Interesting NY Times Sunday magazine article about Tetris being used to treat P.T.S.D.:
You will have to scroll to see this article. There are lots of other articles worth reading in this issue.
Forgive this a small, digression as I briefly summarize. I confess, that when I first considered the Blogging Assignment at the begining of 670, I thought this was going to be easy, in fact I was certain this last posting was going to be cake. Frankly it’s turned out to be the most frustrating of the processes. For some reason, I found myself considering a bunch of okay ideas, but none so great. The irony is, that I’m sure I’d had the perfect idea for this last blog post come to me the moment I first read about it, free of pre-conceived notions. Yet, three months, and X times Y times Z amount of gaming, motivational, fun theory later – my perspective may have become a bit skewed and complicated. I’ve noticed this phenomenon as I’ve continued to tweak my own work in both group projects as well. The rewrites, re-edits, and reconfigurations I’ve faced-off with in my own corners of our project, have had me struggling with balancing logic against fun, against design – sometimes taking two steps back to gain momentum forward again. I liken it to strategizing while in the middle of a game of chess – but more, I think like writing fiction, in particular a script. I’ve done that a few times in my life and have learned that the art of developing, breaking and outlining stories is crucial, in part due to the linear nature of plot. Be cautious of where you step, whence you find yourself 10 blocks and 40 pages in the wrong direction needing to back track out of an unforeseen issue. To me game design has similar potential pitfalls – save the linear constraints, (which is a huge bonus). The iterative process frees many of the obstructions to creative flexibility, still I’ve found the struggle is there. It’s sort of like an artistic struggle, challenging, frustrating and sometimes, hopefully rewarding.
Okay, what does that have to do with this last post? Probably not as much as
I’d originally thought. But the good news is my original inspiration for this story returned to me out of the blue. And I think it’s as germane as I first considered it, at the beginning of this course. So I’m writing about a game that I’ve now twice become addicted and broken free of, called Line Rider.
If you recall with any fondness, the children’s story Harold and the Purple Crayon, you may appreciate the ingenuity of Line Rider. A simple, but ingenious idea, Line Rider is a Flash-based online game that allows you to draw a continuous path for a sled or motorcycle rider (depending on the version you’re playing) who travels along the path and picks up speed relying on a combination of gravity, momentum, energy, (possibly friction) and potentially other complex principles of Physics that may, or may not, be involved in the underlying design, depending upon which Bloggers you believe. Frankly, “game” may not even be the right term for Line Rider, it is like a puzzle or an exercise in observation and application. The rules may not always make logical sense, but you will soon pick up on the nuances.
My most recent obsession with Line Rider came at the expense of the productivity of several of my colleagues at an Investment Bank I used to work in. (Ironically, it was the first of the big ones to fail, no doubt in part due do the distractions of Line Rider). As the game spread from cubicle to office to cubicle, throughout the floor, a dozen or so analysts, associates, VPs and even Directors joined the cult, squealing and contoring as they watched their latest creations attempt to out cool one another’s course design, while building and improving upon previous attempts. Because the free version of the game does not allow you to save games the guy at the desk adjacent to my office actually left his computer on all night and weekends with the game site screen up so as not to lose his ongoing game.
Line Rider does not come with an eraser per se, but does allow you to draw over mistakes you’ll inevitably make. What at first seems to be an innocuous bump in your line, once tested may turnout to be a lethal launching pad. Early on you simply cannot anticipate the momentum your rider may have approaching any given section. What adds to the enjoyment are the happy mistakes you’ll make along the way, something that was clearly a mistake, may cause your rider to take off in some way you’d not anticipated, allowing you to build more bridges, slopes, bumps, jumps, to take him or her in any number of directions in this infinite space in which the game exists. Needless to say, there are some amazing compositions of Line Rider online. Amazing. uh…mazing.
I have never been a great student of the hard science or mathematics, so I cannot attest to what, if any, formulas or principles of design might play a role in the quality of the design of the game. It certainly is not necessary to think in such terms to enjoy process. If you’re never played it, I encourage you to try. But wait until the holidays. You’ll want the extra time to recover.
While searching for various games that focus on teaching young adults about financial planning, I came across a simulation built in Flash called “Celebrity Calamity.” In this interactive video simulation, the player assumes the role of Financial Advisor to a celebrity of their choice. This job entails balancing the cash in the checking account and managing all lines of credit, while also shopping for clothes needed by the celebrity, managing income from various gigs and other expenditures. Each round, the Financial Advisor has a limited amount of time to “collect” as much cash, and also buy certain items that come falling out of the sky.
The purpose of this game is clearly explained in an article on Employee Benefit News website http://ebn.benefitnews.com/news/vider-games-use-stealth-learning-to-teach-financial-planning-2681044-1.html . Some employers who have expressed interest in the game said, they would like to integrate “the game into their employee education strategies to help reinforce financial planning messages.” Originally designed to encourage young women to learn how to manage finances, the fun navigation and topical relevance to general public makes this game applicable to a broader audience demographic.The game is an effective tool for reinforcing financial planning messages because it grabs the learners attention, the material is relevant, the learner can quickly gain confidence in their abilities, and the learner will finish with a sense of satisfaction that they did well and “earned,” or gathered, money and goods for their celebrity employer. These four components make up a popular motivational learning theory defined by John Keller known as “ARCS.”
Attention, the first component of the learning theory, is the element in the game that engages and arouses the learner. Celebrity Calamity uses what Keller would call “perceptual arousal” to gain the attention of the learner. There is an element of surprise or uncertainly to gain the interest of the learner. There is not an instructions section that the learner reads before playing. The learner must discover how to play the game as he/she goes. This creates an element of surprise that keeps the learner wanting to explore more. The game also requires the learner to “actively participate,” which is another factor of the attention component. The learner roleplays as a Financial Advisor, gaining hands-on experience with the subject matter.The learner is motivated to continue on with the game because the content is relevant to him/her, which is the second component of Keller’s learning theory.
Relevance is critical for a learner to feel the game is worthwhile to spend their time playing. Keller says that learning is relevant when it relates to the learner’s experience, possesses present and future worth of the content, the content matching the needs of the learner, the learner is able to model the behavior, the learner has a choice in their method of learning and organizing the information. “Celebrity Calamity” includes present and future usefulness, needs matching, and choice. The aspects that have both present and future worth in Celebrity Calamity are the application of basic financial principles such as budget balancing and staying within a budget. As I played the game, I found the content helpful in the way I think about budgets in my everyday life. The game is dynamic and has elements of “needs matching” because there are elements of risk and potential for power. The player has to quickly try and grab as much money and “goods” within the allotted time period, but there might be some consequences depending on what items the grab. If the player collects a lot of money, then it’s a positive risk. However, if the player grabs too many clothes or other “expenses,” then the player looses money out of the budget. The final aspect of relevance that the player has in this game is choice. The player can choose which items they go after which will affect the outcome of the game. They can move wherever they want to on the screen, and they can go to any location they want to. This allows the learners to use different methods to pursue their work or allowing s choice in how they organize it.
The final two components of the ARCS model that are used for learning motivation in this game are confidence and satisfaction. Confidence helps the learner understand their likelihood for success. If they feel they cannot meet the objectives or that the time or effort is too high, their motivation will decrease. This game time limit was very reasonable, and there are many opportunities for success. The goals are relatively easy to accomplish, as well. Additionally, if the learner makes a lot of money for their celebrity, they can see the positive effects because their celebrity client is pleased. What better satisfaction is there than knowing that you’ve made someone like Brittany Spears’ day?? As the player goes through the game he/she experiences small steps of growth and feedback during the learning, which helps build confidence in he/her ability. We see this after each round when there are little lessons that reinforce financial principles that pop up on the screen that also show the learner how he/she is doing. Learner Control is also an important aspect of confidence. Learners should feel some degree of control over their learning and assessment. They should believe that their success is a direct result of the amount of effort they have put forth. This is definitely the case in Celebrity Calamity because the learner is responsible for gathering the goods and money and making decisions about whether to pay for expenses by credit or debit.
The satisfaction component of the ARCS theory is also found in the Celebrity Calamity game. It is similar to the confidence component in the motivational theory, as Learning must be rewarding or satisfying in some way, whether it is from a sense of achievement, praise from a higher-up, or mere entertainment. This game makes the learner feel as though the skill is useful or beneficial by providing opportunities to use newly acquired knowledge in a real setting, i.e. making purchases and choices with the celebrity’s money as they would with their own money in real life. Shopping is a great context for learning about financial management because when learners appreciate the results, they will be motivated to learn. Shopping can be a very gratifying scenario for learners and it’s something they can easily understand, as opposed to balancing the books of a multi-million dollar company. A final aspect of the satisfaction component of the ARCS model is that the learners are not patronized by over-rewarding easy tasks. The learner has enough challenges and stumbling blocks in this game that he/she probably won’t feel as though they’ve been overally rewarded.
Attention, relevance, confidence, and satisfaction are all motivational tactic that make Celebrity Calamity an interesting, informational, and enjoyable game to play. It would be a great game for young and more mature audiences to experience to strengthen their financial acumen.
I recently purchased and opened an early Christmas present for the family. This present for the “family” was the Wii gaming system. I had not had much experience playing games on the Wii system, so I was a bit apprehensive about bringing this time sponge (or any video game) into my home. As I was researching egame ideas, I found myself appreciating what the Wii system had to offer my family. With two very active children in my home the decision to buy the Wii was rather easy. In the 8 days that we have owned it, I cannot be happier about the purchase.
One game that I have really enjoyed is EA Sports Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10. While I may not agree with Tiger’s off the course decisions or appreciate his driving skills, I absolutely love this game! For years, I have played other versions of Tiger Woods PGA Tour (PS2 and PC versions), and this one is the best. I may prefer the graphics offered by the PS3, but you cannot beat the interaction on the Wii.
Playing only a couple of other Wii games, I was surprised about the sensitivity and accuracy (or lack of) of the golf swing. Any slight error in the movement of the Wiimote during the swing caused the ball to fly all over the place, which just so happens to reflect my skills in real life. There are so many other aspects of the game that I enjoy. The graphics are decent, the crowds are entertaining, there is a good variety of courses to play, many challenging game/tournament options, but most all, I like the ability to interact and physically move with the game. I have the option to play real time games versus other people (on line) or even the “pros” who you can challenge during real time tournament action. The tournament scores of the “pros” are updated and you get to compete against them live.
This game offers it all…. The challenge of improving your player’s skills and competing against other people in real time action is great. This game is motivating to play because of the all the opportunities to make choices that impact the career path of your character (of which you also can create). If you are a golf fan, you will definitely appreciate this game. Enjoy!
I chose to profile Don Rawitsch, the creator of the wildly popular educational game Oregon Trail. Oregon Trail is computer-based game based on the history and facts of the American pioneers who traveled across the country in search of better opportunities in the Oregon territories in the 1840s. “The primary objective of this game is to develop decision-making skills in the face of changing and sometimes unforeseen circumstances.” Players are to make the right combination of decisions regarding hunting, food rationing, health care, seasons/weather, and physical danger to ensure that their party makes it to the Oregon territories.
Considered a pioneer in the educational gaming industry, Don Rawitsch, began his career in educational games and technology when he was a student at Carleton College in Minnesota. Don “was looking for a way to use the computer in a history class for which he was the student teacher. In collaborating with his friends, who were both student teachers as well, they created Oregon Trail. In 1974, Don took a job at MECC–or the Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium as it was known back then.” (source) Rawitsch has gone on to launch is own consulting firm, Rawitsch Consulting, where he assists small and medium Web-based businesses to improve business processes and client relationships.
I personally remember playing Oregon Trail in 1989 in the computer lab at school while I was in the 1st grade. Because I did not have a computer in my home, like most people in the late 1980′s, this was my first experience with an computer game in the educational setting. I remember having to stop by the general store to buy supplies and to decide which buffalo to kill for dinner and pelts. There were many times when members of my party died due to disease and weather. While this is a difficult concept for young students to grasp, I feel it is important to let students have experience where their decisions impact the lives and well being of others, even if it is only a simulated game. I feel that Don and Oregon Trail are such an integral part of educational technology history because if you ask most people what was the first computer game they played at school, the answer would more than likely be Oregon Trail.
Career Odyssey Board Game
The Career Odyssey board game is designed to help determine what may be a good career field for them. There are over 12 major career areas made up of 100 career cards that describe talents required in a particular field to be successful. The career cards also include information on employment numbers, job growth, average , etc.
The game is designed for Grade 6 all the way up to adults. This was a good range because it is important for kids to get a feel for what career fields they may be interested in so that they know what to focus on as they go into high school, start thinking about colleges, and deciding on majors. It is also helpful for adults who are looking to make a career change, who are entering the later in life, or just looking for ways to advance their careers.
