Monday, September 26, 2011

Building a Serious Game for Education

Serious Games challenging us to play at building a better education

Via: Hack Education - Building a “Serious Game” for Education, Part 2
by Audrey Watters on 20. Sep, 2011

Last month, Nathan Maton and Audrey Watters started a conversation at Hack Education blog about what a Serious Game for education might look like. Part two of their ongoing conversation is now live (find also Unschooling Rules – Serious Games As Microcosms For Learning)

Here are the highlights:

Serious Gaming As “Nuanced As An Essay”

Nathan explains the above statement in the context of environmental sustainability.

“In an essay you pick an argument and clarify what you mean by it. Let’s imagine you think CFLs are the future of light bulbs, and then you’d have to argue why that is the case and talk about the energy efficiency of different light bulbs.”

“Now let’s imagine that’s a Serious Game. With the same level of nuance, in the game you need to make the mechanical response of the system showcase that benefit for the player. If CFLs don’t give you more long term benefit than the alternative, you have to make the system more nuanced. This could apply to any topic from revolutionary war history to continental philosophy (although a philosophy game would be hard to make fun)”.

Educators Need To Get Gaming If They’re Going To Use It

Audrey: I think more educators are coming to recognize how gaming can be an important part of the learning experience. But all of this is arguably complicated by the idea of “gamification” — scoring, badges, “leveling up” — how do we unravel some of these pieces from what already motivates or fails to motivate learning?

Nathan: Lee Sheldon had a great idea to make it about experience rather than grades, so you have to complete an amount of things and demonstrate mastery rather than continually perform in the top 10% on each assessment. On a more fundamental level, educators need to get gaming if they’re going to use it. I’d argue the most important thing we could do is give educators meaningful game experiences to reflect on as they develop curriculum.

Audrey: Where do we start? How do we start? How do we convince educators, game designers — everyone who wants to play — that this is important/useful/interesting?

Nathan: There’s no one way to do it although I do outline a general strategy in the last paragraph above. The most important thing is to always find your passion if you want to change something. Aside from that, contact me or others working in the space. I’m currently working on three games in this space (and am looking for partners) as well as helping to run Gameful, a site where people are discussing these questions in forums on a regular basis.

Read the full article at Building a “Serious Game” for Education, Part 2

Nathan Maton In His Own Words

“I am curious about what motivates people and make games & technology solutions to inspire & teach them.”

“I’ve been teaching for ten years and making technology products for five.  I have worked with communities as an organizer, taught individuals one on one and through media as a writer, marketer, advertiser, game designer and interactive experience manager. I write and publish articles on educational technology, national identity, digital education, political belief development and more in research and policy journals.”

“Here’s a list of people I’ve worked for: Google, Foursquare, Pew, NYU, Penn State University, Northern Virginia Community College, YouthBuild DC Public Charter School, Nike, The Economist, National Geographic, Red Bull, Zagat, Samsung, Nokia and more.” 

Serious Games For Material Handling

Serious Games in Innovative Companies DNA

Via: GriN Multimedia - Forklift simulator

GrinN blog reports that UCAN & GriN partnered up to build an installation that connects controls of a real forklift surrounded by 4 screens to a virtual environment – a Serious Game where users can learn how to operate the forklift and take special notice to safety regulations (find also The Case For Serious Games In Heavy Industries).

Toyota will use this simulator for training forklift drivers.

Multi-screen setups have several challenges. First one being that Unity3D will only allow one screen to play the application fullscreen. Typical dual monitor setup will not work full screen on both monitors. The most common solution that is used in professional multi-screen 3D simulators is to have multiple computers render different views. These computers are connected to each other via Local Area Network where one computer does all the physics and processing and the other computers act as mere render windows.

Crucial to the success of this project is that it must be able to connect the forklift controllers to the simulator software. GriN came up with the DIY joystick controller board with 8 analog inputs.

GriN received a 3D model of the forklift they will be using in this simulation. But… the model has over 2 million triangles. Naturally this is totally unusable for realtime rendering. In fact they were having trouble just opening the model in their 3D software. After 5 days modeling and 3 days normal mapping and texturing, they believe to have a great basis to work with. The resulting model has about 8.000 triangles.

Integration Exercise

Driving forward, backwards, transporting cargo from point A to point B.

