CANVAS: a virtual world for pupil artwork

canvasLearning and Teaching Scotland’s educational games initiative Consolarium has announced CANVAS, a virtual world allowing local authorities to display pupils’ art. Based on the OpenSim application and created by Aberdeen-based company Second Places, CANVAS (Children’s Art at the National Virtual Arena of Scotland) has the appearance of Second Life while being hosted on LTS servers, so affording them far stricter controls than standard Second Life islands. Each local authority in Scotland will have the opportunity to curate one of 32 separate galleries held on the server.

While I understand the use of OpenSim as suitable for adapting virtual worlds to specific uses, I’m still unsure whether pupils (and indeed, local authority staff) will adapt well to the less than user-friendly camera system within Second Life-style virtual worlds. Is a fully 3D virtual world perhaps unnecessary for the purpose of displaying 2D artworks? I can imagine an application more in common visually with the 2D Club Penguin that would allow users to view artworks without the extra complication of navigating a 3D space.

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Silent Conversation – text platformer

weirGregory Weir of Ludus Novus has released a game called Silent Conversation on Armor Games. The game involves guiding a letter ‘I’ avatar to move over the words in extracts from poetry and prose, including William Carlos Williams and H P Lovecraft. The typography (Silent Conversation is as much a lovingly typeset treatment of fiction as it is a videogame) is is often arranged in Mario-esque platforms and the challenge is to hit as many words as possible whilst avoiding words highlighted in red.

In his own words:

This game grew out of an idea that I had in childhood. I was a voracious reader, and occasionally, late at night, I would see the structure of the words on the page as something physical: the end of a paragraph was a fissure in a cliff edge, and each indentation was a handhold. I could visualize a little person running along the lines, exploring every crevice of the story. This is an attempt to realize that concept.

In terms of scoring and the function of the game, there’s no explicit need to read the extracts, but progress through the levels inevitably means that the player reads and absorbs the text. Could this game-led approach be used to encourage unenthusiastic readers, or could elements that require the player to read the text be added to a similar text-platforming game?