Category Archives: Games Based Learning

Game Based Learning / Serious Games Journals

Trying to rebuild a list of journals dealing specifically with game-based learning, serious games, and virtual worlds. Obviously, anything to do with digital media and learning or computers and learning can be relevant to much wider range of journals, but it is also worthwhile knowing about the journals that focus on these specific areas. I’ll perhaps add to this list over time, and know that I’ll have missed some, but here goes a first attempt…
[Edit: added Virtual Education Journal 21st Jan 2013]
[Edit: added The Computer Games Journal 9th Sept 2013]

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Computer Games & Instruction – on sale

Computer Games & Instruction, edited by Tobias & Fletcher is currently on sale over at Information Age. There is in there a chapter that I wrote with Jon Richter, on multi-user games for learning – but this is just one of the chapters in a great book with some fantastic contributions. I mentioned it before when it was released, and previously posted the list of contents.

My favourite chapter has to be Chris Dede’s, where he discusses developing a cohesive research program – advice you don’t often see in print. The editors’ key contribution is a large literature review. Perhaps broader than deeper, it nevertheless is certain to mention some works worthy of greater study. Raplh Chatham’s chapter on game-informed training in the US military has a great deal of detail and is also a very rewarding read. Lots of other great chapters besides, covering the question of fun in serious games, the role of gender, instructional support, and so on. Even if I wasn’t one of the chapter authors, I’d be recommending it…

2nd European Immersive Education Summit – Paris in November

Paris in November… what are you waiting for?

2nd European Immersive Education Summit

26th and 27th November 2012

École nationale supérieure des Arts Décoratif EnsAD (Paris, France)

Important Dates

  • Paper submission: 27th July 2012
  • Notification of acceptance: 28th September 2012
  • Final paper submission: 26th October 2012
  • Summit: 26th-27th November 2012


The theme for the 2nd European Immersive Education (iED) Summit is:

Immersive Education: combining creativity, art and pedagogy

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Calls for Papers: VS-Games & Virtual Worlds III

Two recent calls, Virtual Worlds III (Paris in July, papers by 16th Feb.) & IEEE VS Games 2012 (Genoa in October, papers by 18th May)

Virtual Worlds III has Craig Reynolds and Ken Perlin lined up for keynotes (two incredibly influential academics, Reynolds work on ‘boids has had a huge influence on agent based AI in games, and Perlin’s impact in graphics has been immense).

No keynotes announced yet for VS Games, but is supported by the EU FP7 GALA network of excellence, so will be guaranteed to bring along many of Europe’s top games and learning researchers.

Call for Papers: ICEC 2012

The IFIP International Conference on Entertainment Computing explores the application of computational technology to entertainment. The conference brings together practitioners and researchers interested in the art and design of entertainment computing applications. ICEC welcomes submissions on the design, engineering, application and theory of entertainment technology. We solicit paper, poster and demonstration submissions, as well as proposals for tutorials and workshops. Papers will be published by Springer and archived in the SpringerLink digital library.

Download here the whole Call for Papers as PDF.

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Tranforming Assessment

The new season of online presentations on Transforming Assessment continues on the 7th of September with a presentation on “Stealth assessment: embedded evidence-based assessment in games” from Valerie Shute

During gameplay, students naturally produce rich sequences of actions while performing complex tasks, drawing on a variety of competencies. Evidence needed to assess the competencies is thus provided by the players’ interactions with the game itself (i.e., the processes of play), which can be contrasted with the end product(s) of an activity—the norm in educational environments.

This presentation will describe the design and development of evidence-based assessments (embedded in a game) to measure 21st Century competencies. When embedded assessments are so seamlessly woven into the fabric of the learning environment that they’re invisible, called ‘stealth assessment’ (Shute, 2011; Shute, Ventura, Bauer, & Zapata-Rivera, 2009). Stealth assessments within games provide a way to monitor a player’s current level on valued competencies. That information can then be used as the basis for support, such as adjusting the difficulty level of challenges or providing timely feedback. One to two examples of the approach will be provided, time permitting.

Audience members are encouraged to participate and contribute.

