Games are art: Morality vs Choice

Painting with Pixels

The biggest difference between film and video games is the agency of the player. Though it’s not always the case and it doesn’t always have to be, players are able to make decisions that can change the course of the story. It’s this agency that can be the best advantage for video games moving forward as a medium. But in order to take full advantage of this potential, game developers need to understand the difference between morality and choice.

Certain games like the Mass Effect series and the Infamous series pioneered the idea of morality based decisions where the player could choose at certain points in the game between the “good option” and the “bad option”. These choices could change everything from the story itself to how the characters looked and played. Often, the “bad choices” would result in the character looking more and more evil, with Infamous’ Cole McGrath…

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Video Games May Be Good for Your Kids!

Family Gamer Mom

According to a study from Oxford University published in the journal Pediatrics, up to an hour of video games each day can actually be good for kids.  The kids in the study were ages 10-15 and showed signs that they were less hyperactive, more social, and happier than those who did not.  The key, it seems, has to do with the amount of game play.  Less than an hour seems to be best.  An hour to three hours shows no positive or negative effects.  And, over three hours a day resulted in kids who are “less well-adjusted.”  (But they also made sure to mention that video gaming did not play as big of a difference in behavior as family and personal relationships).

A TON of articles have been written about this study.  Check a few of them out below:

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Customer Service made Fun by Gamification

Info Systems in Practice

Description: This traditional customer service experience is process-oriented, tedious, and it leaves customers frustrated and dissatisfied, says Girish Mathrubootham, founder and CEO, FreshDesk.


Date: March 3, 2014


FreshDesk uses gamification to incent employees to provide fast, effective and fun customer service for helpdesk ticketing, automation and customer forums, says Mathrubootham. The model for the solution was Apple’s Genius bar, he says.

“Our first thought was, ‘How do we make this more fun and more engaging for the people providing the support?'” Mathrubootham says. “Obviously we wanted happy customers, but what we realized from talking about models like Apple’s is that happiness is contagious.”

If the customer service agents are happy, engaged and invested in delivering quality support, then they will pass that onto customers. And gamification can be a great way to increase this engagement and satisfaction both from an agent and a customer standpoint,” Mathrubootham says.   READ…

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World of Warcraft And Your Personality

I read an research piece in the journal of Computers & Education, and I wanted to write an article about it, because it struck me as interesting. Throughout my time playing online games, I’ve always thought that strangers I meet online would act different over the internet than they would in real life, and I doubt I’m the only one that holds this sentiment.

That’s why this article by Michele Dickey struck me as especially interesting. The article detailed the findings of an experiment that involve getting an entire university class to play World of Warcraft (a popular, online role-playing game) in their free time after class. Dickey then noted how their online interaction effected the dynamic of relationships within the classroom as they played the game together more and more.

Funnily enough, Dickey notes that some of the shy, introverted characters in the class room had completely switched their role. Because they were somewhat mentoring other players on how to play the game in the online world, this attitude crossed over into the class room. Shy kids were becoming the mentors, they were much more expressive and many of the students were collaborating on the scale that they had not been before the video games was implemented into the classroom.

Speaking from experience, I think that this observation is more than just a one off. There are a fair few close friends of mine that I started to play online games with and the dynamic of our relationship has changed entirely, and always for the better.

Do you have any experience with the way in which online games has impacted real world relationships? Comment below and let me know!

The Paper Kingdom: Fighting Fears about Clinical Trials

Lilly Clinical Open Innovation

The NIH’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), with help from WisdomTools and the New England Research Institutes, has created a  role playing video game (RPG) called The Paper Kingdom. The game was developed to help ease the fears of kids and their parents and to help them learn more about clinical trials before making a decision about whether to participate in one. You can download the game for Windows or Mac computers from the Children and Clinical Studies section of  the NHLBI’s website.

The game starts out like a picture book; a few slides set the scene. You are sent to remind your brother to take his medicine, but you find that he’s not in his room. Suddenly, you are transported into a book titled, The Paper Kingdom, that you find laying on your brother’s floor. His fears about joining a clinical…

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Tip of the Week: Game-based learning in the social studies

Have a click through this presentation on game based learning. Really cool!

History Tech

It’s the final day of the KCHE / MOCHE Best Practices in History Education. Last session of the day? On a Friday? In downtown Kansas City just minutes from the Power and Light District? Yup. That would be me. But lots of fun cause these people are truly committed to learning.

I got the chance to lead a conversation with a full room of folks about using video games to teach social studies. We spent 90 minutes talking about reasons to use games, ways to use games, and different kinds of games – including the potential of MineCraftEDU, SimCityEDU, and serious games.

And no, 90 minutes is not enough time. It was definitely a tip of the iceberg sort of the thing.

But still a great time. My hope was that people would walk away open to the idea of looking into the idea of using video games and sims…

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Would you think that video games could help stroke patients?


Because they can.

I recently read an article on the Nottingham Post about a hospital that is trialing the Xbox Kinect in helping stroke patients regain muscle movement. I know I have already written an article on the health benefits of gaming, which you can read here, but I couldn’t help bringing the attention of this blog to this particular article because I think it’s so outstanding the the way it represents the endless possibility that video game technology has to help the broader society.

This particular use of technology involves a speech and language therapist on screen that helps patients through exercises and rewards them for doing well. It takes basic game mechanics that have been in use for years, and applies them to a completely new field and it’s nothing short of revolutionary. A cheap and easy to use technology that can rehabilitate in the comfort of someones own home. That same someone that is almost certainly sick of visiting hospitals every other day after a stroke changed the course of their life.

I love this story so much because it gives me hope that if this partnership between games and stroke rehabilitation becomes a mainstream treatment, then that same relationship between health (whether it be mental or physical) and interactive gaming will carry on to many different facets of the health world. Imagine using Wii U to help with muscle rehabilitation, or playing Portal 2 to help stimulate the brain. These are genuinely enjoyable activities that I believe patients would be much happier engaging with than a daunting rehabilitation program.