Fun N Games Cfp

FUN ‘N GAMES 2006 – 2ND CALL FOR PARTICIPATION – www.fng2006.org
———————————————-

>>>Short Papers, User Experiences & Work Groups<<< Work that addresses any aspect of Fun and Games will be considered, but we particularly welcome contributions that address the following themes: Designing (and implementing) for fun and games (theories applied to the design of fun and games, storyboarding, prototyping, approaches to game evaluation; case studies and exemplars of successful fun and games design processes, in different settings) Innovative fun and game interfaces (novel consoles, peripherals and input devices: e.g., haptics and multi-modal interfaces). Collaborative fun and games (new forms of socially-organised fun and games). Distributed and mobile fun and gaming (concepts and tools that exploit the affordances of computational/technological mobility to facilitate non-co- located play). Conceptual approaches to fun and games (theoretical constructs and frameworks for understanding fun and games: engagement and motivation, narrative theory, optimal experience, flow). Fun and games culture (the social ramifications of gaming on society, on education and business; implications for social access and inclusion; gaming sub-cultures; historical perspectives on fun and games). Reflective studies of how fun can be packaged, evaluated and valued. Design guidelines and heuristics for fun. Important Dates =============== 7th April booking opens 10th April notification to authors of papers 17th April deadline for posters, user experiences and not for profit work groups. 2nd May notification to authors of posters, experiences and NFP work groups 8th May - early booking deadline Paper Format and Length ======================= Short Papers (Talks and Posters) -------------------------------- Short papers can represent early work and late breaking work and are particularly well suited to students; submission in this category will require a three to four page abstract of the work presented in the conference format as detailed at FNG2006 Guidelines for Authors (Microsoft Word .Doc). Papers should be anonymised and should be submitted in two parts, as a pdf of their anonymised paper and an accompanying file that details the authors names and affiliations and indicates the preferred method of delivery, as a poster or as a spoken (15 minute) talk. See the Submissions page for further details. Interactive User Experiences ---------------------------- User experiences are for demonstrations of, and participation in, fun activities or gaming experiences. Submissions in this category will comprise a one page synopsis of the experience on offer as well as a single page abstract for the conference proceedings. The single page abstract should be presented in the conference format as detailed at FNG2006 Guidelines for Authors (Microsoft Word .Doc). The one page synopsis of the experience on offer should include: A 50 word description of the experience (this will be used by delegates to inform them whether or not the experience is for them!) A 50 word summary of what the purpose of the experience is (e.g. Is it to demonstrate a new product, to do a research study on participants, to gather feedback, or just for fun!) An indication of how the session will be run detailing the time needed per experience and the maximum number of participants. For example; this session will take approximately 20 minutes. A maximum of six participants will be able to attend at any one time; they will be given a 5 minute introduction to the technology and then will interact for 15 minutes in pairs. Please note that we expect that any intro to the experience will normally take only around 5 minutes the intention is for the delegates to be active. This synopsis is essential as it will assist us in determining how well suited the interactive experience is. It is expected tha roviding interactive experiences will present the experience at least three and possibly many more times during the conference so that as many delegates as possible can participate. For further information, if unsure about this track contact, emazzone@uclan.ac.uk. Work Groups ----------- To encourage academic and practitioner debate, we offer a chance for delegates to organise work groups co-located with the conference. These will not clash with other conference events. Whether you are a lone individual looking for some interested others, or whether you have a group already in place, you can apply for space in the programme. Workgroup organisers are expected to register for the conference, in the event that the workgroup attracts more than ten attendees, the organiser will be entitled to a conference discount. Attendees at workgroups may register for the conference (in which case the workgroup is free) or can pay a small fee for the workgroup. The conference committee will help to advertise workgroups. If your workgroup is accepted, you agree to run the event and may not cancel it without the explicit permission of the conference chairs. To propose a workgroup submit a single page description of the event by 24th April (no particular format required), this should include: a short biography of the organisers, an indication of the preferred duration (we can facilitate anything between 2 hours and 6 hours), and a description of likely participants, an outline of the anticipated activities, and the expected outcomes. A description of the workgroup of about 50 words (this will be used to advertise the event) An indication of how the workgroup will be run detailing the time needed and the maximum (and minimum) number of participants. Contact sjmacfarlane@uclan.ac.uk (Workshop chair). www.fng2006.org Fun 'n Games 2006 26 - 28 June 2006, Preston, England http://www.fng2006.org

Gd.Ie Third Birthday

Hard to believe I know – but this month gd.ie will be officially three years old. To celebrate we will having a slightly more upmarket shindig that usual in the heart of the Digital Hub, the Digital Exchange building (old Media Lab Europe building) on Crane Street, off Thomas Street, in Dublin on Friday the 28th of April from 6.45pm.

