Friday, August 29, 2008

How will they rate?

I'm interested to see how SDI students will justify how they rate their products - games, machinima, video and scripts. Many have strong views on censorship and there is much discussion about the proposed R18+ for computer games. Ratings affect sales and distribution and many games have had restrictions placed on them in Australia.

Organisations like the Interactive Entertainment Assoc of Australia provide guidance for parents who feel lost when it comes to computer games.

But game demographics are changing with 1/3 of parents now playing computer games and the average gamer age now 28. IEAA's Interactive Australia 2007 provides fascinating insights into today's game players.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Google Reader Common Sense

Common Craft have just released a "Plain English" Google Reader video.

I have 106 Google Reader feeds - 55 are student journals. Journal posts for the SDI class now total 370 - easily managed with the magic of RSS.

While on stat's... Twitter posts for the SDI class have just passed 1,000 - that's a lot of activity in just one course.

I've just printed all this and it's 6cm of A4 pages - and mostly double sided printing! Thankfully I can print directly to high speed photocopiers. And every page was where I could find it - one click to open, one click to print :-)


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

It's all go!

Many teams are now focused on the short number of weeks remaining this year and are working to complete major stages of their project.

Here you can look around the DIM Studio - click to activate window then drag mouse to pan around room - mouse scroll to zoom.

The team in the corner are recording storyboard scenes for their machinima staged in GTA Vice City. Here they are sitting on the bonnet of a Vice City police car...

And doing numerous takes to get the scene right...

Last week Dr Ian Lewis gave a presentation on the new Games Technology Degree at UTAS. He talked about the wide range of industries that use gaming technology - including the video games industry which is now bigger than Hollywood and growing at 40% per year.

The new degree provides an exciting way to learn essential programming, design and project management skills that graduates can use anywhere - not just in game design. It also will provide access to computer labs with modern consoles for designing and critiquing games.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Emerging Products

This is a very interesting time in the Interactive media class as products that have been in planning and development for months begin to emerge. A case in point is Dustin's first game preview...

Download the demo yourself and play it - Dustin is looking for feedback. Apologies to Dustin for my game preview - and spoiler :-)

On another topic I've recently added Not Possible IRL to my Google Reader - it's a great blog with lots of ideas for potential interactive projects for 2009.

One entry I found fascinating was the area of art and photography done in virtual worlds like Second Life. I followed the links to Lano Ling's Flickr page and checked out 'chakryn wolves' and several other sets of work done in SL by Lano and others.

Creating scenes with prims and scripts rather than brush and paint, and taking digital portraits of avatars creates some extraordinary work. I'm tempted to give it a try myself...

Finally, just a brief mention that the UTAS School of Computing is offering a Games Technology Degree from 2009. Some of the units and electives look like exciting options.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Skoolaborating face-to-face

60 students planned, created, designed, built, and scripted galleries, malls, studios, gardens and guides at the 2008 Skoolaborate Congress at MLC, Sydney from July31-Aug 2.

The students were from several local and international partner schools and they met and worked face-to-face for the first time with outstanding professionalism, fertile imagination and spontaneous playfulness. They were supported by some talented teachers, consultants, and of course IT staff.

Students took roles as experts, mentors, learners, participants and presenters as required. The Congress began with some 'big picture' presentations, a little teaching and much facilitating but as time went on the teachers did more learning, sharing with each other, and chatting with students - sometimes even distracting them from their work :-)

70 people had no problem simultaneously accessing and working online in Skoolaborate - MLC had a 100MB internet link and 30% of that was set aside for the Congress.

Can this kind of learning experience be sustainably provided for similar numbers of students at Hobart College? Is it possible to provide and manage rich virtual worlds that students and teachers can access as they would other learning environments?

After observing what worked at the Congress several key elements to the successful implementation of virtual world learning are apparent:
  • leadership, management and administration needs to be a partnership between students and teachers
  • some students should take key roles as teachers, presenters, experts, facilitators and mentors
  • appropriate physical learning spaces are important when required
  • some mobile access and group projection facilities are needed
  • being able to use and easily connect student/teacher owned laptops - people like to use computers they are familiar with when doing new and complex tasks.
  • teacher facilitation needs to be measured and responsive to need
  • 'big picture' contexts help to provide meaning and value

Other issues that came to mind during the Congress are shown in this map. (Click for whole map.)

For us at HC to move beyond just a few students and a couple of teachers using virtual worlds we need those worlds to be reliable and flexible. If one third of HC students are to use VWs we need systems and processes to manage 400-500 users with perhaps 75 (2 classes and 25 other individuals) concurrent avatars. We will need some students to be experts 'in-world' and some teachers to be expert facilitators.

Perhaps this could be achieved at Hobart College using a combination of:

  • a local networked Open SIM grid - implemented and managed by students
  • access to Skoolaborate for those under 18
  • access to educational areas of Second Life (eg Jokaydia) for those 18 and over
  • selected local-network or online game environments and other online VW services

Can this be in place by 2009? Possibly...

In the meantime it was great to meet face-to-face for the first time Emily - who has helped many of our students and teachers in-world, Mike - who lurks in-world doing essential expert building and maintenance, and Westley who had the vision and determination to bring us all together.