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Embassy of Time

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  1. Embassy of Time

    Let's gamify education!

    It is going to be a slow start, I have no illusions about that. And exactly because Content Is King, I am starting with very, very simple quiz games. I already have a test running at nakskovuniversity.com with basic versions of a training game I used on students long ago. I am, for now, expanding that concept with a few similar games and a bunch of content I am working on at the moment.
  2. Embassy of Time

    Testing some education!

    My work on making scientifically smart games continues. I have been dabbling with some educational game ideas lately, and happened to notice that an old test-of-concept of mine was still online. Here it is: http://nakskovuniversity.com/ The idea is very simple: Distract the player/student from the educational nature of the game by making the challenge non-educational, and slowly increase the challenge. It's just a set of capitl training sheets, where the player/student gets quizzed on the capitals of countries or states. But it starts with just one question, and every round another question gets added, and the quiz starts over. So every round's question gets repeated in later rounds, enforcing memory. And to reduce the challenge without reducing the educational benefit, the answers to every new question (but not the old) is given at the strt of the round. So let's try African capitals: Round 1: What is the name of the capital of Republic of Congo? Answer: Brazzaville It tells me that answer, then asks me the question. Fairly easy to answer. Round 2: What is the name of the capital of Togo? Answer: Lomé Two questions get asked, each has both those answer options, Brazzaville or Lomé. Round 3: What is the name of the capital of Cap Verde? Answer: Praia Three questions get asked, three answer options each. And so on. This is a very basic, but very efficient, way of training a fairly rote subject. It is also easy to program. My goal for now is to use this basic philosophy to create some training programs for different things. But most importantly, playing it feels like plying a memory game, not like studying. I hope I can expand that concept. A bit shor tone this time, I know. But I would like to get back to the grinding stone on this one, and talk less about the work, and do more
  3. Embassy of Time

    Let's gamify education!

    I just noticed the other day that one of my old 'games' I used on students (8th grade) is actually still online. I'm using it and some other stuff for a bigger version, but if anyone wants to train capitals, here's the proof-of-concept I did for my students: http://nakskovuniversity.com/ And yes, I know I spelled PROGERSS wrong Totally agree. I did have some success just making the above game very simple, though. If done right, students seem willing to distract themselves from the learning aspects of the game. These are the things I have been working with for some time. I use them in the small game above, too. But they seem to be more of a stepping stone to games that truly hide the lerning stuff behind a compelling gameplay. I am trying to use them as such a stepping stone... The economics of educational games is a completely different monster... I hope to find a way to show off lesser educational games and maybe one dy crowdfund something bigger, but until then, yeah, I am fiddling with 'normal' games used in new ways. It's not ideal, but... Like I just wrote, that is kinda what I do now, using 'normal' games in a twisty way to bring out the educational aspects. I do want to move beyond that, though, and tap into some of the greater potentials of games...
  4. Embassy of Time

    Let's gamify education!

    Cool, I will see if I can get a hold of a copy. There are some problems ordering from the US around here. Or can I buy a digital copy somewhere?? I'd love to go, but my current budget doesn't allow trips to the US for a conference (I live in Denmark) I would love to know about what you gamify, and how, if you feel like sharing your experiences?
  5. Embassy of Time

    Let's gamify education!

    I am a teacher. Some of you may already have come across my extended ramblings on using SCIENCE for Big Games. This set of blog entries caught the attention of some people who wanted to know if there was a point in developing more educationally minded games. Not surprisingly, I said "yes", pretty enthusiastically! Now they are curious about what can be done, so I am drawing up some sample projects, hoping that there might be a way to make games that are fun on their own merits, but also help anyone learn all kinds of topics, from science to history to languages and so on. If this is something you ever thought about, I would love to know, and hear any ideas you may be walking around with. I just wrote another blog entry on the topic, but from the basic idea of turning education into a game and to the practical side of it, there is a big gap to overcome. I don't want to end up with the horrible games I was exposed to on old IBM green-and-black screened bricks at school. The point is to make education something you can enjoy playing, rather than slave over. If there are any teachers, tutors or home school parents out there, I would love to know. And I know there are a lot of people on these boards with higher academic backgrounds, if you're one of them and would like to talk about how your academic passions could be spread through games, I would also love to hear from you! And, of course, if you just have ideas, or are a student of some sort who would love for your studies to be gamified, please let me know!! For now, I am looking at setting up a website with fairly simple games with high learning content, some of them entirely online and some actually meant to be printed out and plyed around a table (solitaire or competitively). But it's a big, weird topic, and I would love some discussions on it! So... you game? (don't pun-slap me!)
  6. Embassy of Time

    Can education be made into a game?

