Saturday, February 26, 2011

Insolita Studios Diverse Repertoire Blends Serious Games With Entertainment


Serious Games challenging us to play a better future


Insolita’s Martin Fabichak on the Brazilian Game Industry and Taking on Big Challenges

Following my prior posts, Serious Game To Evaluate Your Entrepreneurial Skills and Insolita Studios: A Head Start for Serious Games in Brazil, where I covered Insolita’s Serious Games portfolio, Game Sauce has just blogged about their work and the Brazilian Game Industry.

In the last decade Brazil’s economy has been flourishing, spawning all kinds of new commercial and creative initiatives. Brazil has a fond love for gaming and a growing industry to match it. Game Sauce had a talk with the cheerful Martin Fabichak, Technical Director of Insolita Studios in Sao Paulo, to find out more about him, his company and what makes the Brazilian game industry unique.

“One of the characteristics of being a young company in an upcoming industry is that you get to create all sorts of games. Insolita Studios has a diverse repertoire, from Serious Games to teach management skills, to comedic platformers featuring cavemen and devils.”

While they were making three Serious Games to encourage entrepreneurship in collaboration with professional experts, they decided to make something less serious, yet important on the side: CaveDays. “This cool platforming game allowed the company to get noticed in the Brazilian industry”, Fabichak explains.

“Afterwards we made a huge Serious Game, LudoPark. Pretty much one of the biggest Serious Games ever made because it’s a real-time multiplayer management game where 40 players compete to manage their business.”


 
Insolita Studios than joined up with the independent Brazilian game developer Abdução. The two companies joined forces as Kidguru Studios to work on the first Sony-licensed game in Brazil for the PSP Minis platform, Freekscape.
 
We’re the only licensees for Sony.” Fabichak explains. “There is no one with a PS3 license here. It’s really hard to get that in Latin America. Being able to get Freekscape on the PSP Mini platform was a unique opportunity for us.”
 
Developing Freekscape took Insolita’s international relationships to another level in many different ways. “We developed a prototype with 3 levels and took it to GDC in 2009. There we got in touch with the publisher Creat from the US that gave us the opportunity to work with Sony that was looking for games for its new PSP Minis platform that had yet to be announced.” Fabichak recounts.


At the Sony booth at GDC 2010: On the left is Daniel, Founder of Abdução, and on the right is Fabichak's partner, Winston Petty, founder of Insolita.

“Through this project we now talk to others on a whole other level. Now we can approach publishers and companies like Sony with more ease. You can’t reach this level as a company without earning your stripes with a previous project. Now we have the credentials to talk to them and prove we can deliver on what we propose, and our partners know that. We feel like we’re on another level now.” Fabichak says proudly.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Serious Games Promoting London Science Museum’s New Exhibition Gallery


Serious Games challenging us to play at building a better future


Via: Playerthree

RIZK is Playerthree’s brand new Serious Game for the Science Museum to promote Atmosphere its new exhibition gallery.

Photo Duncan Geere

The exhibition includes plenty of the museum's famous interactives along with a summary of the current state of knowledge about how the Earth's atmosphere works and how it's changing.

The exhibition and the Serious Game are designed to increase awareness and educate visitors about the science behind climate change.

RIZK is part of The London Science Museum's Climate Changing program, a three-year event featuring exhibitions and installations promoting environmental conservation and preservation.

An Interactive Gallery For Interactive Learning

As reported by TreeHugger, “the gallery space, brilliantly designed by Casson Mann, is contained in just one compact mezzanine level, which on first impression appears rather small. But, once you start moving through the gallery, you quickly realize the enormous amount of information that permeates the exhibition at every level, mostly thanks to the inherently compact nature of the digital and touch screen technologies developed by creative agencies Nick Bell Design and All of Us”.

Photo Duncan Geere

The exhibition is split between five zones dealing with different aspects of climate change -- how the atmosphere works, the history of climate research, greenhouse gases, the carbon cycle and adaptation to the effects that climate change will have on the Earth. In the centre is a "gallery world", which can be controlled by a series of pedestals.

 
“The Atmosphere Gallery uses up to the minute technology to enable visitors to not just play Serious Games on specific subjects around climate science, but to manipulate the whole gallery space through a central console that visualizes how much carbon dioxide there is in the atmosphere.”

London Science Museum Gets into Serious Gaming with RIZK

RIZK is a free online Flash, tower defense-styled game, which is all about understanding risk and its relation to our climate.


