Category: Computer games

April 23rd, 2014 by admin

Barnard College had a typical problem. Teaching history often meant reading facts and memorizing them. To make history seem more real, professor Marc Carnes decided to turn history into a role-playing game where students took on the roles of various characters in the historical event and had to interact with one another. By actively influencing history with the context of a game, students could better understand the role of the different players in the game.

The game, called “Reacting to the Past,” teaches skills like speaking, writing, critical thinking, problem solving, leadership, and teamwork—in order to prevail in difficult and complicated situations.  While students must adhere to the philosophical and intellectual beliefs of the historical figures they play, they must devise their own means of expressing those ideas persuasively, in papers, speeches or other public presentations; and students must also pursue a course of action they think will help them win the game.

To learn more about “Reacting to the Past,” click here.

Posted in Computer games

March 18th, 2014 by admin

When the United Kingdom wanted to find cyber warriors capable of attacking enemy computer networks while defending their own networks from attack, they discovered that ordinary interviews with potential candidates were insufficient. After all, high test scores and great interviews might look good, but neither of these had any bearing on whether that person would make a skilled cyber warrior or not.

So the United Kingdom decided to sponsor cyber warfare games to simulate an attack on the nation’s infrastructure including attacking a nuclear power plant. The idea was that by seeing how potential candidates reacted in an actual cyber warrior situation, the government could better determine the capabilities of each candidate. In one year, a postman won the contest.

In the animal kingdom, animals often play as a way to practice their skills, and cyber warfare games are no different. When the United Kingdom took this seemingly obvious step to identify the best cyber warrior candidates, they’ll likely vastly improve their cyber warfare capabilities while picking those truly qualified for their positions regardless of their educational background, which is the way life should be in recognizing actual talent.

To read more about these cyber warfare games and see if you can join in, click here.

Posted in Computer games, Programming

March 16th, 2014 by admin

Most technically-oriented people are smart enough to master chemistry, physics, and advanced math, yet too often much of that knowledge will go to waste unless they channel their technical know-how into some type of productive use. Some people start up companies like Google, others apply their brainpower to mastering business. Two Dutch engineers decided to use their brainpower to create a Lego Mindstorms computer and a Samsung smartphone to create a Rubik’s Cube solving robot.

Amazingly, their combination Lego/Samsung computer set the world’s record for solving the Rubik’s Cube in 3.253 seconds, shattering the old record (that their Lego computer also set) of 5.55 seconds.

Bruce Lee once said, “The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus.” If two Dutch engineers could use their creativity to make a Rubik’s Cube-solving robot out of Legos, there’s no limit to what other engineers and scientists can do. While solving the Rubik’s Cube might seem whimsical, it’s actually a complex problem that stumps many people.

Of course, you don’t have to create a game-playing robot out of Legos. Use your imagination and think of ways to create a low-cost water filter that never needs replacement parts. Develop low-cost solar panels. Innovation rides on the back of creative minds that often come from the scientific world. While Wall Street bankers may make a lot more money, they often contribute little to the well-being of society. As scientists and engineers, you not only have the know-how to solve technical problems, but you have far greater opportunities to achieve much more than any executive with an MBA could ever do.

Put your technical knowledge to work on something wonderful today. You won’t regret your decision. If you need inspiration, watch this video of the Lego/Samsung computer solve the Rubik’s Cube puzzle.

To read more about the Lego/Samsung robot, click here.

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Posted in College students and adults, Computer games, Programming

March 13th, 2014 by admin

One of the latest viral games is called Flappy Bird, which the developer yanked from the App Store. Now other developers are flooding the market with Flappy Bird clones. If you want to create your own Flappy Bird clone, you have several alternatives.

First, you can create a game from scratch using your favorite programming language. For most people, that will take too much time and be way too difficult. As a shortcut, just buy the source code for a Flappy Bird game from a site called Chupamobile.

