The Florida National Guard has found a novel way of helping its state's unemployed soldiers work in the private sector: a program called Operation KickStart. The program uses gamification techniques to educate and teach participants in a game-like social platform environment. It also provides them with support through mentors and coaches that can teach them the best practices for starting a new career and being successful at it.
This year's Games for Change Festival is set for June 18-20 in New York City. The event dedicated to promoting social change through video games will offer plenty of activities this year including case studies, roundtables, lectures, demos, and more. Featured speakers for this year's event include Jane McGonigal, New York Times bestselling author (Grand Theft Childhood) and co-founder of SuperBetter Labs; leading researcher, Dr.
XEOPlay has launched Tilt World, a game that hopes to "end climate change" through "play sourcing." Nicole Lazzaro, CEO of XEOPlay introduced Tilt World to the audience at DEMO Spring 2012 in Santa Clara, CA. In Tilt World, players control Flip, a tadpole who is trying to conquer climate change by planting trees in the real world using the power of players (playsourcing) and through a partnership with WeForest.org.
Epic Games has inked a long-term deal with Virtual Heroes, a division of Applied Research Associates, Inc. (ARA). The Virtual Heroes Division of Applied Research Associates creates collaborative interactive learning solutions for healthcare, federal systems, and corporate training markets. Virtual Heroes will use Unreal Engine technology to create interactive educational and training software to be used by various U.S. government departments and agencies.
Phaedra Boinodiris, serious games program manager at IBM, writes a guest editorial on Forbes exploring the way that games can be used to energize and enhance other things besides research projects. The point of her editorial is that researchers have been helped greatly by games created to solve problems that take advantage of "collective intelligence," and global participation.
Red Hill Studios is using the motion technology found in the Xbox 360 and Wii consoles to help people with Parkinson's disease improve their gait and balance. Researchers have used the technology to help stroke victims in a similar fashion, so aiming the technology at other afflictions makes perfect sense. Red Hill is collaborating with the UCSF School of Nursing to develop the game.
The United States Army is testing a new PC strategy game that teaches captains who are being deployed to Afghanistan how to think like local village elders do. The game is called CultureShock: Afghanistan and is being tested at the U.S. Army Engineer School via the captains’ career course at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. The purpose of the game, according to its creators is to teach cultural awareness and to show officers what drives the decision making process of local leaders whom U.S. forces will have to encounter and communicate with.
NASA has released an interactive educational video game today called NetworKing that its Space Communication and Navigation (SCaN) network operates. The release of the video game coincides with the close of World Space Week, Oct. 4-10. Developed by the Information Technology Office at NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, California, its developers say that NetworKing gives players an insider's perspective into how astronauts, mission controllers and scientists communicate during space missions.
Researchers at the University of Utah have developed a motion-controlled game that helps children with cancer cope with their illness by promoting good mental health and physical fitness. The game, which was developed by chemistry professor Grzegorz Bulaj, is called PE Interactive (PE stands for "patient empowerment").
A research paper published Sunday by the journal Nature Structural & Molecular Biology details how the online game Foldit successfully mapped a protein-cutting enzyme from a particular AIDS-like virus found in rhesus monkeys. This enzyme apparently helps the virus spread and to counteract it, its exact molecular structure had to be mapped. This task had been impossible until crowd sourcing came along.
Organizers of the Gamification Summit announced this morning that they have finalized the agenda and speaker program for the September 15-16 conference occurring in New York City. That agenda includes keynotes, featured talks, design intensives, panels, and workshops that (they hope) teach and inform attendees on the subject. GSummit promises to bring together experts from advertising, healthcare, education, government, media, e-commerce, startups and academia to share knowledge and improve engagement with consumers and employees by using gamification techniques.
Chicago-based technology firm ImmersiveTouch has been working in consultation with the Memphis-based Medical Education & Research Institute (MERI) on surgery simulator technology that looks and feels like a next-generation video game. The inventors say that while it might be video game-like, it has far more serious implications for medical training and surgery.
MERI does not have a financial stake in the company or in the simulator, but many of the doctors and surgeons who pass through the training center have offered their input in developing the product.
"We are engineers. We are not physicians," said Cristian Luciano, Sensimmer's co-inventor and ImmersiveTouch vice president. "The needs that are coming from the physicians and surgeons drive the (product development) efforts as we produce solutions for them."
The 8th annual Games for Change Festival kicks off today in New York City. The event, which runs until June 22, is taking place at the NYU Skirball Center. The event is dedicated to using games to deal with the most pressing social and political issues that affect the world today by breaking down cultural barriers, shifting perspectives and driving actions in the real world.
This year's event features several sessions addressing games from an international perspective including one focusing on Games For Change in Europe.
