Teach your Monster to Read

Teach your Monster to Read

Web based and free. I’ve only watched the video and played the demo. Very cool to see people doing this online, and free. Has anyone used, or your kids used? UK english versus US english seems an issue, with the emphasis on audio and pronunciation?

Teach your Monster to Read: First Steps is a new, free game to practise the first steps of reading.

 

Combining top quality games design with essential learning, the game is built on the principles of synthetic phonics and follows the teaching sequence of the Letters and Sounds programme.

 

It has been assessed by reading experts at the University of Roehampton.

Dystopia: What a Game of Civilization II Looks Like After 10 Years

Dystopia: What a Game of Civilization II Looks Like After 10 Years

In The Atlantic, no less. Nice.

When I was a kid, it felt like some expansive History of All Time, except that it was a turn-based computer strategy computer game. Which is why a 10-year game of Civilization II has struck a chord around the Internet today: if you could learn a history of western civ from the game, then its vision of the future feels oddly significant.

 

Here’s what happened. Some human being kept playing the same game for a decade and then posted screenshots to Reddit along with a narrative explanation of where the gameworld stands.

Xbox Live: How an Old Tech Company Built a Social Media Juggernaut

Xbox Live: How an Old Tech Company Built a Social Media Juggernaut

Harvard Business Review analysis, no less:

Amid the flood of social media IPOs during the last 12 months, another “old guard” tech company has quietly built one of the most dominant, fiercely loyal and profitable social media businesses to date. You might have heard of it: The company is called Microsoft, and the social media business is called Xbox Live.

Xbox Live is easy to miss. It’s a $2 billion revenue business embedded within the $9 billion revenue entertainment/devices business of the $73 billion revenue of Microsoft overall. If Xbox Live was a standalone business, its 40 million members would be dwarfed by user base of Linkedin, Twitter, Zynga and Facebook. But while Xbox Live’s membership is less than 20% of the size of Zynga (a comparable gaming company), it likely has nearly double the gross profit that Zynga generates. Not bad for the old guy.

E3 Trends: iPad, Augmented Reality Loom Over Video Game Trade Show

E3 Trends: iPad, Augmented Reality Loom Over Video Game Trade Show

There’s a 900-pound gorilla stalking the halls and suites of E3: Apple’s iPad. I lost count of how many times tablets were mentioned, and while few game companies specifically mentioned the top-selling tablet, iOS’s hold on gamers is being felt in the mainstream game business.

 

Microsoft is trying to move out of the living room with SmartGlass, which provides two-way communication between the Xbox 360 and software running on Windows 8 tablets and other Windows 8 devices.

Nintendo’s Wii U Game Pad offers strong similarities to tablets, but the device is more tightly coupled to the Nintendo ecosystem, and doesn’t look like it works as a standalone device.

 

Sony announced more games integrating the PS Vita with PlayStation 3 games, but Vita’s integration seems even more loosely coupled than SmartGlass. Hedging its bets, Sony also talked up PlayStation Mobile, an attempt to bring PlayStation-style gaming to Android tablets.

 

PlayStation Mobile could become a credible competitor to iOS, but Sony’s track record in taking on Apple has been spotty, lest anyone forget how Apple took over the portable music player business.

Despite all the companies’ best effort, none of the gaming devices addressed key benefits delivered by the iPad and iPhone: games cost less. Major game companies try to eke out more revenue streams beyond the $60 boxed title. Phrases like EA’s Riccitiello’s “games have evolved from the disc that you buy to the place that you go” are heard more often, and efforts like Battlefield 3 Premium strive to generate revenue beyond the ship date of a title.

Microsoft Xbox Is Winning The Living Room War. Here’s Why.

Microsoft Xbox Is Winning The Living Room War. Here’s Why.

Forbes analysis, no less. A good para:

In May Microsoft effectively stopped treating Live like an add-on for a videogame console and started pricing the console as a loss leader for an entertainment platform. Rather than pay $199 just for the unit, users can now get an Xbox for $99—as long as they also take a two-year contract to Xbox Live Gold. This new low price looks even better when you consider you don’t need to buy a new TV, which is what Samsung and, soon, Apple want you to do. “If you want to start a phenomenon,” says Ballmer, “it doesn’t start with thousand-dollar-plus devices that sell at unreasonably low volume and need major room redesigns.”

Chris Rickert: Kindness at your gamer’s fingertips

Chris Rickert: Kindness at your gamer’s fingertips

UW Madison is, I think, the best institution on the planet addressing how gaming is applicable to and useful for many things other than just the fun of playing a game. The article is a snide, skeptical journalist’s take, still worth a read. A snippet:

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is giving two UW-Madison researchers a $1.39 million grant to develop two video games to help teach eighth-graders compassion, empathy, cooperation, mental focus, self-regulation, kindness and altruism.

 

I can’t help but wonder, wouldn’t a puppy work just as well, and be a heck of a lot cheaper?

 

Besides, if your kid is going to be a mass murderer, derivatives trader or some other empathy-less sociopath, isn’t that mold pretty much cast by the time he’s 13 or 14?

Sony Online’s SOEmote software provides you with your Everquest II character’s expressions and voice

Sony Online’s SOEmote software provides you with your Everquest II character’s expressions and voice

This really is going to be a bigger deal than it seems right now, yep.

As a collaborative concoction between Sony, Image Metrics, and Vivox, SOEmote captures your voice and facial expressions and pastes them onto your in-game character. It also modulates your words into the pitch appropriate for your race such as the deep baritone of an ogre or the gnome’s tinny squeak. We at GamesBeat recommend turning off this feature when spilling large, expletive-inducing cups of coffee.

 

In the below video, David Georgeson, Everquest II director of development, demonstrates SOEmote’s capabilities with his mighty Froglok warrior, proving anthropomorphic amphibians look terrifyingly creepy when grinning.

Video games help autistic students in classrooms

Video games help autistic students in classrooms

USA Today coverage, nice:

In real life, 9-year-old Michael has autism, as do his two classmates. All three have long struggled with the mental, physical and social rigors of school. All three now get help most days from video-game avatars — simplified digital versions of themselves doing things most autistic children don’t generally do. In Michael’s case, he’s recording “social stories” videos that remind him how to act. In his classmates’ cases — their parents asked that they not be identified — they’re playing games that help with coordination, body awareness and cooperation, all challenges for kids on the autism spectrum.

 

Can off-the-shelf video games spark a breakthrough in treating autism? That’s the question researchers are asking as educators quietly discover the therapeutic uses of motion-controlled sensors. The devices are popular with gamers: Microsoft this week said it had sold more than 19 million Kinect motion-sensor units since introducing it in November 2010.

Now autism researchers, teachers and therapists are installing them in classrooms and clinics, reporting promising results for a fraction of the price of typical equipment. Could a teacher armed with a $300 Xbox and a $10 copy of Double Fine Happy Action Theater do as much good as months of intensive therapy?

Are Virtual Worlds Over?

Are Virtual Worlds Over?

@RaphKoster blog post is very very worth a read. Not going to clip from it, cause no clip could summarize. I remember thinking some of these thoughts back in EQ1 days, but the social aspects of it, the real world connection in it, are much clearer now in the post-facebook world.

Game Over for GameStop and Video Game Retailers?

Game Over for GameStop and Video Game Retailers?

Before it even launched, Diablo III had sold 2 million copies, making it the biggest game release of the year by far. The same week, though, video game retailer GameStop announced a worse-than-expected quarter of falling revenues led by plummeting in-store sales. Together, those two facts signal a massive re-alignment of how games are sold.

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