decisions must be made on how to restore and sustain it, balancing three basic factors: the health of the environment, the economy and population growth.
To assist players and give listeners a greater understanding of catchment management, ABC Local Radio decided to broadcast insights into five key elements of natural resource management: surface water, ground water, biodiversity, soil health and community sustainability.
The radio series broadcast over a two week period, coincided with a competition where the top player would win a trip for two to one of Australia's most pristine catchments - Lake Argyle in the Kimberleys. A special school prize was also available for school groups who registered.
Catchment Detox is an ABC initiative in partnership with eWater, the CSIRO, the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research and National Science week. Catchment Detox is based on an original idea by Natural Resource Management advisor Tim Stubbs and consultant Lucy Broad.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Serious Games Promote Diversity in Scientific Workforce

Serious Games to thwart biases in science


Molly Carnes co-director of the Women in Science and Engineering Leadership Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is being funded $2 million over three years by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences in an effort to diminish the effects of implicit, unintentional biases against women, minorities, and people with disabilities in faculty hiring decisions — with a video game.

Via: University of Wisconsin-Madison News - Major Grant Aims At Breaking The Habit Of Implicit Bias

Oct. 11, 2010 -by David Tenenbaum

A University of Wisconsin-Madison doctor who has long worked to increase the entry of women into the scientific workforce has won a grant to develop video games to uncover and neutralize implicit, unintentional biases against women, minorities and people with disabilities.

After years of effort, many fields in science, math, engineering and medicine still have trouble attracting and retaining women and minorities, and all find women underrepresented in leadership, says Molly Carnes, director of the UW-Madison Center for Women's Health Research. She says even people who favor diversity and resist bias may unintentionally act upon implicit bias.

Although women have made major strides in medicine and the social sciences, they lag in engineering and physical sciences, Carnes says, and the fallout affects not just fairness but also economics. "For 25 years, the research agencies have said, if the U.S. is going to maintain its competitive edge in a global economy that is increasingly knowledge-based, we must invest in the domestic workforce in science, math, engineering and medicine. There has been some improvement, but we not taking full advantage of our domestic workforce."

The new grant, called the National Institutes of Health Director's Pathfinder Award to Promote Diversity in the Scientific Workforce, is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and administered by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.

"The Pathfinder Award reflects NIH's long-standing commitment to promoting a scientific workforce that is representative of the diversity of the U.S. population," says NIH director Francis S. Collins. "Such diversity generates new perspectives, approaches and answers to challenging problems. We're optimistic that these awards will help identify new methods for addressing the compelling need to increase the number of people from underrepresented groups who pursue careers in the biomedical, behavioral, clinical and social sciences."

The grant is intended to fund what Carnes, a professor of medicine and engineering, calls "transformational approaches" that can change attitudes, beliefs and behaviors in academic institutions.

In her studies of implicit bias, Carnes says she focuses on faculty, who "are the driver of change in an academic institution." She says she "approaches implicit bias in decision-making as a bad habit that can be changed with practice."

The three-year, $2 million grant will fund several researchers and students to work with Carnes and collaborators to develop an interactive video game that will place faculty in situations where they can recognize the self-defeating nature of implicit bias. For example, a faculty member might be asked to compete to hire a top scientist with another university and to schedule an accessible campus visit to Madison for the candidate, who needs a wheelchair.

An effective video game "has to involve challenge and invoke curiosity, has to give enough information but not too much," Carnes says. UW-Madison, she says, "has faculty who are preeminent in game-based learning and in the study of implicit bias. And because the campus is so big, with almost 1,500 faculty in science, math, medicine and technology, and more than 500 students obtaining graduate degrees in these disciplines every year, it makes a wonderful living laboratory for this work."

Working with the Games and Simulation for Learning group on campus, Carnes and colleagues are examining existing games for elements that would engage faculty in a game that involves authentic situations with meaningful outcomes. After the game is distributed across campus, Carnes and her colleagues will look for results in an all-faculty survey planned for 2013, which will enable a comparison of attitudes between people have played the game and those who have not.

The ultimate test, Carnes says, "is a change in hiring practices and faculty retention on campus. Based on our previous work, we are optimistic that this work can increase the diversity of the faculty at UW-Madison.

