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  School’s In  
Posted 2007-09-04 by Tony Walsh
This week I resume instructing classes at two Toronto colleges. I'll be teaching four classes weekly for the fall semester, but thankfully the roster is pretty small (under 25 students between both colleges). I prefer small classes not just because the workload is smaller, but because I get a chance to work more closely with students on an individual basis.

For George Brown College's Game Design Program, I'm giving students an introduction to the game industry, conducting intensive workshops involving hands-on play and modification of tabletop games, and teaching basic Flash skills in the production of an animatic (or motion-storyboard). I teach two more semesters after this, including non-digital game prototyping, and "Games, Culture, and Society."

For Centennial College's Game Design + Development Program, I'm instructing classes on some development fundamentals, such as a game industry overview, workshops on communication and documentation, and workshops on writing for games.

This is my third year as a part-time teacher, a profession I only profess to dabble in. I really enjoy teaching (it's a great way to develop old and new skills), but my other professional pursuits are just far too fun to give up!
  links for 2007-07-30  
Posted 2007-07-30 by Tony Walsh
  links for 2007-07-24  
Posted 2007-07-24 by Tony Walsh
  How Much Do Any Of Us Know About Game Design?  
Posted 2007-07-23 by Tony Walsh
An ongoing series of articles about the youth-oriented Gamestar Mechanic educational initiative gives us an in-depth look at the project, its participants, goals, and ongoing results. Last week, Betty Hayes discussed ways to assess kids' conceptions of game design, based on their interaction with the Gamestar Mechanic system. I've paraphrased (and slightly interpreted) the key insights:
  • Kids lack a game design vocabulary and are unable to criticize games articulately. Learning is demonstrated when specific game elements (and presumably systems) are identified and understood.
  • Kids don't use sensible design methodologies. Learning is demonstrated when kids understand the factors which comprise reasonable game play.
  • Complex game and design systems can be overwhelming (solution: smooth out the learning curve). Learning is indicated when kids deliberately choose appropriate building blocks from a large inventory.
  • Kids suffer from lack of experience and preconceptions based on certain types of game play. "Playing a lot of games is as important as making them." (Amen!). Learning is demonstrated when kids push the envelope of their experience

Continue reading: How Much Do Any Of Us Know About Game Design?
  links for 2007-07-20  
Posted 2007-07-20 by Tony Walsh
  ‘GameStar Mechanic,’ The Game-Making Game  
Posted 2007-07-16 by Tony Walsh
GameStar Mechanic is a game designed to teach game design skills within a steampunk-inspired game world. Aimed at young people, the project is a collaboration between Gamelab (New York) and the Games, Learning, and Society Group (University of Wisconsin-Madison). Project leads include James Paul Gee (author, What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy), as well as Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman (authors, Rules of Play).

Gee and Salen have kicked off a discussion about GameStar Mechanic on the MacArthur Foundation-supported Spotlight on Digital Media and Learning blog. Gee says that he wants children to see games "as a unique form of communication, like language or music," and considers game design "a core way of thinking about the world..." Salen provides a two-part FAQ [1,2] for the project, which in my opinion adds up to an affirmation of the importance of game design in today's world.

I hope there's a third part to the FAQ explaining how I can get my hands on GameStar Mechanic once its launched. I have a feeling its relevance extends beyond a youth audience.
  links for 2007-07-16  
Posted 2007-07-16 by Tony Walsh
  links for 2007-07-14  
Posted 2007-07-14 by Tony Walsh
  ‘Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames’ Released  
Posted 2007-07-09 by Tony Walsh
Ian Bogost's latest book, Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames, looks at how video games make arguments, offering a theory of rhetoric for games, and covering a wide range of example games with an eye towards politics, advertising and learning. It's now available through Amazon and MIT Press.

Bogost is an assistant professor at Georgia Tech, and founding partner of Persuasive Games, a firm which recently entered into a publishing relationship with the New York Times, creating newsgames for the paper's online op-ed page. I'm particularly looking forward to Persuasive Games (the book), as one of the colleges where I teach part-time will make persuasive games one of its main areas of investigation this fall, and because most of the games I've worked on over the years have had an educational or marketing agenda.
  Researcher Seeks ‘Second Life’ Pupeteering Pointers  
Posted 2007-07-03 by Tony Walsh
Last year, Linden Lab announced that "expressive puppeteering" would be added to Second Life, allowing users to grab and move avatar body parts in real time, teaching the avatar new animations.

While the future of the unreleased pupeteering system is uncertain, a researcher affiliated with USC hasn't given up on the idea: Marc Tuters seeks technical help manipulating avatar "inverse kinematics" points in real time by piping data directly into Second Life from an external source. I suppose this could facilitate both human and automated/generative pupeteering. The latter could be used to give organic animations to non-user characters such as bots.

If you've got any advice or assistance to offer Marc, feel free to get in touch via mtuters -at- annenberg -dot- edu, or post a comment. Thanks!
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Dinozoiks wrote:
Wow! Thanks for that Tony. Just posted a bunch of other tips here... Hope it helps someone... Dino...
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in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?

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in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?

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