RIZK takes place on an alien landscape, in which players must gather resources in order to grow a mother plant. Each action taken causes the player's risk level to rise. If the planet's resources are depleted too quickly, environmental defenders will attack the player's plant until gathering slows to an acceptable rate.  How you source energy and defend your plant awakens the resident plants, which threaten your plant's health.




As you play the game, resources become scarcer, and threats more dangerous. The key to success is to assess where the risk is based in a level and plan how your impact on the environment will affect your chances of survival.


David Streek, creative director at Playerthree, said: “Visually influenced by sci-fi posters of the 50′s and 60′s, we created an original risk strategy game set on an alien world where players must find and develop resources to nurture and protect their mother plant whilst defending it from indigenous threats. Every action you take affects the level of risk to your plant and hence there is no perfect strategy for completing the game’s 20 levels.”

David Streek also added: “As a result of the 2-D side-on perspective to the game, the enemy’s paths of movement are more varied than a traditional tower defense game. This also allowed us to create very intricate worlds right from the first level.”

How To Play The Game

The aim of the game is to grow your plant. Once your plant is fully grown it produces a seed that transports you to the next level. Find the right balance between collecting resources and managing threats and your plant will flourish. If your plant health drops to 0 at any point, the game is over and you’ll need to start again.

Use your collectors to gather resources in order to grow your plant. Each type of collector can only collect a specific type of resource. Some resource is quick and cheap to collect – but beware, it can increase the likelihood of nearby threats releasing spores which damage your plant.

Buy defenders to protect your plant from the damaging spores or try to collect resources which don’t activate threats. You can spend coins on repairing and upgrading your defenders and collectors as you go.

About the Sponsors

RIZK and the accompanying Climate Changing program has been made possible by support from principal sponsors Shell and Siemens, major sponsor Bank of America Merrill Lynch, major funder the Garfield Weston Foundation, and additional support from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Patrons of the Science Museum and members of the Founders Circle: Climate Changing program.
 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

This Is A Serious Game! Latin America - 2nd Largest Social Media Consumer Worldwide


Serious Games challenging us to play at building a better future in Latin America


Brazil’s Unique Story
 
The most populous country in Latin America, Brazil is also the country with the largest number of people with Internet access: a total of 76 million people (13.2% of the Latin American population). With a huge % of web users using social networks, Brazil surpasses the U.S. and the U.K. in terms of sheer volume.
8 out of 10 Brazilian web users have Orkut accounts. Facebook comes second. Twitter is the third most popular social network in Brazil, used by 13% of the country’s web users. Twitter has attracted a younger population, with 37% of its members under the age of 17.

Via: Futurelab Blog
 
Futurelab has posted earlier this week Latin America: the Emerging Social Media Region where Michelle Chmielewski from Synthesio gives us an interesting update on Social Media usage in Latin America.
 
Here are some value metrics of Synthesio’s study.
 
10.2 % of all web users are Latin American
 
The number of web users in Latin America continues to grow yearly at a double-digit rate. This growth, however, hides a number of disparities from one country to another. Certain countries like Brazil, Argentina, or Mexico have already joined the top 10 consumers of social media worldwide in less than 2 years, while others consume far less.
 
Representing 8.4% of the world’s total population and close to 10.2%2 of web users worldwide, Latin Americans are catching up on other regions in terms of their access to the Internet, sitting as the fourth largest region of web users, just after North America, Oceania, and Europe.
82 % of web users in Latin America use social networks - Latin America as the second largest consumer of social media worldwide


In Latin America, social media has had great success with nearly all web users currently using at least one platform.

If we look at the level of adoption of social media per capita, Latin America ranks second only to North America.

It also ranks second as the highest-consuming region of blogs: 61% versus a global average of 51%.

Conclusion

Social media represents a valuable opportunity for brands and Serious Games developers in Latin America.

With an ever-growing number of Latin Americans with web access and joining social networks, they must be able to respond to web-oriented audiences.
 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

THD: Serious Games via Open High Speed Broadband Digital Services


Serious Games challenging us to play a better future

Beta-test iTowns THD

Via: ceFIMS ProjectFrance: Tres Haut Debit (THD) or Very High Bandwidth Experimental Platform

The THD experimental platform is an open platform for digital content and services in the Ile-de-France region, running up to April 2011.

This is a cooperative project piloted by the Cap Digital competitiveness cluster which brings together many public and private partners. The THD platform seeks to accelerate the prototyping and industrialization of online innovative services. It comes into play for the final stage of R&D, the technological adjustment of the interface or the ergonomics of the service, via experimentation in real utilization conditions with optical fiber users.