Since gd.ie is all about building community we are pleased to announce that confirmed speakers for the night include Will Golby, PopCap Games, Dublin; Tony Kelly, Nephin Games, Galway; Sarah Guiney, Upstart Games and John Molloy talking about the Digital Hub’s clubhouse and eSTreet projects.

As if that wasn’t enough entertainment for one night we will also have the annual gd.ie annual awards. Please go to the forums on gd.ie to nominate your newbie of the year, elect someone to the gd.ie hall of fame for the stamina award, reward someone for their gems of knowledge, their humour and finally nominate a person or group for the gd.ie overall award of the year. Go to http://www.gamedevelopers.ie/forums/viewtopic.php?p=24100#24100

As last year there will be refreshments on the night and there is always the possibility that things will continue afterwards in a local establishment.

***********************************

Note:
Maps showing the Digital Exchange building can be found at http://www.thedigitalhub.com/locate/maps.php# (just for Kyotokid!)

Former winners of gd.ie awards (with forum handles in brackets) are:

2005 winners were:
1. Newbie – Stéphane Ambrosini (steph)
2. Stamina – Damian Furlong (Omen) who registerd on the forums on 7th of April, 2003 with a special runners up award to Ronny Southwood (ronny)
3. Salmon of Knowledge – Tony Kelly (Idora)
4. Humour – Peter McNally (Pete) or his Hoffness..
5. Gd.ie group of the year 05 – IGDA Ireland committee.

For more see http://www.gamedevelopers.ie/news/viewnews.php?article=200

2004 winners were:
1. Stamina: Peter McNally (pete) who registered on the forums on the 1st of April 2003,
2. Newbie: Ivan McCloskey (Kyotokid): i
3. Humour: Ian Hannigan (Ian_hannigan)
4. Salmon of Knowledge: Michael Griffin (grifmike)
5. GD.ie person of the Year – Tony Kelly (Idora).

For more see http://www.gamedevelopers.ie/news/viewnews.php?article=98

Fun N Games Cfp – 2

FUN ‘N GAMES 2006 – 2ND CALL FOR PARTICIPATION – www.fng2006.org
———————————————-

>>>Short Papers, User Experiences & Work Groups<<< Work that addresses any aspect of Fun and Games will be considered, but we particularly welcome contributions that address the following themes: Designing (and implementing) for fun and games (theories applied to the design of fun and games, storyboarding, prototyping, approaches to game evaluation; case studies and exemplars of successful fun and games design processes, in different settings) Innovative fun and game interfaces (novel consoles, peripherals and input devices: e.g., haptics and multi-modal interfaces). Collaborative fun and games (new forms of socially-organised fun and games). Distributed and mobile fun and gaming (concepts and tools that exploit the affordances of computational/technological mobility to facilitate non-co- located play). Conceptual approaches to fun and games (theoretical constructs and frameworks for understanding fun and games: engagement and motivation, narrative theory, optimal experience, flow). Fun and games culture (the social ramifications of gaming on society, on education and business; implications for social access and inclusion; gaming sub-cultures; historical perspectives on fun and games). Reflective studies of how fun can be packaged, evaluated and valued. Design guidelines and heuristics for fun. Important Dates =============== 7th April booking opens 10th April notification to authors of papers 17th April deadline for posters, user experiences and not for profit work groups. 2nd May notification to authors of posters, experiences and NFP work groups 8th May - early booking deadline Paper Format and Length ======================= Short Papers (Talks and Posters) -------------------------------- Short papers can represent early work and late breaking work and are particularly well suited to students; submission in this category will require a three to four page abstract of the work presented in the conference format as detailed at FNG2006 Guidelines for Authors (Microsoft Word .Doc). Papers should be anonymised and should be submitted in two parts, as a pdf of their anonymised paper and an accompanying file that details the authors names and affiliations and indicates the preferred method of delivery, as a poster or as a spoken (15 minute) talk. See the Submissions page for further details. Interactive User Experiences ---------------------------- User experiences are for demonstrations of, and participation in, fun activities or gaming experiences. Submissions in this category will comprise a one page synopsis of the experience on offer as well as a single page abstract for the conference proceedings. The single page abstract should be presented in the conference format as detailed at FNG2006 Guidelines for Authors (Microsoft Word .Doc). The one page synopsis of the experience on offer should include: A 50 word description of the experience (this will be used by delegates to inform them whether or not the experience is for them!) A 50 word summary of what the purpose of the experience is (e.g. Is it to demonstrate a new product, to do a research study on participants, to gather feedback, or just for fun!) An indication of how the session will be run detailing the time needed per experience and the maximum number of participants. For example; this session will take approximately 20 minutes. A maximum of six participants will be able to attend at any one time; they will be given a 5 minute introduction to the technology and then will interact for 15 minutes in pairs. Please note that we expect that any intro to the experience will normally take only around 5 minutes the intention is for the delegates to be active. This synopsis is essential as it will assist us in determining how well suited the interactive experience is. It is expected tha roviding interactive experiences will present the experience at least three and possibly many more times during the conference so that as many delegates as possible can participate. For further information, if unsure about this track contact, emazzone@uclan.ac.uk. Work Groups ----------- To encourage academic and practitioner debate, we offer a chance for delegates to organise work groups co-located with the conference. These will not clash with other conference events. Whether you are a lone individual looking for some interested others, or whether you have a group already in place, you can apply for space in the programme. Workgroup organisers are expected to register for the conference, in the event that the workgroup attracts more than ten attendees, the organiser will be entitled to a conference discount. Attendees at workgroups may register for the conference (in which case the workgroup is free) or can pay a small fee for the workgroup. The conference committee will help to advertise workgroups. If your workgroup is accepted, you agree to run the event and may not cancel it without the explicit permission of the conference chairs. To propose a workgroup submit a single page description of the event by 24th April (no particular format required), this should include: a short biography of the organisers, an indication of the preferred duration (we can facilitate anything between 2 hours and 6 hours), and a description of likely participants, an outline of the anticipated activities, and the expected outcomes. A description of the workgroup of about 50 words (this will be used to advertise the event) An indication of how the workgroup will be run detailing the time needed and the maximum (and minimum) number of participants. Contact sjmacfarlane@uclan.ac.uk (Workshop chair). www.fng2006.org Fun 'n Games 2006 26 - 28 June 2006, Preston, England http://www.fng2006.org