While I believe that the concept of the game is great, the subject matter changes relatively quickly potentially making the game obsolete quicker than expected. In today’s economic environment, entire industries have been eliminated and created within the last 5 years, and will probably continue to grow, change, and die and the speed of innovation increases. I would change the cards to a digital device that can be updated by connecting to a computer or website to get updated career industry and skill information. This will help the stay current and provide a high level of relevancy to the players. Also, the colors of the board seem to be muted and dull and lack graphical excitement. Over all I feel that the concept of the game is good, but the execution could be updated for that we as a society search for information. I would also separate the level of complexity from Grade 6, high school, and adult into 3 different levels of difficulty so that the user will stay engaged and not feel that particular skills concepts are too difficult grasp or to basic to provide any benefit.
Original Post (10/27/09 here)
Classic card games endure as a popular pastime for some people. In this day and age of computers and video games, what makes an old fashioned game of Gin or Spades appealing? Is it simply a factor of age – those of us who are old enough to predate computer games are the only ones who still think playing cards is fun? I don’t think so, because anyone I teach a card game to, young or old, enjoys the activity and willingly plays again the next time.
Tried and true motivators such as challenge, competition, and cooperation are just as valid today as they were just a couple of decades ago when computer games were still a novelty enjoyed by few.
The uncertain outcome of every card game (assuming no one cheats) makes each game new, unpredictable, challenging, and fun. Team games build relationships and a sense of community and give the players an opportunity to connect with one another. Card games foster competition, and allow each player to move up the “Flow Channel” and increase the challenge level as the game becomes boring, as well as increase the skill level when the game is too challenging (see Conditions of Flow, p. 71).
I happened on Gamestar Mechanic (G*M) and you have to check it out. (I also notice it appears in Bernie’s Delicious links.) It is a game environment where players can learn about game design by creating games, and is scheduled for preview in spring, 2010. The Teacher’s Guide has wonderful ideas for game design and play.
The challenge cards contain wonderfully creative ideas for games that you could use outside of game design for discussion or writing prompts. This concept of using a game to design a game might even be a good final exam for EdTec 670!
I can’t wait to try it.
My father’s dream of flying and the vision of James Paul Gee
Because my experience with electronic games is limited to the handful of floppy disks that lived next to my family’s Apple IIe computer, I have found myself taking journeys into my childhood, trying to remember what those games were (other than Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego, which I’ve discussed already) Aided by various Google searches for “80s computer games” I came across a title that, for me. was laced with a sense of nostalgic portent and gravitas. The title is: Chuck Yeager’s Advanced Flight Simulator (which has been changed, after a lawsuit by Microsoft, to Chuck Yeager’s Advanced Flight Trainer.)
(Video demo can be found here).
It was a game I attempted only once, yet it conjures poignant memories. This is because it was the one and only computer game that my father ever played. And so begins a personal story that may or may not fit the guidelines of this assignment.
My father has never been a computer guy. He appears, to outsiders, quite a cosmopolite, and most, I think, would be surprised to learn that he is one of the few stalwarts of the modern era who have yet to acquire a computer (my memories of him playing were on the family computer, prior to his post-divorce, computer-free bachelorhood). He has never used the internet, and doesn’t plan to. Devices in general are a source of anxiety, and I remember that efforts to take a family photo usually went something like this: “Ready? Okay, one, two,… wait. Hold on a minute, this thing’s not going off.”
The anatomy of appeal
So, in retrospect, the choice of a gadget-laden flight simulation game seems decidedly out of character. Yet I remember it clearly: the vision, captured during late night trips to the bathroom, of my father’s intent face, lit by the greenish glow of the screen before him as he fiddled with the joystick and muttered celebratory grunts and frustrated epithets under his breath. It seems to me that this choice is a true testament to the powers of attractive appearance as well as fantasy, to hold sway over even the most unlikely would-be gamers.
I too, was initially taken in by the game’s attractive appearance. I was amazed and - oddly enough - simultaneously proud and humbled to be living in an era when human beings had developed technology that caused the picture on the computer screen to respond to the movements of my joystick in a way that made it seem that I was really flying (a claim that today’s youngest generation of gamers would no doubt find utterly laughable).
At the age of eleven, I had lots of fantasies (starring in the Ice Capades, walking the streets of Calcutta with Mother Theresa, becoming a Rockette or an Olympic swimmer, and living in a donut-shaped, self contained, artificial environment that orbited around the earth combating the epidemic of overpopulation). Piloting an airplane was not among these. In fact, the proposition of getting on a plane, period, seemed downright terrifying. So, for me, the visual attraction alone was not enough to motivate me to play. I attempted to use the game once, and, facing the frustration that inevitably comes from learning to negotiate a virtual airplane over a virtual landscape without crashing into trees and buildings, I quickly aborted the mission, never to return.
For my dad, however, the fantasy element must have had more powerful sway. He persisted in his pursuit of a successful flight for a brief but intense period. It may have been a month, possibly three months; it may have been a year. He played with intensity and dedication, for many nights on end.
What dreams may die
Eventually, he stopped. For him, it was a private battle; he gave no verbal indication of his success or failure then, and for some reason, even now, I feel a little funny asking him to relive it. Because I know that what my father values most is an environment that he can control, and I also know that what a pilot must do, in order to succeed, is to surrender his faculties to a trust in the plane’s control panel, and this is something that I struggle to picture my father doing even in the comfort of his family’s empty living room in the dark, wee hours of the morning. I suspect that, in the end, the challenge was one that he perceived to be too great, too insurmountable, to warrant his continued effort. I wonder if there was a sort of epiphany, a moment in which he realized the futility of his efforts. I suspect that the reality was much less momentous. More than likely he played with vigor in the beginning, and felt his interest waning, over time, as fantasies of success continued to elude him. I imagine that it waned and waned until, one night, he simply didn’t play, and like the proverbial Puff the Magic Dragon, the game remained where it would for the rest of my family’s time in the house where we grew up – unplayed and gathering dust, until there came a time when floppy disks (the kind that really were floppy) were no more. Sometimes, the challenge is simply too great.
To have lasting appeal, a game must successfully walk the line between challenge and reward. Though I have no doubt that Advanced Flight Simulator Trainer did this for many players; for my father and I, the losses ultimately outweighed the gains.
The stakes have changed
When I think of simulations, I think of Chuck Yeager and I think of my father. I also, thanks to a recent video interview shared by Sue (here is a link to her Nov 17 post), think of James Paul Gee. In it, Gee discusses the important role of games and simulations in the learning environments of the future. Games and simulations provide continual, immediate assessment, they challenge the learner to learn and grasp new concepts on an as-needed basis, they require creative problem solving, and they are best experienced in a collaborative environment. Such ingredients are vital in order prepare students to develop the mental capacities that will be most necessary for competing and thriving in the future, according to Gee.
Change the current paradigm of education? Move the focus from a skill and drill, pen and paper test model to a dynamic, interactive, collaborative learning environment, where attraction, self-actualization, and reward are seamlessly interwoven with challenge, skill-building and assessment? Talk about a fantasy. Talk about a challenge. But, oh! – What a vision. How different it is from the way many of us have looked at education or games.
My father’s experiment in simulation was a product of a different era. It was a matter of fantasy, and when the frustration of virtually living the fantasy outweighed the perceived reward, the experiment could be easily abandoned.
James Paul Gee’s vision may sound like a fantasy, yet it is one that, I think, cannot be abandoned so lightly, however challenging it may be. We need to develop learners who will not be easily daunted by the challenge of an unfamiliar environment, because the reality is, as has been mentioned over and over again in various circles of would-be proactive educators, we are preparing them for environments that do not exist yet.
My father’s experiment with flying, via simulation, was the result of a fantasy that was so tangential to his actual life that it was never discussed, and when the experiment was abandoned it was only evident to those family members who had once observed him playing in the living room. He couldn’t learn, as a successful pilot must, how to trust the controls, how to give his senses over to the technology of the strange new environment. Ultimately, for him, it was not only too strange; it didn’t matter enough in “real” life. He could live his life as he had, with more or less the same degree of success, regardless of his ability to master virtual flight.
For our schools and our students, experiments in simulation might also be a matter of fantasy, as all worthwhile learning endeavors should be. In a good simulation, play is intimately laced with the thrill of making sense of a new environment. As Gee aptly notes, gameplay is an ongoing assessment. You make decisions and your success or failure is directly affected be the decisions you make. For our students, however, learning to negotiate unfamiliar environments is, and will continue to be essential. Gone are the days when such pursuits were largely tangential to real-life success. For our schools, success will require what Gee calls a “total paradigm shift”. Thus undoubtedly will be frustrating and unnerving, especially for educators, who typically value most that which is already known and can be easily controlled (that is: drilled, tested, graded, “covered” – in familiar, manageable, isolated parcels that have nothing to do with life as it is lived by any sentient being, and everything to do with what is wrong with the fundamental design of traditional educational systems).
Nobody likes to surrender control. It is inevitably fraught with problems, laced with expletives, and requires a trust in forces that have yet to be mastered. We don’t trust the controls; we haven’t developed the necessary coordination. Initial attempts to fly inevitably crash and burn. But for us, as educators, the fantasy is not tangential to real life. The game, as Gee notes (and I am one of the most unlikely people to come around to believing this) can and should be recognized as a viable tool for preparation of today’s students: to have real-life success in unknown (and unknowable) environments. Maintenance of such a fantasy is critical for educators. Its preservation may be the only factor that keeps us from abandoning the game during the late-night hours when the challenges of play appear to outweigh the potential gain. The potential gain is always a fantasy, and for educators it is far from tangential; it is a matter of life and death for our primary currency, the development of ability: the abilities of people, ideas, and environments, to change.
When I think of an electronic game that really keeps you wanting more and more I just think of Call of Duty: World at War. When I got this game last year, I played it as much as I could. There were times I was frustrated, however I just kept trying and trying and trying until I made it through. Even when I would finish a difficult section, I would want more. This is the true definition of a game which encapsulates a challenge, however it is possible to reach the end of the game.
The game has amazing graphics which is a plus for any type of graphic war game. Along with the great graphics is the storyline. The setting is World War II and the storyline uses actual movie footage to show those playing the game the real feeling of being on the frontline. There are two different subplots within the game and the player gets to be both individuals in the game. You see the war from the American viewpoint as well as the Russian viewpoint.
To match the great plot as well as the amazing graphics there is an online component to the game. You can play against others online in team or individual matches. This raises the level of intensity of the game and makes it different each time because of the different players you meet each time you get online.
With Call of Duty: World at War it definitely has the FLOW.
asdfg ;lkjh. Seem familiar? No, it’s not online cursing. Those are the home keys on a computer keyboard that, at one time, we either formally or informally learned. How did you learn how to type? Was it during visits to the computer lab back in middle school? Was is through having to keep up during AIM chatting in high school? Maybe it was just because your blasted teacher made you turn in typed book reports…so you struggled your way letter by letter until one day, before you knew it, your words per minutes were that of a veteran secretary? Whatever scenario you can relate to, you are now a pro.
Here’s my story. . .
Way back in whatever grade it was, my Dad spotted a Scholastic book order form on the dining room table. “Maybe it’s about time you learn how to type. Why don’t you pick software from here,” he said pointing to the form. I picked Mario Teaches Typing. Needless to say, my dad wanted me to pick Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing. It was a classic. But, being my dad, he had to keep his word. I chose Mario, so Mario became my typing guru.
In Mario Teaches Typing, players/students learn how to type (using all ten fingers!) at their own pace. Players must pass one level to move into the next, but have opportunities to return to previously passed levels for additional practice. A players advance, levels become more challenging. These levels include, in advancing order, individual letters, words, sentences, and eventually paragraphs. And, most impressively, Mario dissuades the cheater in us all! During many, if not all, according to my recollection, there are animated left and right hands that mimic the proper fingers. For instance, if you are asked to type a “y,” then the right hand’s index finger would light up.
Yes, for three reasons.
(1) Bonus points. Players are encouraged to look at the screen instead of always at their fingers. If the player pays attention to the screen, then there’s an opportunity to earn bonus points for hitting the correct letter. The bonus letter is displayed fleetingly. This motivates students to keep eyes on the screen and not glued to their hands. Memorization is rewarded.
(2) Praise from Mario himself. Mario congratulates players for each level passed. Additionally, a report card provides both positive and negative feedback (words per minutes, commonly mis-typed letters, etc.). The idea is that players strive for improved report cards with each session.
(3) Mario’s my friend. Mario’s everyone’s friend. He’s a familiar character to generations before and after me. We all want to make Mario proud. (Sorry, Mavis Beacon, but I don’t know you.)
Mario. Not only are you my typing guru, but my hero too.
