Designing a Classroom Game about History

Historia is a civilization-simulation game that incorporates a year-long world cultures curriculum aligned to Texas state standards. The game is played in class using worksheets, research materials — reference books and a few desktop computers — and an interactive presentation, delivered by Brennan. During the game, students cluster together in teams to form civilizations, which they must govern skillfully as they progress through world history, meeting and measuring themselves against all the peoples that existed between 2000 BCE and 2000 CE.

There is a long tradition of simulation games in social studies. One success in the early days of personal computing was The Oregon Trail, a game where players took on roles as pioneers to face first-hand the hardships of westward expansion. The game debuted in a history class in Minnesota in 1971, with students waiting up to a half hour just to take a turn. Since then, digital simulations have come a long way in terms of speed and sophistication. But some teachers are discovering that, when it comes to learning, and especially in resource-strapped school districts, a game on paper can be as persuasive as anything on screen.

the full article: Designing a Classroom Game That Can Get Kids Excited About History – Brian Waniewski – The Atlantic.

App Store Pulls ‘Barbie’ Plastic-Surgery App Following Backlash

Apple’s App Store pulled a Barbie-inspired plastic-surgery app on Tuesday, following intense backlash fueled in part by a Twitter campaign.

The game, which launched last week and was rated for children 9 and older, walked players through the graphic steps of liposuction that must be performed on an “unfortunate girl” to make her “slim and beautiful.”

The dubious steps included injecting anesthetic, making incisions with a scalpel and suctioning out fat with a pump. This process was then repeated multiple times on Barbie’s different “problem areas.”

“This unfortunate girl has so much extra weight that no diet can help her. In our clinic she can go through a surgery called liposuction that will make her slim and beautiful. We’ll need to make small cuts on problem areas and suck out the extra fat. Will you operate her, doctor?”

more details here:

App Store Pulls ‘Barbie’ Plastic-Surgery App Following Backlash.

Revisiting the Theory of Fun

“Fun,” says game designer Raph Koster, is just another word for “learning.”

The idea that play is the best way to learn is not, admittedly, an entirely original idea. Even Plato, Koster is quick to point out, famously declared that “the most effective kind of education is that a child should play amongst lovely things.” Still, few authors have explored the relationship between learning and play like Koster did in his 2004 book A Theory of Fun for Game Design.

The original edition of the book became something of a bible for game designers. University game design programs across the globe made it a part of their curriculum, and the book was translated into Japanese, Chinese and Korean, eventually selling over 30,000 copies. This year Koster teamed up with publisher O’Reilly to release a 10th anniversary edition, due out December 5. The book’s many charming illustrations are now rendered in full color, and Koster has updated the content to make it more relevant to the modern games industry, but the core idea at the center of A Theory of Fun — that learning and fun can be synonymous — has gone unchanged. That’s mostly because in the 10 years since the book’s release, nobody has been able to successfully challenge that idea.

“Somebody really should,” he says. “It’s been 10 years, dammit.”

Much of Koster’s game industry experience is with MMOs. He was lead designer on Ultima Online: The Second Age, and creative director of Star Wars Galaxies.

>the original article here

Aalborg Centre for Problem Based Learning

The General Conference of UNESCO has approved the establishment of a Centre for Problem Based Learning in Engineering Science and Sustainability at Aalborg University in Denmark, as a Category 2 Centre established under the auspices of UNESCO.

The overall mission and objectives of the Aalborg UNESCO Centre are to develop the role of universities in promoting engineering, science and sustainability education and innovation through the creation of a global centre and network of excellence on Problem and Project Based Learning (PBL) for knowledge sharing, education and capacity building to address global challenges through North-South and South-South cooperation.

Engineering, science, technology and innovation are of vital importance in addressing the UN Millennium Development Goals and related global challenges ­ especially sustainability, climate change mitigation and adaptation. Particular challenges for engineering and science include the need to develop cleaner, greener technologies, and to encourage more young people into engineering through the transformation of engineering education. Problem and project based learning has been shown to play an important role as an effective framework for educating engineers and scientists for solving complex tasks in a collaborative framework.