Gd.Ie Third Birthday – 2

Hard to believe I know – but this month gd.ie will be officially three years old. To celebrate we will having a slightly more upmarket shindig that usual in the heart of the Digital Hub, the Digital Exchange building (old Media Lab Europe building) on Crane Street, off Thomas Street, in Dublin on Friday the 28th of April from 6.45pm.

Since gd.ie is all about building community we are pleased to announce that confirmed speakers for the night include Will Golby, PopCap Games, Dublin; Tony Kelly, Nephin Games, Galway; Sarah Guiney, Upstart Games and John Molloy talking about the Digital Hub’s clubhouse and eSTreet projects.

As if that wasn’t enough entertainment for one night we will also have the annual gd.ie annual awards. Please go to the forums on gd.ie to nominate your newbie of the year, elect someone to the gd.ie hall of fame for the stamina award, reward someone for their gems of knowledge, their humour and finally nominate a person or group for the gd.ie overall award of the year. Go to http://www.gamedevelopers.ie/forums/viewtopic.php?p=24100#24100

As last year there will be refreshments on the night and there is always the possibility that things will continue afterwards in a local establishment.

***********************************

Note:
Maps showing the Digital Exchange building can be found at http://www.thedigitalhub.com/locate/maps.php# (just for Kyotokid!)

Former winners of gd.ie awards (with forum handles in brackets) are:

2005 winners were:
1. Newbie – Stéphane Ambrosini (steph)
2. Stamina – Damian Furlong (Omen) who registerd on the forums on 7th of April, 2003 with a special runners up award to Ronny Southwood (ronny)
3. Salmon of Knowledge – Tony Kelly (Idora)
4. Humour – Peter McNally (Pete) or his Hoffness..
5. Gd.ie group of the year 05 – IGDA Ireland committee.

For more see http://www.gamedevelopers.ie/news/viewnews.php?article=200

2004 winners were:
1. Stamina: Peter McNally (pete) who registered on the forums on the 1st of April 2003,
2. Newbie: Ivan McCloskey (Kyotokid): i
3. Humour: Ian Hannigan (Ian_hannigan)
4. Salmon of Knowledge: Michael Griffin (grifmike)
5. GD.ie person of the Year – Tony Kelly (Idora).

For more see http://www.gamedevelopers.ie/news/viewnews.php?article=98

Gd.Ie Birthday & Shindig

Hard to believe I know – but this month gd.ie will be officially three years old.

To celebrate we will having a slightly more upmarket shindig that usual in the heart of the Digital Hub, the Digital Exchange building (old Media Lab Europe building) on Crane Street, off Thomas Street, in Dublin on Friday the 28th of April at 6.45pm. Speakers, awards, refreshments…

See news and forums for more details.

