Monday, August 29, 2011

RoboMath: Serious Games In The Hands Of A Million Canadian Students

 
Serious Games focused on curriculum specific math concepts


Following my prior post Serious Games Award Winners Announced @ Serious Play, here is another Gold Medal Winner at the Serious Play Conference, held August 23 – 25, 2011 at the DigiPen Institute of Technology in Redmond, Wash: RoboMath.

RoboMath, a mathematics instruction Serious Game developed for the Canadian Space Agency by Project Whitecard and Virtual Heroes, has been requested by over 40,000 teachers in Canada, and will reach over 1.25 million students this year, placing it as the second largest distribution of a single learning software title in the world.




Using the Unreal Engine, the team developed a realistic depiction of the International Space Station centered around STS-127. Students assemble a platform on the station while undertaking integrated Mathematics essential to completion. Voice provided in two languages by astronaut Julie Payette herself.


RoboMath and RoboMath3 are focused on curriculum specific math concepts for 5/6 and 9/10 grades respectively. In addition, teachers are provided with an educator kit that includes a repertoire of paper-based problems.


This resource comes both in French and English languages.

About Project Whitecard Inc

Founded in 2008 by CEO Khal Shariff, and joined by Business Manager Don Fraser, Project Whitecard is an award-winning company to exploit technology with the goal of enriching lives.

So far, it's working. From client cafesonique.com winning a 2006 Canadian Media Award, to RoboMath reaching over 1 million Canadian students, to winning the contract to develop the NASA MMOG, Project Whitecard is a recognized world leader in the field.

As CEO of Project Whitecard Inc., Khal brings over a decade of technical talent in web-related technologies and national streaming media to his current specialties: producing Serious Games, Web 2.0 applications CMS, Flash/Database Integration, and immersive learning systems. Khal was a senior developer at CBC.ca from 2000-2005 and is a sought-after speaker at industry events such as the NASA Virtual Worlds Workshop.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Practice Marketing Serious Game: Silver Medal @ Serious Play


Serious Games for learning and applying marketing fundamentals

 
Following my prior post Serious Games Award Winners Announced @ Serious Play, here is a re-publishing of my prior post Practice Marketing: Real World Multiplayer Serious Game 

McGraw-Hill Education Practice Marketing (McGraw-Hill Education International and Muzzy Lane SW) was one of the 6 Silver Medal Winners at the Serious Play Conference, Tuesday – Thursday, August 23 – 25, 2011 at the DigiPen Institute of Technology in Redmond, Wash.
 


 


A 3D representation of a Marketplace

Developed for McGraw Hill Higher Education 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, Likeability, and Emotion.

Gameplay

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.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Biofeedback Serious Game For Young Doctors


Serious Games Enhancing Young Doctors Performance



Following my prior post Serious Games Award Winners Announced @ Serious Play, here are a few more details about Air Medic Sky One, created by University Medical Center Utrecht, the Netherlands, which was awarded Best of Show at Serious Play Award Competition.



This innovative patient safety game is an interactive biofeedback game. In the game players are introduced to biofeedback game controls to navigate the game and basic concepts regarding communication and teamwork in patient safety given by an international team of patient safety experts delivered through mini-games and lectures. Players also manage patients in complex situations that they will inevitably face as junior doctors.

Game Background

Air Medic Sky 1 was first conceived by Dr. Ian Leistikow when he was the coordinator of patient safety at the University Medical Center Utrecht. Ian dreamed of creating a cutting-edge Serious Game that could train young doctors about patient safety.

In order to achieve this goal, Ian and Dr. Cor Kalkman, the head of patient safety, recruited Pamela M. Kato, a psychologist known for creating the groundbreaking Serious Game Re-Mission™, shown to increase treatment adherence for young people with cancer in a clinical trial. The team then enlisted the expertise of game designer, Corwin Bell, creator of the revolutionary biofeedback game series, The Journey to Wild Divine, and his team at Visionshift Studios.