    Gamification. It's a word that has been thrown about a bit this last decade. Most just use it to describe awarding points for trivial or easily ignored tasks, to encourage people to do them. Points for cleaning the house, keeping a score on your pedometer or whatever fancy new fitness-on-my-wrist is popular, workplaces trying to foster ambition with prizes and competition. People are realizing that adding aspects of games to things can easily and cheaply push people to do more. But I have yet to see anything be truly gamified, i.e. turned into an actual game. It's a weird concept to wrap your head around, so let's try to boil it down a bit. Firstly, we focus on something I actually know a bit about, education (I'm a tracher). Not fitness, not work efficiency, just learning academic stuff, like biology and history. Second, rather than trying to add point systems to everything in an attempt to turn it into a progress bar (I love Khan Academy with all my heart, but their scoring system just feels so weird....), let's take an actual game and see if we can use its ideas to bridge the gap. I am avoiding computer games here, simply to keep it a bit, well, simple. To make it an actual effort, let's take something that does not remind us of academia, which sadly games like Trivial Pursuit do. Let's take the surprisingly popular comedy card game (with tons of expansions) Munchkin, from Steve Jackson games. The essence of Munchkin is that you have some cards that you can use to give a fictional character abilities. You then flip random cards to find monsters to kill with those abilities, to take stuff that gives you more abilities. The game ends when someone has grown strong enough to have a "level" ability of 10 (20 if you use Epic rules). What is fun about this game? Well, in my experience (and for honesty's sake, in my opinion), there are these funnies of playing Munchkin: - The content humor: Munchkin is based on cards. Each card has one thing described, like a skill, a weapon, monster or a treasure. These are described and designed with puns and satire of genre gaming like fantasy, pirates, horror etc., mostly rooted in old-school tabletop roleplaying. So you may have to fight a zombie or a dragon. Or you may have the very easy fights against a potted plant or goldfish (yes, those are real monsters in the game). You can use cards to modify yourself and the monsters, like fighting an ancient and undead potted plant with your fancy battleaxe. Cards may seem to contradict each other (ancient and somehow yet young dragons?), but a part of the fun is just the ridiculous situations set up by the mix of cards, easpecially when other players use their cards to influence a fight. Which beings us to... - Cooperative sabotage: To keep others from becoming overpowered and winning, players can influence fights and alter each other's characters, either helping out or throwing wrenches in the gears of one another's plans. This is probably the most strategic part of the game, figuring out which cards to keep and when to use them on others, or yourself. Allainces are fleeting, enemies are forever! - Creative overview: Part of the enjoyment of the game is to simply see your character, and the character's arsenal of tools, grow. There is a clear element of hoarding in this, with weapons and armor and magical or techie gadgets accumulating on the table in front of you like a physical character sheet (which I just now realized it actually is). Building your gear and dealing with other players cursing or otherwise messing with it is a whole side-game, with much of the humor and cooperative sabotage from the main game working just the same. I chose to ignore the purely social aspect of playing a game with friends, because that is a bit harder to quantify and honestly a bit outside the scope of this relatively short piece on the topic. How could we transfer the fun of such a game to academic studies? The first obstacle might technically be the least important, but it still seems, to me, to matter: Narrative. Munchkin has a simple story: You and your 'friends' (whom you may beat the crap out of in the process) are hunting treasure, and you go kicking down doors in a dungeon/spaceship/haunted house or whatever to find it. Monsters show up, you deal with them. Easy enough, right? So can we do something similarly simple to explain having to deal with mathematical equations and historical eras? And do we make them competitive, or just single-player? Some ideas, off the top of my head: - You fell asleep while studying for a test. Now your brain is trying to put a ton of stuff together, hunting the knowledge in your head like treasure. - You are competing against fellow professors for tenure. Hunt down the coolest academia for your next publication to impress your univeristy! - You are starting a civilization from scratch. Knowledge of the ages is needed to advance, possibly tech-tree or skill-tree style. There is also the option of not having a narrative at all. Randomly drawn cards of words, chemicals, social movements or the like can be combined Rube Goldberg style into bigger things, and the biggest thing wins. The next part becomes the rules structure. Essentially, this is easy: Getting certain cards raise or lower some kind of stats, which are used to get more cards. The question is what raises or lwoers what, and how are new cards gained (I am sticking with the card analogy, for simplicity's sake). The simplest model is to just draw randomly, but where does learning come into it? Each card may teach by recognition ("oh, the first punic war, I got that last time, too!"), but the real power of a game is in the use of cards. Combinations can be used to learn how things fit together (words, atoms, historical events, etc.), or cards may be traded for something they contain or cause, or something from a similar category (swap your adjective for one already in play, not only giving you a more useful card but maybe making someone else's played sentence more nonsensical; break a molecule down into atoms, if you have something that lets you do so; swap Pinting Press for one of its consequences, Libraries, to advance your technology score). This is the strategic part of the game, resource acquisition and trade. It also includes the overview, as it means having a lot of things that you can use, if you can keep track of them. Limits to trade or belongings can help define the game, and cards may alter them. This is very basic, non-gamification game design, so I will not go too much into it. And then there is the goal, how to win the game. Honestly, there are too many options fo rme to list, from reaching certain scores to managing some central task, to wiping out all other players somehow (or making them join you). It should be clear that this entry is very much a set of questions in my mind, not a set of answers. I have thought about these things for years but never settled on any truly great answers. I am very open fo rinput and would love to get a small discussion going on creating games like this, with education in mind, without making traditional "school games" like Oregon Trail and others that are too much school and not nearly enough game....
  7. Embassy of Time