About GriN - Multimedia Wizards In Virtual Wonderland

GriN was founded in 2002 as a research and development agency for online and browser-based Serious Games and applications. GriN creations are used for installations, events, promotions, campaigns and educational purposes… to name but a few. Apart from working for clients, GriN also develops self-managed online games and a 3D location mapping system with touchscreen kiosks.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Exhibit At Serious Game Expo 2011

Serious Games In Innovative Companies DNA

Meet in Lyon, November 21-22, 2011, for the 7th Edition of the Serious Game Expo

The aim of the exhibition is to help people to develop their business in France and abroad thanks to the presence of international skilled decision-makers (CEO, HR managers, training managers, and communication & marketing managers).

The previous Edition attracted more than 800 visitors, among them L'Oreal, IBM, Danone, Total and Alstom.

As an exhibitor at Serious Game Expo you will have the chance to:

-          show your upcoming projects to decision-makers interested in Serious Games
-          expand your network
-          develop new partnerships
-          discover the latest market trends
-          enhance your company reputation

If you want to exhibit at Serious Game Expo 2011 or if you just want additional information, please contact Sophie Romano by email sromano at or by phone +33 4 72 44 44 20.

About Serious Game Expo
Serious Game Expo (find also Serious Game Expo 2011 – Serious Games In Innovative Companies DNA) is the unmissable event for all professionals involved in the Serious Game industry. The 2011 Edition has one main objective: to gather more than 1000 French and foreign visitors as well as 50 of the best Serious Game providers. This event will take place on November 2011, 21st and 22nd in Lyon.

The Serious Game Expo was conceived to gather key Serious Games Market players in France. The 2010 edition hosted over 800 visitors and 30 exhibitors.

For its seventh consecutive edition, the Serious Games Expo, organized by the Competitiveness Cluster Imaginove and partners, opens its doors on November 21-22, 2011 at the Cité Centre des Congrès - Cité Internationale de Lyon. More than 50 exhibitors, 30 speakers and 1,000 visitors are expected to attend the largest French gathering of professionals in the industry.

The Serious Games Expo is considered a must visit exhibition to meet the best industry players in France: this 7th edition is characterized by a new international vocation that focuses on the more effective Serious Games. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Whyville Game Design Contest: Serious Gaming With Game Design

Serious Games allowing players with no programming experience to create and play games

On Thursday, Numedeon announced the winners of the Whyville Game Design Contest.

As described in the below press release, this contest challenged Whyvillian's to design their own games using game making tools that are part of the AMD Game Zone in Whyville (related posts Serious Games Capturing How Humans Really Learn and New Report: Scientific Accuracy In Serious Games Stimulates Scientific Inquiry).  The AMD Game Zone is sponsored by the AMD Foundation and has attracted thousands of kids in Whyville to make and play games.

One of the interesting innovations in this project is that they have incorporated the same open source physics game engine that is the base of games like "Angry Birds" into Whyville in such a way that kids can design and play games together.

One of the collaborators on the AMD Game Zone is KLRN, the PBS affiliated TV station and media outlet in San Antonio, Texas.  KLRN has produced a series of public service announcements featuring some of the winners of the Whyville Game Contest.  

Given the enthusiasm of our users for this project, the Whyville Game Design Contest will become a regular yearly event in Whyville.

Here is the full PRESS RELEASE:

Numedeon, Inc. Announces Winners of the Whyville Game Design Contest

Whyville citizens rate digital games designed by youth in Whyville’s virtual AMD Game Zone

Pasadena, CA –September 15, 2011Numedeon, Inc., the parent company of, announced today the finalists and winners of the Whyville Game Design Contest. Through this contest, over a hundred digital games designed and created by participants in the educational virtual world of were played and rated by thousands of other Whyville citizens.

The seven finalists, five girls and two boys, ranged in age from 13 to 19. Two winners were selected from the finalists to each receive an HP laptop. Contest participants created and submitted games within Whyville’s AMD Game Zone, which allows Whyville’s aspiring game designers to create games using several different game engines, including a collaborative, “inworld” game design platform created by Numedeon. This novel platform allows players with no programming experience to create and play games collaboratively while chatting within Whyville’s virtual world. Since the AMD Game Zone was launched in March 2011, over 3,000 games have been made and saved in Whyville.