This innovative patient safety game is an interactive biofeedback game. In the game players are introduced to biofeedback game controls to navigate the game and basic concepts regarding communication and teamwork in patient safety given by an international team of patient safety experts delivered through mini-games and lectures. Players also manage patients in complex situations that they will inevitably face as junior doctors. Play and learn about patient safety and gain insight into how physiological functioning affects performance.
 


Game Early Prototype
 
This is the intro scene for the Bio Dome, a structure and environment that exist in the "Patient Safety" prototype. The Bio Dome and the Air Medic Sky 1 are both major themes in the "Patient Safety" prototype.

AMS1 is not about teaching medicine. Air Medic Sky One (AMS1) is a Serious Game that provides young doctors with new techniques to enhance their performance.

Despite their high level of training, all doctors at some point in their career will be involved in harming a patient. The numbers are staggering: up to 5% of all patients admitted to a hospital suffer unintended harm. When doctors are involved, the cause is seldom lack of medical knowledge. More often it is the organizational and situational contexts in which doctors have to work that deny them the opportunity to apply their knowledge to the best of their abilities. This frustrates doctors and harms patients.

We cannot change these contexts with a game. We can however change the way doctors manage within these contexts. AMS1 fills a void in current medical training by teaching doctors about non-medical factors which can influence their performance. AMS1 improves doctors’ ability to recognize problems before they occur, and so give them more time to adjust and prevent harm to their patients. AMS1 offers a safe place to practice decision making under extreme pressure, so doctors can improve their style. AMS1 uses biofeedback to let doctors experience their own stress regulation and become capable of consciously influencing their own stress levels.



Serious Games Award Winners Announced @ Serious Play

 
Serious Games Win Gold, Silver, Bronze Awards In International Serious Play Conference Competition


Air Medic Sky One uses biofeedback sensors to train doctors

PRESS RELEASE

Air Medic Sky One, from University Medical Center Utrecht, the Netherlands, Wins Best of Show at Serious Play Award Competition

SEATTLE – Aug. 25, 2011 – Twenty Serious Games were chosen by a panel of experts, as medal winners at the 2011 International Serious Play Awards, a program distinguishing superior examples of corporate, military, healthcare and school/at home learning titles (please find also Serious Play Conference To Recognize and Certify Outstanding Serious Games).

The winners were selected at the Serious Play Conference, Tuesday – Thursday, August 23 – 25, 2011 at DigiPen Institute of Technology in Redmond, Wash.

Air Medic Sky One, created by University Medical Center Utrecht, was awarded Best of Show.

The award program received submissions from commercial organizations, seasoned and emerging development studios as well as students. This year’s entries included 13 international submissions.

“Games for learning are moving onto every platform, from iPads to Smart phones,” said Clark Aldrich, conference director.  

Commercial Organization/Development Studio Awards

Gold Medal Winners


• Air Medic Sky One, University Medical Center Utrecht, the Netherlands (Games for Health)
• Aircraft Marshalling Virtual Trainer, Heartwood Inc. (Government/Military)
• Gamestar Mechanic, E-Line Media (Education)
• RoboMath, Project Whitecard Inc. (Education)
• Motion Math HD, Motion Math (Consumer Game)
• RiggleFish, Texas A&M University (Education)

Silver Medal Winners


• McGraw-Hill Education Practice Marketing, McGraw-Hill Education International and Muzzy Lane SW (Education)
• Fate of the World, Red Redemption Ltd. (Games for Good)
• Play True Challenge, World Anti-Doping Agency (Games for Good)
• SpaceChem, Zachtronics Industries (Consumer Game)
• Emergency Birth, Engender Games Group Lab – University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (Games for Good)

• Treadsylvania, New Mexico State University Learning Games Lab (At Home Learning)

Bronze Medal Winners

• Distraction Dodger, Web Courseworks (Education)
• MiddWorld Online Language Roleplay Game, Middlebury Interactive Languages and Muzzy Lane SW (Education)
• Waterkeeper, First Nations Education Steering Committee (Education)
• Game for Science, CREO (At Home Learning)
• Primaires à gauche, Le Monde (Games for Good)
• Virulent, Morgridge Institute for Research (At Home Learning)
• International Racing Squirrels, Playniac (Consumer Game)
• Devil’s Advocate, UCF Retro Lab (Government/Military)


The Serious Play Student Award was sponsored by Microsoft Corporation.
All commercial entries were also reviewed for Serious Play Certification, which assures that a serious game offers a high standard of performance. Certified games are given Serious Play Certification and a 2011 Seal of Approval. Certification is valid for three years.