More than thirty companies are already using the THD platform via 28 experimental digital services and content projects in domains such as e-learning, video games, Serious Games, 3D, HD video, videophones, search engines, IPTV, web 2.0…

Highlights

The project aims currently at offering the best development environment to companies and especially SMEs of the media & learning industries that want to test innovative services.

THD platform is actually planning to widen the range of the services to professional ones, and to other domains addressed by the cluster, such as e-health.

Expected Impact

The user panel is spread across the Ile de France Region. So as to be more representative, and anticipate the switch to very high speed equipments, it not only includes FTTH subscribers but also ADSL and cable subscribers. Many services deal with asymmetric exchanges between different connection equipment.

Involved Constituency

THD platform is a successful example of collaborative project. It gathers many partners that work closely together:

• 9 public funders
• 1 cluster in the Ile de France region: Cap Digital, which focuses on digital content and services. This cluster is the operator of the Platform.
• 2 associations, one of which is Silicon Sentier, which focuses on internet and cyber culture.
• 5 academics, mainly focusing on the panel, the datacenter and the test-bed
• about 30 SMEs, mostly leading experimental projects on the platform
• 2 big companies, Sony and Orange
• 2 cultural institutions: the Cité des Sciences and the Centre Pompidou, which host demonstrations of the platform experimental services
• 2,300 households that experiment the services and give feedbacks

Beta-test iTowns THD

Portal THD offers users to participate in the beta test of the online experiment conducted by IGN, referred to as THD iTowns.

Application Deadline: 21 Feb 2011
Early Beta Test: 25 Feb 2011

iTowns THD is an immersive urban browser developed in the research laboratories of the National Geographic Institute.

The very high bandwidth offered by the THD platform increases the immersion sensation and gives it full dimension through image loading speed and information gathering.

About Cap Digital

Cap Digital is the French business cluster for digital content and services in Paris and the Ile de France region. It’s a non-profit organization whose 600 members are primarily innovative SMEs but also count major universities, higher education establishments, research labs, and corporations.

Those members represent the industry most active players in digital content. Nine vibrant member communities make a vital contribution to the strategy and direction of the cluster: Image, Sound and Interactivity, Video Games, Knowledge Engineering, Culture, Press, and Media, e-Learning and e-Training, Collaborative Technology & Intelligence, Mobile Lifestyle & Services, Robotics and Communicating Objects, and Digital Design.

Cap Digital provides members with essential information, networks, and resources. These include ongoing competitive intelligence, training, partnerships, funding solutions, and project reviews.

Partnerships with other leading European clusters, at a structural and project level are an essential element of Cap Digital's strategic activities.



Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Tribute To David Wortley @ the Serious Games Institute: An Engine for EU Economic Regeneration


Serious Games and David Wortley challenging us to play a better future


 
As of the 1st of February, David Wortley has left the Serious Games Institute at Coventry University - UK to renew his astonishing and uncompromising portfolio of challenges.

3 years ago David was nominated to set up, launch and develop the Serious Games Institute as an International Centre of Excellence for Serious Games and related technologies.

As the Director of the Serious Games Institute (SGI) at Coventry University, David Wortley has translated my personal credo “If you want to change the future, play it first!” into a tangible vehicle for making better futures at a global level.

Whilst several organizations were still articulating their Serious Games aspirations, acting their way into a new way of thinking, David had already put a stake in the ground by “thinking” Serious Games into a new way of acting.

Taking the belief that play speaks to that part of us "which is a gift, and not an acquisition” literally, David has opened new pathways of the possible, in realms of our public debate we rarely give games credit for affecting, exerting more and more his powerful influence to make games which challenge us to play at building a better future.

Working with academics, regional development agencies and major market players, David has made SGI the cradle for Serious Games and Immersive Learning Environments and an engine for innovation and European Union economic regeneration.



Saturday, February 5, 2011

20011 G4C Festival Call For Content: Serious Games For Social Change


Serious Games challenging us to play a better future


Via: Games for Change (G4C)

Often called “the Sundance of Video Games”, the Games for Change Annual Festival brings together leaders from government, philanthropy, civil society, academia, and the game industry to explore the increasing real-world impact of Serious Games as an agent for social change.

The Festival is also a showcase for some of the most innovative new games in development. The only festival dedicated to the exciting movement using Serious Games for Social Change, the 8th annual Games for Change Festival will take place in New York on June 20-22:

- Monday, June 20 will be a day-long Pre-Festival Summit: introduction to the use of digital games and game design tools to promote social change and learning.

