Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Once Again, On Wing

This time we are flying home to Vermont—a tired but successful bunch. It will be lovely to be back again. This has been an intense process—uprooting, forming bonds, learning from strangers, grasping concepts, filtering to find the solution, implementing, adjusting, and then the presentation—within the hectic, unnatural environment of the conference floor.
Game time was at 4:00PM. The team completed and presented a playable version of the “Meet Different: Go Green” game—a graphically beautiful quiz style game. Minor edits are still required. It’s an expandable design wherein questions are randomly selected from a database created in XML. Future development can include adding deeper questions and answers by the larger community. The player chooses answers to questions corresponding to planning a conference. The choices represent a balance between economics and the environment. The player is rewarded with a visual representation of how their choices effect the environment.

The “Meet Different: A Social Sim” game was not completely playable at launch. The team took on a complex structure to meet a marvelous concept. Lauren was programming AI (artificial intelligence) into the objects and characters that make up the sim. I am looking forward to the completion of that game. The player is presented with an open floor, drag and drop objects fill the menu below. Each object corresponds to a conference design element: food, technology kiosks, signage, furniture, etc. Once the room is arranged the player clicks on “Open” and a simulation begins. People enter the room each representing three different personality types: the early adopter, the traditionalist and the facilitator/connector. The game’s goal is to birth ideas between these diverse groups. Lauren has been programming behaviors into the elements and characters on attractions and how the character types would respond when brought together by the elements. The player will see which environments spawn ideas between the groups. Future improvements could include adding granularity to the elements and game characters.

But enough of description, we need testers! You can play the games at MPI’s website here:

Before we left, John and Elliott challenged the students to investigate the language of learning in games. One rewarding result of this event was hearing our student team elaborate on the power of games to teach. Wes Knee touches on it in this YouTube interview created by attendee Kristi Sanders.

In the final presentation, we opened up a forum between the student creators, our faculty and staff, Mary, Katie, Brooke, and conference attendees. The conversation topics ranged from games for learning, to networked technology, to how to create fun in games, to MPI member goals, to working with young people and the impact they will bring to the work world. In this conversation Ben, Chris, Emily, Lauren, Vanessa and Wes put words to their experience this week. They clearly demonstrated their growing understanding of the potential of games and emergent technologies for learning and creating change in the world. They also clearly demonstrated that change in the forms of new ways of thinking and working, borne of technology and networks, is landing soon regardless of our readiness to prepare for it.

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