    Learning to change learning

    PS: The kitten orphanage is rolling along just fine, btw. Just took in an older cat that has seen his share of hardship, but he's starting to relax and enjoy his new home here. I named him Tolkien. I'm a nerd
  8. Embassy of Time

    Learning to change learning

    Well, I have become a rare guest these last few months, haven't I? Sorry about that. My deep dive into the sciences related to my game ideas has pulled me into a very different "game" project. The people that wanted me to do a presentation are still talking about things, but one of them offered me a small while-we-wait project, designing an education gamification website. As some may have figured out, I have a background in teaching, and I have used games programming in that line of work before. Mixing educational psychology and game programming, I have developed a basic set of challenges (they're too simple to even call games, I feel) that should teach anyone a ton of stuff quick and easy. I did the programming (for a small demo, click here), now I'm collecting a TON of material to fill in it. Currently going through some of the finer details on astrophysics. Got a lot ahead of me! So the big philosophical debates are not coming from me right this moment. But if you want to learn or brush up on a lot of book knowledge, I will soon have the thing just for you
  9. Embassy of Time

    Co-Writer Needed

    I guess I can add some story stuff. I am a bit swamped, though, so expect some time to be needed. Send me a PM with what you've got and where your thoughts are on the matter.
  10. Holy mother of muppets....

    Yeah, anyone keeping an eye on me (I see you, NSA!) will have noticed a prolonged absence. Does it make the heart grow fonder? I don't know. But I have had quite a ride, and while I won't bother anyone with details, I can sum up that my dad is now slowly (but somehow cheerfully??) wasting away at a very good retirement home, because nobody seems to know (or want to fully figure out) what is wrong with him. I have some theories about aa failing blood circulation due to blocked arteries, but nobody listens, so yeah... it's been kinda rough. We finally sold my childhood home (my parents were the first and only other owners, for 45 years, which is longer than I have existed) and I am working to fit a looot of stuff into my own house from there. It's emotional and weird.

    The kitten orphanage is going quite well. I now have my own Dylan and my cousin's Charlie, along with three rescued kittens that are now fairly big (Niko, Olga and Polka), all of whom are snuggling at my feet at the moment. In the living room and office Freya plays with her four growing kittens, Ludwig, Mozart, Quark and Rocky. And upstairs the newest (yesterday) arrival Tolkien is still hiding nervously, not sure what is going on but being a nice and cuddly thing. We're not sure, but he seems quite old. For those counting, yeah, that's 11 cats. And I love all of them. I just hate how much they cost to spay and neuter, but hey, you only need to do it once (presumably!).

    How are you people doing??

  11. Embassy of Time

    Thank you, GameDev.net!!!

    Haha, thanks, I am still impressed with the reception I have gotten in here
  12. Embassy of Time

    Really micromanaged audio programming (C++)

    No, I just think I never got the right angle on the API. All I found were examples on loading up a file and playing it as-is. Even something like storing it for later replay seemed byzantine to figure out, so at some point, I just assumed it was too rigid. Do you have some tutorials or the like that show me the better side of the API, because I would love some?
  13. It's not in the bag yet
  14. You're definitely welcome, too! I still talk a lot about it, I think it's a way to deal with the utter panic growing inside me. Thought you should benefit from it
  15. Just thought I'd throw in a very positive post to (hopefully) brighten the day of the good folks running the site. It seems someone recognized me on another site as the guy who does science rants on my blog in here, and that encounter resulted in an opportunity for me to present my work to a group of personal investors ("business angels")! There are no guarantees and I could end up just getting a few smiles and nothing more, but at least someone is listening, and a big part of why is this website. So thank you for running a great community that opens a few doors for crazy people like me! If I strike it rich, you will not be forgotten
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