The idea behind Chupamobile is that making money selling apps is getting increasingly difficult as more apps crowd the App Store. Rather than try to make money selling apps, Chupamobile gives developers a way to make money selling their source code.

You can buy the source code for a Flappy Bird clone (called Flappy Crocodile), customize it with your own graphics, and sell it on the App Store. If you don’t want to create your own Flappy Bird clone, feel free to browse through the variety of games and utilities available on Chupamobile so you can create your own apps while knowing little or no programming. If you thought creating an iOS or Android app would be out of your reach, Chupamobile puts it within your reach just as long as you’re willing to pay the price.

If you know anything about Visual Basic, you can even download a free Flappy Bird clone written in Xojo. Xojo closely mimics Visual Basic except Xojo runs on Windows, OS X, and Linux, so if you know Visual Basic 6 or earlier, you’ll find Xojo nearly identical.

Rather than write your own programs, just buy source code from someone else and customize it for your own needs. You may find that creating your own iOS or Android app could be a lot easier than you might have thought possible.

Creating your own app can be as difficult or as easy as you want. By buying or using source code that someone has already created for you, you can turn your ideas into reality quickly. When you consider that the original Flappy Bird creator was earning $50,000 a day from his app, you can see that software development represents a huge market that you can start part-time in your home while still holding down your regular job.

Once you start selling your own programs, you may find that you don’t need a job any more, or you can use your programs to impress others so you can get a better job where you’ll be rewarded for your programming talent.

Just don’t stay stuck in a corporate bureaucracy where you do nothing of importance and mentally rot away. Start selling your own programs and show the world that you really have the technical skills and imagination to succeed in ways that might even surprise yourself.

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Posted in Computer games, iOS

March 3rd, 2014 by admin

There’s an interesting book called “War Play,” which is about how the military has used video games for various purposes including training. While it’s easy to see how soldiers could learn to train in combat using typical first-person shooter video games, the military has also used video games as training tools to help soldiers deal with post-traumatic stress disorder after they get back home from combat and try to fit back into civilian life.

Such video games help recovering soldiers deal with their stressful situations in simulated environments and gives them options for how to respond in different ways. More importantly, it also lets soldiers see their situation through the eyes of their loved ones so they can see how their actions appear to others. By using simulation games to help soldiers study and understand their traumatic experiences, soldiers can learn to gain control over their emotions and deal with the problem in a safe manner.

Perhaps the biggest success story for video games has been America’s Army, a video game commissioned by the U.S. Army as a recruiting tool. Besides exposing teenagers to the training the Army puts recruits through, the video game also worked to instill Army values of teamwork and cooperation in the game so players learn what to expect in the Army and how those values work in actual combat to save lives.

By reading about how the military has helped advance education through standardized testing to using video games as simulation tools, you can get a better appreciation for how video games are useful training tools. In the military, it doesn’t do any good for students to get a high test score if they fail in combat and die as a result. That’s why the military emphasizes results. If you can’t produce results, you don’t know what you’re doing, which is a simple concept that even today’s top corporations fail to recognize year after year.

If you’re interested in learning how to marry technology with education, you can learn about the history of video games with the military to cut costs, increase training time, and simulate more than just combat. A book like “War Play” can show you that playing is actually the best form of learning there can be.

Posted in Computer games

March 1st, 2014 by admin

Athletes often say that when everything seems to be working their way, they feel as if they’re in the flow where every action comes effortlessly. Not surprisingly, this state of flow also extends to video games.

One of the latest video game sensations was a game called Flappy Bird. Although the game was relatively simple, it succeeded by being just challenging enough to be interesting without being too overly complicated to be intimidating. When people played Flappy Bird, they often experienced this state of mind known as “flow.”

All games and even all programs need to find this flow where people can effortlessly manipulate the program to accomplish their goals without either getting bored or feeling too anxious from overwhelming complexity. Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the author of a number of books including “Beyond Boredom and Anxiety: Experiencing Flow in Work and Play,” spent years researching flow as a means to a more effective education, achieving happiness, and unlocking the secrets of motivation and creativity.