- Tuesday, June 21 and Wednesday, June 22 are the core Festival dates.

To submit content to the 2011 Festival - either a speaking engagement, a nomination for the 2nd Annual Award show or a game demo - please refer to G4C "Call for Content" and follow the detailed guidelines as you may find below:
 
8th Annual Games for Change Festival 2011 Call for Content: Speaking, Awards, Demos
 
Posted by Jeff Ramos on 02-02-11
 
With the 8th Annual Games for Change Festival (June 20-22) inching closer every day we’re excited to take the next step in preparations. Today we’re putting out the official Call for Content so you can participate in the event.
 
First and foremost, the deadline to submit your proposal is March 14th. Those interested in being part of the 2011 Festival have the chance to participate in three different categories: Speaking, the 2nd Annual Games for Change Awards and Demo Spotlight.
 
Here is a breakdown of each category:
 
1. Speaking (Presentations, Panels, Case studies)
 
The Games for Change Festival is known for the vibrant discussions and presentations that happen every year. This year we are also interested in creative approaches to the format of the session. Some suggested topics are: games to promote real-world action, transmedia, games for underserved communities, games in education, political and news games, games as art and an expressive medium, measuring and assessing social change, distribution, skepticism around the premise of Games for Change, and more.
 
2. The 2nd Annual Games for Change Awards
 
To take part in our 2nd annual awards, all submitted games must have been released (or scheduled for release) between June 2009 and June 2011. Finalists will be announced prior to the festival and a distinguished jury of game makers, funders, researchers and talent will select the winner in each category. The award ceremony will take place on June 22nd in New York City, will be streamed live and covered by international and national media.
 
3. Demo Spotlight
 
This year we are looking to highlight 5 - 7 projects that are “in progress” and have the potential of becoming the next success stories in our genre. This will be a great opportunity to get feedback and share your work with the Games for Change community. Developers will be presenting their games to a panel of funders and designers for live feedback.
 
If you are interested in submitting a proposal, check out the PDF below for full details, guidelines and the appropriate e-mail addresses for submission.
   
Questions can be sent to the appropriate e-mail address listed in the PDF. And as a reminder - the deadline for content is March 14th. Good luck and see you at the Festival!
 
FESTIVAL BACKGROUND
 
A growing movement is using Serious Games for positive social change. As digital games at large become a mainstream form of media, just as film did decades ago, the social change community is also embracing them as powerful and distinctive tools.
 
Created in 2004, Games for Change (G4C) provides support, visibility and shared resources to individuals and organizations using digital games for social change, with special assistance to non-profits and foundations entering the field.
 
Over the past seven years, G4C has been building the field around these new uses of games. They've hosted events and made presentations at the largest industry conference (E3/Los Angeles/Ed Arcade), the largest developers’ conference (GDC/San Francisco/SGS) and the new academic roundtable on Games, Society and Learning (Madison, WI). The work of G4C has been presented at such diverse events as Hollywood Hill, the Sundance Film Festival and the World Economic Forum Davos, and will be shown at upcoming conferences around the world including DIGRA - Tokyo and Global Contents Forum - Seoul.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

London: Learning Technologies 2011 Addresses Serious Games


Serious Games as powerful learning tools


Via: The Learning Technologies Exhibition 2011 - Europe's Leading Showcase Of Technology Supported Workplace Learning

Now in its 12th year, Europe's leading showcase of organizational learning and the technology used to support learning at work, Learning Technologies 2011 was held on January 26-27th at Olympia 2, London.

In 2011 the Learning and Skills exhibition again ran alongside Learning Technologies at Olympia. The combination of the two events has created the biggest event in the entire corporate learning sector.

After its hugely successful launch event where over 3,000 visitors attended, Learning and Skills 2011 has complemented the Learning Technologies exhibition and conference by showcasing the entire spectrum of methods, products and services available for workplace learning and employee development.

Under the Learning Technology track, the afternoon session on the 27th was dedicated to Games-Based Learning or Serious Games:

Using Games For Effective Learning

Speaker: Mark Oehlert, Innovation Evangelist, U.S. DoD

His talk focused on What Makes Up Good Practice – And Bad – In Games-Based Learning and What We Can Learn From The Bleeding Edge Of Games Design.

Learning Technologies proved once again to be the key show to visit in Europe, with record-breaking attendance at the exhibition this year: more than 200 exhibitors, over 100 free seminars and an audience of 4,000 learning and development professionals.