In May 2011 the Chamber of Commerce in Valenciennes launched the first European Games for Change Festival. Highlights from the first event will be shared with the audience, including some of the new games and European award winners. The session will be presented by Jean-Michel Blottiere, Owner, NX Publishing; Sandra Faggioni, Digital Creation Project Manager, CCIV / POLE IMAGE NPDC and several European award-winners.
The seventh annual Games for Health Conference is one week away and organizers are reminding anyone that wants to attend that the registration period is almost over. The three day event dedicated to the convergence of games and the medical field takes place May 17-19 in Boston, MA.
Over the course of the annual three day conference over 120 speakers will participate in over 100 talks covering a variety of topics including medical simulations, serious games, game research, and new video game technologies that are being used to advance the healthcare field in the real world.
Speakers include Dr. Martin Seligman from The Positive Psychology Center (University of Pennsylvania); Dr. Roni Zeiger from Google; Shellie Pfohl; Executive Director of The President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition; and many more. The event will also offer two networking receptions, contests, group activities, fourth annual Games Accessibility Day, various workshops, and more.
The developers of a video game called Undercover UXO, (short for unexploded ordnance) aim to teach children in Cambodia and other war-torn regions about the dangers of land mines and other explosive devices - remnants of past wars in the region. In Cambodia, explosive devices have injured nearly 64,000 people in the last three decades, according to the Cambodian Mine/Explosives Remnants of War Victim Information System. Around 286 people were injured last year.
The new video 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 dangers of mines is even more prevalent.
Former U.S. Vice President and environmental activist Al Gore will deliver the opening keynote at the eighth annual Games for Change Conference. The former Vice President and co-founder of cable television network Current TV will speak about the potential of using accessible games to make a social impact.
"Vice President Gore is a significant global advocate who has effectively used popular media to bring issues of pressing concern to mainstream audiences," said Games for Change co-presidents Asi Burak and Michelle Byrd in a statement.
Other speakers at this year's festival include game designer Jesse Schell, Zynga.org's Laura Hartman, U.S. Department of Education’s James H. Shelton III and Half the Sky co-author Sheryl WuDunn.
Harmonix Music System co-founder Alex Rigopulos has personally donated $10,000 to the disabled gaming charity the AbleGamers Foundation. The company will also work with AbleGamers to learn what it can do in the future to make games such as Rock Band and Dance Central more accessible to gamers with disabilities:
"I believe that finding ways to better accommodate people with disabilities is a vitally important responsibility for the videogame industry. Harmonix is working with the AbleGamers Foundation to learn what we can do in future products to be as inclusive as possible," said Rigopulos. "I hope that my support of the AbleGamers Foundation will inspire others within this industry to do the same."
Mike "Broly" Begum is a dangerous man when it comes to Super Street Fighter 4 and he does not even use his hands. The 22-year-old has become a master of the game using his tongue, cheek, and chin to play the game. Begum has a rare condition medical called arthrogryposis, a disease that causes stiff and abnormal joints at birth. The condition left Begum without the full use of his legs or hands. The debilitating illness has not stopped Begum from becoming one of the best SF4 gamers in the state. Last week, he placed fifth at the NE1 gaming center tournament in McAllen, Texas.
The gaming community knows him as "Broly," a character in Dragon Ball Z. The name stuck after he used it in his very first tournament. His favorite character in the game is Chun-Li because of her speed and flexibility. Begum used the name Broly in his very first tournament, and since then, it's become his identity. Begum is very confident about his skills:
The complaints of a disabled gamer who had a number of problems playing his copy of Dead Space 2 (for PC) is being helped by developer Visceral Games. British gamer Gareth Garratt, who has to play the game with his chin because he suffers from cerebral palsy, was upset that the new horror game from EA's Visceral Games studio wouldn't let him reconfigure the walking keys. Frustrated with the lack of reconfiguration options in the game (a common complaint among disabled gamers for many of the top console and PC games on the market), Gareth took to the OverClockers UK forum to complain about it.
Chuck Bittner is disabled, a gamer, and in need of your John Hancock for a good cause. Chuck, who is the star of the web site, AskACapper.com, has put up an online petition asking video game console makers and game developers to allow consumers to reconfigure button configurations. Companies he is making this appeal to include Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, Zipper Interactive, Infinity Ward, and Treyarch - though in general he would like ALL game developers to support remapping controller functions in games.
The reason he wants to have the ability to remap keys in games and on consoles is to make setting up configurations for those with disabilities a lot easier. You can read the entire petition below, but I urge you to visit it online and sign it:
Tickets for the 2011 Gamification Summit have sold out according to the event's organizers. Organizers say that, for those who were not able to purchase tickets, live streaming coverage via Fora.tv will be available. Those who register to watch the live streaming coverage before January 14 will receive special $149 early bird pricing. After January 14, the rate will go up to $199. In case you've never heard of it, gamification is the use of game mechanics to solve problems and engage audiences in a non-gaming environment.