Review by SuperKids Software – http://www.superkids.com/aweb/pages/reviews/typing/2/mario2/merge.shtml
YouTube, 5-minutes of Mario at various levels! – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQbxoOxxNiE
Many times I have walked through the halls at work and seen that spread of electronic cards on a colleague’s monitor that is the telltale sign they’re playing Solitaire and I know I am not the only one who has fallen victim to telling myself, just one more game and then I’ll get back to work. The game has been around for over 240 years (according to Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solitaire) is also called Patience and has many versions with their own rules. This game has successfully made the leap from a physical deck of cards to the electronic versions. The most popular currently are Klondike and Free Cell which come standard with Microsoft Windows, however many other forms can be downloaded free from the internet.
In considering motivation for this blog post, I couldn’t help but think, what makes electronic Solitaire so addictive? For the most part it lacks competition, since by the very nature of the name, one only competes with themselves. Of course, the software will keep score which is weighted by time and the number of moves it took to complete the game and compare it to previous scores. The greatest motivation is the challenge, an intrinsic motivation written about by Malone and Lepper in Making Learning Fun: A Taxonomy of Intrinsic Motivations for Learning. Successful completion of the game requires not only skill, but also luck, hence there will never be complete mastery. There is always a chance the cards are dealt in a manner impossible to win with. Lastly, the availability of the game continues its success – even the least computer savvy person knows Solitaire is located somewhere on every computer and that familiar deck of cards can be very comforting.
In February 2009 Time Magazine published an article about Doodling and it’s usefulness in the ability to pay attention. Here is a quote from that article: “Doodling, in contrast, requires very few executive resources but just enough cognitive effort to keep you from daydreaming, which — if unchecked — will jump-start activity in cortical networks that will keep you from remembering what’s going on.” During my undergraduate years I often doodled in class and it did help me listen much more attentively to what was happening class but as the educational sphere has changed and so has the medium for my classroom experience I have had to find other ways to avoid such distractions.
While in a distance classroom, there are many distractions, instant messaging, general internet browsing, sorting emails are just a few. Generally when I am just trying to pay attention and am not taking notes (because the class and notes are often available after class is over) I will get sleepy. To avoid this I have been playing an egame called Bubble Spinner from time to time.
I am not really a big gamer so outside of being in a situation where I need to pay attention I never play or think to open up this game. My essential motivation for playing this game where I am just breaking bubbles until I get to none, is to avoid other distractions that might occur and keep my mind alert enough to pay attention. It seems a bit silly to me to play this game when I’m not doing something else in fact, often it remind
s me of Bejewled another one of my favorite pass time games that I play while w
aiting for something on my mobile device.
This motivation factor of avoiding distractions or being able to do something so mindless it keeps our mind from wandering is not always thought about but critically important in some of our day to day operations where we have to pay attention for longer than 10 minutes or the next commercial break. Other games that fit this are Tetris, but that is timed which becomes problematic when I need to pause to pay attention to something. And while I love word games and Sudoku I realize that would take attention away from my actual class as it would require thinking.
This past weekend I flew back east to spend Thanksgiving with my family. We celebrated the holiday at my Grandparents place in West Virginia. They live in an enormous log mansion, at the foot of a mountain, in a wooded area right outside a small town called Berkely Springs. It is very peaceful there…lots of time to sleep, eat, read, nap, and just chill.
As relaxing as it is, however, being isolated in the middle of the woods in West Virginia provides perhaps a little too much downtime. There is only so much napping and eating you can do before you start getting restless. Now, there isn’t much in the way of computers or Playstations at grandma’s cabin, but as luck would have it, I happened to have my old cell phone on me and, consequently, all my old cell phone games(I had lost my newer cell phone the day before). So of course, I ended up spending much of the holiday weekend getting reacquainted with my favorite, absurdly addicting cell phone game, Bubble Breaker.
The brilliance of Bubble Breaker lies in its simplicity. As you can see from the picture, the gameboard consists of a screen of differently-colored balls arranged in a matrix. There are five different colors: red, blue, green, yellow and purple. The game is played by clicking on any two or more connecting similarly-colored balls to eliminate (“bust”) them from the board, earning a variable amount of points in the process. The more balls eliminated at once, the higher the points added to the your score. The game continues until there are no moves left – i.e there are no more like-colored balls adjacent to each other. The game immediately goes to the scoring screen, where statistics such as your Average Score, Total Score and your Total Games Played are displayed (performance feedback).
The challenge of Bubble Breaker provides the intrinsic motivation to play this game over and over again. Every game begins with a completely random board, but the objective remains the same – eliminate the bubbles in the order that will result in the most points. Each move depends on the move before it. Depending on how the bubbles “fall” after each move, the point potential can change dramatically. Its impossible to tell how any given board will play out at the start of the game.
The only depressing thing about Bubble Breaker, at least in this particular case, is the “Total Games Played” count the game so kindly displays for you of at the conclusion of each play. Who would’ve thought you could fit 1,000 games of Bubble breaker into one holiday weekend?
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games is an electronic game for the Nintendo platform. In the game, players choose a character from the Mario Brothers or Sonic the Hedgehog franchise who have different levels of strength and skill or the player can choose a self-created avatar. Players then use a wireless controller and “nun chuck” attachment to compete (either against the computer or other players) in typical summer Olympic games such as archery, swimming, table tennis, and track & field events. Based on where the player places in relation to the other competitors, they are awarded points that go towards an over all score. After all of the predetermined matches are complete, players are awarded either a gold, silver, or bronze medal for their performance. As the player advances in level and skill new characters and games are unlocked.
From a motivation perspective, the ARCS motivational theory can be applied to how the developers implemented certain features to keep players engaged. Attention: Bright , vibrant colors and inspirational music (think Rocky) are present at all stages of the game. Also the crowd claps and cheers during matches or in games like archery, the spectators are quite but the sound of the wind is present. Players have the option of reading instructions and or practicing before participating in an actual match. Relevance: This game was launched as part of the campaign for the 2008 summer olympics held in Beijing, China and because the Olympics are a near-global effort, it was hard to go anywhere without hearing or seeing an advertisement for the games. While the actual olympic games are reserved for the most elite athletes in the world, Mario & Sonic allows players to fulfill their own personal olympic aspirations from the comfort of their own home with friends and family. Confidence: Players build confidence by having the ability to choose the events that they enjoy the most and then compete to improve their previous performance. As players continue to play, their expectation of success increases as their skill and mastery of the mechanics of different moves and opponents increases. Satisfaction: Players are provided with Positive consequences such as winning gold, silver, and bronze medals, achieving a personal best score and unlocking new players and games.
This is an online version of the classic board game. We’re studying how to graph points in algebra class, so we played battleship! To be honest, I picked the game because it’s online, it looks good, and it deals with plotting coordinates (in particular, this was a good game because the coordinates aren’t labeled, which lead to lots of confusion).
As I stood in class and watched my students play, I was amazed at how engaged they were. These are kids that tell me everyday about their favorite game on their PSP. Or how their arms are tired from playing Wii boxing all night. Or better yet, how they couldn’t do their homework last night because they were up until 4am playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. I played the game with three different classes and nearly every student was engaged. Not just looking up front and paying attention, but eager to help a fellow player or take their own turn at the board. It was incredible.
What makes the game really fun are the aspects of control and curiosity. Their really isn’t any chance or luck involved in the game. The player decides where to place his or her ships and so takes ownership over them. The player also gets to pick which space to shoot at. Some players opt for haphazard guessing, while others use a more methodical approach. The best moments came right after a player would pick a space to shoot at. Then they had to wait to see if it was a hit. In that split second, you could hear a pin drop. This was usually followed by a rather loud response from the class if the turn resulted in a hit.
These aspects of the game are probably true for the classic board game version too. However, the look and sound of the online version was also very motivating for my students. Instead of hearing another player call out “miss,” or “hit,” the game shows a splash of water or a large explosion (realistic sound effects included). Thirteen year-old students liked this. It offered them a fresh look at an old game which was enough to keep them interested until the game really got going.
As my 8 year old son has become more and more intrigued by the Club Penguin game, both in their online community as well as their Nintendo DS game, I decided to profile this game idea for the November blog. Club Penguin has been touted as ”Social Networking for Kids” by the developers of the games.
The online version is a virtual penguin community in which players can choose the look of the penguin, as well as the name (screen name) of their penguin. During the player’s movement around the virtual community they can move through various stores and community places, while interacting with other players, as well as playing mini-games to earn coins. The coins earned by players can be used to purchase virtual items for decorating their igloos, purchasing a pet puffle or accessorizing their penguin’s wardrobe. Although, there are membership dues for playing the online version of Club Penguin, non-members are able to move throughout the virtual community and interact with others, with limited benefits. At various times, Club Penguin has allowed players to donate their earned coins to charitable foundations, such as the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.
About one year ago, Club Penguin Elite Force was released for use on the Nintendo DS platform. This allowed players to play Club Penguin in their own virtual environment, while solving a variety of mysteries. The player becomes a secret agent and is provided with clues to save another secret agent. The makers of the game also provide the purchaser with a game card which allows the consumer to gain more coins in the online community. While the DS version is more difficult in solving the secret missions, there are several online communities and blogs that provide secrets and cheats for getting through a mission. I have found this a great benefit great when my son is so frustrated with the game that he is threatening to throw the game in the trash.
On a recent trip to Disneyland, I noted that there were several pieces of merchandise that also tie into the Club Penguin market, including books, apparel and toys. It seems that Club Penguin has become one of the greatest tie-in marketing campaigns for an e-game.
As indicated by Lepper and Malone, Club Penguin seems to have all the factors for intrinsic motivation, both individually and interpersonally. Club Penguin promotes challenge through guiding players to complete missions (DS) and find hidden locales (Online), thereby providing them with performance feedback as well as goal achievement. It stimulates individual curiosity, by creating secret rooms or areas (both DS and online) that the players have to locate and explore. It allows the player to have a sense of control, in that they are able to earn coins and make purchases to create a more enjoyable playing experience. Even though the avatars are penguins, there are plenty of opportunities for individuals to play in additional worlds of fantasy, for example as agents or medieval knights. Also because the online community is anonymous, it allows players to interact and role play with other players. There is a great deal of competition in the online version with the mini-games, where you test your skills alone and with other players. The DS version allows for plenty of competition and cooperation, in that players will usually discuss what missions they are on, and share clues as to how to unlock secret areas and solve missions. I know that my son feels a sense of recognition when he can talk to his friends about his progress on both the online and DS versions and gets a sense of satisfaction when he can share his secrets.
My seven year old son plays egames religiously. He started off playing games at NickJunior.com and PBSkids.org. A friend of mine introduced him to Nintendo8, a website that houses hundreds of old-school games. He then quickly found his way to the realm of online egames. About six months ago, I noticed my husband was playing online video games, one in particular he played ALL OF THE TIME: GemCraft Chapter Zero. Apparently my son showed him this game. My husband would stay up for hours playing this game. He and my son would talk about the new gems they had acquired, how many monsters they have destroyed and especially the new lost amulets they have discovered. After a few months, I sat down at my computer and googled the name of the game. While my first experience was not very rewarding, I found myself wanting to go back to it to see if I could get any further on my next attempt. While I do not find video games very tempting, this game quickly had its hooks in me.
Here is the basic scenario. The player goes through this monster infested wilderness looking for lost amulets. In order to reach new levels, the player has to destroy the monsters by building traps and towers and placing gems in them. These gems shoot at the monsters. The player starts with a very small amount of money, called mana, to purchase towers, gems and traps. As the player kiils more monsters, the player accumulates what are called XP points. The more XP points you have, you can adjust your skill level resulting in a variety of things: lowering the cost of gems, starting with more mana, improving the fire power of the gems, increasing the firing radius of the gem etc. The monsters also have different attributes: speed and armor level. There are eight different gems. All of the gems have different qualities. For instance, the green gem shoots poison on the monsters and kills them slowly over a matter of time. The blue gem slows monsters down. The purple gem decreases the monster’s armor level. As I play more of this game, I find more “hidden” levels and gain a more strategic edge for the game.
I have tried to evaluate why I find this game so fun. I like the reward of the XP points. I like that I have control as to what attributes I want to enhance throughout the game. I like that I get to choose which level I want to play on. This freedom lets me play a level that I think I can win, however be challenging at the same time. I do not get bored with this game. There are a variety of monsters and I like to hear the sound effects when I destroy the over-sized ones. They let out this funny squeal. I like feeling in control when I play; the game does not determine my next step, I do. While the graphics do not hold a candle to the 3D graphics games, the scenes are interesting and the game is, well, borderline addictive. There are at least 50 levels that I have played so far, each of which have nine different ways of playing. I dare you to try it. You may find yourself staying up until 2am on a work night, just as I did once, okay, maybe twice.
