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Wrap it up on Day One

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I left the Serious Games Summit a little early today, primarily because I lost my sweatshirt and wanted to go find something warm to wear. I only had a t-shirt on for most of the day - yeah, that's me, the idiot walking around in a t-shirt! Luckily San Francisco's shopping district is right next to the Metreone, so after a quick stop to get a 40% off Old Navy sweat I headed back to the hotel to make a phone call and take care of a few things.

But enough about that. The rest of the Serious Games Summit that I attended was a lecture about how the University of Minnesota's Institute for New Media Studies used NeverWinter Nights as a platform to create a game used to teach journalism to journalism students. The most interesting aspect of this project was how they went about designing the game.

To start, they picked a curriculum from a book used in one of their courses. I don't have the course name or number in my notes, but the book's name was Behind the Message. From this, they developed what they called an "information strategy model", which basically put together the flow of information they wanted to teach. As in, how do we take lesson A and get the student to learn and use those skills through the game?

Keeping in mind that the idea of the game is to teach aspiring journalists how to do their job, the basic challenge of the game involved these steps:
  • Come up with a story angle: health, public safety, transportation safety, or the environment
  • Identify the key questions
  • Collect background information
  • Select and interview appropriate sources
  • Keep notes
  • Return to the newsroom to file updates

    Some of the issues they had revolved around using the NWN engine for dynamic conversations and some odd bugs that cropped up. I'd say this means their use of the NWN engine was more of a good prototype of the concept than a final implementation. As a result, they've since started migrating to MULE, but the migration isn't complete yet.

    That's the end of Day One. Day Two looks to be an even more interesting day, and I'll be back with the semi-liveblogging in the morning.
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