Posts tagged: Games/Gaming

Nintaii – another amazing casual game

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By , October 19, 2008 10:46 am

If you are looking for a game that can get you almost as hooked as Tetris or Mahjong, take a look at Nintaii. From a gamer’s point of view, it is addictive, from a learning point of view it is a great example of how simple ideas can create a great game – I’m sure there are kids that can come up with the ideas for games like this – that would make a great little assignment eh?

Games help you to defocus and become creative

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By , June 5, 2008 8:40 am

This is a really interesting story that I spotted on some work from Shyam Sundar who has been looking into the effects of gaming (well, specifically – social and psychological effects of technological elements unique to Web-based mass-communication. In particular, his studies experimentally investigate the effects of interactivity, navigability, multi-modality, and agency (source attribution) in Web interfaces upon online users’ thoughts, emotions, and actions). He noted:

“You need defocused attention for being creative”

This matches something that I was talking about last month with some people in the office and my brother’s in-laws (this father-in-law is an amateur writer) – that your best writing and often the most creative, happens not when you are actually thinking about it, but rather when you are doing something else… when you are defocused from that creative task. Games are able to help in this defocussing… just as random surfing while you are trying to work on monthly reports (right?)

The best I can do to find the reference for the paper is this:
Hutton, E., & Sundar, S. S. (2008, May). Can video games enhance creativity? An experimental investigation of emotion generated by Dance Dance Revolution. Paper to be presented at the 58 th annual conference of the International CommunicationAssociation, Montreal, Canada. [TOP 3 PAPER in Game Studies Division]

Take it easy on common sense… just blame media again

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By , May 2, 2008 9:49 am

I am just listening to Search Engine from May 1st and between violent games and surveillance of teen spaces through keywords and I can’t help but agree with Lawrence Cutner’s point that video games (and I would think through extension, the ‘net) is to blame for the ills of youth. I don’t think this is as much an issue with poor parenting… or ignorance, as so much as yet another example of the generational difference. Even if there is only 10-15 years (say between aunts/uncles and nephews/nieces or cousins) between subjects, this gap still exists, but it seems that it explodes after 20 years. Anyway, back to the violence part that I started with… Cutner release his results in a book, Grand Theft Childhood. One of the findings, violent games do not lead to more violent kids. He also found and commented in the ‘cast that kids are more attracted to the complexity of a given game, maybe to flex their fluid intelligence rather than spilling or splattering body fluids. This seems to support two of the other posts that I had back in 2005 (Nov15 and Dec12), among others.  

Video Games and the 21st Century Surgeon

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By , April 30, 2008 2:44 pm

My brother sent this to me, a 2007 study on the use of video games to help train the dexterity of  surgeons. Using Super Monkeyball 2 (I can see “cutters” everywhere lining up for iPhones and Monkeyball already), Silent Scope and Star Wars Racer Revenge as their COTS titles, they found:

Surgeons who had played video games in the past for more than 3 h/wk made 37% fewer errors, were 27% faster, and scored 42% better overall than surgeons who never played video games. Current video game players made 32% fewer errors, were 24% faster, and scored 26% better overall than their nonplayer colleagues. All 3 video games used in this study were highly correlated with laparoscopic skills.

Overall, they closed with the following:

Given the broad and sustained appeal of video games, it seems reasonable to explore their positive aspects in the interest of education, skill acquisition, and skill maintenance.

Games are not the silver bullet, but they are certainly something that between the work that has been done in the medical and psychological fields on top of the appeal and the amount of money that games bring in, it would be (broken record time) silly not to take advantage of these opportunities. But if you don’t want to “play”… simulations may still be interesting… and for those who are interested, take a look at the Virtual Autopsy.

Randy and Alice

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By , April 9, 2008 8:54 pm

This is what I was looking for when I dug out the Gatelock paper – Alice… and in a timely way, created in part by Randy Pausch and his team at CM.

Gatelock – teaching kids with games

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By , April 9, 2008 1:22 pm

In the grand tradition of Squeak, Gamemaker and Scratch (et al), Gatelock is a system that is looking to create an environment where kids can create their own worlds. I’ve been in touch with the authors of this paper and they have no plans yet for a non research release and this post is not meant to pressure them into this in any way. Hopefully as their work continues, they will get something that can be released to the masses. 

Miss Bimbo Misses

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By , March 31, 2008 9:50 pm

I only caught wind of this over the weekend while I was away for a friend’s wedding, so I haven’t been able to post about it until now, but it seems that the global conciousness (GN) (what there is of it) seems to have awoken to this game. Noticing that OMG! this game litteraly encourages “bimboism” (my term). But I don’t think this is what really triggered the pique in interest, I think it was one part of the game – diet pills… and now according to the website:

As a result of this rather surprising media attention we have decided to remove the option of purchasing diet pills from the game. We apologise to any players whom this may inconvenience but we feel in light of this weeks proceedings it is the correct action to take.