Maps of the location can be found at http://www.thedigitalhub.com/locate/maps.php#

Robocode Ireland National Final

On March 23rd 2006, Robocode tanks roll into Tipperary Institute for the Robocode Ireland Programming competition, sponsored by Lenovo. Students from third level colleges around the country will battle for the ICS Robocode Challenge Trophy.

Previous Robocode Ireland finals have featured Tank displays from the Irish Military and the event has also been supported by Air Corps Irish “Robot of Destruction” team. Unlike the real-life destruction machines, Robocode is a game where teams use Java, a programming language, to control robot tanks that battle with each other. The little graphical tanks need to be cleverly programmed to avoid being hit and smart enough to move around an arena without any kind of manual control. All of their intelligence is part of a single Java file, designed by the students. The arena is a large computer monitor that is projected onto a wall. Everyone can see the ruthless robots at work, including information about the energy level and radar scanning capability of each robot.

During the past three months, third level colleges and university students have made perfect “battle bots” with on-board intelligence to maneuver and fire on screen. The Robocode competition appeals to first year programming students. “It is intended as an opportunity for fresher years to demonstrate their programming abilities,” said James Greenslade, Director of ICT Department at Tipperary Institute. The best Robot Tanks from colleges and universities will battle to the finish in Thurles in an event sponsored by Lenovo, ICS, PCRealm, Micromail, Sun, Stakelums Office Supplies, Pearson Education, Powerballs and the Digital Hub.

This year’s exciting competition will again feature “Pit Tanks” developed by special guests from the BT Young Scientist Competition. This years pit tanks are developed by Emmet Kilberd and Andrew Lionie, John Scottus Secondary School, with their project on optimisation of code, Patrick Collison, BT Young Scientist 2005, Peter Benilov’s “Robocode Targeting” project, Castletroy College. There will also be a number of exhibits from BT Young Scientists. Secondary level schools are welcome to attend and should pre-book by contacting Rita Clohessy, in the ICT Department, on 0504 28250 or email robocode_team@tippinst.ie as places are limited. Attending schools can get involved in the gaming and brain teaser competitions thought the day. Full details for the event can be found on the Robocode website located at http://www.robocode.ie. Schools attending will also be included in a number of the competitions and draws taking place during the event.

When the RoboCode final is played out in front of a cheering audience on 23rd March, it will provide the National Showcase for Irish third level programming students, with the smarts to qualify for the finals. So “Let’s get ready to RUMBLE!!” in Tipperary Institute at the Robocode 2006 Programming Competition.

About Tipperary Institute
Tipperary Institute, one of Ireland’s newest and most innovative third level colleges first opened its doors to full-time students in 1999. It is a dual campus Institute with campuses located in Clonmel and Thurles. Three departments form the backbone of the Institute’s academic programmes: Business, Information & Communications Technology (ICT) and Rural Development. All programmes are HETAC accredited and a work placement module forms an integral part of each programme.

About Robocode
RoboCode is an annual 1st year Full Time Undergraduate 3rd level Programming Competition. Robot tanks, written in Java, battle each other for the title of RoboMarshall. Students from Colleges and Universities throughout Ireland will take part in a National Robocode Final in Tipperary Institute on March 23rd 2006.

Robocode Ireland National Final – 2

On March 23rd 2006, Robocode tanks roll into Tipperary Institute for the Robocode Ireland Programming competition, sponsored by Lenovo. Students from third level colleges around the country will battle for the ICS Robocode Challenge Trophy.

Previous Robocode Ireland finals have featured Tank displays from the Irish Military and the event has also been supported by Air Corps Irish “Robot of Destruction” team. Unlike the real-life destruction machines, Robocode is a game where teams use Java, a programming language, to control robot tanks that battle with each other. The little graphical tanks need to be cleverly programmed to avoid being hit and smart enough to move around an arena without any kind of manual control. All of their intelligence is part of a single Java file, designed by the students. The arena is a large computer monitor that is projected onto a wall. Everyone can see the ruthless robots at work, including information about the energy level and radar scanning capability of each robot.

During the past three months, third level colleges and university students have made perfect “battle bots” with on-board intelligence to maneuver and fire on screen. The Robocode competition appeals to first year programming students. “It is intended as an opportunity for fresher years to demonstrate their programming abilities,” said James Greenslade, Director of ICT Department at Tipperary Institute. The best Robot Tanks from colleges and universities will battle to the finish in Thurles in an event sponsored by Lenovo, ICS, PCRealm, Micromail, Sun, Stakelums Office Supplies, Pearson Education, Powerballs and the Digital Hub.

