Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Jewel Of The Valleys: Serious Games Centered On The Civil War

Serious Games offering more interactivity in historic sites

The first clue is here!

Via: The Civil War Augmented Reality Project - Civil War Alternate Reality Game for Students and the General Public Began May 15th!

The Civil War Augmented Reality Project was conceived by several public educators with technology experience and a desire to offer more interactivity to students and the general public visiting historic sites. 

The objective of the project is to develop and implement augmented reality services related to the American Civil War in Pennsylvania, and to modify soon to be released tablet personal computers to allow the general public a chance to experience the applications. 

The project’s inception is planned to give ample development time in the run up to the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War, beginning in 2011. 

It is hoped that early support could generate interest in Maryland and Virginia. They also propose to construct stationary devices patterned after the “pay binoculars” often found at scenic overlooks. These devices will offer a virtual geographic view from a few hundred yards above the user. Physically swiveling the viewer left and right changes the direction of the view in real time, just as swiveling up and down changes the view. The intuitive nature of the device is intended to invite “non-tech oriented” persons to try the experience, and learn more about AR and the Civil War. They propose that these binoculars be set up at locations across the region touched by fighting in the war. In order to give the user a sense of the historical connections between each location, a nearby screen will project realtime webcam images of people using the devices at other locations.

As a part of The Civil War Augmented Reality Project, an Alternate Reality Games (ARG) was launched o May 15th.

The game, entitled The Jewel of the Valleys is intended for students, classes, teachers, and the general public and being offered by the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, PA.

The game will revolve around a mysterious document discovered in the Museum’s vaults, and will prompt students to analyze primary documents, as well as introduce them to Civil War-era communications technology.

The game involves the invasion of Pennsylvania in 1863, but also many of the larger issues and experiences of the war, so it fits well in many curricula, both PA and nationwide.

The Jewel of the Valleys will also coincide with, and intertwine with, Museum Curator Brett Kelley’s incredible march from Fredericksburg, VA to Harrisburg from May 16-30th as a Confederate soldier, following the track of General Ewell’s men as they invaded Pennsylvania in 1863. Kelley’s march will be followed by Hershey High School students in their blog, offering constant updates, videos, and images of Brett’s handwritten journals during the march.

The march and the game are both part of a creative and exciting fundraiser for the Education Department of the National Civil War Museum.

How can you help, get involved, or just have fun?

-Share this post with anyone who may be interested in playing!
-Organize a team of students to participate through the “Jewel of the Valleys” wiki: you can join the wiki, ask for a page just for your team, decorate it, follow the game, brag about achievements, collaborate, etc.
-Offer to students as an after school activity, “club” activity, bellringer, extra credit, or classroom competition.
-Play yourself!

The mysterious document was revealed on May 15th through many outlets, including this blog and many others. On the conclusion of Brett’s march on May 30th, prizes and certificates will be announced for the following:

Best Middle School Individual Historian
Best Middle School Team
Best High School Individual Historian
Best High School Team

Despite the prizes, it will honestly be quite fun and educational, as updates and clues will be revealed along the way through various forms of media (including social media), leading the public toward the elusive Jewel of the Valleys. 

PRACTICE Marketing: Real World Multiplayer Serious Game

Serious Games for learning and applying marketing fundamentals

Following my prior post Muzzy Lane’s Marketing 101 Wins Serious Games Showcase & Challenge For Business, when I announced Muzzy Lane as the 2010 Serious Games Showcase & Challenge winner for the business game category with Marketing 101 - The Principles of Marketing, McGraw-Hill has just rebranded the game PRACTICE Marketing

A 3D representation of a Marketplace

Developed for McGraw Hill Higher Education UK, PRACTICE Marketing is a 3D turn-based Serious Game intended to teach college kids the principles of product marketing and competition.

In the game, players are able to fully experience the seven underlying principles upon which to base marketing strategy and efforts: Image, Differentiation, Repeat Business, Ease of Doing Business, Networking, Likability, and Emotion.


You've been selected to manage a company’s new entry into the backpack market. Your first step in the game is to create a strong product that appeals to a specific market segment and price it appropriately.

You are upfront presented with the info you need to analyze the market, provided by market research, who has narrowed the backpack market down to five potential segments for you to consider targeting, selecting the one that looks the most promising.

Once you have selected a target market, you can use the backpack builder to design a pack that meets the needs of its particular demographic.

Before you put it the market you have to set a competitive price.

Then you have to negotiate distribution agreements with retail channels and pick how the bag is marketed and advertised.

