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Archive for March, 2009

Last summer I read the book Got Game: How the Gamer Generation Is Changing Business Forever by John C. Beck and Mitchell Wade.

A few points from the book that I’d like to reiterate before getting into the post:

  • The book gave statistics on how broad the access is to game systems versus computers, even in lower income (rural or urban areas) households.  I cannot find my notes from the book, but I think the number was 92% have at least one gaming system versus 60-70% have computer in the home.  I do not remember how many people had Internet access at home, and there’s no telling how fast the connection is.  (If my memory of the stats is wrong, let me know and I will update.)
  • The skills that gaming teaches are important to learning and differ from how many institutions, from elementary up to higher education, teach. For example, in games you learn by failing.   I remember the first time I played Super Mario World on the original Nintendo.  I just started making Mario run and he ran right into the Gumba. Lesson learned- Gumbas kill and you need to jump over or on them.
Evil Gumba

Evil Gumba

  • The skills that gaming teaches are important in the careers and lives of adults – for example, performing under pressure, performing with limited resources (lives, weapons, etc), hand eye coordination, etc.

With that in mind, I was excited when I came across a Chronicle of Higher Education article by Steve Kolovich this week about a professor who has created a video game in the humanites that humanizes people affected by the current recession.  The article is about a professor at Dartmouth who along with the Values at Play research project created a game titled Layoff.

The game puts people who have been laid off from several industries in a pen and users can mouse over them to find out personal details.  The player has to group the laid off workers into groups of three of  a kind then move the workers to the unemployment line.  Fired workers are replaced with other workers who seem to get more and more white collar.

While this sounds neat, what does it accomplish??  Great- the laid off construction worker wanted to send his kid to college; that makes me sad.  So how do we help him?  Oh, group him two other construction workers and they will go get unemployment.  It doesn’t teach financial principles that contributed to the recession.  It doesn’t teach psychological issues that laid off workers are dealing with.  It seems to be nothing more than a novelty, but may be a good starting point for teaching those principles while vilifying bankers and executives.  It’s also as awkward as the worst Yahoo game I’ve ever played.  Fun times.

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    Issuu.com is a site that I came across a few days ago via a Twitter post by someone I follow (forgive me, but I can’t remember who).

    It’s an interesting site that allows content creators to publish content.

    Just a tiny bit of the content on Issuu.

    Just a tiny bit of the content on Issuu.

    To look at a magazine, click on the cover (or you can do a search and find content that isn’t in the featured area).  The magazine will open in a type of reader that allows the viewer to flip through the pages, zoom, and email the content.  There are also thumbnail images of different parts of the magazine that the viewer and click on and go immediately to that area.

    Very interestingly, there is also a Portfolios area on the featured content section.  It appears that graphic designers, photographers, etc. have the abilty to create and upload a portfolio that others can browse through.  A very neat self-marketing idea.

    Any ideas how to incorporate this into higher education?  Would faculty self-publishing content be valued by administration?   Would students self-publishing be valued by faculty and future employers?

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