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Posts Tagged ‘serious games’

Last day for discount rate at Raleigh Internet Summit

Friday, October 12th, 2012

Internet Summit 12Today is the last day for a discount to attend the Internet Summit, which brings 120 thought-leaders to Raleigh, NC, Nov. 6-8.

This year’s lineup is one of the most impressive in the history of the conference. Speakers include Sarah Lacy – Founder & Editor-in-Chief,; Brent Herd – Director of Southeast, Twitter; Frederick Townes – Sr Technical Advisor, Mashable; Tim Sullivan – President and CEO,; Curtis Brown – Chief Technology Officer, AOL; and Ben Huh – CEO & Founder, Cheezburger, among many others.

And this year includes a Pre-conference workshop featuring 16 in-depth sessions led by interactive and marketing pros, a Startup Summit min-conference, and event-closing music festival featuring 12 bands.

From our interviews with participants so far:

Innovative startups you’ll learn about include  ArchiveSocial, which provides a means of truly archiving all of a firm’s social media activity. The founder says, “Don’t wait for trouble to keep records of your business social media.”

Elizabeth Johnson

Elizabeth Johnson, Attorney with Poyner Spruill, is among the 120 digital media experts participating in the Internet Summit, Raleigh, NC, Nov. 6-8.

You’ll also learn that Social Media Can be a landmine for businesses,” from Poyner Spruillattorney Elizabeth Johnson.

Robert Hancock of Smart Online, which has reinvented itself as a mobile app firm, will offer some best practices for mobile app development.

Randy Brown, director of the Virtual Heroes division of Applied Research Associates, will talk about “Serious games now invading the military, medical and corporate worlds.

Matt Peters, co-founder and director of Pandemic Labs, a Boston-based firm that sells social media marketing and analytics services. Peters will present his “Science of Facebook engagement,” and tell you about Two changes that will boost your Facebook numbers, among other inside information based on data. (Peter’s will also speak at the Dallas Digital Summit in December.


Stephen-Wellman, editor-in-chief at Slashdot and other Geeknet sites.

Stephen Wellman, editor in chief at Geek Media, which publishes Slashdot, will discuss how to engage with online communities such as his. (Wellman also spoke at the recent Digital East event in Virginia).

We’ll be interviewing other thought-leaders who will be appearing at the Internet Summit up until the event, but you can’t capture more than a touch of what they have to offer in brief blog posts. We’re always impressed by the useful take-aways they present at the event itself.

Other top speakers slated for the event include:

  • Jodi Kahn – President, iVillage
  • Duane Forrester – Sr. Product Manager, Bing
  • Scott Calise – Director of Digital Research, MTV Networks
  • Don Hoang – Director of Business Development, Klout
  • Liz Thorington – VP, Ad Sales, The Weather Channel
  • David Perry – Biz Development Executive, Google
And that’s just a sample.

This year’s event includes a new new mini-conference — the Startup Summit – focusing exclusively on digital entrepreneurship.

  • Over 120 top thought leaders & industry innovators sharing insights on topics that matter to you
  • More than 60 presentations & panels covering topics like Customer Engagement, Social Media Trends, Mobile Apps, Analytics, User Experience, Big Data, Gamification, Cloud, Search Marketing and much, much more!
  • Network and connect with around 2,000 of your peers
  • Dedicated Tech Track for IT Professionals, from the cubicle to the C-suite
  • IS Rocks – our new Music Festival at the conclusion of the conference featuring more than a dozen bands to close down IS12 in style!
  • 16 in-depth workshop sessions in our Pre-Conference led by expert interactive and marketing pros.

Register now.

Serious games invade the military, medical and corporate worlds

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

By Allan Maurer

Moonbase Alpha game“Gamification,” the process of using game-like processes in everything from marketing messages to a protein folding game and others that do real science, has been one of the digital buzz words the last year or two. But “serious games” that use game mechanics to teach or train medical professionals, pilots, biotech workers or soldiers, among others, are a bit different.

