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STEM Challenge: Seeking the future

Posted by Michael Warshaw February 27, 2013 03:40 PM

By Christa Avampato, National STEM Video Game Challenge, Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop

How do you motivate kids so they want to build up their skills in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics – better known as STEM?

Make a game of it, of course.

The best way to engage children with technology in a healthy, meaningful way is through games that are fun to play and teach them important skills like reading, writing, language development, design, systems-based learning, creativity, and collaboration. The National STEM Video Game Challenge hopes to motivate such learning by leveraging the natural excitement students experience when they play and make video games.

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Learn to play and play to learn: The secret to games that teach

Posted by Michael Warshaw February 21, 2013 11:10 AM

By Michael Suen, community producer, and Adam Mandeville, producer, Learning Games Network

Albert Einstein once said that play is the highest form of research, yet many students seem to experience less play as they grow older. That’s true even as videogames are earning more respect as learning tools; and as some educators buck the trend and encourage students to learn through play.

That said, there can be real obstacles to training teachers how to use games in the classroom, or proving the marketability of learning games to commercial companies. Teachers work with restricted class times, limited access to computers, and antiquated academic standards. And in the games industry, the rise and fall of learning games has made some companies wary of the enormous investment that new games require.

That’s what we do at the Learning Games Network: show teachers how to use already available games in the classroom, and collaborate on new learning games that can be used both in and out of classrooms.

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Patently true: The smart path to video game opportunity

Posted by Michael Warshaw February 19, 2013 12:55 PM

By Chinh H. Pham, patent attorney, Greenberg Traurig LLP - Boston

It’s one thing to have a great product idea. It can be a real challenge, though, to figure out whether a budding technology is commercially viable within a specific industry – especially when it comes to videogames.

Companies and investors have relied on a number of criteria to measure viability, including timeliness, market demand, and competitive advantage. That’s fine when it comes to projecting performance in more established industries. It can be much harder to make those predictions in a new or still-emerging industry like videogaming.

When it comes to finding the greatest opportunities, game developers may want to look at the US patent system. The information available in such resources as the US Patent and Trademark Patent Database can provide insight into, among other things, early trends in technological advances. With patent wars raging and tech companies of all stripes stockpiling patents to protect their intellectual property, the information contained in the patent database can be an effective means for finding the next great technology.

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I want to be a science content developer when I grow up! #saidnoone

Posted by Timothy Loew February 15, 2013 11:30 AM

By Susannah Gordon-Messer, education content manager, The Education Arcade at MIT

For the past year, I have been a game content manager at The Education Arcade at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. When I tell people what I do, I am routinely asked – how did you end up doing that? It’s been a circuitous journey, but each step along the way helped me to gain the right combination of experiences to be good at what I do. In our lab, you’ll find people from a mix of all kinds of backgrounds, each with an interesting story to share about how they ended up here. Here’s how I got here.

I’ve always wanted to be in science. I love experimenting, discovering, and thinking through problems. As an undergraduate, I studied biological engineering at Cornell University. It turned out that I liked evolution, disliked chemistry, and liked feeling as if I were on the cutting edge of research. But what I really liked was math. And teaching.

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Debacle by design: Building a game that won’t make money

Posted by Michael Warshaw February 13, 2013 12:07 PM

By Kellian Adams, founder and chief executive, Green Door Labs

At Green Door Labs, I build videogames for nonprofits and education. Some are funded by clients that need games for specific purposes: fundraisers, exhibits, education technology products that need a boost, companies that want to connect with a nonprofit. And then some games… aren’t.

Sometimes we want to build a game just because it’s cool. In fact, a lot of the time we want to build a game just because it’s cool. I’m an education and culture geek, and I have no delusions that an unsupported game on arts education will suddenly make a bazillion dollars or get magical super-funding. Most likely it will be totally unprofitable. So do we build it? Hell, yes.

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Moving targets: Promotional strategy in the age of emerging gaming platforms

Posted by Timothy Loew February 8, 2013 03:26 PM

By Emma Clarkson, community manager, Stomp Games

Without careful planning, a video game marketing campaign can risk being remembered as disastrous rather than groundbreaking; there’s no shortage of blog lists of the worst campaigns in gaming history. Yet it is more challenging than ever to put together a smart strategy for marketing games.

Search rankings of the best video games of 2012, and you’ll see the reason: more and more that are played not on consoles, but on smartphones, tablets, and Internet browsers. With evolving platforms like those, there are both new opportunities and unforeseen challenges for developers: tighter budgets, wider audiences, and more fluid development cycles.

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Educational games and the creation of work teams that work

Posted by Michael Warshaw February 8, 2013 01:55 PM

By Eric Klopfer, director and professor of the Scheller Teacher Education Program and The Education Arcade at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

I’ve been creating educational games for the last dozen years or so. As the popularity of this genre has increased amongst academics, start-ups, and big publishers, I am often asked about the composition of our teams working on games. Do we have game designers? Content experts? Lead programmers? Educational researchers? The answer to all those questions is, “yes,” but not necessarily in the way you’d think.

Games, particularly educational games, are a massively multidisciplinary endeavor. They can’t be effectively approached without the abovementioned skills (among others). But it turns out that they also can’t be effectively approached by simply checking off a name for each of these responsibilities. That is a surefire way to create an educational game that is, in the words of my former colleague Henry Jenkins, “about as educational as a bad game and as much fun as a bad lecture”.

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Indie Game Collective levels up Boston area devs

Posted by Timothy Loew February 7, 2013 12:28 PM

By Jonathon Myers, narrative designer, writer, and founder of Myers Interactive

In 2012, three out of the top 15 Apple app store games, as rated on Metacritic, were released by independent game development studios based in Greater Boston. In fact, as the Boston area competes in a global market that includes the largest publishers in the games industry, it is the only market to host more than one studio among the top 15.

So what is it about our local independent studios that creates such concentrated success? I'd venture to say that it's the camaraderie and support between local studios that can result in initiatives like the Indie Game Collective, a group of nine studios that work together in Intrepid Labs, a Cambridge co-working space.


IMG_9118.jpgIndie Game Collective at work. Submitted photo.

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About this blog

MassDiGI 8-24 287w872.jpgThe State of Play, organized by MassDiGI, features stories by digital and video game developers and business insiders. Follow along @mass_digi.

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