This year’s exciting competition will again feature “Pit Tanks” developed by special guests from the BT Young Scientist Competition. This years pit tanks are developed by Emmet Kilberd and Andrew Lionie, John Scottus Secondary School, with their project on optimisation of code, Patrick Collison, BT Young Scientist 2005, Peter Benilov’s “Robocode Targeting” project, Castletroy College. There will also be a number of exhibits from BT Young Scientists. Secondary level schools are welcome to attend and should pre-book by contacting Rita Clohessy, in the ICT Department, on 0504 28250 or email robocode_team@tippinst.ie as places are limited. Attending schools can get involved in the gaming and brain teaser competitions thought the day. Full details for the event can be found on the Robocode website located at http://www.robocode.ie. Schools attending will also be included in a number of the competitions and draws taking place during the event.

When the RoboCode final is played out in front of a cheering audience on 23rd March, it will provide the National Showcase for Irish third level programming students, with the smarts to qualify for the finals. So “Let’s get ready to RUMBLE!!” in Tipperary Institute at the Robocode 2006 Programming Competition.

About Tipperary Institute
Tipperary Institute, one of Ireland’s newest and most innovative third level colleges first opened its doors to full-time students in 1999. It is a dual campus Institute with campuses located in Clonmel and Thurles. Three departments form the backbone of the Institute’s academic programmes: Business, Information & Communications Technology (ICT) and Rural Development. All programmes are HETAC accredited and a work placement module forms an integral part of each programme.

About Robocode
RoboCode is an annual 1st year Full Time Undergraduate 3rd level Programming Competition. Robot tanks, written in Java, battle each other for the title of RoboMarshall. Students from Colleges and Universities throughout Ireland will take part in a National Robocode Final in Tipperary Institute on March 23rd 2006.

Games In Education: Bett 2006

Getting the most out of BETT is a task in itself; the venue is packed wall to wall for all 4 days. When you walk in the front door you are have the choice of 4 route planners, but these only cover the most popular areas (English, maths, science and special needs). I attended seeking information on behalf of primary, secondary and third level educators, community groups and lastly to get a better idea of the scale and direction of games technology in education.

Firstly, teachers have a different idea of what constitutes a game. Here if it’s on a computer and it uses pictures and sound it’s a game. Most of the exhibitors at BETT have spent some time as teachers themselves, so this loose definition of a game is something you have to get used to. However, certain subdivisions can be made, namely into multimedia educational aids, edutainment (games created specifically for educational purposes) and commercial videogames (games built for entertainment purposes but from which an educational use is being made). For special needs purposes many of these products are made compatible with peripherals that ease their use, and there are other products again that are based exclusively on the use of a proprietary device (such as a robot).

The multimedia educational aid area is the most developed by a large margin. For an idea of the software on offer take a look at Pearson education (BETT award winner) and Crick Software Ltd. (BETT award shortlist). Products in this area are based upon presenting the subject in a bright and interactive way. Stories such as those on an English course or historical events can be represented as an animated book, or interactive movie. Maths and science subjects can be as simple as moving brightly coloured blocks into stacks or navigating a spaceship on a mission to mars.

Many of the multimedia educational aids are developed using Macromedia Flash, and so across developers you will encounter a similar look and feel. Amazingly enough there were next to no products tied to other intellectual properties (IP), in fact I saw only one program that claimed it was, and I didn’t even recognise the characters involved. I would have expected to see collaborations with children’s shows or even to popular books, but no. The recurring style that emerges from using Macromedia Flash is causing difficulties outside intended audiences, particularly in the area of adult education where students are being turned off because of their overtly childish appearance.

Edutainment is pretty thin on the ground at the moment, especially next to the abundance of multimedia software available. The difficulty here is that to appeal to the market, usually children with little interest in standard learning, the software needs to look, feel and reward like a game, but also have a worthwhile and quantifiable educational value. The one product that stuck in my mind was Altered Learning’s “The Neverwinter Nights Project”. Atari is giving support to this company to develop their software, which uses the videogame Neverwinter nights as a platform for teaching key skills. To look at it you wouldn’t think it was anything other than the standard videogame release, the content however is heavily customised, and the student’s use is recorded discretely. The saved information can be presented in a form that meets curriculum requirements and the student can be graded.

image2

Another key group in the edutainment area is Nesta Futurelab. Nesta is an organisation dedicated to transforming education through innovation and technology, and Futurelab is their initiative concerned with innovation in education through technology. Futurelab produces an impressive volume of work, a lot of which has to do with videogame technology. The edutainment products that they had on display leaned more towards simulation; but they are worth a look for the immense range of work that they do in all areas of educational technology. They don’t limit themselves to the classroom, as projects like ‘mudlarking’ demonstrate. Mudlarking used mobile technology to create a series of nodes around a town called Deptford, each of which the students associated with data about the area. Nesta conduct an annual submission process for innovative ideas in their area, although you must apply from within the UK. Successful ideas benefit from working with Futurelab’s core development team, limited funding and Nesta’s further help as a partnership broker with under industry groups.

