Category Archives: Play

Badges, Badges, Badges

I have to admit I have some degree of cynicism regarding some of the badge schemes that are out there – I’m waiting to be convinced that something like the Mozilla OpenBadges can service as an effective form of certification – allowing users to effectively advertise their skills, knowledge and abilities with the badges or to be useful to employers when trying to choose employees or contractors. Compared to a portfolio of work, a reference or an accredited certification scheme, the advantages of badges is somewhat lost on me.

Where badges have long been successful is at motivation – particularly for children. Hence the badge schemes of boy scouts and girl guides. A nice current example is that the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles are planning a badge on Game Development. Which led me to wondering if there was something OpenBadges like more aimed at kids – with a good range of technology activities. I’m glad to say there is, and the activities look great and very varied…

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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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ARVEL SuperNews

A mixture of magazine, journal and blog, with a blend of irreverant, useful, bizarre and thought-provoking pieces, ARVEL SuperNews has arrived. Includes lists of upcoming games and virtual world conferences, lists of some current projects, book and film reviews and contributed articles by Jon Richter and Jeremy Kemp and others. By far the weirdest bit was the Dear Chris page… did Chris Dede really write that? Mind blowing. Worth a read for anyone interested in Game Based Learning and Virtual Worlds – you are sure to find something of value inside.

Get your SuperNews here:

Gaming Fatigue

As we know, video games can be incredibly engaging – to the extent that we can argue over whether they can be addictive and what that actually means. But at the same time, its quite possible to play a game for while, get really sucked in until at some point you just finally get fed up with it, and quit. Level grind in MMO games springs to mind – or meeting some boss monster that is way too much like hard work and just not fun enough. David Hayward at Pixel-Lab has been considering this recently, and sees it as a possible problem for playful apps.

Broadening this out, there is some interest now in applying ideas from gaming into different areas of life – promoting student engagement, solving social problems, or even applying gaming to *everything*. Indeed, I’ll be borrowing some of these ideas this summer for an UNversity summer school I’m trying to support. But when everything becomes a game, what will keep folk playing all these games? In a global scale, how will games to improve the world compete against games for scoring points for brand merchandise?

I guess that people will inevitably pick and choose games and entertainments as they do now – just from an increasing, and increasingly broad, range of alternatives. I wonder if a world full of extrinsic (externally awarded) rewards for every action could impede the development of individual intrinsic reward mechanisms – peoples ability to set their own goals and develop their own internal reward systems for jobs well done.

As an incentive to think about this, I’ll be awarding 10 points for every comment received (spam and one-liners apart).

Yet another AR game – Invizimals

Yet another Augmented Reality game makes it to commercial handhelds – this time the Sony PSP (with Go!Cam). Invizimals is a Pokemon pet training game that allows users to capture pets, then trade them or pit them in combat against friends’ pets – the twist being that you have to first find them in their hiding places somewhere around your house, and the AR interface places the Invizimals in the environment. Looks good – but from viewing the video I think I’m somewhat disappointed that the use of real world environment seems very limited – but I think more interesting and clever exploitation of the environment might be a bit beyond the current generation hand held hardware.

It would be great to be proven wrong though…

Augmented Reality at home

Back from vacation… work piled up and overflowing. Just time for a quick post. My last post was a short round up of some handheld Augmented Reality apps, this time a wee mention of a forthcoming Augmented Reality game…

Sony’s EyePet (no, it’s not an affirmative statement from the north of England) is a virtual pet game for the PS3 due out in October this year. This extends the previous EyeToy offerings in allowing a much richer set of augmented reality interactions with your virtual pet. I saw this in action last week when I was along at the Edinburgh Interactive Entertainment Festival, and it was easily the most impressive thing on show (having said that, there were no live demo’s of anything Natal related!).

You can see the official demo below, and from what I saw at EIEF and from other comments and reports its a pretty accurate picture of EyePet in play – what you see here is what you get in the game:

For what it’s worth, I also grabbed a little video of my own – you can see the action on the big screen at the back, while some kids play around with the pet in the foreground. My own video is here on Flickr. This game is almost sure to be a hit – and I expect a lot more interest in console AR on the back of this. Actually, I suspect that Sony London already have some kind of follow-up in the works…

Handheld AR Roundup

I was blown away recently when I saw the handheld Augmented Reality Zobmie game ARhrrrr! developed at the Augmented Environments Lab at Georgia Tech:

ARhrrrr is an augmented reality shooter for mobile camera-phones. The phone provides a window into a 3d town overrun with zombies. Point the camera at our special game map to mix virtual and real world content.

With videos of the game in play, it is quite something to see:

Then a few weeks ago I got to see Wikitude running on an Android phone. This very neat app overlays local points of interest (and distance) on the camera view as you hold the phone up and point it around you. Practical and useful Augmented Reality, running on a phone now, not some distant point in the future.

Yesterday, via OLDaily, I learned on Tom Hoffman’s blog about an AR app for the iPhone that does something similar for the New York subway system – so you’ll always be able to find the nearest stations, and know what lines they server.

Then today I found that folks with a Nokia N95 (or N96, N82, N73, …) can also have fun with AR – as my current phone is an N95 thats good news to me. Sergey Ten at Cellagames has created a few free to download games including a Desktop Defence game.

As soon as I get my phone back (long story) I’ll be giving this a try.

And I have to also include a link to the Handheld Augmented Reality lab in Graz.

The learninggames angle? This technology has a lot, an awful lot, of potential uses in a huge range of educational projects, games and activities. I’ll leave exactly what to your imagination.

Video Game Play and Addiction

(via TappedIn Playing to Learn discussion, posted by BJB)…

In his spare time Dr. Kourosh Dini composes digital music and performs in Second Life via his avatar Kourosh Eusebio. In his day-job, he is a psychiatrist with a keen interest in computer games and computer gamers. His new book Video Game Play and Addiction reviews the effects of video game play. It has balanced coverage – with a lot of detail on the potential benefits of game play, and a correspondingly detailed review of problem gaming:

“Games have lots of benefits, which unfortunately, parents aren’t always aware of when the only games they’re exposed to are the controversial violent ones targeted to more mature players,” says Dr. Dini. “Age appropriate multi-player video games can allow children to learn how other people think – a key aspect of empathy. Games can also help a child become more comfortable with new and ever progressing technology.”

…… Nonetheless, ‘problematic’ game play is covered here in great detail as Dr. Dini provides a comprehensive review of the warning signs, causes and consequences of such behavior. “To be sure, there are those who play problematically. Learning how to tell the difference can be critical toward promoting healthy development.”