STEM Serious Games Challenge: Developer Prize Now Open

National STEM Video Game Challenge, Developer Prize: Now Open  for Applications

Spreading the Word

The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, in partnership with E-Line Media, has just launched the National STEM Video Game Challenge and is now accepting applications!!!

They are hoping to get applications from a large and diverse group of developers and entrepreneurs from around the country, and they need our help. Not only do they hope that many of us will consider applying, but they would sincerely appreciate it if we could take the time to spread the word within our networks.

Inspired by President Obama as part of his Educate to Innovate campaign, the National STEM Video Game Challenge aims to motivate interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) learning by tapping into students’ natural passions for playing and making video games.

Sponsors of the National STEM Video Game Challenge are AMD Foundation, Entertainment Software Association and Microsoft. Founding outreach partners include the American Association of School Librarians, American Library Association, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, BrainPOP, and The International Game Developers Association (IGDA).

The National STEM Video Game Challenge - Developer Prize challenges emerging and experienced game developers to design mobile games, including games for the mobile web, for young children (grades pre-K through 4) that teach key STEM concepts and foster an interest in STEM subject areas.

The target audience for entrants in this competition is game developers, including undergraduate college students, graduate students, early career professionals, and seasoned professionals.

The competition will feature a special prize stream for developers actively enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program in the U.S. A special emphasis will be placed on technologies that have high potential to reach underserved communities, such as engaging games built for basic mobile phones that address urgent educational needs among at-risk youth. Developers will be competing for a grand prize of $50,000. Two smaller prizes of $25,000 each will be award to the top entry submitted on the collegiate level, as well as the top entry for reaching underserved communities.

JoyTunes: Serious Games Revolutionizing Music Learning

Serious Games teaching kids how to play musical instruments

Via: JoyTunes Music Serious Games For Fun and Education

JoyTunes has just released its educational Serious Game which teaches kids how to play musical instruments by playing a video game.

It has been launched as a fun and educational product that introduces a brand new way for children to learn how to play an instrument.

Please check out the media release below for the full story.

JoyTunes Revolutionizes Music Learning
JoyTunes merges cutting-edge technology with proven methodology to take children’s musical education to a whole new level

Tel Aviv, Israel – October 14, 2010 – Have you ever wanted your child to learn a musical instrument but never knew where to start or how to motivate them to play? JoyTunes is an interactive educational game that’s changing the way children are being introduced to music.

By bringing hi-tech innovation to musical education, JoyTunes teaches the skills of playing an instrument through the medium of a fun computer game. Click here to play the JoyTunes demo! or watch the JoyTunes demo videos on YouTube.

Fly Game: Exercises correct and stable tone production

Target Game: Exercises fingering, coordination and timing

Jump Game: Exercises basic ear training, rhythm and timing

JoyTunes replaces traditional practice and monotonous exercises with exciting video games operated by a live musical instrument. The recorder is just the first in a series that will feature various instruments, and it was chosen as an ideal introduction to music because it’s simple, easy-to-use and ideal for acquiring music fundamentals. So if your child is already spending several hours a week playing video games why not make it worthwhile and add in some educational value?

Each game level is a musical exercise designed to teach crucial skills like tone production, tone stability, finger technique, basic ear training and more. Combined with an exciting original soundtrack, the game’s unique methodology has been shown to motivate children to practice and immensely shorten the learning process of playing an instrument. And by downloading sheet music of songs from the game, children can also learn how to note-read.

Research shows that children learn best when their minds are active and engaged, which is exactly why JoyTunes teaches music so effectively – children’s level of improvement is directly correlated with their motivation to beat the game. As a result, they’ll practice not just because they have to, but because they want to. In their eyes they’ll simply be playing a cool computer game, but in reality, they’ll be learning to play an instrument. Think about it: no longer will you need to beg or fight with your children to practice. JoyTunes has taken music education and added a crucial element: fun!

Expert Training for Your Child

This unique educational tool was created by a talented team of recorder teachers, signal analysis experts, software developers, graphic designers, psychologists and world-renowned musicians. These creative experts from each field were brought together in order to unlock the sponge-like quality of a child’s brain in a fun and engaging way, while keeping in mind the needs of music educators in the classroom.

In JoyTunes’ virtual environment of imaginative characters and magical scenes, a child’s education becomes a different kind of learning experience – the kind where practice becomes playtime and musical skills are naturally acquired.