Finally, there are those video games, commercially released, that teachers try to use for pedagogical purposes. Futurelab are in the thick of it once again, and are conducting research, funded by EA, using 3 different games: Knights of Honour (historically based RTS), Rollercoaster Tycoon (amusement park administration simulation) and The Sims 2 (simulation game based around social interaction). They aim to identify the educational elements of these games and discover how best to introduce them into the classroom. As part of this project Nesta have some very interesting data to share; 59% of teachers in the UK would consider using mainstream games in the classroom for educational purposes, 53% would do so because of their role as interactive motivational tool for students. 91% believe computer games improve motor cognitive skills, and over 60% thought students would improve higher order thinking skills and topic specific knowledge.

Exploring BETT for several days I came away, as someone interested in games development, with the realisation that the education sector hasn’t yet recognised the value and capability of games technology. But they have seen the potential and the resources are coming in now to really take advantage. Most of these companies have teachers at their core; they design by looking at the curriculum material and figuring out new ways to present old material. While this probably best suits immediate needs, it results in software that looks like a game but doesn’t really feel like one. A precious few are looking at the tools available to them and figuring out what a vast and diverse range of material they could be presenting. What you get in these cases are games that provide an educational value, and as games the students more readily receive them. It’s not a matter of interest either, on the part of developers; each time I mentioned my skill base as videogames I was asked a flurry of questions. On two occasions I was asked if I would be willing to look over material and pitch a product in a few months.

The interest is there, the money is certainly there, the question is why aren’t we there?

Author Bio:
John Molloy is a final year Games Design & Development student at the Ballyfermot College of Further Education. In what free time he has, John works as a mentor at the SWICN (South West Inner City Network) computer clubhouse. John has been involved in IT for education since the early 90’s when he was part of Educational Computer Resources (ECR), an educational computer supply and support company. Contact him via the forums where his nickname is ‘nifty’.


If you wish to be directed to any information mentioned, but not covered, in this piece feel free to contact the author.
http://www.pearsoned.co.uk
http://www.cricksoft.com
Several companies were exhibiting at BETT whose sole service is the evaluation of an institution’s educational ICT resources,
http://www.alteredlearning.com
Key skills are skills, which are not usually taught directly during school but are considered vital to adult life anyway. They are: Communication, Application of Number, Information and Communication Technology, Problem Solving, Improving Own Learning and Performance, Working with Others.
http://www.nestafuturelab.org, the National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts
Similar research has been conducted by a group in the US and you can find out more about this at http://www.educationarcade.org/
All images courtesy of Futurelab and may not be reused without permission.

London Games Festival

2nd – 5th October

Central London.

The London Games Festival is a week of events aspiring to become the “Cannes” of the games industry. Well situated in London, as the UK has long been regarded as the gateway
to the European games market in both business and consumer terms. In its first year, the festival will be predominantly trade focused, but cultural, artistic, educational and consumer
elements will evolve as part of the activities too. The core events will be:

  • TIGA Content Market (3rd and 4th October) – a market where developers can meet publishers and service providers to the industry. Following previous highly successful content markets in London by TIGA (The Independent Games Developers Association), this year’s event is set to be bigger and better
  • London Games Summit (4th and 5th October) – a fascinating conference looking at key issues of interest to publishers and developers, held by TIGA and ELSPA (the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association)
  • BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) Awards for artistic and creative innovation in video games with the makers credited rather than the marketers.

    Ian Baverstock, Chair of TIGA said,

    “The combinbation of Londons economic development agency, BAFTA, plus both TIGA and ELSPA champing at the bit to work towards creating a new international event has been a while coming but this is the beginning of something built on solid foundations and we expect many important organisations to announce complimentary activities in the near future”

    Rob Cooper, MD Northern Europe and Export, Ubisoft UK said,

    “With publishers, retailers and developers staging their own events throughout the year, it is clear that our industry needs an event that brings all aspects of it together in a forum that really shows video games at their best and that the UK is still a world leader in this market. The London Games Festival will allow new ideas and opportunities to flourish, and will also allow the industry, in conjunction with BAFTA, to show its recognition and respect to those who have achieved great results over the year.”