This entry is about a simulator called the Ship’s Control and Navigation Training System (SCANTS), built at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in 1986 partly in response to a very tragic Coast Guard accident. Coast Guard men and women throughout Florida gather at the Blackthorn Memorial in St. Petersburg, Florida every year on January 28th to remember 23 Coast Guardsmen who perished January 28, 1980 when the Coast Guard Cutter Blackthorn sank after colliding with an oil tanker. The Blackthorn, a 180-foot buoy tender out of Galveston, Texas, had just completed an routine maintenance period in the Tampa Bay, Florida area and was headed back to Galveston, when, at 7:21 p.m., Blackthorn and the 605-foot oil tanker Capricorn collided approximately two miles south of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Initially, the damage did not appear to be too extensive, however Capricorn’s seven-ton anchor became embedded in Blackthorn’s hull and when the anchor chain became taut, Capricorn pulled Blackthorn through the water causing it to capsize. The Blackthorn sank in less than five minutes in 40-feet of water. Twenty-three of Blackthorn’s 50 crewmembers were killed in what is still the Coast Guard’s worst peacetime disaster.
The U.S. Coast Guard established their Command and Operations School in 1986 at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut. The school is designed to instruct every Coast Guard officer who will be directly responsible for the navigation of a ship. The two-week curriculum focuses on saving lives by teaching critical decision-making skills for avoiding collisions at sea while highlighting the proper application of the Nautical Rules of the Road and Operational Risk Management. The backbone of the course is the Ship’s Control and Navigation Training System (SCANTS). SCANTS is a multi-million dollar, state-of-the-art, visual bridge simulator, where prospective Commanding Officers and Executive Officers spend hours honing their skills and demonstrating their ability to correctly interpret risks while out at sea. Since it’s inception, the use of SCANTS has been expanded to cadets at the Coast Guard Academy and Officer Candidates at the Coast Guard’s Officer candidate school to introduce them to operations on different Coast Guard cutters. Scants gives a graphical representation of what someone would see by “looking out the window” of a moving ship including simulated vessel movement. The simulator can recreate the unique operational characteristics of any class of Coast Guard cutter, incorporating engine noise, waves, sounds, bridge whistles, fog signals and water noises. These “cutters” are programmed to operate in many real and imaginary ports in all weather conditions. The learner accomplishes the secondary objective of learning different ports as well. The simulator is set up similar to the bridge of most Coast Guard cutters with input tools such as chart plotters, GPS, radar, and radios. All of the action in each scenario is programmed in by an operator that can adjust the weather, visibility, mission requirements, vessel traffic, radio traffic, and casualties based on the expertise of the individual learners. The learner manipulates the speed and course of the cutter by giving appropriate orders to other team members or physically moving the controls themselves for smaller cutter simulations. After each scenario, the instructor debriefs the learner to capture lessons learned that can be incorporated into future scenarios. I have been in the SCANTS simulator about 20 times between my time as a cadet and the two times that I have attended Command and Operations school before reporting to an assignment as the commander or second in command of a Coast Guard cutter. While at Command and Operations school, I found SCANTS to be an invaluable resource to refine my skills and try out new ideas in a low risk environment. For example, in a scenario in which I noticed numerous vessels converging on me from different directions, I used the technique of speeding up rather than the traditional response of slowing down or turning right to try and avoid the other vessels. I made this decision based on the capabilities of the cutter that I was operating in the simulation. I used the same technique numerous times in real life once I took command of my own cutter of the same class. I never would have tried this maneuver on my first cutter out of the Coast Guard Academy because it was much slower and not nearly as maneuverable as the cutter to which I was being assigned.
SCANTS isn’t the only electronic simulation being used by the Coast Guard. As the service builds new cutters, they are now incorporating simulators at their training centers in Petaluma, CA and Yorktown, VA in which entire crews can run through realistic simulations of their own homeport and operating area as a team in a low-risk environment prior to the Coast Guard taking control of the new cutter from the shipbuilder. The Coast Guard has also used similar simulators to train their junior workforce by using commercial companies to deliver navigation simulations as part of training for their personnel that drive small boats.
SCANTS relates very well to Keller’s ARCS model. The instructors capture your attention by giving you a mission brief before starting the scenario and going over lessons learned from several previous scenarios. The relevance is definitely there with learners from the Command and Operations school getting ready to accept some of the most challenging, but rewarding assignments in the U.S. Coast Guard by taking command of their own cutter. There are few jobs in the world where someone has such ultimate responsibility and authority over those in their command. Additionally many of these prospective cutter commanding officers are coming from a job ashore and are somewhat rusty on shipboard protocol. The SCANTS simulator has increased relevance by refreshing and refining their skills in a low risk environment. A collision with another vessel in the simulator might earn you some ribbing from the other learners, but will not get you fired like an actual collision at sea. For cadets and officer candidates, the relevance comes from learning how a Coast Guard cutter operates. The vast majority of these soon to be officers are going to be assigned to a cutter out of the Coast Guard Academy. In order to succeed at their first assignment, they need to report to their unit with some baseline knowledge. The realism of the graphics, sound, and simulated motion of the vessel, and the ability of the simulator to adapt to the handling characteristics of any of the Coast Guard’s cutters also adds to the relevance. The use of the SCANTS simulator will definitely improve your confidence in the navigation and handling characteristics of the cutter you are reporting to as well as your confidence in navigating through a port for the first time. For example, I was familiar with the traffic patterns and landmarks in San Francisco Bay before reporting to my first unit, because I had already “been there” several times in the SCANTS simulator. The SCANTS simulator routinely receives some of the highest ratings for its value in the entire Command and Operations school curriculum which signifies the level of satisfaction that learners feel after using this tool. Personally, I think it is also the most fun part of the entire course.
Since the establishment of the Coast Guard’s Command and Operations School and the SCANTS simulator, no lives have been lost due to a Coast Guard cutter colliding with another vessel. This realistic real life training has undoubtedly prevented at least a few Coast Guard cutter Commanding Officers from making tragic mistakes that would have ended their careers. The Blackthorn tragedy illustrated that even an organization based on safety at sea has a responsibility to improve its operating procedures to ensure the future safety of lives at sea.
Sure, I like football and like to watch a good game especially when the Chargers beat the Broncos but for the past 3 years I have listened, watched and learned as my boyfriend plays Fantasy Football. Every Friday afternoon he sits down in front of the computer and makes his picks for the weekend games in hope of choosing the players who will score the most points allowing him to win his fantasy game.
Until taking this class I never really understood the motivation and desire to participate in Fantasy Football. Yes, you can win money at the end of the season that can motivate many. But what else could drive over 72,000,000 people according to Answers.com to play Fantasy Football each season?
In my effort to find out why, I asked my boyfriend over dinner why he plays. He smiled and replied, “To beat my friends. There is also a chance to win money and I can use my football knowledge.” His response was very interesting to me and I found myself thinking about our class readings about motivation in games and why we choose to play or not to play certain games.
Using the concepts developed by Maslow: Fantasy Football could very well be the perfect example of his model of motivation. It includes elements of safety, belonging, and self esteem (levels 3-5). It does this in a number of ways. Safety can motivate a player by providing an opportunity to win money and thus use that money to meet specific life needs. Belonging can motivate as it provides the player with not only a feeling of belonging among their small group of friends but also gives player’s a topic to discuss with 72,000,000 of their closest friends. Self-esteem may also motivate by providing an opportunity for recognition, respect, achievement and mastery.
Fantasy Football is also a multi-player game with players competing against each other every week that can be a motivating factor since it allows players to feed their competitive urges. It also can motivate players by allowing them to meet up with their friends online in what we might call the ultimate Fantasy. After all isn’t it called Fantasy Football?
Today, I realized that there must be something intrinsic in me that makes me like to hunt. I am forever hunting for my keys, clothes, coffee, notes, papers, purse and just about everything else I don’t purposely choose to hunt for. It dawned on me that my most recent e-game was a game of hunting. I am kind of embarrassed to admit that something in me is motivated to sit for hours in front of Big Fish’s Huntsville and search and search for clues to solve the silly crimes they conjure up.
I seriously have to contemplate as to why I would sit here… accomplishing nothing of the many other, more productive things I could be doing, and play for hours. What was it about this game that “hooks” a player and more than that… reeled me in?
From the onset of the game my Attention was seized by the mysterious, detective type music that resonated with the badge and title bestowed upon the player. I was.. Flatfoot Mechelle, detective.
Huntsville is a small town that is experiencing a series of crime; 15 in all. You are to solve each case by hunting for several different objects located in separate locations throughout town. The objects are well hidden and each time you come back to a previous location for “clues” you are required to find different “clues”. After finding all the clues, your skills are tested to see if you can piece together a scene (like a puzzle) that shows the criminal in the act.
Perception is immediately captured by the many “hidden” objects. The caricatures and comedic tone of the game is almost like a slapstick “Get Smart”.
The goal and relevance is fed to the player through a barrage of typewriter stories that provide the case files and background info about town events and gossip. It feels very campy and not necessarily urgent… yet I keep playing.
There is very little learning with the exception of memorizing locations of objects. However, there are many successes that build the confidence of the player. With each case, some objects are repeated giving immediate accomplishment to the player. Creative crime characters made me want to see what crazy other people lived in this made up cartoon town.
What I like most are the many different titles they have for “detective”.. I started as a flatfoot, ranked up to a snoop and then on to many other fun titles for detective. It was satisfying to see my rank and badge change to a newer more distinguished name.
I guess mastering the hunt and finding things are necessary to be productive thorough life. I don’t know why I like it in the game, but I do, and will probably continue to practice this skill, whether I like it or not.
The electronic game I want to review it World Golf Tour or WGT. This is a free web-based game based from San Francisco. They tout themselves as “the world’s most authentic golf experience”. After playing for several months I would have to agree.
The homepage of WGT is where one creates their account. From that page, one can meet other golfers and become their “friends” (a la Facebook). One can also read and post to a discussion board. There is also a place to view all the playing stats you or your friend has achieved. The homepage is also where you launch the pop-up where the game is played.
The game is free, but the equipment that you start out with is pretty limited and crappy, so of course you’ll want to upgrade your clubs and balls. This is where WGT makes their money. For about $40 you can completely outfit yourself with “tour quality” golf clubs and golf balls.
The game is played on actual world class golf courses from the US and abroad… St. Andrews, Bethpage Black, Kiawah Island are some of the courses one can play in this game. The makers have taken high def video and the animated player is overlayed on the images of the course. This makes for rich gameplay.
The game play is not hard to learn, but quite difficult to master. The better you play, the lower your rating gets. I think that this game is addictive, but there are only 2 full courses that can be played. Some of the game controls are a bit cumbersome and tricky to master. The multiplayer mode is the best though. This is where you can play a friend online. I enjoy playing my friends and talking trash to them via the chat mode.
All in all, for a video game golf fan, WGT is a fantastic option. It is hard, uses real courses and best of all, it’s free!
Genesis is an online text mud, or multi-user dungeon. It is one of the older games in this genre, having been originally created in 1989 on the game engine coded by Lars Pensjo in Sweden. It is an open-source game–that is, both the code and the content of the game have been a non-profit, group collaborative effort, although the copyright is owned by Chalmers Datorforening, Goteborg, Sweden. The only graphics within the game are works of ASCII art.
Genesis is operated, maintained and built by an international community of dedicated “wizards,” who are “immortal” players. Over the years many wizards have contributed to the building and maintenance of this game, and there are players who have lived in the virtual community of Genesis for almost 20 years:
“Bear in mind, Genesis, a complex, evolving but stable and balanced system was created just by students like you. It has two parts – the game driver, written in pure C, and a mud lib, the Mud operating system, implementing an object oriented language, a cousin of C++, called LPC (LP standing for the creator Lars Penjo’s initials).” (http://genesis.tekno.chalmers.se/students/index)
Based on the original idea of Dungeon and Dragon games, the Dungeon Master is the computer system itself. Genesis is made up of “domains” based on fantasy themes, such as Gondor and Krynn (from the Dragonlance series). Each domain is comprised of a network of areas made up of virtual “rooms,”, and players navigate from room to room with keyboard commands (for example, by typing in “north,” “up,” “climb tree,” “board boat”, etc.). Each room contains a textual description that tells the player where he/she is, and various clues can be embedded in the descriptions. You can examine items and search for objects. There are hidden levers, secret passages, and occasional traps and other surprises.
In addition, some rooms contain special objects called “non-player characters” (NPCs) or “mobiles.” These objects can also navigate around the game and interact in various ways with the player. Some NPCs are helpful (a quest guide, a ship captain, a guild NPC, etc.), and some NPCs are creatures, monsters or enemy warriors that must be slain in order to loot items and coins or gain the object to a quest.