“They’re more like simulations,” says Randy Brown, director of the Virtual Heroes division of Applied Research Associates. Founded in Cary, NC in 2004, Virtual Heroes quickly won recognition and awards by establishing itself at the nexus of cutting-edge game technologies developing serious games for medical, military and corporate professionals.

Brown has developed interactive 3D graphics software at Amoco, Digital Equipment, Ex Machina, Data General, SAS Institute, Southpeak Interactive, and the Research Triangle Institute. He has directed training, simulation and gaming content for a wide range of commercial, government and private organizations.

Will speak at the Internet Summit

He’ll talk about serious games at the upcoming Internet Summit in Raleigh, NC, Nov. 6-8.

Serious games, Brown explains, “Give you the ability to play through scenarios with a wide range of sequences in an immersive environment.”

For instance, Virtual Heroes developed an AIDs awareness game in Kenya called “Pamoja Mtaani,” which is Swahili for “together in the hood.”

“We let the kids name it after they played the game,” Brown notes. It was a multi-player game with goals, puzzles to solve in order to move the story forward, and positive messages about condom use, abstinence, and avoiding multiple sex partners.

Other games the firm developed focus on game-based learning, “Where someone needs to perform a task.” Those “procedural” games help players understand what they would do in a biotech environment, for instance, and while they can improve scores against a time constraint, it doesn’t really have game play.

A medical procedure training game.

The North Carolina BioNetwork had Virtual Heroes create just such a training game for using pill press machines.

One of the firm’s better known games is “Moonbase Alpha,” which it developed for NASA to get kids interested in science, technology and math. The game “Wasn’t just go shoot space aliens,” Brown says. “It had players solve problems with time limits and used real NASA equipment such as robots and space rovers.”

In a lot of games, Brown notes, people just get better at playing the game. With serious games, however, “We look for transfer. Is there retention after a certain period? Does the AIDS awareness game change beliefs?”




Gamification will be more embedded in daily life by 2020

Friday, May 18th, 2012

By Allan Maurer

gamification word cloudWay back in the late 1980s, I wrote an article for Science Digest magazine about the US Army’s use of video games to train tank crews and gunners. Since then, “gamification,” the use of game-like elements in education, training, marketing, wellness and even scientific discovery, has advanced steadily.

You’re likely to see more and more use of “gamification” in the digital world, a new survey by the Pew Internet in American Life Project suggests.

Gamification is interactive digital design that brings out a user’s competitive instincts and often uses rewards such as points, payments, badges, discounts and achievement status to drive action.

Gamification is one of the top trends for 2012, according to Deloitte, and Gartner predicts that 50 percent of corporate innovation will be “gamified” by 2015, the Pew report notes.

Serious gaming becoming embedded in every day life

Gartner says, “Serious gaming simulations and game mechanics such as leaderboards, achievements, and skill-based learning are becoming embedded in day-to-day business processes, driving adoption, performance, and engagement.”

Digital games generated $25 billion in sales in 2010, and their popularity is considered to be a driver of the adoption of elements of gamification in many Internet pursuits.

A primary driver, says the Pew study, ” is the rapid uptake of social networks, now used by 70% of American Internet users, where reward and status elements are embedded in implicit and explicit forms in people’s interactions in their engagement in online communities. Game elements and competition are interspersed throughout the platforms that have made social networks like Facebook and Twitter popular.”

Gamification helps solve scientific riddles

It also points out that Gamification is not  just about status, community building, and marketing. Game-like approaches to education and problem-solving are rolling out in new ways. To cite one prominent example, researchers at the University of Washington made headlines in 2011 with their game Foldit.

It generated a crowd-sourced discovery of the mystery of how a key protein may help cure HIV. The game drew 46,000 participants whose gameplay took just 10 days to solve a problem scientists had been working on for 15 years.

Similarly, over at the Galaxy Zoo, you can help scientists classify galaxies – something the human eye does better than computers – as they explore the universe via the Hubble telescope.

Non-digital and digital real-world games based on scenarios and problem-solving have been around for a while, but it wasn’t until recent years that the label “serious game” was applied to this type of activity.