After playing many of the games himself, Numedeon, Inc. CEO James M. Bower said, “We knew that kids could design cool games, but they have really outdone themselves. Given the importance of gaming in the lives of children today, we are very pleased to provide a mechanism through the Game Zone for kids to be game creators and not just consumers. They are clearly learning a lot.”

Contest winner, Bernadette S., known as superchii in Whyville, designed a game entitled “Eat Healthy.” According to Bernadette, through designing her game she “learned that a lot of people just really enjoy learning about eating healthy,” and that helping others learn through a game is “better than just standing in front of a classroom and just talking.”

“Whyville and AMD are working together to leverage game development to not only excite kids about learning but to create a safe environment for them to do so,” said Allyson Peerman, President of the AMD Foundation. “Bernadette’s experience, as well as that of the several thousand Whyvillians who created and saved digital games on AMD’s Game Zone during the contest, highlights the importance of the power of game-based education to truly engage students in learning.”

The AMD Game Zone was made possible by a grant from the AMD Foundation to San Antonio, TX PBS affiliate KLRN. The grant from AMD was awarded in support of the AMD Foundation’s signature education initiative, AMD Changing the Game, which promotes the use of youth game development as a tool to inspire learning and improve science, technology, education and math (STEM) skills among youth. AMD Game Zone also supports other gaming platforms, including GameStar Mechanic and GameMaker.

KLRN has developed video shorts about the game creation process which feature interviews with several contest finalists and winners who discuss what they learned by creating their games. KLRN will broadcast the video shorts and make them available to PBS stations nationwide.

About Whyville

Whyville is the premiere educational virtual world for children, embedding simulation-based learning in an engaging and safe collaborative gaming social environment. For eleven years, the site has successfully created an environment that engages its "citizens" to learn about life, while having fun. In Whyville, kids play, socialize, compete, learn, design, eat, dance, govern and much more.

Numedeon Inc., the parent company of Whyville, was created by scientists from the California Institute of Technology who combined research expertise in learning and education with advanced simulation and virtual world technology to harness the power of the Internet to engage young users. At greater than 30 minutes per log in, Whyville is one of the stickiest and most engaging of all virtual worlds (ComScore Media Metrics) and recently surpassed more than 6.5 million registered accounts. A testament to Whyville’s dedication to education and safety, the site has won numerous media and parent awards, including a Gold Award for the National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA).

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Serious Games Showcase & Challenge 2011 Submission Deadline Extended

Serious Games for innovative training solutions

Due to popular demand the Serious Games Showcase & Challenge
submission deadline has been extended to September 26th. 

For the first time, the SGS Challenge is accepting Mobile Serious Games!!! There will also be a special award for the game that is tops in Adaptive Learning!!! 

If you intend to enter, submit your paperwork to: sgschallenge at 
Details provided at

Finalists in the Serious Game Showcase & Challenge will be selected by a panel of leaders in the gaming, industry and academic fields, and will be invited to showcase their Serious Game at I/ITSEC 2011, where over 17,000 attendees will view and vote on each of the finalists.  Awards will be presented to the top finishers in each category. 

All game submissions must be completely uploaded through SGS private FTP server with required paperwork by September 26th to be eligible.

About The Serious Games Showcase & Challenge

The Serious Games Showcase & Challenge is hosted annually by the National Training Systems Association in connection with the I/ITSEC Conference at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida.

The goal of Serious Games Showcase & Challenge is to identify innovative game-based technologies and solutions that improve training across all segments for individuals, groups and systems.

Whether you’re an individual, small business or big business – the Serious Games Showcase & Challenge is open to you!  Submissions can be targeted to training in any segment, including education, corporate, or military. If you can "mod" a game into a training solution, or program one from scratch, consider how you would use your skills to develop a Serious Game solution to enhance training. It could put your work in front of some of the best gaming and simulation companies in the world.

Monday, September 12, 2011

ghOst Productions: Serious Games As Inspiring Medical Animation

Serious Games challenging us to play MedGames

Via: ghOst Productions - Medical Animation Studio
ghost Productions is a 3D medical animation studio that specializes in promotional marketing, surgical technique, and surgeon and patient education.