    Paul Jackson, VP and MD Northern Europe, Electronic Arts said,
    “We’re incredibly excited by London Games Festival. It is something that is grabbing the industry’s imagination. The hope is that it captures for games what an event like Cannes captures for film. We’ll be looking to see how we can be involved in the London Games Festival in ways that best reflect the EA brand and our games.”

    Adam Roberts, EVP Europe and UK MD, Vivendi said,

    “London Games Festival is a remarkable way of carrying the message that games are central to modern culture and entertainment. And from an industry perspective, it’s fantastic to see ELSPA, TIGA, BAFTA and the London Development Agency working together.”

  • Games In Education: Bett 2006 – 2

    Getting the most out of BETT is a task in itself; the venue is packed wall to wall for all 4 days. When you walk in the front door you are have the choice of 4 route planners, but these only cover the most popular areas (English, maths, science and special needs). I attended seeking information on behalf of primary, secondary and third level educators, community groups and lastly to get a better idea of the scale and direction of games technology in education.

    Firstly, teachers have a different idea of what constitutes a game. Here if it’s on a computer and it uses pictures and sound it’s a game. Most of the exhibitors at BETT have spent some time as teachers themselves, so this loose definition of a game is something you have to get used to. However, certain subdivisions can be made, namely into multimedia educational aids, edutainment (games created specifically for educational purposes) and commercial videogames (games built for entertainment purposes but from which an educational use is being made). For special needs purposes many of these products are made compatible with peripherals that ease their use, and there are other products again that are based exclusively on the use of a proprietary device (such as a robot).

    The multimedia educational aid area is the most developed by a large margin. For an idea of the software on offer take a look at Pearson education (BETT award winner) and Crick Software Ltd. (BETT award shortlist). Products in this area are based upon presenting the subject in a bright and interactive way. Stories such as those on an English course or historical events can be represented as an animated book, or interactive movie. Maths and science subjects can be as simple as moving brightly coloured blocks into stacks or navigating a spaceship on a mission to mars.

    Many of the multimedia educational aids are developed using Macromedia Flash, and so across developers you will encounter a similar look and feel. Amazingly enough there were next to no products tied to other intellectual properties (IP), in fact I saw only one program that claimed it was, and I didn’t even recognise the characters involved. I would have expected to see collaborations with children’s shows or even to popular books, but no. The recurring style that emerges from using Macromedia Flash is causing difficulties outside intended audiences, particularly in the area of adult education where students are being turned off because of their overtly childish appearance.

    Edutainment is pretty thin on the ground at the moment, especially next to the abundance of multimedia software available. The difficulty here is that to appeal to the market, usually children with little interest in standard learning, the software needs to look, feel and reward like a game, but also have a worthwhile and quantifiable educational value. The one product that stuck in my mind was Altered Learning’s “The Neverwinter Nights Project”. Atari is giving support to this company to develop their software, which uses the videogame Neverwinter nights as a platform for teaching key skills. To look at it you wouldn’t think it was anything other than the standard videogame release, the content however is heavily customised, and the student’s use is recorded discretely. The saved information can be presented in a form that meets curriculum requirements and the student can be graded.

    image2

    Another key group in the edutainment area is Nesta Futurelab. Nesta is an organisation dedicated to transforming education through innovation and technology, and Futurelab is their initiative concerned with innovation in education through technology. Futurelab produces an impressive volume of work, a lot of which has to do with videogame technology. The edutainment products that they had on display leaned more towards simulation; but they are worth a look for the immense range of work that they do in all areas of educational technology. They don’t limit themselves to the classroom, as projects like ‘mudlarking’ demonstrate. Mudlarking used mobile technology to create a series of nodes around a town called Deptford, each of which the students associated with data about the area. Nesta conduct an annual submission process for innovative ideas in their area, although you must apply from within the UK. Successful ideas benefit from working with Futurelab’s core development team, limited funding and Nesta’s further help as a partnership broker with under industry groups.

    Finally, there are those video games, commercially released, that teachers try to use for pedagogical purposes. Futurelab are in the thick of it once again, and are conducting research, funded by EA, using 3 different games: Knights of Honour (historically based RTS), Rollercoaster Tycoon (amusement park administration simulation) and The Sims 2 (simulation game based around social interaction). They aim to identify the educational elements of these games and discover how best to introduce them into the classroom. As part of this project Nesta have some very interesting data to share; 59% of teachers in the UK would consider using mainstream games in the classroom for educational purposes, 53% would do so because of their role as interactive motivational tool for students. 91% believe computer games improve motor cognitive skills, and over 60% thought students would improve higher order thinking skills and topic specific knowledge.