More details, including link to local times for your time zone from the Transforming Assessment site:

A glut of books

As blogged, tweeted and posted elsewhere, the US National Academies Press, which publishes a wide range of books on science, engineering and medicine developed by leading academics has made its entire catalogue of 4000 odd books available in pdf format for free.

Stephen Downes’ first pick is Learning Science Through Computer Games and Simulation, while The Rise of Games and High Performance Computing for Modeling and Simulation looks more at the capabilities of games for scientific applications.

My own recommendation would be the expanded edition of How People Learn – which summarizes a wide variety research findings from across the learning sciences is a very straightforward way.

I’m looking forward to digging into this amazing resource, but perhaps I need to start with something that will help me deal with the sheer volume of knowledge now freely available? Something like Glut: Mastering Information Through The Ages perhaps? Although sadly this one doesn’t yet appear to be available for download.

Free stuff for virtual worlds and game based learning

[Updated 7/6/2011 - More 2D & sound resources]

At the recent Game2Learn event in Dundee, I spoke about ways of reducing the costs of developing new learning games and/or virtual worlds. One of the key ways to reduce costs is to use free stuff – of which there is a lot out there. Many of these resources are also useful for students learning game development.

Before using any resource be sure to check the license and conditions for use – some resources allow reuse for any purpose, others are only for non-commercial use.

3D Models

If you are developing your own game or using Unity, then chances are that you can import models that are available in the popular Collada format (and with mesh import this should also come to Second Life/OpenSim before too long).

Google’s 3D Warehouse is home to thousands of static 3D models – particularly strong on models of notable buildings, due to the links between Google Sketchup, the 3D warehouse and Google Earth, but interiors, objects and vehicles can all be found.

An interesting new resource (especially if you want military type models, or models of things you might find in or around army bases) is the ADL 3D Repository. You’ll also find a lot of regular household items (chandeliers and bidets!) alongside the weaponry and vehicles, plus models of US soldiers and Afghan civilians.

More commercially oriented sites like TurboSquid are marketplaces for the buying and selling of 3D models – prices vary dramatically but there is a lot of low cost and free content to be found, and the quality is sometimes of a very professional standard.

2D Textures and Images

You can search Flickr for Creative Commons licensed photos, but the photos are not normally very good for use as textures. Wikimedia Commons is another good source of photos, but few are ideal for use as textures.

In comparison, CGTextures specialises in textures that can be used in game development – and has thousands on offer. Free for commercial or non-commercial use. The only use that is explicitly not allowed is in creating your own texture packs (e.g. you can use some of these textures to build something in Second Life that you will sell commercially, but you are not allowed to create an in-world texture pack to sell or give away)

HasGraphics links to a small but quite high-quality range of sprites, tilesets and other 2D graphics resources, while Moosader has posted a range of her own creations under public-domain license at OpenArt.

Keith Ditchburn has collected more links for 2D textures and 3D models over at Toymaker. You can also always do a search for images licensed for reuse at Flick or on Google.

Music and Sound Effects

Freesound is home to a huge number of Creative Commons licensed sound effects, while ccMixter homes similarly licensed music samples, loops and mixes. Also check the Free Music Archive and the Creative Commons audio blog.

Back at OpenArt, Moosader has collected (and produced some of) a small range of retro-styled music files suitable for games.

OpenSim and Second Life Specific

There are two OpenSim specific archive formats – OAR and IAR. OAR files archive complete regions – including terrain and all objects including textures, scripts, sounds and more. IAR files archive users’ inventory – again including all data required to fully restore the items (scripts, sounds, etc.).

A third archive option (for which I’ve been unable to find a specific name) is the xml format used when backing up objects from Second Life or OpenSim using the export option in Imprudence and other 3rd party client software. (See discussion e.g. here). While most online discussion of this format is based on how to transfer your own objects, it also provides another way to share OpenSim/Second Life objects.

OAR files

Four sources for OpenSim Archives (OAR files, Hypergrid Business)

OpenSim Creations (OAR files, IAR files, XML objects, terrains files, textures. Includes many NSFW)

OpenSim Terrains – Flickr Set

OSAvatars – Avatar textures, parts and clothing