MIT Game Lab: Commercial Games for Academic Literacy

Commercial Games for Academic LiteracyIt’s no secret that video games have a long history with education. Some of the oldest educational video games have been around for decades. While we spend a lot of time and effort developing educational games, we should be discussing the potential of commercial games to foster academic literacy and successful learning strategies. I am positing a new way of looking at games for education. This involves stepping away from the classic dichotomy of ‘serious’ learning games versus commercial games and instead looking at how games affect their players and what we can glean simply from playing.

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Article: Web Fiction, Serialized and Social

Wattpad is a leader in this new storytelling environment, with more than two million writers producing 100,000 pieces of material a day for 20 million readers on an intricate international social network. “Now that everyone’s been given permission to be creative, new ways of telling stories, of being entertained, are being invented,” said Charles Melcher, a publishing consultant who hosts the annual Future of StoryTelling conference. “A lot of people are lamenting the end of the novel, but I think it’s simply evolving.”

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Tool: the Thing From the Future (card deck)

The Thing From The FutureThe Thing From The Future is an imagination game that challenges players to collaboratively and competitively describe objects from a range of alternative futures. In addition to being a fun party game, The Thing From The Future is the creative engine behind Futurematic, a speculative design jam series jointly held by the Situation Lab and the Extrapolation Factory.

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For other examples, see also the IDEO cards, the PLEX deck and the Layers cards.

App: Breaking Points (interactive digital narrative)

Breaking Points is an Interactive Digital Narratives for iPad, exploring the daily life of a young woman trying to escape her frustrating routine. An experiment in interactive narration, it attempts at making readers run through different storylines arranged in a circular pattern similar to the movie Groundhog Day. An intriguingly simple story and, possibly, a glimpse into a future for storytelling.

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Article: Facebook creates software that matches faces almost as well as people do

Facebook’s new artificial intelligence team reports that it has developed software that can match faces with 97.25-percent accuracy, compared to human beings’ 97.53-percent accuracy. The DeepFace software is an application of deep learning, in which networks of simulated neurons are used to learn to identify patterns in large amounts of data. DeepFace uses a two-step technique to process face images, and in the first step it corrects the angle of the face so the person in the image faces forward, using a three-dimensional image of an “average” forward-looking face. In the second step, the simulated neural network generates a numerical representation of the reoriented face, and if the software yields sufficiently similar descriptions from two different images, it concludes they must show the same face. Although DeepFace executes facial verification rather than facial recognition, AI team member Yaniv Taigman says some of the former function’s underlying methods can be applied to the latter. University of Washington researcher Neeraj Kumar says Facebook’s results demonstrate that finding enough data to feed into a large neural network can facilitate substantial improvements in machine-learning software.

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Report: Nielsen Norman Group on the skills for UX jobs

This recent report from Nielsen Norman Group might be most interesting for those currently applying for jobs.

“This 189-page free report analyzes how UX pros educated and trained themselves for their careers. We surveyed 963 people working in the field to find out what they do at work, what is most useful to know, and which kinds of people thrive in UX research, interaction design, and information architecture.”

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Book: The Routledge Companion to Video Game Studies

“The Routledge Companion to Video Game Studies”, edited by Mark Wolf and Bernard Perron, has finally been published. It contains 60 chapters, with highlights like “Cheating (Mia Consalvo)”, “Ludology (Espen Aarseth)”, “Adventure (Clara Fernandez-Vara)”, “Culture (Frans Mäyrä)”, “Performance (Michael Nitsche)”, “Cognition (Andreas Gregerson)” and “Narratology (Dominic Arsenault)”.

Its downside: it costs $225 in hardback and $147 in Kindle format.

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Talk: Ian Bogost, “What games need?”

From a talk by Ian Bogost at Critical Proximity: “Does Game Criticism Exist? When I started doing games criticism […] the idea that one could exert the critical muscle on games seemed unlikely and even preposterous. It was its own outcome, the curiosity that replaced example. I saw myself trying out some methods and examples of that process rather than trying to found a field or a discipline, or to become known as a game critic. If the latter things happened—and I’m not sure they did—then they happened by accident.”

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Critical Proximity was organized by – that I didn’t know before and seems a really interesting blog to follow.