Csikszentmihalyi broke down the conditions for achieving flow: There must be a clear and simple task; that task must provide instant feedback; there must be no distractions that either disrupt your concentration or make you ultra-aware of your own actions; and, key to the act of game playing especially, it must be a challenge with appropriate balance with regards to your own skill and the task’s difficulty.

When designing games or user interfaces for programs, you want to duplicate this sense of flow for your users. When you can create a sense of flow, you’ll have a hit on your hands like the developer of Flappy Bird.

To read more about the element of flow in Flappy Bird, click here.


Posted in Computer games

May 5th, 2012 by admin


Researchers at UCLA have created an online crowdsourcing game designed to let players help doctors in key areas of the world speed the lengthy process of distinguishing malaria-infected red blood cells from healthy ones.

For instance, the researchers hope that users of the game can help in areas like sub-Saharan Africa, where malaria accounts for some 20% of all childhood deaths, The disease, which affects about 210 million people annually worldwide, accounts for almost 40% of all hospitalizations throughout Africa.

Typically, malaria is diagnosed by a trained pathologist peering through a conventional light microscope. The time consuming process can overwhelm researchers in countries that have high numbers of cases and limited resources, UCLA researchers said.

The researchers also noted that a significant percentage of cases reported in sub-Sahara Africa are false positives, which lead to unnecessary and costly treatments and hospitalizations.

The crowdsourcing game, which is free to play, works off the assumption that large groups of non-experts can be trained to recognize microscopic images of infectious disease cells with the accuracy of trained pathologists.

So far mostly undergraduate UCLA volunteers have played the game, and have collectively been able to accurately diagnose malaria-infected red blood cells within 1.25% of the accuracy of a pathologist performing the same task, resesarchers said.

Read the complete article here.

Posted in College students and adults, Computer games

March 13th, 2012 by admin


Most parents believe that video games waste time when kids should be engaging in healthier activities such as school, outdoor play, sports, and community service. Yet research is quickly proving the theory wrong and illustrating that gaming can be a beneficial and well-rounded part of a healthy, balanced media diet.

Moreover, due to their interactivity, at odds with passive mediums such as television, kids’ video games can actually be one of today’s most powerful tools for sparking learning and creativity. But while gaming offers tremendous potential, it also bears remembering: It takes a running commitment from parents and teachers to actively follow and participate in the pastime to make it a truly safe, healthy, and rewarding part of household life.

As Harvard Medical School researcher Cheryl Olson, ScD succinctly summarizes in Parents magazine, “Parent-approved video games played in moderation can help young kids develop in educational, social, and physical ways.” Olson’s work, which included surveying data from interviews with over 1,000 public-school students, clearly illustrates the many upsides offered by even seemingly innocuous titles — i.e., not those labeled specifically as “serious games” or “edutainment.”

“Games can definitely be good for the family,” says Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) president Patricia Vance. “There’s plenty of selection. Oftentimes I think parents feel that they’re not because video games in the media are portrayed as violent, and hardcore games tend to get the lion’s share of publicity. But parents also need to be comforted knowing that E for Everyone is by far largest category [of software]. Nearly 60% of the almost 1700 ratings we assigned last year were E for Everyone, which means there’s a huge selection of games available that are appropriate for all ages.”

What’s more, kids aren’t the only ones who stand to benefit from button-mashing (and not just because the average player is now 37 years old and more adult women play than teenage males). Research from the Office of Naval Research (ONR) actually indicates that video games can help adults to process information much faster and improve their fundamental abilities to reason and solve problems in novel contexts.