What motivates players to play a text mud? I have heard some people say that playing a text mud is like walking into the pages of a book and becoming one of the characters. All interactions of the player with the game and with other players is handled via text. Granted, this takes a good deal of imagination, and certainly text muds often appeal to players who are avid readers. Genesis draws upon several familiar fantasy themes from books, such as Tolkien’s the Lord of the Rings, Ursula K. Leguin’s The Wizard of Earthsea, and Weis and Hickman’s Dragonlance series.
Certainly the sense of being transported to a virtual world is part of the motivation for playing muds. Players often distinguish between “in-game” and “in real life” (or “out of character”). Consider in this context Csikszentimihalyi’s theory on flow:
“In our studies, we found that every flow activity, whether it involved competition, chance, or any other dimension of experience, had this in common: It provided a sense of discovery, a creative feeling of transporting the person into a new reality. It pushed the person to higher levels of performance, and led to previously undreamed-of states of consciousness. In short, it transformed the self by making it more complex. In this growth of the self lies the key to flow activities.” (Csikszentimihalyi, p. 74)
In addition to the aspect of flow activity, a large part of the motivational design lies in the multi-player, social context. There is a chat system, and email within the game. In addition there are bulletin boards around the game where players are encouraged to express themselves. Players can even rent “carrier pigeons” (NPC objects) to send messages to a player in another part of the realms.
Guilds reinforce social ties by encouraging players to team together and role play. There are also some magical guild spells that “telepathically” transmit messages to other players. As part of role-play requirements, players may be encouraged to write books that are “shelved” in virtual libraries. For example, the Ranger guild encourages its members to write books on the magical properties of various herbs and other objects that can be found in the game.
Richard Bartle, co-creator of a mud back in 1978 at the University of Essex, was quoted in an interview: “Game worlds in particular are places of adventure and excitement, similar to the real world but apart from it. People go there as part of a hero’s journey – a means of self-discovery … When they’ve grown as people and become the individuals they set out to become, they have no need to play any more.” (http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/gamesblog/2007/jul/17/idcloseworld)
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. New York: Harper & Row. Chapter 4: The conditions of flow.
Do you wanna play like a super hero and re-visit the old foes of the Batman DC Comic line-up? Then I highly suggest you rent or purchase your own copy of “Batman Arkham Asylum” asap. This role-player adventure game is available on a variety of different gaming platforms. The fluid game play and HD graphics on this game for the Xbox360 made my jaw drop. Batman fans and super hero fans alike will be sure to enjoy this video game and everything that this game packs. No guns are necessary for Batman, just hand-to-hand combat along with his utility belt goodies: Grappling hooks, batarangs (batman style boomerangs), explosives…etc. The introduction of the game begins with Batman delivering the Joker to the Prison (Arkham Asylum). Joker is strapped to an upright rolling gurney, reminiscent of the ‘Hannibal Lechter’ style gurney. As he is being rolled through the gates, the gamer is prompted to control Batman who walks closely to the group of guards. Joker all the while is yapping his familiar yap, chastizing the guards and Batman. The scenery and the environment gives the gamer an eerie feeling that something bad is going to happen at any moment. The characteristics of a Learning game are all here. Total control of playing the game as Batman and selection of the Batman weaponry incorporates the gamer to build strategy. The curiosity of what the next level will bring after successfully completing one level after the next keeps the gamer coming back for more. The sheer fantasy of playing as a super hero and the vibration feedback from the controller as you are hit by a villain or standing near an explosion keeps you in the moment and makes you feel that you are actually living in the video game. The constant challenge of completing the game at each difficulty level with 100% success (the curiosity of trying to find all of the hidden secrets on each map) invites the gamer to play the game again and again. There are tons of secrets available (for free) and revealed online, which gives gamers confidence that they will be able to solve all there is to solve in the game completely. That always makes me feel like I got my money’s worth from a game if little things like these are available. This game gets a 10 out of 10 and a double ‘thumbs up’ from me.
Maritime Simulation Institute established a ship handling training complex on the Naval Station in San Diego, CA in 1993. The complex contained two Full Mission Bridges and a Bridge Wing simulator which trained new inspiring Deck Watch Officers as well as seasoned ones, up until 2006. Deck watch Officers learned procedures that ranged from basic ship maneuvering to complex refueling at sea. I can remember showing up to the San Diego complex in 2000 and being absolutely amazed by the highly technical simulator which may have carried a price tag from $500,000 to 1 million dollars. My shipmates and I were there to practice procedures for refueling at sea in preparation for deployment to the Persian Gulf.
The simulator which was then located at the Naval station in San Diego, CA was similar to the Kongsberg Maritime Simulation & Training Maritime Offshore Simulator pictured below. The Dynamic Positioning Maneuvering Simulator is fully integrated with a Kongsberg Polaris ship Bridge and it features up to 360 degree visual system.
Most electronic game and simulator developers cannot afford a price tag in the millions to produce a simulator comparable to Kongsberg Maritime Simulation and Training Maritime Offshore Simulator, and I doubt the demand would be high, however Ship Simulator, released in 2006 as a PC game involves players participating in up to 40 missions; the more experience each player gains, the more missions the player can attempt. More difficult missions become available as the game progresses. Additionally, players can create and exchange missions with other players of the game online.
The common motivation consistent in all three simulators is self-esteem, which is directly related to achievement as shown in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Ship handing is usually something that improves by repetition, the more you practice the better you become, improving confidence. As each play/participant completes a level of simulation with little error, or in the case of Ship Simulator, completes and mission the player experiences a sense of achievement.
For further information please check out the following sites:
Attention Game Players!! It’s brand new – released on November 17, 2009. NCAA Basketball 10 uncovers the core of college basketball with an all-new strategic motion offensive system, innovative broadcast presentation, the excitement, emotion, and pageantry that makes the college game unique. It introduces full integration of CBS Sports and ESPN broadcast elements, allowing gamers to choose their broadcast presentation for every game. Electronic Arts Inc. announced the availability of this game, developed under the EA SPORTS brand for the PlayStation3 and Xbox 360.
Yes it has relevance in the new broadcast-style and graphics just like one would see while watching a college basketball. It boasts confidence simply by pressing a button as the teammates can get initiated into whatever offense the player decide to run. It provides the ability to track players’ progression, make improvements to facilities in school and go through the standard recruitment process that every college sports game brings to the table. Yes it is satisfying and involves all 4 steps of Keller’s ARCS Model of Motivational Design.
Oh yes!! Even Malone and Lepper’s Characteristics of a Learning Game applies here. The player enjoys control over a team’s strategy and can mimic real-life style of play and adds curiosity and fantasy with the authentic broadcasting presentations from the all-star announcing crews like Dick Vitale, Brad Nessler, and Erin Andrews of ESPN, and Gus Johnson and Bill Raftery of CBS Sports by choosing regular season games and its exclusive broadcast of ‘March Madness’. Everything that fans see and hear on TV when watching college basketball will be mirrored in here, including graphic packages and highlight reels. It adds challenge with Improved Coach Feedback System and Team Tempo Control which enables the execution of game-plan to perfection.
The curiosity maximizes with a new offensive system that allows users to maximize ball movement, utilizing every player on the court, and executing team-specific plays, designed to control an opponent’s weaknesses. With the touch of a button users will be able to play fluidly and successfully. It increases the strategy behind team styles of play by introducing eight authentic motion offenses. So start your game-play and visual enhancements and make a run for the “Final Four” with more than 100 improvements, including player movement, rebounding, off-ball collisions, alley-oops, size-ups, and more!!
I found a real-life simulation game designed to teach the art of Cardio-pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). The game offers the user several ways to practice and reinforce what they’ve already learned in the standard four-hour CPR certification course. The game relies on Second life, a virtual-reality role-playing simulation in which the characters move and act much like real life. This e-game is a fantastic way for someone to practice real situations in which their skills could save someone’s life.
Having been CPR certified, I know the level of bore that these training sessions often cause. Most of the time, you don’t get to practice your skills…rather, you listen & watch a trainer, and then prove yourself at the end by working on a dummy. The problem with this approach is that it doesn’t offer the participant enough opportunities to practice what they’ve learned. As for me, I remember that I quickly forgot certain steps and details (chest compressions, breath cycles) of the CPR procedure soon after the training.
This sim game keeps the learner motivated by offering real-life scenarios, including a classroom setting, school lounge environment, and a bar situation. In each scenario, they need to make snap decisions, such as assessing the environment, calling for help, and proceeding with CPR. By placing the player in this context, the game is utilizing elements of the ARCS model of learner motivation.
First of all, the player’s attention is kept by offering new situations that feel real and provide a sense of urgency to utilize their CPR skills. Secondly, it places a relevance onto their learning, by offering a variety of real-life situations in which anyone would find themselves – person at a bar, child at a playground, etc. With just the standard training, the CPR skills aren’t as relevant, because there is no real-life context or time pressure to motivate the learner. Third, this sim provides the learner with confidence to use their newly learned skills. As the learner plays the game and progresses through the various scenarios, they are gaining confidence in their ability to meet the challenge of an unconscious victim and bring them back to life. Lastly, they have the opportunity to have satisfaction from helping save one life after another.. Even though they’re working on a dummy in the simulation, the situations are real enough that the learner becomes more satisfied with their work.
The designers of this egame really thought about their audience in designing the simulation. Having been trained in CPR myself, I see the value of this simulation, and wish I would have had the opportunity to play it to practice my skills. I guarantee that I would have remembered more about how to do CPR given this opportunity. Not to mention, I would have gained experience in Second Life as well. Kudos to the designers for making a game that anyone interested in CPR would like to play and continue playing.
Animal Kingdom, Wildlife Expedition is a Photo Safari game for the Wii. This single player game has a bit of a story to it which requires a player to read the story to understand it (which I mention because I had to read it to my 4yr old daughter for her to understand it). Here is a brief summary from the developers site:
Nestled in the middle of remote Animal Island is a secret preserve where the most rare, exotic, and reclusive wild animals roam. Only the best wildlife photographers gain access to this area, so you need to impress your editor with good work and earn the trust of the furry and feathered inhabitants!
After choosing a boy or girl character, AKWE starts with an opening sequence that orients you to the game. You are introduced to the location, your robot assistant, and your editor who requests various shots throughout the game. The robot assistant takes you through a brief tutorial on how to use the controls.
Immediately, the AKWE incorporates controls I consider sloppy, the only option you are given for choosing things on screen is pointing. I much prefer games that also offer the option of using the directional arrows for selecting things, especially when it is just housekeeping type stuff, like choose a character, clicking yes or no, or typing your name. Also in the initial setup of AKWE, every choice needed to be confirmed by pointing at yes… it would be so much more efficient to be able to click A for Yes or B for No.
The opening sequence itself (and the game in general) incorporates too much reading. In fact the text appears on the screen one character at a time with a beep sound for each character (much like the typewriter effect on power point which gets old very quickly). I think I would prefer to have the text read to me than to have the beep sounds (with the option of easily muting it, or skipping through it quickly).
In general the slowness with which the text appears is a precursor to this game’s biggest problem… it takes to much time to get to the interesting stuff. Sometimes your robot assistant tells you to do the same thing twice before he allows you to do it.
Really the heart of the game seems to be when you get out of your jeep (driven by your robot assistant) and get close to animals attempting to take their photo. Here the game works pretty well. The animal graphics are good (I suspect they are identical to the Publishers PS3 release of a similar Game – Afrika). At the early stages of the game you have to creep very slowly when around animals to avoid spooking them. I found waiting in location also seemed to work pretty well as the animals often approached very closely in their wanderings. Depressing the B button pulls out the camera and the interface changes to look similar to looking through a camera. Here is where I think a game like Nikon Reporter could go a little bit further, giving you a little more control over capturing a quality photograph than just getting close and centering you subject, all that AKWE requires.
I found the photo part of the game to be the most intriguing. To me, this was a a completely new concept for a game. In fact in my research (See Nikon Reporter – Competing Products), I could find only a few games that are based on photography. In a sense AKWE combines a first person shooter with a photo simulation. Not being a big FPS player, I enjoyed that this game was not about killing the animals. In fact I found myself patiently waiting for several minutes for the perfect shot – something I have done myself at the zoo when taking pictures. Being closer to the animals than allowed at the zoo and the quality of the graphics (even on a Wii) kept me engaged. then it was time to move on… and this is where the game is a little lacking. The way in which you move from shoot to shoot is a little awkward, some of it is the annoying “you have to point to choose yes” control… actually after playing a little bit more, that is most of it. It is also a little slow at times because you have to do a lot of things to move to the next step.
So at present, I have not actually played much of this game. The big question is will I continue playing it… probably. My four year old has wanted to play it some more as well but I suspect for both of us that AKWE will not hold our interest for very long, the biggest factor being the pace with which you go through the game being a little too slow and keeping you from the most interesting part – shooting pictures of the animals.
