Saturday, March 25, 2006

School Based Fitness

What would our fitness-related game development be like if we had an entire school to develop for? Imagine a series of public hallways or corners of a cafeteria where we could implement full-body games and activities for recess and lunch... such as interactive "walls" that played music, or step pads that tracked your steps to music? What about a school full of classrooms where every teacher had some kind of easily implemented physical activity (could be used individually or in large groups) to use whenever attention was waning in the classroom? This could include DDR or other games developed with full body peripherals? How about a revised cafeteria program through which kids use technology to log their food requests among healthy choices, having the ability to "vote" or recommend specific changes. Could we take advantage of parent groups and after school programs to extend healthy behavior after school times? As a parent, I can think of a series of wonderful things we could do in a testbed, "healthy elementary". As a game developer, I embrace an accessible environment to try everything and identify what works. As a researcher, I think such a school would see signficant changes in test scores, absenteeism, and family health.  Hmmmm, what would you do?

Monday, March 20, 2006

Day 1 - GDC Serious Games Summit

I've heard some great things today and have a bunch of fun ideas rolling around in my head. Here is a brief overview of some things I'd like to look into further:

  • Teaching People How to Program: Three interesting programs were demonstrated in a session.
    1. Alice is a 3D programming environment that helps kids (especially girls) tell stories by animating characters using program prompts. Alice has been around for a while, but the story-telling mode is new.
    2. MIT's Scratch presents a programming environment for developing simple games and other fun interactives.
    3. Rapunsel presents a coding enviornment in which kids can create their own dance moves for characters. In a creative twist, dancing is controlled by programmable "clothes", such as the rumba pants.
    All this great work makes me wonder what can be done with a programming tool on the iPod... can we have kids create mini movies similar to Alice Storytelling and then make podcasts? How can we use some of that sitting on the bus time to increase understanding of problem solving? Hmmmm....
  • Peripheral Devices: Again, 4 great examples of creative peripherals.
    1. Nokia's Juha Arrosavuori gave some ideas of using mobile phones in health, such as a GPS game where kids have to walk to different zones to pick up "cards" to play with in their game. He also mentioned MUPE as an open-source program for phone app dev.
    2. Dominic Greco shared the very exciting Smart Brain Games wherein ADD kids can don a helmut and play regular games on the PS or XBox, and when they aren't paying attention, the game gets harder. Thus, the kid learns how to focus their attention and when to recognize their attention is waning.
    3. The presentation that really got my brain going was Sonic Studio's (of the Interactive Institute) Interactive Climbing Wall. They used touch sensors and LEDs in the grips on the wall, then programmed a fun array of activities, like "playing" music or hearing poetry, playing pong between bodies on a wall, and "chase the light". It made me wonder what we could do with interactive buttons on a big wall in the hallway of a school... could we do some of the same ideas to get kids moving, but on a less-grand (cheap) scale?
    4. UC Irvine shared their EcoRaft tool for teaching about ecology... kids can destroy an ecosystem on one of 3 screens by pressing a button, but can restore it by taking a tablet pc over and planting a seed, or releasing a bird, etc.

I'll post again tomorrow with some of what I hear... so much fun stuff, it seems unfair to cram it into one post!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Dance Video Games Hit the Floor in Schools

Education Week
Published: February 8, 2006

By Rhea R. Borja

Listen to the beat. Watch the television screen. Now, boogie to the left and boogie to the right. Repeat a few thousand times.

More students are shaking their booties—and getting fit—in school with the help of the video game series Dance Dance Revolution and similar games.

Instead of punching buttons with their thumbs or maneuvering a joystick, students are jumping, stepping, spinning, and rocking on a sensor-lined vinyl dance pad connected to a video game console and TV blasting Top 40 or hip-hop.

Dance Video Games Hit the Floor in Schools (article)

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

McDonald's Videogame

Making money in a corporation like McDonald's is not simple at all! Behind every sandwich there is a complex process you must learn to manage: from the creation of pastures to the slaughter, from the restaurant management to the branding. You'll discover all the dirty secrets that made us one of the biggest company of the world.

Just thought I'd pass this along.