Realizing that new medical breakthroughs and discoveries are made everyday, they use a wide array of expertise and methods to transform them into a breath-taking visual experience (find also Serious Games Meet Medical Education)

ghOst Productions built a medical animation from the ground up to showcase at the 2009 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons – AAOS. Instead of showing pre-existing client work in their reel, they thought it would be more fun to make a character animation, break nearly every bone in his body and then surgically repair him in 3 minutes.

After the success of HEAL at AAOS in early 2009, K2M and ghOst Productions moved forward on a cinematic narrative to highlight their devices and their application to specific spinal pathologies. The end result is CLIMBERS, a 5 minute spine demo that fuses character animation, surgical animation, and corporate identity in an exciting new direction in medical media.

ghOst Productions designed this reel to showcase their hottest cardiology products at the 2011 ACC - American College of Cardiology conference in New Orleans.

Docebo: Serious Games Behind The Scenes

Serious Games challenging us to play a better future

Via: Docebo Serious Games Making-Of
Docebo is a Milan, Italy, based company that created DoceboLMS, a LMS platform with no license fees. Docebo operates at an international level, providing a wide range of integrated services for distance learning. Its investors include Seeweb, a leading Internet Service Provider for cloud hosting solutions.

The Multimedia Production business unit operates under the belief that “Serious Games are the last frontier of multimedia training”.

According to their website, here you can see how Serious Games are created by Docebo:

You can also try on two of Docebo’s Serious Games demos at:

Serious Game Learning in a Click - Support for decision making. Test your skills in making the right choices to implement a project in your company

Simulator Commercial Behavior - In the shoes of a salesman, guide your client in the right choice. Pay attention to value creation and customer relationship.

Friday, September 9, 2011

New Report: Scientific Accuracy In Serious Games Stimulates Scientific Inquiry

Serious Games challenging us to play a better education

Via: IJLM – International Journal of Learning and Media - Worked Example: How Scientific Accuracy in Game Design Stimulates Scientific Inquiry

A just published report describes in detail a study of the effectiveness and consequences of a MacArthur Foundation funded project in WhyVille (find also Serious Games Capturing How Humans Really Learn) involving the Chicago Field Museum.

The worked example presents the importance of scientific accuracy in gaming environments that rely heavily on learning-based activities. It focuses on WhyReef, a simulated coral reef, which is targeted towards kids ages 8-16.

The Field Museum selected coral reef biodiversity as its overarching theme for this project because of its commitment to improving public knowledge and increasing action regarding biodiversity and biodiversity loss.

 The study attempts to demonstrate that creating a game-based virtual coral reef with a high degree of scientific accuracy allows players to experience real science on their own terms.

The anecdotal evidence detailed throughout supports the argument that through game play in WhyReef, players are developing scientific observational skills, using critical thinking and problem-solving skills, engaging in the scientific process, becoming stewards for the natural world, and becoming exposed to careers in science.

Players are also able to apply real world knowledge of coral reef ecosystems and ecology through a variety of activities available through WhyReef.

About WhyReef Project - Field Museum’s Virtual Reef

WhyReef is a coral reef in WhyVille, a virtual world for younger children, developed by MacArthur grantees Elizabeth Babcock, Audrey Aronowsky, Beth Sanzenbacher, Johanna Thompson, Krystal Villanosa, and Mark Westneat at Chicago’s Field Museum.

Created and operated by Field Museum educators and scientists and Numedeon, WhyReef draws kids into a game of identifying the marine life they see swim by, and with each step in the game they dig deeper into information on reef species and the overall ecosystem of a reef.

WhyReef allows players to be "citizen scientists" and also introduces the tools necessary to understand the consequences of biodiversity loss.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Serious Games Assisting Emergency Birth

Serious Games challenging us to play better healthcare

Following my prior post Serious Games Award Winners Announced @ Serious Play, here is another Silver Medal Winner at the Serious Play Conference: Emergency Birth

The Engender Games Group (EGG) Lab spent 2010 and part of 2011 building the Emergency Birth! Serious Game. It is game to train non-medical professionals how to deliver a baby outside of a hospital setting.

This game is currently under development for the OshKosh online nursing program and for potential use by communities who don't have enough doctors to assist women giving birth.

The player will have to help a woman who is going into labor deliver the baby without professional assistance. Help! Don't drop the baby!