When my son was around 10, he began to play the Sims games. He loved playing these games. Some of the things which the game taught him was the importance of working each day, maintaining friendships and completing tasks. But his favorite thing to do was to drown his players in the pool. At the time, I really worried about him, fearing that this may be the start of some pretty serious behavior problems. But, as I read from Schell, I realize that the pleasure that my son received from this act can be described as “delight in another’s misfortune”.
When preparing for this month’s blog, I researched a variety of online games. Lacking the time and initiative to begin a complex, multi layered gaming experience, I had to settle on the quick, numbing and time killing offerings online. These simple games are low in detail and script, but heavy in entertainment and additive qualities. In celebration of the Thanksgiving holiday, I played a game called Turkey Xmas, A Festive Fling. It is quite simple, relying on a drag and pull to stretch the turkey and then some left clicking to stay afloat, eating corn and berries, and trying to land in something cool. It is a fair game, with a balance of small skills required and small challenge. Still, it has humor (in the turkey landing and anticipation (with the click and stretch).
While researching for our e-game, we looked at a variety of games which focus on the environment. One of these games was Recycle Round-up. This game requires a little more skill, has a little higher level of challenge, but offers very clear rewards to the player in both the endearing way that the gorilla responds to us and the wonderful soundtrack that plays in the background. I might even go so far as to suggest that it is this entertaining soundtrack that is instrumental in my gaming pleasure.
When it is all said and done, though, I prefer to play games which have a purpose. And of these type of games, my favorite (at this time) is the Wii Sport games, particularly those which are done on the balance board. I love the challenge of the ski race, relying on my core strength and sense of agility to round the flags and finish in a quick pace. I have seen my talents in this game go from beginner (a couple of months ago) to almost professional (most of the time). Wii relies heavily on feedback, perhaps to a fault, but it does keep you involved in the process. It is also useful in reinforcing concepts of fitness which will help the player appreciate the task as well as to improve. There is always a challenge, and the challenge is incremental. As an achiever (according to Bartle, in Schell’s text), I enjoy the challenge of the various Wii games. They are displayed on a virtual interface which is disconcerting at first as you are dodging shoes while playing soccer, or trying not to fall into the water as you are grabbing fish out of the air. With the addition of the clock (which encourages you to take a break after 3o minutes), the daily physical tests (which challenge you to stay below your actual age) and the cute graphics (a sad face when you do poorly and a jumping celebration when you do well), Wii Sports has much going for it. I am most excited about the future of Wii Sports, however. With the new remotes, the connection between ourselves and the game becomes even more solid.
Whether you are a fan of the movie or not, the graphics alone will knock your socks off and make you want to take a look at this exquisitely designed platform-puzzle game for the iPhone! This game was designed to be everything Lepper and Malone describe as necessary for FUN! There are three main options in the opening menu, two assist with music and sound effects that really complement and energize the story. “Select a level” is the other option that allows you to continue game play where you left off.
The storyline focuses on the loveable saber-toothed nut-loving squirrel Scrat which you take CONTROL of in an effort to help him gather all of the acorns and find the end of each level. The in-game interface is extremely simple. The touch-and-go control system helps you assist Scrat. All you do is tap the screen to direct Scrat where you want him to go.
Four different environments help to shape the CHALLENGE of game play. You will be traveling with Scrat through caves and caverns, snow mountain peaks and mysterious jungles – all in search of acorns.
The game is set up from a “side-scroller” perspective. As you work your way through the levels you will find obstacles like spikes, dinosaurs and various other types of enemies. It is up to you to use your ingenuity and CURIOSITY to help Scrat safely navigate through all of the chaos to find the end of the level!
One of the nice things is that the tempo and skill of the game starts out simple enough for everyone to enjoy but it gets more difficult as you make your way through several of the levels. To assist you, there are signs that help teach you how to deal with all of the challenges Scrat encounters. All you have to do is touch them. Along the way you will also find acorns stashed in various places. Some of them are easy to get to while others can be quite challenging. And in addition to the game you will also see several other well known characters from Ice Age along the way – prehistoric pals such as Ellie, Manny, Diego and Sid complete the FANTASY!
If at any time you need help along the way, or if you just want to pause the game for a few seconds, there is a “pause” button in the upper left corner of the screen. Tap the button and the game will pause and bring up a menu that will allow you to start the level over, quit the game, or view how the controls for various actions work.
I will admit the game app is a bit pricey – $4.99 – but it’s well worth the hours of fun that the game provides. If you don’t believe me – watch it on YouTube! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HT0kXvEw1sk
As I was trying to find my blog topic I was distracted and went to read some of the blogs that I follow. One of the blogs was offering a chance to win a free 3 month trial at a site called Jumpstart.com. Jumpstart.com allows users to create their own avatar and explore a 3D world where they can adopt a pet and have adventure that are focused on learning and creativity. So this doesn’t sound too different from the other second world applications and sites out there till you realize that this is a program this is designed for toddlers and older.The players are able to build houses and cars and all of the normal second life accessories .
Players travel to different worlds within the game and interact with the characters and collect coins to buy different items for Jumpee (avatar) They can also earn jumpstars which will allow them to se their name in the jumpstar hall of fame. The motivation for young kids is very apparent to earn coins so they can buy more things for their character. They also learn new skills in math and reading. While the players earn jumpstars their motiviation is to see their name movie up the hal of fame and to try and make it to the top.
My almost 3 year old has been learning how to use the mouse and was so excited when I told him I needed him to help me play a game online. He loved creating his own avataror Jumpee as the site calls it and giving him a name. He was so excited when he figured out that he could pick where his “little boy” could go. He was motivated to play the games becasue he was in charge of what the jumpee did. It took a long time for him to actually play any of the games becasue there was alot of “loading.” For young players who do not always the freedom to make their own choices the choices were so exciting and motiviating for hi
There is a blog that keeps users up to date on the latest additions to the game and world they are “living”in. http://blog.jumpstart.com/
The Jumpstart game also has Wii games that are designed for toddlers. Having just bought a Wii we are interested in how much he will relate to this game and if we will learn anything from itl
After some more play i am going to have my son give his review on the game!
I hate to admit it, but I actually don’t like playing e-games. I stink at using controllers, I absolutely hate video arcade game sound effects (like nails on a chalkboard), and I can’t think of anything that would motivate me to play a game like Super Mario, WOW… even SIMs. (I really am an old fart, aren’t I? Oh well.) I can only think of one mainstream game that I enjoy playing now and then, and that’s Rock Band. I just pick up the microphone and sing along with my favorite songs from the 70′s and 80′s.
Rock Band is the latest creation of Harmonix (now owned by Viacom, Inc.) which was founded in 1995 by two computer music engineers from MIT (Alex Rigopulos and Eran Egozy)who set out to “create new ways for non-musicians to experience the unique joy that comes from making music.” Their first efforts were interactive theme park attractions that allowed non-musicians to create improvised computer music, including one at Epcot Center.
Going back to their vision statement, “the unique joy that comes from making music” is, I believe, a key motivator in this ground-breaking game. I think this lies somewhere in the 5th tier of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, self-actualization. Of course the game designers have also incoprated many other motivators falling within the 4th tier (esteem) including cheering/booing crowds and achieving goals which unlock new venues, repertoire, costumes and money for the band. However, I truly feel when playing this game, that it goes beyond these usual esteem-based motivators. The players truly feel that joy of making music, even though it is somewhat artificial. It takes the joy of listening to music performed by others to a whole new level that is ultimately more rewarding.
Every day I am bombarded by “Farmville” requests on Facebook from a few of my cousins who happen to play this game. Thus far, I have staunchly refused to get roped in to this outlandish pastime. Until now. In the name of research, I broke down and got my own virtual farm, which I quickly populated with the 32 gifts I already had waiting from my farming relatives. These same relations are also my new neighbors.
So I set about finding out what all the hub-bub was about. You can plow your fields, plant and harvest crops, visit your friends’ farms and fertilize their crops (which is infinitely preferable to actually doing that particular task!), buy seeds and animals and other things from the market. You gain money by harvesting crops and selling them, as well as selling other things, like the pile of maple leaves some thoughtful kinsman gave you! Experience points are gained by performing certain tasks, and these points increase your level and earn you awards, such as the highly coveted “Pack Rat Award” that I attained after playing for only 15 minutes. Helping out on friends’ farms and sending them gifts augments your journey toward higher levels, but really, how many of my friends indeed play Farmville? Imagine my surprise when I clicked on the “My Neighbors” button and found….16 people, not including the ones who continually invite me to play, on that list! All ages, job descriptions and education levels were fairly well represented, including one middle school principal and a couple of COMETeers.
Now for the analysis. Individual Motivation. While there is not really one clear goal for playing Farmville, players do earn virtual money, which enables them to buy other items for their farm. This, along with attaining higher levels which enable farmers to “unlock” new elements of the game, offers the element of challenge. Curiosity seems to be fairly inherent, as evidenced by the number of people who try the game out in the first place, but it is continued with the wonder of what the game creators will next add to the market place…a baby turkey? perhaps a carnival tent or ferris wheel? a harvest table or a pile of maple leaves (I must ask, pile of leaves…why??)? Yes, all of the aforementioned items are available for a limited time only! Fantasy is another motivation that many egames have ingrained. Ingrained. In-grain-ed. Get it? Yeah, I know, dumb farm joke. Never the less, where else but Farmville can one find pink cows, blue hay bales, and strawberries that are ready for harvest in 4 hours? (I hear tell the “where else” is Farm Town, but I ain’t goin’ there!) Control is another feature sure to keep hayseeds motivated. Don’t like where you put that last section of purple fencing? You can move it. Tired of looking at that birdbath? Sell it. Garden getting cluttered? Store all that excess in your brand new pink tool shed!
Mooving on (yeah, that was cheap, but what the hay?) to interpersonal motivation. Cooperation in this game lends itself to interpersonal motivation, since to help one’s neighbor gains one not only recognition, but lands you monetary rewards as well, which also adds to that individual challenge aspect of the business. In terms of recognition, other players can thank you for helping out on their farms by helping out on yours or sending you gifts. And let us not forget the “King of Compost,” “Crop Whisperer,” or “Pack Rat” ribbons to be earned! These mighty symbols of recognition will be published on many Facebook pages! Think of the applause! Competition, while not a blatant source of motivation in Farmville, is still evident in the ever present farming levels of your neighbors. And more so when you visit their farms and see all the great stuff they have! Just how long do you have to play to get a pond and a dairy farm?? Well, I don’t know, but I best be getting back to my farm. Got some strawberries that are ready to harvest!
The Nobel Prize website itself is a bit of a surprise – there are videos of winners (“Carol Greider was doing the laundry when the call about the Nobel prize came.”), you can ask this year’s Nobel Laureates a question, follow them on social networking sites, and learn more about what Nobel Laureates receive. It’s all pretty engaging and fun.
And there are loads of educational resources and games for kids (and adults) around the prize winning topics. For instance, the 1923 Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine was awarded for the discovery of the hormone insulin. Students can learn more about that prize, about diabetes and insulin and, finally, play a game in which they care for a diabetic dog. Nobel prize topics and associated educational information and games range from physics (transistors), medicine (blood typing), economics (trade), to peace (prisoners of war). There is a game for every topic; each game is about 10 minutes long.
Red Cross Prisoner of War Game
I completed the Prisoners of War game, which commemorates the Red Cross Peace Prize wins in 1917, 1944 and 1963. When you start this game, you must first prove your knowlege of the Geneva Convention III to assume command of the Prisoner of War camp. You set up your camp by demonstrating knowledge of the elements of a POW camp (e.g., must have separate facilities for men and women). When your prisoners arrive, you determine if they each meet the POW criteria. Finally, you’re given a number of POW Camp management scenarios in which you must choose the correct response. You’re given feedback, with links to the appropriate citations in the Geneva Convention III documentation. I was stunned by how involved I got in this game.
Malone and Lepper criteria evaluation
The game was Challenging (which was revealed in my score), yet there was documentation (the original Geneva Convention III documentation as well as additional resources that could be accessed before, during and after the game). The content wasn’t dumbed-down for a younger audience and appeared to present situations that were realistic. There was feedback throughout the game and prompts to refer to additional resources. This accommodates all types of players ; both those who want to move slowly through the game and those who are happy to guess and see what they got right (and the feedback for wrong answers). Based on their performance as the POW camp commander, players are rated as either a Humanitarian Champion, Well Intentioned Humanitarian or a Sadistic Swine. I rated Sadistic Swine – here’s the feedback I received at the end of the game:
The game appeals to players’ curiosity, by creating interesting scenarios and options. You are really curious – is the doctor who works for the enemy army considered a POW? Answer: No, but he should be treated as one under the Geneva Convention. What should you do when a local official calls you and wants to use POWs to work on a construction project? By using a realistic construct (you are building a POW camp and processing incoming POWs) and engaging scenarios, this game makes it difficult NOT to be curious about the outcomes.