Wide range of uses for “serious games”

Pew notes that a “serious gaming” movement has arisen to apply gaming techniques to such realms as military and corporate and first-responder training programs, civilization and environmental ecology simulations, K-12 educational programs on subjects like math and history and the sciences, news events and public policy campaigns, problem-solving strategies in the natural sciences, and even physical exercise programs.

Universities such as NC State even offer courses in “serious games.”

PewInternetPew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center asked a highly engaged set of respondants if the use of gamification,  game mechanics, feedback loops, and rewards to spur interaction and boost engagement, buy-in, loyalty, fun, and/or learning continue to gain ground and be implemented in many new ways in people’s digital lives between now and 2020?

More than half (53 percent) believe that by 2020, there will have been significant advances in the adoption and use of gamification. It will be making waves on the communications scene and will have been implemented in many new ways for education, health, work, and other aspects of human connection and it will play a role in the everyday activities of many of the people who are actively using communications networks in their daily lives.

However, 42 percent think that while game use and game-like structures will remain an important segment of the communications scene and will have been adopted in new ways, the gamification of other aspects of communications will not really have advanced much beyond being an interesting development implemented occasionally by some segments of the population in some circumstances.

Some of the responses Pew received include:

“People will increasingly expect game elements in a wide range of activities. Game-development tools will enable most people to gamify many aspects of life and work, in digital, physical, and blended environments.” – Cathy Cavanaugh, associate professor of educational technology, University of Florida.

“The development of ‘serious games’ applied productively to a wide scope of human activities will accelerate simply because playing is more fun than working.” –Mike Liebhold, senior researcher and distinguished fellow at The Institute for the Future.

Not everyone thinks gamification has a rosy future, however:

“For all of the reasons that critics of game theory have identified over the years regarding its inability to capture the full range of human motivations, perceptions, cognitions, and practices, I believe there will be efforts to gamify much of what we do, but that much of that will just come and go as fads.” – Sandra Braman, professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and an expert on information policy.

For the complete report see: Pew Gamification survey

McLean-based Alion wins NTSA award for damage control training game

Monday, January 10th, 2011

AlionMCLEAN,  VA – So called “Serious games,” used for training and simulation, have gained considerable ground and the Southeast is a hub for serious game makers. McLean-bassed Alion Science and Technology, an employee-owned technology solutions company, was part of the winning team that received the 2010 National Training and Simulation Association (NTSA) Award for Outstanding Achievement in Modeling and Simulation in the “Training” category.

Alion developed the Damage Control Trainer, in partnership with Raytheon BBN Technologies, to prepare Navy recruits for deployment. The Trainer teaches recruits how to navigate a ship, follow communication protocols, perform damage control operations and train on real-life scenarios such as floods, fires and mass casualty exercises.

A study conducted at the University of Central Florida found that recruits who used the Damage Control Trainer for just one hour improved their performance in essential training areas by 50 to 80 percent. The Trainer had previously won the “Serious Games Challenge” in the Business category at I/ITSEC 2009.

“This second award for the Damage Control Trainer reinforces our belief that a well-designed game can provide measurable results in the real world,” said Rear Adm. Richard Brooks, Alion senior VP and manager of the Distributed Solutions Group.

“Designing an effective game requires more than exciting graphics. It has to engage the user while teaching skills in such a way that those lessons are retained. The Damage Control Trainer is helping prepare recruits for real-life situations, and that can mean much lower risk to both the sailors and the fleet.”

Other team members include IDSI, UCF and IDEAS.

Designing and developing award-winning serious games is nothing new for Alion’s serious game experts, who have presented on various serious game topics at the conference, including this year’s “How to Create an Award Winning Serious Game.” Alion Project Engineer Curtiss Murphy was interviewed by NTSA about the elements of making a game effective for training; the interview is available on the NTSA’s YouTube channel.

Alion has also led I/ITSEC’s “Modeling and Simulation 101” class for 11 years and the company’s experts have written numerous publications in top gaming textbooks.