At the end of each turn, you can review and submit your marketing decisions and then see your quarterly /yearly P&L (Profit &Loss) data, market trends and positioning, competitors’ data and customers’ feedback, among several other results.

The game is robust for testing your “adherence” to marketing fundamentals and incredibly fun.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Undercover UXO: Serious Games Turning Deadly Mistakes Into Valuable Lessons

Serious Games challenging us to play a better education

Undercover UXO, is a Serious Game created at the College of Communication Arts & Sciences at Michigan State University, designed to help children recognize land mines and unexploded ordnance in at-risk countries. It uses an engaging platform to educate youths about what to avoid in a nation where decades of fighting left the land filled with hidden explosives.

Via: GamePolitics

A team at Michigan State University has just released a Serious Game for PC and the XO-1 computer (versions for Mac, Linux and smartphones are planned),  that aims to educate Cambodian children on the dangers of landmines and how they can avoid harming themselves. 

The Cambodian Mine/Explosives Remnants of War Victim Information System estimates that there are still around 4-6 million explosive devices in the country. Such war remnants have killed or maimed nearly 64,000 people in the last three decades, including 286 last year.

The new Serious Game was designed by professors at Michigan State University using a $78,000 grant from the State Department. The game has been selected by the Golden West Humanitarian Foundation for a pilot run in Cambodia. So far, the game has been tested on children in its Phnom Penh office before introducing it to communities that are more rural and where the danger of mines is even more prevalent.

The Serious Game uses a system that turns mistakes that would be deadly in real life into valuable lessons. In the game, players guide a pet dog to food while avoiding hidden dangers. Players increase their scores by recognizing danger indicators such as a skull-and-bones sign, or more subtle visual clues such as barbed-wire fences.

If the child sets a mine off, the game will explain what happened, and what the child did wrong. It will then educate the player on what they can do in the future to avoid making the same mistake.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Serious Play Conference To Recognize and Certify Outstanding Serious Games

“Our aim is to create an award program for Serious Games that is the high watermark of success"

The Serious Play Conference, taking place August 23-25 at the DigiPen Institute of Technology, has just announced the International Serious Play Awards,  recognition program honoring outstanding examples of Serious Game titles that deliver high quality of engagement and measurable training or learning opportunities in the education, corporate, government/military, healthcare and consumer markets.

Any organization or individual that has created or  contracted for a Serious Game or simulation using commercial off the shelf (COTS) platforms is eligible to enter the International Serious Play Awards Program.  Universities may also submit student projects.  Games given away free may apply for a reduced entry rate.

In addition to being eligible for game awards, all titles entered into the 2011 Awards Program will be eligible for Serious Play Certification.  Serious Play Certification is designed to offer customer assurance that a Serious Game offers a high standard of performance, having passed a rigorous examination by an advisory panel of experts.  All games certified will be given a Serious Play Certification certificate and 2011 Seal of Approval. The certification will be valid for three years.
“Our aim is to create an award program for Serious Games that is the high watermark of success,” said Clark Aldrich, conference director. "We’re looking for programs that deliver a high level of engagement to their audience, superior learning and demonstrate measurable results.”

Winners will be announced during Serious Play Conference : Tuesday – Thursday, Aug. 23 – 25, 2011 at DigiPen Institute of Technology in Redmond, Wash.

To submit your entry, please visit

About Serious Play Conference

The First-Ever Serious Play Conference will be attended by heads of corporate, military and healthcare programs using Serious Games for mission-critical training, senior educators, top simulation and education developers, and strategic vendors providing hardware, software and applications for the serious games sector.

The conference will be held in Seattle Aug. 22 – 25 and be hosted at DigiPen Institute of Technology, recently named one of the top game design schools by the Princeton Review. 

Clark Aldrich, author of five industry books on Serious Games and a Serious Games consultant, is conference director. Game industry veteran Sue Bohle, president, The Bohle Company in Los Angeles, whose agency helped build GDC and currently supports Penny Arcade Expos, will help produce the event.

Serious Play is being designed to move the discussion around Serious Games to a higher competency -- the productive level. Speakers from organizations and individuals already leveraging Serious Games for training and education will share critical success factors; game designers will advise on how to take advantage of emerging platforms and operating systems; project leads and vendors will describe best practices for measuring results. 

"Serious gaming has become an integral part of the world today. In the future, simulation will become an increasingly essential tool in more and more aspects of our lives, from safely and cost effectively running machinery to predicting disasters and their effects”, Claude Comair, founder and president of DigiPen, said.