    Exploring BETT for several days I came away, as someone interested in games development, with the realisation that the education sector hasn’t yet recognised the value and capability of games technology. But they have seen the potential and the resources are coming in now to really take advantage. Most of these companies have teachers at their core; they design by looking at the curriculum material and figuring out new ways to present old material. While this probably best suits immediate needs, it results in software that looks like a game but doesn’t really feel like one. A precious few are looking at the tools available to them and figuring out what a vast and diverse range of material they could be presenting. What you get in these cases are games that provide an educational value, and as games the students more readily receive them. It’s not a matter of interest either, on the part of developers; each time I mentioned my skill base as videogames I was asked a flurry of questions. On two occasions I was asked if I would be willing to look over material and pitch a product in a few months.

    The interest is there, the money is certainly there, the question is why aren’t we there?

    Author Bio:
    John Molloy is a final year Games Design & Development student at the Ballyfermot College of Further Education. In what free time he has, John works as a mentor at the SWICN (South West Inner City Network) computer clubhouse. John has been involved in IT for education since the early 90’s when he was part of Educational Computer Resources (ECR), an educational computer supply and support company. Contact him via the forums where his nickname is ‘nifty’.


    If you wish to be directed to any information mentioned, but not covered, in this piece feel free to contact the author.
    http://www.pearsoned.co.uk
    http://www.cricksoft.com
    Several companies were exhibiting at BETT whose sole service is the evaluation of an institution’s educational ICT resources,
    http://www.alteredlearning.com
    Key skills are skills, which are not usually taught directly during school but are considered vital to adult life anyway. They are: Communication, Application of Number, Information and Communication Technology, Problem Solving, Improving Own Learning and Performance, Working with Others.
    http://www.nestafuturelab.org, the National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts
    Similar research has been conducted by a group in the US and you can find out more about this at http://www.educationarcade.org/
    All images courtesy of Futurelab and may not be reused without permission.

    Autodesk And Alias In Dublin

    3D for Games development and broadcast Visual FX
    Autodesk Media and Entertainment Bring complete 3D solutions to Dublin

    Following Autodesk’s Acquisition of the Alias product line, Autodesk have begun to showcase their new 3D product portfolio across Europe in the “realize your dreams tour”

    The tour arrives in Dublin on the 28th of March where Autodesk will demonstrate the power of their complete 3d product portfolio.

    The tour will be focusing on two core areas of expertise

    Games development and post production/ visual effects

    11 AM – introduction to 3D S Max for Games development.
    Demonstration of 3d s max in the field of game development for devices such as the Playstation 2

    2 PM – introduction to 3D S Max for post production/ visual effects.
    Demonstration on how to Integrate 3d s max into your post production/ VFX pipeline

    Later than evening Autodesk will hold an evening event showcasing Alias Motion builder

    The event is free of charge

    To book a place on this event, please email
    Lee.Griffin@eurotek.ie

    Autodesk And Alias In Dublin – 2

    Following Autodesk’s Acquisition of the Alias product line, Autodesk have begun to showcase their new 3D product portfolio across Europe in the “realize your dreams tour”.

    The event is free of charge. For more information see:

    http://www.gamedevelopers.ie/news/viewnews.php?article=251

    Autodesk And Alias In Dublin – 3

    3D for Games development and broadcast Visual FX
    Autodesk Media and Entertainment Bring complete 3D solutions to Dublin

    Following Autodesk’s Acquisition of the Alias product line, Autodesk have begun to showcase their new 3D product portfolio across Europe in the “realize your dreams tour”

    The tour arrives in Dublin on the 28th of March where Autodesk will demonstrate the power of their complete 3d product portfolio.

    The tour will be focusing on two core areas of expertise

    Games development and post production/ visual effects

    11 AM – introduction to 3D S Max for Games development.
    Demonstration of 3d s max in the field of game development for devices such as the Playstation 2

    2 PM – introduction to 3D S Max for post production/ visual effects.
    Demonstration on how to Integrate 3d s max into your post production/ VFX pipeline

    Later than evening Autodesk will hold an evening event showcasing Alias Motion builder

    The event is free of charge

    To book a place on this event, please email
    Lee.Griffin@eurotek.ie

    Instinct Technology

    For more information on Torc Interactive, see:

    http://www.instinct-tech.com/

    Popcap Games International Limited

    Developer and publisher of casual games.

    For more information on Popcap games, see
    http://www.popcap.com/aboutus.php

    Contact:
    Will Golby
    +353 1 480 6280
    The Digital Exchange, Crane Street, Dublin 8, Ireland