For more information, visit http://www.seriousplayconference.com/

Monday, August 22, 2011

Finalists Named in International Serious Play Award Competition


Serious Games challenging us to play a better future


SEATTLE – August 22, 2011 – A panel of experts has selected 20 games as finalists in the 2011 International Serious Play Awards, a recognition program honoring outstanding examples of corporate, military, health care and school/at home learning titles (find also Serious Play Conference To Recognize and Certify Outstanding Serious Games). The games will be featured and final winners and a Best of Show selected at the Serious Play Conference, Tuesday – Thursday, August 22 -24, 2011 at DigiPen Institute of Technology in Redmond, Wash.

The award program received submissions from commercial organizations, seasoned and emerging development studios as well as students. This year’s entries included 13 international submissions.

Commercial Organization/Development Studio Finalists include:

• Air Medic Sky One, University Medical Center Utrecht, the Netherlands (Games for Health)
• Aircraft Marshalling Virtual Trainer, Heartwood Inc. (Government/Military)
• Virtual Reality Dome Controller, TNO Defense & Safety and VisionShiftStudios (Government/Military)
• Distraction Dodger, Web Courseworks (Education)
• Gamestar Mechanic, E-Line Media (Education )
• McGraw-Hill Education Practice Marketing, McGraw-Hill Education International (Education)
• MiddWorld Online Language Roleplay Game, Middlebury Interactive Languages (Education)
• Waterkeeper, First Nations Education Steering Committee (Education)
• RoboMath, Project Whitecard Inc. (Education)
• Game for Science, CREO (Games for At Home Learning)
• Virulent, Morgridge Institute for Research (Games for At Home Learning)
• Play True Challenge, World Anti-Doping Agency (Games for Good)
• Primaires à gauche, Le Monde (Games for Good)
• Fate of the World, Red Redemption Ltd. (Games for Good)
• International Racing Squirrels, Playniac (Consumer Game)
• Motion Math HD, Motion Math (Consumer Game)
• SpaceChem, Zachtronics Industries (Consumer Game)


Student Finalists:

• Emergency Birth, Engender Games Group Lab – University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (Games for Good)
• Treadsylvania, New Mexico State University Learning Games Lab (At Home Learning)
• RiggleFish, Texas A&M University (Education)


The Serious Play Student Award was sponsored by Microsoft Corporation.

All commercial entries were also reviewed for Serious Play Certification, which assures that a serious game offers a high standard of performance. Certified games will be given Serious Play Certification and a 2011 Seal of Approval. Certification will be valid for three years.

Finalist entries will be on display at the Serious Play Conference. Attendees will have a chance to play the games and vote for the Best of Show award.

Winners will be announced Wednesday, August 23 at the Awards Reception.



Saturday, August 20, 2011

Serious Games For Multi-Touch Virtual Anatomy


Serious Games challenging us to play a better anatomy education


Via: Interactive Multimedia Technology

Following my prior post Serious Games As The Missing Link Between Game Engines and NUIs, here is another example.

Innovation Now Sdn Bhd is a Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, based company specialized in surface computing and Augmented Reality solutions.


Homam Alghorani, Innovation Now CEO, has already developed multi-touch surface computers using many technologies such as Frustrated Total Internal Reflection (FTIR), Diffused Illumination (DI), Laser Light Plane (LLP), LED cell imaging and a gesture recognition computer using a 3D camera sensor.

Innovation Now is now releasing Inno-Anatomy, a multi-touch virtual anatomy surface computer in the shape of an autopsy table that enables users to use hand gestures to experience the anatomy and autopsy processes virtually.