Innovative Technology

When you play JoyTunes, its software analyzes your recorder’s sounds to manipulate objects in the game. The analyzing engine also identifies common mistakes to provide you with real-time performance feedback. It does all that without any special hardware or connections, and better yet, background noise, low-quality instruments and inexpensive soundcards and microphones are no match for JoyTunes – it will work just fine with a five-dollar microphone or recorder. JoyTunes’ novel technology, which overcomes poor conditions and provides comprehensive feedback by recognizing several features coming out of the instrument, is patent-pending. And despite the technical complexity of the game, JoyTunes is web-based and simple to play, with no special download or installation needed.

Product Awards

JoyTunes was recently announced the winner of this fall's prestigious Parents' Choice Award for Software. According to one Parents’ Choice review, “We were impressed by how much and how well the game encouraged our testers to practice, and by how much they learned... steady practice with the program's fundamentals may bring much-welcomed harmony to your family room.”
JoyTunes was also selected by MassChallenge from among of a global list of candidates as a Top 100 finalist for the Most Innovative Start-up of 2010. On October 15, a prestigious panel of judges will select the winner. If JoyTunes wins, they will receive a $50,000 to $100,000 award to help develop this novel approach to musical education.

How to Order & Technical Requirements

Two purchase options are available: a single-user license, wherein the game will be delivered by e-mail; and a gift pack, which includes a game CD, recorder and microphone. Gift packs are shipped within 14 working days, free of charge.

In order to play JoyTunes, you will need: a regular soprano recorder (found in any music store), a computer with a microphone and speakers (external or built-in), a Windows or Mac operating system, Internet connectivity, minimum 512 MB of RAM and a 64 MB video card (128 MB is preferred).

About JoyTunes

JoyTunes was established in 2009 with the goal of revolutionizing musical interaction through instrument-activated computer games. The methods of this unique approach to education are sure to catch on in other subjects, paving the way for a new set of educational tools for the children of tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

EU In Readiness For Mainstreaming Serious Games In Education

We know more about how games work and how to apply them to teaching and learning than we ever have

 Following on my post 2010 Horizon Report: Educational Serious Games Adoption - 2 To 3 Years dated April 2010, and revisiting some of the “Serious Games in Education” ongoing projects for institutional transformation, it seems that the European Union is in readiness for mainstreaming Serious Games in education according to the referred timeline.

Here is anecdotal evidence.

Project: GaLA - Games and Learning Alliance

Countries: The GaLA Consortium involves 31 partners, coming from 14 countries all over the EU: Italy, Germany, Austria, Finland, UK, Spain, Switzerland, Norway, Denmark, The Netherlands, Portugal, France, Romania and Ireland.

Scope: GaLA motivation stems from the acknowledgment of the potentiality of Serious Games for education and training and the need to address the challenges of the main stakeholders of the Serious Games European landscape.

GaLA aims to shape the scientific community and build a European Virtual Research Centre aimed at gathering, integrating, harmonizing and coordinating research on Serious Games and disseminating knowledge, best practices and tools as a reference point at an international level.

The other key focuses of the project are the support to deployment in the actual educational and training settings; the fostering of innovation and knowledge transfer through research-business dialogue; and the development high-quality didactics on Serious Games by promoting and supporting courses at Master and PhD level.

Timeline: Started in October 2010 and will last 4 years

Funding/Sponsorship: Funded by the European Union in FP7 – IST ICT, Technology Enhanced Learning with a budget of 5.65m Euros.


Project: Increasing Mainstreaming of Games in Learning Policies (IMAGINE) project

Countries: EU - The outcome will be a substantial community of policy makers with a high level of commitment to pursue the implementation of games based learning across a large number of countries and all three levels of education covered.

Scope: There is now a large amount of evidence available to suggest that the use of Serious Games for Learning (SGL) can make a positive impact on learning outcomes at all levels of education.

However, adoption of SGL by policy makers as a mainstream learning remains limited.

The IMAGINE Project has brought together and evaluated results from initiatives to-date, in order to launch a powerful effort to persuade policy makers in school-based, adult and vocational education to mainstream SGL in their strategies.

IMAGINE will produce a series of recommendations to policy makers on the use of SGL. The recommendations will cover multiple dimensions of policy making concerning the introduction of games in education.

