Nintendo DS Classroom unveiled for Japan

2132382504_viewToday Nintendo and Sharp System Products unveiled DS Classroom, allowing DS consoles to be linked to a central computer and used with specialised educational software.

Known as “Nintendo DS Kyoushitsu” in its native Japanese, the new system pairs up the DS with a PC. Teachers make use of software on the PC to interact via Wi-Fi with students through their individual DS, DS Lite or DSi units that have been equipped with a Nintendo DS Classroom cartridge. The system allows a single PC to interact with up to 50 DS units. Everything is handled locally, so no internet connection is required.

Examples of classroom uses are multiple choice tests and quizzes requiring free response questions to be answered using the DS stylus, with student responses reflected in real time on the teacher’s PC.

The system will be available in Japan from February 2010.

Saving journalism with online games

darfurisdyingYouth marketing website Ypulse hosts an article about using online games in place of journalism to engage young people. Anastasia argues that while teenagers may choose Halo over a serious game such as MTV’s ‘Darfur is Dying’, when presented with a classroom choice between listening to a teacher lecturing about Darfur or playing the game, pupils would undoubtedly pick the game.

Building relationships with Microsoft’s Milo

ss_preview_2.jpgDuring Microsoft’s E3 keynote presentation last night Lionhead’s Peter Molyneux demonstrated Milo, a virtual 10-year-old boy. Users interact with Milo via full-body motion tracking (courtesy of Project Natal, Microsoft’s new camera tracking accessory) and voice commands. In the demo Milo demonstrates impressive AI, tracking the demonstrators’ movement, and answering her questions, also making observations about the user’s clothes and expression. While Milo is a tech demo, and presumably the demonstration is scripted to play to the AI’s strengths, it’s an impressive performance.

While Project Natal has Wii-like possibilities for full-body videogaming, Milo seems a more curious prospect. Much of the internet reaction has focused on the fact that interacting with Milo doesn’t appear very gamelike, and the odd mother-son relationship between Milo and Claire, the demonstrator, backs up this viewpoint. At first glance, the Milo application appears to be less a game and more a simulator along the lines of Nintendogs, but far more lifelike and personal.

I’ll be interested to see whether Milo’s subsequent outings tend towards game features (e.g. Animal Crossing), purer simulation (e.g. Nintendogs), or – admittedly less likely given that this is Xbox rather than Wii – possible educational applications.

Click here to see a video demonstration of Milo, and here for a Youtube video shocasing Project Natal.

Serious Games Jam

The Serious Games Jam beta website forums are now live.

The Serious Games Online Jam will provide an online collaborative space for those interested in Serious Games to discuss, debate and vote on different topics of Serious Games. Participants will have the opportunity to post discussions, contribute to discussions, learn about the current movements and growth areas, and make connections with other participants.

As well as forums and a shoutbox, the website incorporates a karma system instead of a normal grading for user comments. Registering also automatically enters you in a draw to win a Nintendo DS.

PSP Go to result in cheaper PSPs for schools?

2lke160Rumours of Sony’s PSP Go console appear to have been confirmed. The hardware features slide-out controls and digital-only distribution (i.e. no UMD slot) and is apparently far lighter than previous PSP iterations.

Unlike Nintendo’s new DSi console, there appear to be no new features that would benefit classroom use directly. However, the rumoured Autumn release of the PSP Go may mean that there is surplus stock of the perfectly serviceable PSP-3000 hardware available for schools at bargain-bucket prices…