GameAccessibility site launches

The AbleGamers Foundation, a West Virginia charity dedicated to information and lobbying related to disabled gamers, has launched a new site called GameAccessibility. It’s a portal for developers and researchers to share thoughts about making all games more accessible, with news updates, and is well worth a look or even signing up to get involved.


Futurelab article on Child Education PLUS

There’s a new article by Futurelab on the Child Education PLUS website, discussing the use of computer games in the classroom. (This is unashamed self-promotion, as I’ve just started my new role at Scholastic as editor of Child Education PLUS.)

Futurelab podcast – technology in primary education

I’m a little late with this one, but the current Futurelab podcast is really worth a listen. Sue Cranmer speaks to John Potter of the London Knowledge Lab, University of London, about technology in primary classrooms. John speaks compellingly about the need to recognise learning needs and then to produce appropriate technology, rather than simply trying to convince teachers that they have a need for any available new technology. He argues for low-tech usage of high-tech products, such as an interactive whiteboard used as a table surface allowing simple manipulation of objects for Nursery and Early Years pupils.

Click here to download the podcast.

Digital residents and digital visitors

Over at TALL blog (part of the University of Oxford’s Department of Continuing Education) there’s a great article discussing different categorisations of online users. In recent years, online users have been typified as Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants, to distinguish those who grew up using online systems and latecomers more used to traditional systems. The TALL blog article argues that their students can be more usefully broadly categorised as Digital Visitors and Digital Residents, relating to the extent of the user’s profile and social life that is conducted online:

In effect the Resident has a presence online which they are constantly developing while the Visitor logs on, performs a specific task and then logs off.

The article goes on to suggest how this categorization can inform online learning tools:

This Visitor, Resident distinction is useful when considering which technologies to provide for online learners. For example if your learners are mainly Visitors they are unlikely to take advantage of any feed based system for aggregated information you may put in place. They are also unlikely to blog or comment as part of a course. The Resident will expect to have the opportunity to offer opinions on topics and to socialise around a programme of study. In fact they are likely to find ways of doing this even if they are not ‘officially’ provided.

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Dress code for online avatars

introCompany policy on social networking sites such as Facebook is one thing, but now consultancy firm Gartner predicts that by 2013, 70% of companies will have introduced codes of conduct policies for online avatars. Gartner suggests that this will extend to dress code policies for avatars representing businesses.

Via Virtual Worlds News.

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Online list of theses related to serious games

Serious Games Pathfinder features a growing list of Master’s and Doctoral theses related to serious games. Currently, most of the theses are Canadian but the site welcomes submissions from other countries to add to the list. While not all of the theses are available online, it’s worth browsing the list to see the changing interests of the academic community.

Here’s a selection of some of the more arresting titles:

  • Informatization of a nation: a case study of South Korea’s computer gaming and PC-Bang culture
  • Infinite regress : the blurring of an architectural game-space
  • Gamers as learners: Emergent culture, enculturation, and informal learning in massively multiplayer online games

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Videogames improve working memory


Following on from last week’s claim that Tetris increases brain efficiency, BBC News reports that war-simulation videogames can improve players’ ‘working memory’ – i.e. the ability to remember information and to use it. Dr Tracy Alloway, from the University of Stirling, suggests that studies have shown that videogames such as the Total War series enhance this element of intelligence, and similar effects are produced by completing Sudoku puzzles and, oddly, spending time on Facebook. Examples of activities likely to weaken working memory are text messaging, posting on Twitter and watching Youtube videos.

Gamers won’t be too surprised by the claim that playing the challenging Total War series can boost intelligence. Given that many videogames require resource-balancing and forward-planning, I wonder how less overtly strategic videogames would fare in Dr Alloway’s intelligence trials.

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