Timeline: Started in January 2009, as a 2 year project. A final project conference will be hosted and organized in Brussels for policy makers and representatives of national and European associations in the learning sector.

Funding/Sponsorship: Funded by the European Commission under the Lifelong Learning Program


Project: Serious Games on a Global Market Place

Countries: Denmark

Scope: By unifying the forces of researchers, game developers and educationalists, the aim of this project is to create global serious games based on Danish traditions of play and learning.

Approximately 15 researchers in this project explore, build and implement prototypes of learning games and games for promoting play in collaboration with companies, using their products and experience to develop knowledge about game challenges, didactic design, methodologies, play and learning.

Timeline: Started in 2007.

Funding/Sponsorship: Funded by The Danish Council for Strategic Research (KINO)


Project: The Consolarium

Countries: Scotland

Scope: The Consolarium is the Scottish Centre for Games and Learning, established by Learning and Teaching Scotland (LTS) to explore the world of computer games and how they can impact on teaching and learning in Scottish schools, and, more recently, to encourage pupils to become creators - not just consumers - of games with the game design initiative.

Timeline: Since 2006 Learning and Teaching Scotland’s game-based learning initiative, The Consolarium, has been working with teachers across Scotland.

Funding/Sponsorship: Learning and Teaching Scotland has developed partnerships with local authorities and established links with many Teacher Education Institutes and where appropriate, with industry partners.


Project: Futurelab - Serious Games In Education

Countries: UK

Scope: This project aims to identify and document the usage, definition, and as far as possible pedagogy of serious games. That is, games where the educational goal takes precendence in training outside of the school education system.

By identifying and documenting the usage of serious games in schools the project will analyze the benefits and risks of these games, and look at how they are being used and assessed effectively.

Timeline: Ongoing research project.

Funding/Sponsorship: Becta - UK government agency leading the national drive to ensure the effective and innovative use of technology throughout learning.

Blog Post: Futurelab: Challenges In Embedding Serious Games Into Formal Education


Project: Futurelab - Games-Based Experiences for Learning

Countries: UK

Scope: The project aims to develop an overview of what makes a game a motivating and engaging learning experience. It will examine the narrative elements of gaming; game mechanics; technological aspects; game play; social and collaborative aspects; social and digital cultures related to games; and the language of games.

A guide for teachers on designing games-based experiences for classes including a set of design principles, activities, materials and templates to facilitate active participation will be developed based on research outcomes.

Timeline: Ongoing research project.

Funding/Sponsorship: Becta - UK government agency leading the national drive to ensure the effective and innovative use of technology throughout learning.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

GaLA Kick-Off: Newly Created Network of Excellence in Serious Games

European Union to coordinate Serious Games research efforts

GaLA - Games and Learning Alliance is the Network of Excellence on Serious Games funded by the European Union in FP7 – IST ICT, Technology Enhanced Learning with a budget of 5.65m Euros.

GaLA has started on October 11th 2010, with a three-day kick-off meeting, and will last 4 years. The official website is being set-up.

GaLA gathers the cutting-the-edge European Research & Development organizations on Serious Games, involving 31 partners from 14 countries. Partnership involves universities, research centers, and developer and education industries.

GaLA motivation stems from the acknowledgment of the potentiality of Serious Games for education and training and the need to address the challenges of the main stakeholders of the Serious Games European landscape.

GaLA aims to shape the scientific community and build a European Virtual Research Centre aimed at gathering, integrating, harmonizing and coordinating research on Serious Games and disseminating knowledge, best practices and tools as a reference point at an international level.

The other key focuses of the project are the support to deployment in the actual educational and training settings; the fostering of innovation and knowledge transfer through research-business dialogue; and the development high-quality didactics on Serious Games by promoting and supporting courses at Master and PhD level.

The GaLA Consortium

The consortium covers a wide range of topical knowledge on research and development in Serious Games. It is a multidisciplinary consortium of 31 partners, coming from 14 countries all over the EU: Italy, Germany, Austria, Finland, UK, Spain, Switzerland, Norway, Denmark, The Netherlands, Portugal, France, Romania and Ireland.

It comprises representing both universities, research centers, SMEs and large Enterprises, thus representing a mix of the interests and skills involved in the Serious Games development and deployment chain, allowing an effective synergy between research, education and business.