A playable prototype is available at

Emergency Birth takes the player through assisting a woman in labor when no medical help is immediately available. Primary character illustrations and assets were created by Toufue Yang; NATALIE NGUYEN  contributed with supplemental illustrations, as well as those for the explicit labor sequences, and game screen design.

Creators are very proud of it and in the process of submitting grant proposals to fund an expanded version that will include fatal complications. They hope to use the expanded version to train midwives and doctors and help reduce maternal and neonatal mortality.

About EGG Lab

The EGG lab, directed by Elena Bertozzi, is a place for students, faculty and the broader Wisconsin community to come together and create compelling interactive media. Their goal is to produce games and other interactive media products which solve interesting problems.

EGG Lab is part of the Media Arts & Game Development Program located at UW-Whitewater, which brings together talented faculty from the Departments of Communication, Art, and Computer Science, to create a cross-disciplinary approach to teaching/learning that prepares students for the demanding, cutting edge media work of the 21st Century.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Serious Games For Brands Event

Where Brands meet Serious Games

Via: Games for Brands

Games for Brands launches in London on October 27th. Games for Brands aims to create a forum where Brands meet Serious Games. The benefits of such a forum would include exploring the possibilities of forming strategic partnerships between games creators and content owners and harnessing the psychological insights garnered by decades of game design to enhance brand loyalty.

Here is the event teaser according to the official website:

If you’ve not had your head in the sand since the beginning of 2011, it won’t have escaped your attention that everyone’s talking about gamification, and how brands can harness the power of games to engage better with their customers”.

“On October 27th, Games for Brands launches in London and if you’re unsure about the impact that games are already having on the media and marketing landscape, we've prepared a short video that you can check out here”:

“If you want to find out more, then Games for Brands is THE place to be. You’ll be able to learn from some of the leading players from the worlds of games, marketing and customer engagement”, including:

Tom Chatfield - Author of ‘Fun Inc’ and object of my prior post Serious Gaming And The Psychology Of The Reward Schedule

Kam Star – PlayGen Chief Play Officer and object of my prior post PlayGen Journey From Serious Games To Not So Serious Play

Eze Vidra – Google Strategic Partnerships Manager

Learn how these companies have transformed their communications and how they engage with their customers using games

Gamifying Education: Thorough Serious Play Conference Overview

Serious Games challenging us to play a better future

Gamifying Education provides a thorough overview of Serious Play Conference: Day One.

Here are the highlights for Day One - Tuesday, August 23, 2011:

1.   Serious Games Market Size

The conference purposefully directed the initial focus with a plenary panel session assessing the Serious Games Market Size and potential growth.

Tyson Greer, CEO of Ambient Insight, presented her company’s chief research points.

The US Simulation-based Learning market reached $990.2 million in 2010. The five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) is 20.2% and revenues will reach $2.48 billion by 2015 
The revenues for Simulation-based Learning will be seven times higher than Game-based Learning by 2015

Mobile versus Non-Mobile Sectors
The market for mobile commercially-sold Educational Serious Games is growing while the market for non-mobile commercially-sold games is flat
However, the market for custom developed Educational Serious Games is growing, both for mobile and non-mobile platforms

Event Presentations can be found as below:

The US Game-based Learning Market: All Roads Lead to Mobile
Presented by: Sam S. Adkins
(2.7MB PDF Document)
August 24, 2011

Chasing the Platform
Presented by: Sam S. Adkins
(583KB PDF Document)
August 24, 2011

Presented by: Tyson Greer
(1.0MB PDF Document)
August 23, 2011

The US Market for Game-based Learning in Healthcare
Presented by: Tyson Greer
(2.8MB PDF Document)
August 23, 2011

1.   A Service Demo - Strategicplay with LEGO Serious Play

2.   Closing Talk - Game Mechanics Used for Learning, delivered by Douglas Whatley founder and CEO of Breakaway, Ltd.

“Whatley defined a spectrum of learning objectives from explicit knowledge to implicit knowledge. Games teaching explicit knowledge are relatively easy to make while games teaching implicit knowledge take longer. Explicit knowledge is incorporated into game content whereas implicit knowledge is built into game mechanics.”

Gamifying Education wraps-up addressing a number of Serious Games Projects participating in the Serious Play Awards competition, such as Gamestar Mechanic, Emergency Birth, Fate of the World, Flame-Sim, and RiggleFish among others.