The game allows some player control, for instance, by choosing some of the symbols that will be used and how much you wish to refer to reference materials throughout the game. It is a linear game, however, in which you move from scene to scene, so control from that perspective is limited.
Finally, the game makes much of fantasy. The photos and drawings throughout the game are dark, dreary and a little scary. There is a prison-like theme to the soundtrack. You are asked to inhabit the role of a POW camp commander and every scenarios is built around this role. I was surprised at how effective this was in what was actually a pretty simple game. The text and the artwork really added to the realistic feeling of the game.
If you are interested in building educational games – these are really good ones to check out as an example of how you can add visual appeal and persuasive text on what appears to be a simple platform and a limited budget.
I recently found out that Bejeweled Blitz is now linked to Facebook via the iPhone. I’ve been playing Bejeweled for about a year now but stopped because I was never “number one” on my Facebook list. A couple of weeks ago, when I was updating my “aps,” I saw Bejeweled Blitz linked to Facebook and long and behold, I was playing the very second after I downloaded it.
The object of the game is to line up colored rubies or diamonds(red, yellow, blue, green) in a three, four or five in row to score points. You are provided 60 seconds to line them up. The more colors you line you, the more points you can get and you have only one minutes to score as many points as you can. If you play this game on the computer with a mouse, I think it is harder and slower than playing it on the iPhone. Once you get a high score, Facebook automatically ranked you among your Facebook friends and the ranking resets every week. The ranking motivates you to beat everyone else on your list. I’m an “OK player” but there are some serious players on my list who can score more than 450,000 points. I think that these players have no lives and they are cheating somehow! I don’t know if that is even humanly possible, I have to check around for some cheatsheets. Anyways, I didn’t know I was a very competitive person until now. The score and the ranking actually motivate me to play more to try to beat all my friends which I have not yet done. My score right now is only 240,000. I played it maybe for 20-30 times a day (I try to limit myself to 10 lately) When I play, I like to crank up the volume because the sounds (achievement chimes) from the game make me even more competitive because I can hear and see the points as I win more and more points. I love this game, I haven’t figured how they made it so that there are always a move-it is incredible.
The first simulation game I remember being hooked on in school was Oregon Trail. We didn’t have a computer back then in the house and I would never want to be absent on computer lab day. From the time you chose those 5 names, I was hooked. Why? Because I was always one of the names with the other 5 being family and friends. Of course the person you wanted to see die was always list as number 4 or 5 because you knew they would never make it across country.I just remember enjoying getting to make decisions and watch my progress track across the country.
Then I was introduced to Where in the World is Carmen San Diego. Again feeling involved in the chase, waiting for that burglar car to scroll by as you made an interview, knowing if it didn’t you had flown to the wrong place – all of this drew me into the game and motivated me to play time after time.
In both cases I felt like I was doing something. I was getting somewhere. And the progress and involvement made me want to play again. My brother is a RPG addicted – he even works on the games for a living. I just can’t get into some of these new games. They are so complicated and massive, I feel like I am always falling behind as I play. Oregon Trail and Carmen San Diego were just the right level of challenge and fun to make it worth playing. I felt successful, yet I didn’t always win, and that is what drew me in.
Tropico 3 is the latest version of what are informally called the “god games.” This genre started in earnest with the SimCity line and The Sims but probably reached its best rendition in the Civilization series. In these games, you have complete power over almost all facets of a society or city with the goal of basically keeping everyone happy as you grow your city or society to something bigger.
In Tropico 3 you are the dictator, or El Presidente, of a small Caribbean island. By building up some industry and infrastructure you try to grow your population all while either raising your people’s standards of living or padding your Swiss bank account or both. As a measure of how well you are doing you stave off coup d’etats, rebel assaults, even invasion from a superpower. (See the Tropico 3 trailer )
The designers at Kalypso have done a great job of giving the player multiple pathways to success. You can play the evil dictator and oppress the people, making them live in shanty towns and paying them slave wages, or you can be benevolent and build free clinics, churches and schools. Each method can be effective but it’s so much more fun to be bad. One of the great features of the game is you can click on any of your “people” to see what they are thinking (ala the Sims). If someone is thinking about voting for another politician there is a convenient target next to their name which allows your secret police to “remove” that loser. But everything has its consequences, and there are only so many people that can “disappear” before someone in your own military decides you’ve lost it and engineers a coup d’etat.
To tie this into gaming theory, Tropico 3 operates best at the fourth level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: Self Esteem. All god-games appeal to those of us who are motivated to control and be judged. In this game you are judged by the “little people” you rule. There is a popularity index, and a respect value (and many more). To stay in power you must be either loved or feared (or both). How these indices are affected by your actions as El Presidente are what you must understand and master to win the game. Tension is created when you are seeing your popularity or respect index drop and you can’t figure out how to reverse it. As Mr. Schell writes: “We have a deep inner need to know how we stack up. And when we aren’t happy with how we are judged, we work hard until we are judged favorably.” (The Art of Game Design, pg 128)
From an educator’s point of view, the most promising aspect of Tropico 3 is the ability to create your own scenarios. The game itself is quite educational for teaching politics, competing priorities of a society and working within a budget. However, with the scenario creator it becomes possible to set up historic conditions of say Cuba under Bautista in the 1950′s or Grenada right before the US invasion.
It is my hope that we as educators will become savvy enough game designers that we could take the Tropico 3 game engine, tweak it a bit and come up with some very fine historical simulations that put the learner into a place and time in history where they make the decisions and see how it unfolds while comparing their simulation to what actually happened.
I thought I’d eliminated the game Call of Duty- Modern Warfare 2 as a potential for review, but then my 22 year-old son saw my earlier blog comment on it and felt the need to enlighten me.
The platform is Xbox 360 and the current game is online, multiplayer. As far as aesthetics, the graphics are absolutely incredible, detailed, and realistic; it almost looks like photography and film in some areas of the game.
The theme is to survive, to strategize and to kill the terrorists. This makes the game timely and gives the player a sense of power over what many today feel is a helpless situation. The story line branches, and players choose levels of play. Choice is a major incentive; players not only choose single or multi-player games, but also choose from a vast supply of weapons, attachments, colors, side-arms, Perks, and strategies- just to give a few examples of choice.
Each mode of play changes drastically from one level to the next always surprising and requiring new tactics of the player. Surprise and tension are everywhere, and the fast paced action keeps players alert and a bit anxious. Adrenalin runs high. There is no down time. Surprise exists in the form of how other players choose to arm themselves, where enemies hide, and in that the player never knows where he will pop up on the map (respawn) after being killed. Wherever that is, it presents entirely new challenges and requires new strategies.
From Maslow’s needs perspective, this game appeals to the most basic levels—security, stability and freedom from fear and builds, through multi-player games, to friends, then achievement, mastery and fulfillment by reaching a high rank.
The greatest rewards seem to be the feeling of accomplishment through collaboration with other players and improving one’s rank in the game. Both sons (ages 13 and 22) like knowing not only their own rank status, but also the other player’s status. That way they know where they stand and how hard they have to work to beat them.
Both said they would like the classroom to be like this—where you know where you rank among your classmates. As trumpet players, they likened it to 1st and 2nd chairs. You know if you are second chair, you need to practice more and try harder. They wondered why everyone’s grades are kept so secret when they could be used as competition and motivation.
As far as the violence, they both gave me the same disdainful look when I asked. They felt it was no more violent than Wile E. Coyote blowing himself up with ACME dynamite, or Elmer Fudd at the wrong end of a ruptured shotgun. And it is nowhere near as realistic as most police TV shows where actors are pretending to be injured or murdered. They pointed out that my Dale Evans six-shooter and air rifle hadn’t turned me into a hardened criminal.
So, my conclusion from their insights, is that maybe they are learning a lot playing these games. Maybe we as teachers can incorporate these same engaging elements into classroom instruction.
I also know I feel even better when they put down their controllers and pick up their horns; when I hear Maynard Ferguson coming from the living room instead of sniper fire.
Did you know that revenues from video games – even before the latest Wii, PlayStation, and Xbox systems emerged – surpass the money made from Hollywood films annually? Why?
Psychologists at the University of Rochester wondered the same thing. These researchers believe that the fun of playing video games is actually trumped by the opportunities games provide to fulfill basic psychological needs, like achievement, freedom, and connectedness. An echo, in my opinion, of Keller’s motivational ACRS theory. In short, people enjoy video games because they find them intrinsically satisfying.
But just how satisfied can one person be when it comes to video games? Luckily, my husband (who will remain nameless in this blog post) was willing to test the boundaries of the human experience in this area – unknowingly, of course.
Not too long ago, my husband discovered that he could download video games onto his mobile phone. He decided to start with one that he was familiar with from childhood: Tetris. After many hours of refining his skills on the game, he was soon able to extend play for longer and longer periods. In fact, thanks to the handy pause feature, he played a single game for two months, reaching level 68. Then… he just stopped; and hasn’t touched the game since.
What happened? Curious about his motivation to play the game that peaked and then disappeared, I questioned him on his experience. He said that he continued to play the game each day because he wanted to see how long he could keep it going. Then after a while, the game reached its maximum speed and level of difficulty. “The game just couldn’t get any faster,” he remarked. And just like that, he lost interest. Once the game dropped in attention, relevance, and satisfaction, there was no more motivation to play.
So how much is too much Tetris? Apparently, two months and 68 levels.
In the world of astronomy outreach, NASA usually has the coolest games and simulations. The Space Place is no exception, http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/en/kids/games.shtml. The site is full of educational games regarding astronomy and planetary science. Some of the games can be printed out and played offline, like Fall into a Black Hole. I’ve played most of them, but I’m a fan of Spitzer Concentration. The game is similar to Memory, but each picture is an image from the Spitzer Space Telescope. When the player clicks on a card, they not only see the image on the front, but they get a description of the object on the card. As the player gets more and more matches, a background image can be seen. Once all the cards are gone, the background image is revealed. Again, a description of the image is given. Players move through the levels, getting more and more cards to match.
Players are motivated by two factors, the competition of matching the images and the satisfaction of revealing the background image. Unlike regular Memory, the players learn from the pictures. The descriptions are targeted towards students. They’re straightforward and easy to understand. The players gets the name or a name for the object, like binary star or Pinwheel Galaxy. This allows them to “put a face with a name” so to speak for the object. I think this appeals to various kinds of learners, those who may recall information visually or textually.
Astronomy holds a fascination with the general public and especially kids. All of the kids I interact with in my job really love to look at astronomy images and learn about the object in the image or how it’s made. Spitzer Concentration really taps into this interest.
Have you ever read Faulkner? In particular, The Sound and the Fury? If you haven’t, lucky you! But if you have, then you, like me, have had the distinct displeasure of traipsing through garrulous excess trying to find hidden meaning–when all you really want to do is hang out with your friends, and drink a cold beer. Faulkner and video/electronic games hold equal disdain in my mind. Granted, with a video game, instead of traipsing through the verbosity of Faulkner’s excessive prose, you’re stumbling along through a visual orgy of computer graphics trying to blow things up or solve a puzzle, but the experience is still utterly meaningless in the real world.
That said, applying theory to a game or simulation is a little hard for me since I really don’t play (or care about) electronic games, so I enlisted some of the boys in my Fantasy Football League to at least point me in the direction of an interesting video game. After a lot of nostalgic musings, I’ve decided to take a stab at analyzing the Nintendo NES game, Contra. (I mean, the appeal of two marines (Bill and Lance) saving humanity by defeating the severely pixelated Red Falcon is lost upon me. Maybe I lack the requisite amount of testosterone or something.)
Anyway, you can actually play the game online, so I checked it out and promptly died three times within like a minute. That said, this analysis is more or less gleaned from my friends and online commentary of what it is like to play the game.
First, according to Cracked (which, I admit, isn’t the most reliable source, but seems to be backed up by my FF League), Contra is the second “most irritatingly impossible old-school video game.” So, if it’s really that frustrating, why do people, including my friends, seem to recall playing it with such fondness? I think a lot of it comes down to the challenge and competition aspects of the game, both of which Malone and Lepper identify as key factors to intrinsic motivation. Apparently there is nothing more motivating than being able to steal lives from your fellow player to up the competition factor. (Contra was the first game to allow players who lost all their lives to steal a life from another player. According to Matt, from Guilty By Association, “This also resulted in reset games, black eyes, & a week without speaking to each other.”)
