Monday, February 26, 2007

Scott Rice and Amy Harris from the University of North Carolina Greensboro have graciously made their Information Literacy game available to other libraries for download and adaptation under the Creative Commons licence.

Thanks Scott & Amy!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Serious Game Engine Shootout

In keeping with our ongoing discussion on using game engines (orignial or commerical), there is a nice piece over at Serious Games Source. They posted a comparison on a variety of game engine that can be used to make educational games. The first few are pretty are pricey as professional engines, but around page 3 the price starts to come down. Even Neverwinter Nights gets a mention.

If you've been interested in our discussions here about other creating games or have an idea but not sure how to put it into code. This article is worthwhile. The comparision gave me a few other game engine ideas and provide techinical specifics on each.
The Altered Learning project is one project (in the UK of course) using the Neverwinter Nights game engine. I found this through the Learning in Immersive Worlds report, which was so recently posted on this very site!

I think the key is the spin-off learning activities that the students are required to do - they are still required to record their responses. Can a library mod transfer accomplish the same thing without curriculum support? Would students be AS interested if the long-term value was not easily recognizable?

"Altered Learning does just what is says on the tin. It provides effective alternative learning and teaching tools with the characteristics of a game, yet with the content of the traditional curriculum.

It’s a difficult balance to achieve but by modifying a commercial adventure game it has been done with great success.

It all began as an attempt to engage some rather reluctant learners. When teaching key skills in communication and application of number, learners much prefer to be sitting in front of a computer than a workbook, so a game was ingeniously devised that required the learners to learn by having to get through traps and pitfalls. The engine in the award winning Neverwinter Nights computer game had intricate coding incorporated in its programming so that the game produced a lot of the evidence for recognised KEY SKILL qualifications."

Sunday, February 18, 2007

While a few other blogs picked up on this on late last week, not many have dug into all 73 pages of de Freitas Game-based Learning Report. The report itself is a nice combination of literature reviews and case studies of programs using video games to teach. In fact the report ties in nicely to Christy and Chris's posts about the use of Neverwinter Nights and other mods for instructional gaming. The report uses Neverwinter Nights and other games as case studies... all of which could give us, as librarians, ideas for modding games to fit our instructional needs.

Here are some of the other highlights of the report, from both the literature review and the case studies:
- While games for education and learning are often advocated, the assessment is limited.
- Games do help students reach learning objectives, but they are not always the same objectives as initially desired.
- Games, by themselves can only do so much, but with discussion & supplemental materials games are very successful in reaching the learning objectives
- Like any educational technology, video games should have clearly defined learning objectives.
- There needs to be a development of a "best practices" application for those educators looking to integrate games into their classrooms

Overall this is a good report for both those already involved in educational gaming (the case studies and bibliography are both worthy of follow up study) and those just starting to get interested in video games in education (the introduction, summary, and definitions are a good place to start).

There is also some discussion about the need to standardized the terminology and vocabulary for educational games and games for learning. The report states there is a variety of definitions between commercial and educational games, and thus creates confusion for both educators and students. I would argue that creating a separate vocabulary for educational games may end up isolating our games from the immersion and motivation of traditional mass market games. Give it a read and let me know what you think...

Check out the full report here.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Following Christy's post about mods - I agree that it is definitely one approach. It can be straightforward if using the generic world but altering the functions requires some programming.

In England, they've used the Half-Life mod to create DoomEd, a single-player first person shooter learning game that combines science and history with FPS action, taking players through the horror of bio-terrorism and WWII chemical experimentation gone wrong. It's aimed at high school students.
I know that things have been fairly hush-hush over at Arizona State but I did finally stumble across their project website. I'd love to hear a report if anyone is heading to LOEX in San Diego.

Fletcher Library Game Project