Below you may find Inno-Anatomy first demo as well as the new video for the multi-touch virtual anatomy and autopsy application.




Thursday, August 18, 2011

Serious Games As Cognitive Computing: Learning Through Experiences

 
Serious Games challenging us to play a better future


Via: IBM Press Room - IBM Unveils Cognitive Computing Chips

For more than half a century, computers have been little better than calculators with storage structures and programmable memory, a model that scientists have continually aimed to improve.

Comparatively, the human brain—the world's most sophisticated computer—can perform complex tasks rapidly and accurately using the same amount of energy as a 20 watt light bulb in a space equivalent to a 2 liter soda bottle.

Making sense of real-time input flowing in at a dizzying rate is a Herculean task for today's computers, but would be natural for a brain-inspired system. Using advanced algorithms and silicon circuitry, cognitive computers learn through experiences – like Serious Games, find correlations, create hypotheses, and remember—and learn from—the outcomes.


Researchers at IBM have been working on a cognitive computing project called Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics (SyNAPSE). By reproducing the structure and architecture of the brain—the way its elements receive sensory input, connect to each other, adapt these connections, and transmit motor output—the SyNAPSE project models computing systems that emulate the brain's computing efficiency, size and power usage.


PRESS RELEASE

ARMONK, N.Y., - 18 Aug 2011: Today, IBM researchers unveiled a new generation of experimental computer chips designed to emulate the brain’s abilities for perception, action and cognition. The technology could yield many orders of magnitude less power consumption and space than used in today’s computers.

In a sharp departure from traditional concepts in designing and building computers, IBM’s first neurosynaptic computing chips recreate the phenomena between spiking neurons and synapses in biological systems, such as the brain, through advanced algorithms and silicon circuitry. Its first two prototype chips have already been fabricated and are currently undergoing testing. 

Called Cognitive Computers, systems built with these chips won’t be programmed the same way traditional computers are today. Rather, cognitive computers are expected to learn through experiences, find correlations, create hypotheses, and remember – and learn from – the outcomes, mimicking the brains structural and synaptic plasticity. 

To do this, IBM is combining principles from nanoscience, neuroscience and supercomputing as part of a multi-year cognitive computing initiative.


SyNAPSE

The company and its university collaborators also announced they have been awarded approximately $21 million in new funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for Phase 2 of the Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics (SyNAPSE) project.  

The goal of SyNAPSE  is to create a system that not only analyzes complex information from multiple sensory modalities at once, but also dynamically rewires itself as it interacts with its environment – all while rivaling the brain’s compact size and low power usage. The IBM team has already successfully completed Phases 0 and 1. 


“This is a major initiative to move beyond the von Neumann paradigm that has been ruling computer architecture for more than half a century,” said Dharmendra Modha, project leader for IBM Research. “Future applications of computing will increasingly demand functionality that is not efficiently delivered by the traditional architecture. These chips are another significant step in the evolution of computers from calculators to learning systems, signaling the beginning of a new generation of computers and their applications in business, science and government.”


 Neurosynaptic Chips

While they contain no biological elements, IBM’s first cognitive computing prototype chips use digital silicon circuits inspired by neurobiology to make up what is referred to as a “neurosynaptic core” with integrated memory (replicated synapses), computation (replicated neurons) and communication (replicated axons).  

IBM has two working prototype designs. Both cores were fabricated in 45 nm SOI-CMOS and contain 256 neurons. One core contains 262,144 programmable synapses and the other contains 65,536 learning synapses. The IBM team has successfully demonstrated simple applications like navigation, machine vision, pattern recognition, associative memory and classification.  

IBM’s overarching cognitive computing architecture is an on-chip network of light-weight cores, creating a single integrated system of hardware and software. This architecture represents a critical shift away from traditional von Neumann computing to a potentially more power-efficient architecture that has no set programming, integrates memory with processor, and mimics the brain’s event-driven, distributed and parallel processing. 

IBM’s long-term goal is to build a chip system with ten billion neurons and hundred trillion synapses, while consuming merely one kilowatt of power and occupying less than two liters of volume.