I also think that fantasy factor increases the intrinsic motivation for playing this game. Research by Malone and Lepper suggests that through this factor, learners (or in this case players) “use mental images of things and situations that are not actually present to stimulate their behavior.” Have you seen the crappy graphics on this thing? In order to play this game, you NEEDED to project your own illusions of reality on the thing to make all the pixels meaningful—a limitation of 1987 technology which unintentionally made the game even more fun and motivating.
In the end though, the greatest and also most frustrating thing was using the cheat to get 30 lives instead of the measly 3 that the game allowed you. As they write on the Cracked website, the saddest moment of the game is “Running through your evil foes, resolute in your 30-lives-induced superiority, and watching the extraterrestrials’ island explode … only to slowly realize that you couldn’t even win a video game without cheating. “ Yes, and this, among many other reasons, is why I don’t play video games. Or read Faulkner (without the Cliff Notes handy).
I’m not sure if you have the same guilty feeling whenever you play video games, but it always tends to creep into the back of my mind – “you should be doing something productive”. This feeling is so strong that I have not touched my PS3 for at least 2 months now (thanks COMET…) but, seeing as how this is a games & simulations class, at least I can talk about one of my favorite games that I can no longer play – until winter break.
The Dynasty Warriors series by KOEI is currently in its 6th incarnation and is truly a guilty pleasure. Basically, you can win this game by having a Mountain Dew and two calloused thumbs. How then, you must ask, is KOEI able to keep releasing this hack-n-slash game over and over again? I think it has to do with their ability to draw the player into the history depicted in the game, and by slowly adding in little extras along the way.
In the game, you control a general or other important figure in China’s history. The game is actually based upon the historical novel, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, in which three warlords vie to unify and control all of China. While the game play itself is quite simplistic, destroy anything that stands in your way, there are a few strategic elements involved that keep the player engaged. Upgrading weapons, having hidden items that appear only when you trigger certain events, and having different game scenarios occurring on the battlefield in real-time, all add up to addiction. Also, with every new release of the game, KOEI adds a few more playable historical characters. While the first game had around 16 characters, the roster now has grown to 41!
Still, with all of the bells and whistles that the game can offer, the most interesting thing about Dynasty Warriors is that you are playing through battles and events in history. While this is not anything new in gaming, it provides a new insight into a different culture that, growing up in America, you aren’t usually exposed to. The game (in its last few releases) provides a huge historical database for characters included in the game and even for some that are just in the novel. Also, the game gives the player a detailed synopsis of the events that occurred during the period of the game. I found myself enjoying reading all of this material just as much as I enjoyed playing the game. It also made me interested enough to purchase the novel and read it! (See! I told you I was learning about history!)
Finally, if you have an interest in this game or learning about this period in China’s history, there is a really great film that has just found a limited release in the USA and features just one of the great battles in Dynasty Warriors! The film is Red Cliff, directed by John Woo. I have seen the Hong Kong version of the film which is about 4 1/2 hours long, but the theatrical release is only half that and Amazon has it for VOD.
It really is sneaky how they can get you to learn stuff, and I hope that’s a lesson I can learn to help my students – learning without realizing it! Maybe it’ll also help with the PS3 guilt trip too
Back in September, Melissa Hughes wrote a blog entry about a game from OurCourts.org called Do I Have A Right (DIHAR). The game was so intriguing to me as a history teacher, I thought it deserved another round in the blog spotlight. The game allows you to become a virtual lawyer running your own law firm. I thought this month’s blog topic would be a great excuse to give the game a more in depth review and see how it fits into some of the motivational theories we have read about in class.
First, let me describe a little more about the game. After you select a character for yourself, you get to choose between two partners for your law firm, each with his/her own constitutional specialty. Next you enter your law firm and several thought bubbles lead you through the directions on how to play the game. Clients begin walking through the door and you have to match them with a lawyer who is an expert in their case.
If there is a match, the lawyer and client go to court. If they win, the firm gets “prestige” points which can be used to hire more lawyers. You can also lose points by not helping clients quickly enough. If there is not a lawyer whose expertise matches the client’s needs, the client may decide not to wait and leave the firm. When this happens, the firm loses points.
While there is no explicit goal explained at the beginning of the game, which is one factor that makes a game popular according to Malone & Lepper’s article, the goal quickly becomes apparent as soon as you help one client. The goal of Do I Have A Right is to match a client’s situation with the correct lawyer to win as many cases as possible. There are a number of attributes that make the game highly motivating as described by Malone & Lepper. One of these attributes is challenge. At first the game seems easy because the flow of clients is manageable. This quickly changes. As the amount of customers increases, you find that you do not have enough lawyers to help all the clients who are waiting. You must earn more prestige points to hire more lawyers.
The uncertainty of which client will be coming in and trying to hire the correct lawyer makes the game more challenging and fun. The developers of DIHAR also provided feedback in the form of analyzing the case at the beginning. If you click on key words from the description of the client you get bonus prestige points. Players also receive feedback when they get a client/lawyer match correctly and when they win a case. The player gets the most “prestige” point on wining the case. This type of feedback helps promote a payer’s self esteem which is another important motivational aspect cited in Malone and Lepper’s study. Two other motivational attributes in DIHAR are choice and control. Players have control over which clients to help. Choice is an important factor in the game when you are allowed to pick from the many lawyers to hire and have to analyze their constitutional specialties. Do I Have A Right is a highly motivating game for players and an excellent review tool for any teacher covering the Bill of Rights.
Bacon. Bacon is the most amazing thing ever discovered. I love bacon by itself, on burgers, in syrup, in the pool, for crying out loud, I don’t care. My most favorite thing to do is enjoy a wonderfully creative meal. I just dragged my husband up to this restaurant in L.A. that had cutting edge cuisine, Animal. Please comment with specific question so I can tell you exactly how wonderful this place was.
My point, however, is that passion of mine is what got me interested in the game through Facebook called Cafe World. One of my dreams has come true (to be the chef-owner of a neighborhood bistro) through this game. I get to prepare various dishes on my four stoves and feed my Facebook friends who visit. Once I get a Masters’ Degree I will be able to devote more time to its upkeep, hire a few more wait staff, re-do the floors and create more exciting dishes ;0)
It is so fun for me to pretend that I have this little restaurant to maintain when I can. It fulfills my basic need located on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs of self-esteem and self-actualization. I really feel like I am good at owning my own business and preparing good meals. Now, this happens for a brief moment when I have lost myself in the game as I must keep up with the cooking time and serving it to my friends who have visited. I like to wear the chef clothes and boss around my sister who I hired as my one and only waitress without her permission! It is really fun for me to play.
I found it slightly disturbing that when I asked my 22-year-old step daughter, Ashley, for the name of a popular sim game, she told me that her 16-year-old brother plays Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare regularly—in fact, he’s addicted.
The story takes place in a fictional near-future, where a radical leader has staged a coup d’état in the Middle East and a Ultranationalist movement has instigated a civil war with Russia. The events of the conflicts are seen from the perspectives of an American Marine and a British SAS commando and are set in multiple locations.
When I googled it, I found out that it is a critically acclaimed game which scored an aggregate score of 94% from both Game Rankings and Metacritic. It won numerous awards from gaming websites and it was the top-selling game worldwide for 2007 and had sold 13 million copies by May 2009.
I asked Ashley’s brother why he loves the game so much. Most of his answer concentrated on the fantasy and challenge aspects of the game. He said he’s able to play against his friends, who sit behind their own personal computers and he also plays against other people from around the world.
As far as fantasy, he seemed a little too excited about the fact that players use modern warfare weapons including the M4A1 carbine, the M203 grenade launcher, night vision goggles and the MP5SD submachine gun. The player gains access to these over the course of the game, but can only carry up to two weapons in addition to grenades. Players also have the ability to call an airstrike and attack a helicopter.
I guess I’m getting old, but even though Call of Duty 4 is a simulation, it’s far too violent for my taste. I grew up in an age of Pac-Man, Frogger and Dig-Dug and this game is entirely too real for me.
In 2008, my middle school decided to participate in World Math Day. On this one day, students from around the world are challenged to compete against each other in online arithmetic games, while also working together to break the world record for the number of math questions correctly answered. That year, about 1 million students from 150 countries set the world record by correctly answering over 182 million math questions. In 2009, about 2 million students from 200 countries correctly answered over 452 million math questions.
Teachers can sign their students up to participate. Once the students log in, they can create an avatar. For each game, they have 60 seconds to correctly answer as many math questions as they can. For the middle school level, the questions were basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division problems. The students compete in real time against up to three other students (chosen randomly) from around the world. Students can play over and over again. Practice starts about one month before the actual World Math Day.
Mathletics, the creators of this online game, have definitely employed Lepper & Malone’s strategies of interpersonal motivation as follows: Cooperation – students work together to set a new world record. Competition – students compete against each other to see who can answer the most questions correctly. Recognition – the top students and classrooms are recognized on the website’s “Hall of Fame.” There are also prizes (medals, trophies, and certificates) and according to Keller’s ARCS Model, these extrinsic rewards can contribute to a student’s satisfaction.
My students were pretty excited and engaged. I heard them talking about how they competed against a student from India or Australia. My top 7th grade student answered thousands of math questions. Even lower level students were motivated to play and beat their own personal best score.
Sound like something you can use with your students? Then don’t forget to check out their website starting in February for information on World Math Day 2010!
A friend of mine passed this video along and I thought it could be related to our class! Have a look see (hit your browser’s return button to get back here):
For some people gaming consumes hours and hours of their day and there are so many motivational reasons behind this. For years my motivation has come from a wide variety of areas, like the bitter sweet feeling of knowing you can beat the game, but you have to keep starting over because your character keeps dieing.
I also enjoyed multiplayer games, where everyone works together towards one common goal. When you, or you and your team, achieve something it is an indescribable combination of stress, excitement and happiness all mixed together.
But just recently I discovered a new type of motivation, which was the feeling I get when I play a game where I know I am somehow contributing to a greater good. This new type of motivation, this desire to make a difference, moves up Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs from just “Belonging-Love” and “Self-Esteem” tier, to the “Self-Actualization” tier because to some this type of activity brings a sense of fulfillment. (To read a little more about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as it relates to games see The Art of Game Design, by Jesse Schell)
Here are 3 examples of gaming sites that allow you to play a game, while making a difference in the world.
The first example is Free Rice. Free Rice is a very cool gaming idea. It allows you to select a variety of subjects to test your knowledge, but the best part is that every time you get a correct answer you donate 10 grains of rice to the UN World Food Program.
What makes it fun is that you can select quizzes on geography, foreign languages, math, and English vocabulary to name a few. I find myself playing this game for hours sometimes just because I am learning new things while I am making a difference! If you have not had a chance to try this out, I definitely recommend book marking it and when you have some downtime have some fun and help fight hungry!
The 2nd example is the Hope Arcade. The great thing about the Hope Arcade is that all of your favorite online games like Bookworm, The Game of Life, Scrabble, TextTwist, Bejeweled, etc. – just to name a few are all accessible through this website. Every time you choose to use this site money is donated to the March of Dimes. Some games are free to use, others cost money, but if you are going to pay to play anyways you might as well allow your money to go to a great cause. $.77 of each dollar supports research and programs that help moms have full-term pregnancies and babies begin healthy lives.
The 3rd example is Lil’ Green Patch. Although this is not technically a normal or traditional game, it’s a Facebook app. but it still falls into my making a difference category!
When you use Lil’ Green Patch you are saving the rainforest one square foot at a time. Each day that you log into your Lil’ Green Patch and send plants to your friends you save the rain forest.
Part of the game is earning Green Bucks, which can be used to make your Green Patch unique by purchasing various items like a house or a sign for your own Green Patch. You can also buy green bucks as well.
The money collected from any personal donations, as well as from the Lil’ Green Patch sponsors, who donate money towards saving the Rainforest every time you use the app. is donated to charity organizations! Recently a large donation was made to The Nature Conservancy
So far the Lil’ Green Patch community has saved 183,244,167 sq ft of Rainforest! I have contributed 68 sq ft to this total!
So if you are a busy person who just feels like they do not have the time to sit around and play games, at least consider taking a few minutes to try out some of the games I mentioned here. At least you get to have a little break from your hectic life, and you can feel better about your actions because you can know that it was time well spent because you made a difference some place some how!
Early this year my niece came to visit me, and at the time she was really interested in pets, and fish in particular. At the time of her visit we went to the Aquarium, afterwards she couldn’t stop talking (in great detail) about the various colorful fish we saw. One day while we were out waiting for a table at a local restaurant, (when she was tired and ready to eat on the verge of a meltdown) I pulled out my iphone, and franticly searched for an app that would be suited for her-and I found Fish Tycoon. I unknowingly found an app that would end up pulling me and my boyfriend into it. I hate to admit it, but there were times when one of us was waiting on the other because they had to “feed”, “breed”, or “heal” their fish.