S.N.A.G.G.E.D. 1.3

S.N.A.G.G.E.D. 1.3 is now available!
In this issue:
Video Games Redeemed
Surgeons Do It
Singapore’s Serious Games Laboratory
Video Games With A Social Message Getting Press
Intel Launches, Then Pulls IT Manager Game from Site
Multiplayer Army Game
CBS on America’s Army
The Army Brand
Pandemic’s Full Spectrum Warrior Due Out Soon
War games in real time
Playable- Real Lives
Playable- Building Homes of our Own
Book: Game Design Workshop
************************ S.N.A.G.G.E.D ************************
Serious News About Games
Generating Educational Development
The “SERIOUS GAMES” Related News Clipping Service
subscribe @ http://www.seriousgames.org/
ISSUE 1.3, 27 April, 2004

Provided as a public service by The Serious Games Initiative
@ the Woodrow Wison International Center for Scholars,
Breakaway Games, Ltd., and Digitalmill, Inc.
Written & Edited by Justin Hall
Snagged from the Wires and News sites…
– Video Games Redeemed
Video-game skills may impart a net improvement in important life skills, according to a new article by Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Daniel Rubin.
His article is a broad survey of the debate over the effects of games on the people that play them. Rubin’s thesis is optimistic – he has sought out the best case studies, finding positive ways that commercial games leave the player better off for having played.
“Video-game skills may give edge in life”
– Surgeons Do It
A specific confirmation of Rubin’s thesis mentioned above: a new experiment reveals that surgeons can operate with more precision after practicing with video games. A study conducted by Beth Israel Medical Center and the National Institute on Media and the Family found that doctors could warm up their motor skills, reaction time and hand-eye coordination through a few rounds of something like Sega’s Super Monkey Ball before performing laparoscopic surgery.
Fewer mistakes made by surgeons who play video games; find
articles on this topic: http://tinyurl.com/2m832
-Singapore’s Serious Games Laboratory
Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has announced plans to build a game laboratory to further the development of video games and interactive media. Students researching in the lab will earn credits towards advanced degrees in a program hoping to strike a balance between commercial game development, experimentation and research. The lab’s director, Sarah Fay Krom, has flagged serious games as a priority.
A PDF version of a Straits Times article on the NTU lab is archived here:
-Video Games With A Social Message Getting Press
Two stories recently on video games with social messages. Marc Prensky sent along this NY1 story about games like September 12 getting noticed for combining gaming with social messages. Wired.com also did a piece recently as well titled “Videogames with a Conscience”.
You can watch the video version or read the NY1 story at:
You can read the Wired.com article at:
-Intel Launches and Then Pulls IT Manager Game from Site
* Thanks to Ian and Gonzalo at Watercoolergames.org for highlighting an article making the rounds on various blogs about an IT Manager Simulation game that Intel was debuting on their site. Problem was the game didn’t let you hire women! As Gonzalo points out entertainment games have gotten away with this sort of gender discrimination for some time without a ton of retribution (unless you consider the number of women who don’t play games as retribution) but Intel found itself having to pull the game for some changes.
Read more at:
More from the Military:
The U.S. Army has been steadily ramping up their use of video games for purposes of training and recruitment. Here are a few recent articles exploring their efforts:
– Multiplayer Army Game from There.com
The U.S. Army has commissioned online game maker There.com to make an online environment for testing soldiers. There.com has made an accessible, open-ended multiplayer online game environment. Early in their product development, they established open links for licensing and outside commercial use of their game environments. Players can already outfit themselves in Nike and Levi Strauss; the U.S. Army deal with There.com is likely to involve a separate game environment where happy-go-lucky dune buggy riders won’t roll into any online armed forces training exercises.
“U.S. Army Drafts Web-Game Pros to Design Training Tool”
Gamespot also did a huge article on the project:
– CBS on AA
CBS News debates the ethics of America’s Army by way of covering a recent tournament in New York City. Almost two years after its release, America’s Army appears to be doing quite well still, with millions of minutes played each month and at least a few eager gamer recruits. The coverage at this link includes a video clip and photographs, as well as a brief article.
– The Army Brand
Inspired by their success with “America’s Army” the U.S. Army has elected to extend their brand into other games, not of their own crafting. The latest deal involves French console and computer game publisher Ubi Soft, known for their Tom Clancy-themed games. Ubi Soft will have an exclusive license to develop U.S. Army branded games, offering a “realistic, action-packed, military experience” for console gamers who haven’t had access to the popular PC Army action game, America’s Army.
– Pandemic’s Full Spectrum Warrior Due Out Soon
The U.S. Army commissioned Pandemic Studios, based in Los Angeles, to develop a training game to encourage small squad tactics in realistic conditions. The technology and gameplay mechanics garnered early rave reviews and the company has developed a commercial version of the simulation entitled Full Spectrum Warrior. Full Spectrum Warrior will soon be made available for game consoles including Microsoft’s XBox.
“War games in real time”
– Real Lives
Randomly roll up a citizen of the world, and choose your way through life in those circumstances. Perhaps you were born in Mexico, to a large Catholic family? Or into an upper-class family in India. Real Lives simulates the options available to you in those situations, based on statistics pulled from over 100 sources. The risk of disease, poverty or success is determined by these probabilities, and the resulting story is rendered in text. The research behind the game is made transparent throughout, so players can understand the interactions between choice and fate is the wide world.
“Learn about others’ lives with interactive role-playing” By Jinny Gudmundsen
The game is demonstrated and available for purchase here:
– Building Homes of our Own
Real life choices are brought closer to home with a game developed to teach schoolchildren the responsibilities of homeownership. Students must select a site, design and build a home, within the context of building codes, local environmental and health issues and questions of structural engineering.
After the site is prepared, and the house is constructed according to the player’s layout. The house is then placed on the market and sold, and the program judges the performance based on the house and the profit. If the student ranks high enough, they can move to building in more environmentally risky locations. Building Homes of our Own was Developed in the United States in conjunction with the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) in partnership with the National Housing Endowment, Freddie Mac, and the Fannie Mae Foundation.
An article about the game:
Information and a CD-ROM can be procured up here: http://www.homesofourown.org/
If you missed of the recent discussion on the Serious Games discussion list, consider subscribing!
Game Design Workshop
by Tracy Fullerton, Christopher Swain and Steven Hoffman
A hands-on manual explaining the craft of game design, the art of prototyping and playtesting, and the workings of the video game industry.
The book includes interviews and profiles of a number of leading game developers and their advice for getting started in the industry. Almost 500 pages softcover, Game Design Workshop is both newbie-friendly and methodical.
Amazon.com link: http://tinyurl.com/323dg
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This newsletter was produced by Justin Hall, a freelance writer studying cultural issues in gaming; http://www.links.net/
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