Visualization of the long distance network of a monkey brain (credit: IBM Research). Last year, scientists here at Almaden uncovered and successfully mapped the largest long-distance network of the monkey brain, which is essential for understanding the brain’s behavior, complexity, dynamics and computation. This discovery gives scientists unprecedented insight into how information travels and is stored across the brain.

Why Cognitive Computing 

Future chips will be able to ingest information from complex, real-world environments through multiple sensory modes and act through multiple motor modes in a coordinated, context-dependent manner. 
For example, a cognitive computing system monitoring the world's water supply could contain a network of sensors and actuators that constantly record and report metrics such as temperature, pressure, wave height, acoustics and ocean tide, and issue tsunami warnings based on its decision making.

Similarly, a grocer stocking shelves could use an instrumented glove that monitors sights, smells, texture and temperature to flag bad or contaminated produce. Making sense of real-time input flowing at an ever-dizzying rate would be a Herculean task for today’s computers, but would be natural for a brain-inspired system. 
  
“Imagine traffic lights that can integrate sights, sounds and smells and flag unsafe intersections before disaster happens or imagine cognitive co-processors that turn servers, laptops, tablets, and phones into machines that can interact better with their environments,” said Dr. Modha. 

For Phase 2 of SyNAPSE, IBM has assembled a world-class multi-dimensional team of researchers and collaborators to achieve these ambitious goals. The team includes Columbia University; Cornell University; University of California, Merced; and University of Wisconsin, Madison. 

IBM has a rich history in the area of artificial intelligence research going all the way back to 1956 when IBM performed the world's first large-scale (512 neuron) cortical simulation. Most recently, IBM Research scientists created Watson, an analytical computing system that specializes in understanding natural human language and provides specific answers to complex questions at rapid speeds.

Watson represents a tremendous breakthrough in computers understanding natural language, “real language” that is not specially designed or encoded just for computers, but language that humans use to naturally capture and communicate knowledge.  

IBM’s cognitive computing chips were built at its highly advanced chip-making facility in Fishkill, N.Y. and are currently being tested at its research labs in Yorktown Heights, N.Y. and San Jose, Calif. 

For more information about IBM Research, please visit http://ibm.com/research


Birth Countdown For Brand New Serious Games Event


Serious Games challenging us to play a better future


Serious Play Conference will kick-off in 5 days at DigiPen Institute of Technology in Redmond, Washington.

In a recent interview to the Serious Games Market blog, Clark Aldrich, Serious Play Conference Director, provided a recap of the genesis behind Serious Play and its further development, focusing on a pragmatic take with an eye towards the big picture.


“All kinds of organizations, from corporate to military to academic, have realized Serious Games and educational simulations can be used to create educational content that is more effective and more engaging, and is even less expensive”, says Clark. “However, our leaders need pragmatic help. They need to know how to find the talent, the project management framework, the deliverables and the right approaches to ensure success.”

Clark adds, “The Serious Play conference is all about giving this second generation of Serious Games practitioners, managers and developers (as well as faculty teaching Serious Game design), who are more focused on their organizations' strategy than advocating any new approach, the tools they need to be highly successful.”

Included in the conference is the first Serious Game Award ceremony (please find also Serious Play Conference To Recognize and Certify Outstanding Serious Games ). The ceremony showcases the best in Serious Games, and hopes to show the world what this experimental medium has to offer, as well as who is doing surprising work.

The conference promises several things outside of the normal format. While similar events feature things such as lectures and panels, the Serious Play Conference also intends to hold simulations and development circles for attendees where they can visit, learn, and experience how Serious Games are made, as well as how they work.

The conference is also happening alongside the Game Education Summit

GES was originally scheduled as a July event, but both events were looking for similar people to attend, and many companies could only fly out once. The decision was made to hold both events together.

The Serious Play Conference and Game Education Summit will be held on August 23-25.

 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Google+ Games Getting Started: What About Serious Games?


Serious Games challenging us to play a better future


Following my prior post Google+ Getting Serious About Games Stream, dated July 22, Google+ Games are live already.

