Friday, March 13, 2009

Some semi-relevant links

A few links that are slightly off topic for this blog, but only slightly....
  • A school with a game-based curriculum is opening in NYC next fall. It's currently looking for teachers and students:
    Quest supports a dynamic curriculum that uses the underlying design principles of games to create highly immersive, game-like learning experiences for students. Games and other forms of digital media also model the complexity and promise of "systems." Understanding and accounting for this complexity is a fundamental literacy of the 21st century.
  • The U.S. Institute for Peace is developing what it calls the Open Simulation Platform (OSP), which would be an open source online simulation development tool, hopefully streamlining and simplifying the process of simulation generation and execution to allow more trainers and educators to make use of this type of tool: (via Wiggins)
    The problem describing the OSP is that it is different things to different audiences. To students it is an online world. (Albeit right now it is a very simple text and static image based world.) To instructors/facilitators it is an online library to select a simulation and tools to run a simulation. To simulation authors it is a guide (someday we hope a wizened guide) to help one construct meaningful training simulations. And finally, to a community we hope that it becomes an improved marketplace of ideas: a place where people can really debate their beliefs in more meaningful ways. When proving one’s point about something comes down to creating a realistic and sophisticated simulation that demonstrates that point, we will have arrived on that level.
  • The Economist recently ran a story about Alternate Reality Games (ARGs). These events generally blend online and real-world elements, usually involing both puzzles and narrative. Their (commercial) origins were as alternative advertising for films and the like, but they are being applied to a variety of other purposes. As is often the case with The Economist, it's a pretty good introduction to the subject:

    It was back in 2001 that the first commercial ARG, “The Beast”, a promotional campaign for Steven Spielberg’s film “A.I.: Artificial Intelligence”, began blurring the line between reality and fiction. Instead of formally announcing the start of a game, ARGs merely leave clues for potential players to follow: a subtle image on a poster, perhaps, or a cryptic message on a website. Fans must piece together the narrative—that’s the “alternate reality”—on their own. ARGs are characterised by their reliance on technology and teamwork, and are often shrouded in mystery until they end, weeks or even months later. Only then is the full story (and the product being promoted) revealed.

    Having started off as marketing tools for films and video games—as with “The Beast”, or “I Love Bees”, an ARG created to promote “Halo 2”, a video-game, in 2004—ARGs are now entering the mainstream. Consider “The Lost Ring”, commissioned by McDonald’s for the 2008 Olympics. Designed by Jane McGonigal, an ARG pioneer who used to work at 42 Entertainment, the game brought together players across six continents to uncover a story of amnesiac athletes and to recreate a supposedly lost (but actually fictional) ancient Olympic sport. “Most people’s experience of the Olympics is vicarious,” says Ms McGonigal. “I wanted to give people a more social and active way to experience them.” This ARG, linked to a global sporting event, sponsored by a multinational company and run in seven languages, shows how far ARGs have come.

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