Vanished Recap featured in ARGNet and Wired Online

Alex Calhoun of ARGNet, who provided a sneak preview of Vanished before its spring 2011 run has now written up a post-mortem/recap of our completed curated game.  For those of you who didn’t get a chance to follow along as our players saved a future Earth from certain destruction with science, we recommend you check out Mr. Calhoun’s article, which was also linked from Wired Magazine’s Decode blog.

Playing Around on the Numberline

As a learning games research lab, we’re always interested to talk to people who are making research-based commercial games and apps. We recently got the chance to talk to Gabriel Adauto and Jacob Klein from Motion Math, a San Francisco startup designing and developing games to teach number sense to elementary and middle school students. They talked to us about their games, the research the games are based on, and the process they use to build them, and we were pleasantly surprised at how much their work has in common with ours.
 
The game we looked at is called Motion Math Zoom. It shows a number line with animals lined up along it to illustrate the scale. It starts with frogs and dogs for the ones and tens, but you later discover a plethora of other critters, from dinosaurs for the thousands down to amoebas for the thousandths. Players use the pinch and spread UI to zoom in and out and experiment with scale. In my own work at STEP, I have seen the importance of playfulness in games and giving players the chance to “mess around” in a sandbox-like environment. I loved the constructivist way in which this game lets kids explore the number line on their own, zooming in and out and moving left and right as much as they want before they complete the task at hand.

source-vanished

I'm pleased to announce source-vanished and vanished-games our new outlets for making source code, publications, and assets from Vanished available to the world.
 
We've only just started filling these sites with content, but you'll already find source code for our Flex-based games,  links to our publications, and some how-to's on advanced software development concepts we used. In the months to come, we'll be adding more publications, source code for the Drupal website modifications, and The Curated Game Handbook--our thoughts on the design and implementation of Vanished.
 
To all those who will be attending Adobe MAX and GDC Online in the next two weeks, we look forward to seeing you there.

Vanished: Learning Science Through ARG Gameplay

I have the excellent priviledge to speak at Adobe MAX 2011 next month and have been recently finishing preparation of my presentation. It's going to be an ambitious talk aimed at a wide audience with hopefully something for everyone. That said, I want to take a moment to give a little bit of a preview here since I know MAX attendees will be researching the talks they want to attend and I think I sound a little flat and academic in the video I made to advertise the talk.
 
This last spring, I was part of the team that ran Vanished, a nationwide science mystery for middle school kids. Vanished is in some ways (and not others) an Alternate Reality Game (ARG) -- a game that takes place with components both online and in the real world. Most ARG's have been made for advertising purposes, but recently ARGs have been appearing that have different agendas (such as being educational).
 

A Few Words from our Camp Counselors

Vanished was a great experience, but it was also a lot of work. Key to getting everything done and running the game smoothly were MIT students who made content and acted as mentors and "camp counselors" for the kids playing the game. Two of our camp counselors wanted to write about their experiences in running Vanished and I'm posting them here.

Just Announced: TaleBlazer - Breaking New Ground in Location-Based Augmented Reality Gaming

TaleBlazer, the next step in location-based AR gaming software from MIT's STEP lab will be officially demo'ed for the first time tomorrow, at CSCL 2011 in Hong Kong.

Click through to learn a little bit more about the features of TaleBlazer, or enter an email below to receive announcements about the software as it develops and is released.

Vanished at Games+Learning+Society; Pyramid Squashing

A couple weeks ago, Caitlin and I gave our first talk about the experience we had with Vanished at Games+Learning+Society. While we had previously talked about Vanished at Sandbox Summit, this was the first talk since Vanished concluded. At Sandbox Summit we had not yet had the opportunity to see the entire saga play out.
 
Our talk was cut short due to time restrictions (and my own tendency to be verbose), but I’d like to share the slide deck here. Over the next few weeks I’ll provide a recap what was said during the talk and cover some of the material that we didn’t have time to get around to live.
 

Games For Change

 Over the past few weeks, the STEP team has been all over, hitting the Games+Learning+Society conference and Games For Change. While at Games For Change, I was asked to write a guest blogpost, which never made it to their blog. Never one to waste a piece of writing, here is my reaction to their panel on Games in Cultural Spaces:
GAMES IN CULTURAL SPACES

Tracy Fullerton - USC EA Game Innovation Lab 

The MIT Meta Game Card Exchange

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend my first Games+Learning+Society conference in Madison Wisconsin. The conference was a wonderful event and I met many interesting people and attended talks and sessions which introduced me to a wide range of things taking place in the educational games landscape.
 
But, I’m not going to be writing about all that.
 

UbiqBio in Education Week

...the mobile format appeals to students, says Lichtenstein.
They can play whenever, wherever,” she says. “This particular game doesn’t require long stretches of concentration, and that works for the mobile setting.”
 
That's a quote from a recent Education Week article featuring some coverage of UbiqBio games.