At The Official Google Blog, Today we’re adding Games to Google+. With the Google+ project, we want to bring the nuance and richness of real-life sharing to the web. But sharing is about more than just conversations. The experiences we have together are just as important to our relationships. We want to make playing games online just as fun, and just as meaningful, as playing in real life.”

As reported by Mashable, “Google+ users may have noticed something new on top of their streams— a small icon signifying that Google+ Games had gone live.”

“When you’re ready to play, the Games pages is waiting—click the games button at the top of your stream. You can see the latest game updates from your circles, browse the invites you've received and check out games that people you know have played recently. The Games page is also where your game accomplishments will appear. So you can comfortably share your latest high score—your circles will only see the updates when they’re interested in playing games too”, says That means giving you control over when you see games, how you play them and with whom you share your experiences. Games in Google+ are there when you want them and gone when you don’t”, he adds. “If you’re not interested in games, it’s easy to ignore them. Your stream will remain focused on conversations with the people you care about.”

According to Vic, Google has started to gradually roll out games in Google+ and look forward to making them fully available to everyone in Google+ soon.

Google+ Games Has Potential

PC World published yesterday an interesting article stating that “To become a big hit, Google+ gaming needs exactly the same thing as Google+: It must integrate with other Google products instead of acting like a standalone service.”

It also challenges the fact that “the less intrusive approach to status updates may be a big lure for some people, but it's not the hook Google+ games need. And with only 16 titles at launch (albeit with some big names like Angry Birds, Bejeweled Blitz and Zynga Poker), Google's social gaming service isn't catching up to Facebook anytime soon.”

In my view Serious Games could be another possibility. As Tim Holt says “I would really like to see some Serious Games start showing up in Google+.

Let's see some games that get you to think - like Jonathan Blow's "The Witness (http://the-witness.net/), or Myst even. Let's get some games that get people talking and not just bragging about high scores, etc.I think there's a market that would just love that kind of stuff. It's like the XKCD comic about why one should join Google+ (http://xkcd.com/918/). That kind of mentality but "It's not Farmville" I suppose. Call it "Not Mindless Games" maybe.”


Here is the initial set of games to play with on Google+:

Global Kids: Serious Games For A Better Future


Serious Games challenging us to play a better future



National Summer Learning Association Chooses Global Kids As One Of The Best Summer Learning Programs

Global Kids offers a range of year-round programs in schools, online, and at their headquarters. They work primarily with middle school and high school youth, and also provide professional development and capacity building services for educators and institutions, and special trainings for youth.





Now, the National Summer Learning Association has chosen Global Kids' U.S. in the World summer program as one of the recipients of the 2011 Excellence in Summer Learning Awards. This annual award recognizes summer programs demonstrating excellence in accelerating academic achievement and promoting healthy development for young people, as measured by the Association’s Comprehensive Assessment of Summer Programs.

Global Kids started its U.S. in the World summer program in 2005 and serves 25 public high school students for three weeks each summer at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City. Most of the youth come from underserved and politically marginalized New York City neighborhoods and ethnic groups that are underrepresented in American universities and many professional spheres.

Program participants gain the skills and background knowledge necessary to think critically on issues like economic policy, global health, peace and security, and human rights. Students engage in discussions with Fellows from the Council on Foreign Relations and representatives from other non-governmental agencies, and participate in workshops led by Global Kids staff.

After the three-week program, students choose a topic for the peer education project they will research, develop and present to their school during the following year. Participants from past years have completed projects on such topics as conflict minerals, nuclear proliferation, the war on terrorism, and the HIV/AIDS pandemic.  Many have chosen to pursue degrees in international relations in college. 

“As the demographics of our nation change and our world becomes more interconnected, it is imperative we engage youth from underserved communities in the sophisticated exploration of global affairs and tap into all the assets they possess,” said Evie Hantzopoulos, Executive Director of Global Kids. “We are thrilled to receive the Excellence in Summer Learning Award for our unique approach to developing global citizens, community leaders, and life-long learners who are prepared for the 21st Century workplace.