At the event, Liz Gannes of AllThingsDigital will interview Jane McGonigal, author of "Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Happy and How They Can Help Us Change the World." Liz Gannes has been covering Silicon Valley business technology since 2004 and is the founder of NewTeeVee. Additional speakers include the CMO of RecycleBank Samantha Skey, Ian Bogost of Georgia Institute of Technology and Evan Tanna of Shopkick.
The non-profit organization Games for Change, which is focused on designing digital games that create social change, has named new co-Presidents.
The two new leaders are Asi Burak, co-Founder of Impact Games, and Michelle Byrd, who has served 12 years as the Executive Director of the Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP). Burak’s role will center on “curation, development, and execution of programs and services to raise the production, quality and influence of social impact games,” while Byrd will concern herself with “institutional relationship and partnership efforts, along with fundraising, business affairs, financial management, and communications strategy.”
Beijing, China is the next stop for AMD's Activate! initiative. The world's second largest chip maker announced that the Dandelion Middle School in Beijing is now offering a course in game development. AMD says that its curriculum is designed to help teens improve critical science, technology, and math skills by allowing kids to develop games using a suite of specially designed software development tools.
Announced earlier this year, Activate is a program that enables kids ages 13 - 15 to "easily design and program video games." Activate! was created by PETLab and funded by a $77,000 AMD Foundation grant in support of AMD Changing the Game. PETLab is a joint project of Games for Change and Parsons The New School for Design. You can learn more about PETLab by visiting petlab.parsons.edu.
A game that has players attempt to reconcile their share of the massive U.S. national debt was chosen as “Most Likely to Succeed” in a competition at last week’s seventh annual Games for Change conference.
U.O.Me (You Owe Me) is the brainchild of two “public policy experts,” Eric Heis and Nicola Moore, and allows players to “make policy decisions and personal sacrifices to pay down the debt,” which is estimated at around $201,000 per person. It’s promised that, by the time they finish the game, players will “understand what a huge challenge reducing their personal share of the national debt really is.”
Moore stated, “Our game will reach new audiences with nonpartisan policy education.” She added, “Our greatest challenge is trying to get others in our generation who stand to inherit $62 trillion of debt--to understand what that means for their future.”
The International Game Developers Association (IGDA) and The U.S. Department of Agriculture, in concert with Games for Health, will launch “game jams” in six U.S. cities, including Boston, Seattle, Atlanta, Orlando, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Albany, and Fairfax, on May 21st.
The jams are designed to leverage the capabilities of game developers in support of the Apps for Healthy Kids competition, which is part of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign. Developers, artists and local youth will gather to make game prototypes in just 48 hours.
IGDA Board Chair Gordon Bellamy said, “This unique partnership provides a fun way for our members to focus their creative energies towards the goal of the Apps for Healthy Kids competition. We’re looking forward toward generating some amazing entries for the contest.”
The winners of Microsoft’s U.S. 2010 Imagine Cup competition, which centers on the use of technology to help solve the world’s toughest problems, have been announced.
This year’s grand prize winner in the Game Design category, as detailed by The Chronicle of Higher Education, was a team from Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC)—which also had one member from the University of North Carolina— that developed a game called Sixth. The title involves a “child in a developing country who must go through obstacles to meet a need, such as finding clean water.”
The name Sixth “refers to the one-sixth of the population in developing countries that live in slums.”
Yesterday, Matt Drudge linked to a USA Today article with the derisive headline "Video Game to Reduce Deficit?" But is that really as crazy as it sounds?
The USA Today piece reported that Erskine Bowles, who's heading up President Obama's "war on the federal deficit," talked to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer about making a video game that would let anyone "take a stab at balancing the budget."
The idea is that in order for deficit reduction to succeed, citizens have to understand the size of the budget, how the process works and, most important, what the tradeoffs are between benefits and their costs. That process, though already public, is basically inaccessible to anyone without the time (and patience) to read through thousands of pages of studies, estimates and commission reports. What the public needs is a compelling and concise model to play with that would let them get a handle on the dynamics of the federal budget without needing advanced degrees in accounting, law and economics.
A group against the development of Canada’s oil-rich Tar Sands is attempting to draw attention to their stance through the release of a simple online Flash game.
Thought up by the Polaris Institute and created by Insidious Design, the game, named Tarnation, lets players shoot oil at Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Opposition Leader Michael Ignatieff. Once the pair has been doused with enough light, sweet crude, players can sign their name to an email to the two pols, which states that “The tar sands represent the wrong direction for Canada.”