A study published in a recent edition of Archives of Surgery also says that surgeons who regularly play video games are generally more skilled at performing laparoscopic surgery. Findings by Daphne Bavelier, a professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester, likewise reflect that video gamers show real-world improvements on tests of attention, accuracy, vision, and multitasking after playing certain titles. No surprise there, confirms Michael Stroud, a professor of psychology at Merrimack College, who explains that games’ active demands on our attention and working memory all map well to performing similarly complex real-world tasks.

What’s more, experts say, serious games and virtual environments may be the future of education. Not only do students find gaming more approachable and engaging than lectures and PowerPoint presentations, they insist on them. Simulations also provide a more inviting and lifelike context in which to make choices, see results, and apply learning in real-time. The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) states that kids actually need more, not less, video game play as a result. Citing games’ ability to prepare workers for the increasingly competitive global job market, the organization says that games promote strategic thinking, interpretative analysis, plan formulation, and ability to respond to change.

Read the full article here.

Posted in Computer games, Pre-teen and teenagers, Young children

March 11th, 2012 by admin


The typical video game requires eye-hand coordination along with trigger-happy reflexes. Yet there’s a new breed of games out there dubbed contemplative gaming. The idea is less to blow things up and more to explore an artistic environment.

The independent game studio, thatgamecompany, recently released a game called “Journey,” which places the player in the role of a silent robed figure standing alone in a sea of glimmering sand dunes. In the distance, a great mountain appears against the sky as your destination. The metaphor is that this is your life journey for you to discover on your own. From start to finish, everything about this mysterious and beautiful experience is entirely open to interpretation, and the overall feeling of playing is one of serenity and peace.

“I think the quality we are after in ‘Journey’ and similar games is not zen or relaxation or even peacefulness, really, but something like interactive contemplation, or contemplative gaming,” says Timothy J. Welsh, assistant professor of digital humanities at Loyola University. “I realize that is a term that also gets associated with zen, mediation, and mystic spirituality, but I’m thinking of it more in the sense of how one regards a landscape painting.”

If you see video games as a possible art form, you might enjoy this latest category of video games. Now video games can be as thought-provoking and calming as a museum painting.

Read the full article here.

Posted in College students and adults, Computer games

March 9th, 2012 by admin

Engineering professor Brianno Coller didn’t like math problems as an instructor any more than he had as a student. What he needed was animation and interactivity, and that’s when he decided to use video games as a teaching tool.

Now his third-year students at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb build virtual race cars, complete with roaring engines and screeching tires, that must maneuver an increasingly challenging course. Along the way, they’re exposed to computational math, a basic building block of engineering.

“I use games to, in some sense, throw away the textbook,” says Coller, 42, who played Lunar Lander and other video games as a kid. “My philosophy is that learning can be a burdensome chore or it can be an interesting journey.”

Around the country, pockets of faculty have been adding games to their courses as a way to stimulate learning. At Boston College, nursing students conduct forensics at a virtual crime scene. At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a game called Melody Mixer teaches students how to read and compose music. Students at Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pa., play World of Warcraft, a multiplayer online game, in a course on intelligence studies.

“The key driver is the need for ways to make learning more engaging,” says Larry Johnson, CEO of the non-profit New Media Consortium and co-author of a report this year that predicts an explosion of game-based learning in higher education within three years. “Games can open that door for many students.”

Game-based learning has become a new field and has even been touted as part of the U.S. Education Department’s new national technology plan, but games don’t have to be based on the computer. To help students grasp the psychological and economic impact of the Black Death, University of New Haven lecturer Matt Wranovix created a card game in which students left holding a Joker fall victim to the plague. And there is no software to download to play Reacting to the Past, a role-playing game developed a decade ago by Barnard College history professor Mark Carnes. The game, which has spread to more than 300 campuses in the past few years, relies mostly on classic texts and, sometimes, homemade costumes.

While some people are skeptical about using games as an educational tool, others are embracing it to make learning fun. The more fun you have, the more likely you’ll learn something.

Read the full article here.

Posted in Board games, College students and adults, Computer games

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