The guys who made the game suggest that the game is a comment on society – then it truely is interesting how the media reaction is/can be interpreted – hating the image of one’s self in the mirror – The Daily Mirror:

The website’s creators – two young men named Chris Evans and Nicholas Jacquart – have spent the past week touring the television studios defending the game as a bit of harmless fun.

“We are not encouraging girls to have breast operations,” Mr Evans explained, rather disingenuously. “It is just part of the game.”

According to Mr Jacquart, the game is itself a joke: “It simply mirrors real life in a tongue-in-cheek way.”

Neither denied that Miss Bimbo was designed for children as young as nine; instead they insisted that it is not a bad influence on young minds.

My first reaction to this… and I don’t know if it is because several friends have had recently or are expecting baby girls… but I read this and thought – shockingly to myself – yeah right… like games don’t influence kids… I don’t know what or how this would be any different with violent games, but I think it is that the “harmlessness” here is something that is very real… just look at all the diet “supplements” you can pick up at the grocery store, these props are very real. Violent games on the other hand often require some impossible technology and fighting games have opponents who can lay the smack back.

Those who play the games (in the comments here and here) and say that they are indeed harmless and that the media is once again over – reacting. Pointing out that it may be just as much the media somehow apologizing for bad parenting.

So what is my final thought… same as with anything else… any media based experience (games, movies, what have you) needs to be experienced within the context it was intended for. Without any scaffolding, it can and is easy to take out of context. With scaffolding, these experiences can be actually educational. I would not want my neices or daughters playing these games on their own to be sure, but with some discussion around the game, they might actually be an interesting way to expereince a commentary about our society.

GH3 Replacement Process

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By , March 12, 2008 4:54 pm

I got an envelope in the mail today that told me that if I wanted to get my GH3 fixed, I’d have to go without it for 3-4 weeks as I send it off to Activision in Phoenix. Thankfully you can track the process, but I really wish it was handled the other way around. You request a disk and they send one and you send your old disk back so you are not out your game. I don’t know what they are going to do with the old disks, but I hope they don’t get sold off…

Journo Quest

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By , February 21, 2008 10:06 am

Neverwinter Nights seems to be the game that keeps giving to the education realm. The first project using the game that I became aware of was ScriptEase – developed here at the U of A and now there is Journo Quest. Both use the game engine to tell stories. But where the U of A engine is trying to get non programmers to put their own story together in a easy way; Journo Quest looks at the “method and reasoning of information-gathering and synthesis, and communication-related analysis skills” as well as [focusing] on three conceptual points in the interview process: attitude, reliability of source (as compares to authority), and secondary confirmation for every single detail. “If these two teams got together, I’m sure some really interesting ideas could emerge.  

Idea Sex – yeah the title got my attention too

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By , February 19, 2008 2:51 pm

Leave it to The Escapist for titles like this now eh? First from the article:

No.2 … Keep the classroom, but change it and everything around it. Make the money in education slosh a different way. Have schools, colleges, communities, businesses and all other parts of the education system talk to each other a little more. Look everywhere, starting with games, for new ways to operate.

No. 3: my big, mad slogan,: bring it all back to what learning’s for. Learning is about bettering and expanding lives in some way. If you cannot learn from the world around you, you are dead. And in this world we’re moving into so fast, the definition of basic skills is constantly evolving. We’re a long, long way from just food, shelter and thighbones.

It’s a bit of an odd article to read, but you can add Helen Anderson to the growing list of people who are looking at games in a different way when it comes to learning. Games are not something that are going to go away, and with the inability for the education system to adapt to technology in general is disconcerting, but the inability for education to change the way it thinks about something that has changed rolls in “the real” world is really quite disturbing. Games were seen as juvenile and education has yet to see that they are now “main stream”. I’ve mentioned this in the past as well – nothing in education is ever new… so this problem has been struggled with in the past already. How did things change in the past?

I’m not sure, but there was certainly something related to authority. Evolution entered schools because the academy picked it up as did many other ideas in Science and the Arts, but new ideas related to teaching don’t seem to have such a route. The only way that new ideas seem to come in is generationally. Unfortunately, a human generation will see many generations of technology and the volume of human knowledge will also grow exponentially. These two, in the past would not have been an issue, but we can now see that they are becoming a bigger and bigger issue all the time.

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