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What’s New in Game-based Learning – August 2023

As we step into August and embrace the final days of summer, we’re excited to bring you a plethora of game-based learning content for K-12 schools preparing for a fresh semester. But before we dive into that, it’s time for another edition of our “What’s New in Game-based Learning” series! So sit back, relax, and enjoy the last bit of your summer vacation while we share the latest and most exciting news in educational gaming.

via Giphy

Our goal with this series is to keep you informed about the ever-evolving trends in our industry. We’ll be highlighting significant news and announcements related to digital play, serious games, VR and AR for impact, and more. Take a look at this month’s featured stories below, and feel free to let us know on Facebook or Twitter if we’ve missed any major headlines. See some news you have to share? Bookmark this post so you don’t lose track of the link!

Ubisoft Reveals Educational History of Baghdad Feature For Assassin’s Creed Mirage (IGN)

For years now, Ubisoft has been bringing educational historical content into their Assassin’s Creed franchise through Discovery Tours – providing a whole new educational dimension to the popular commercial game series! With their newest title, Assassin’s Creed Mirage, Ubisoft is introducing a new “History of Baghdad” feature. Unlike previous Discovery modes, this feature will be integrated into the game’s storyline through an in-game codex. Players will learn about the historical realities of ninth-century Baghdad as they progress through the campaign.

The “History of Baghdad” feature aims to provide historical context to the fictional storyline, offering a database of expertly curated information and real-world images of artifacts from partner museums. Players can unlock articles by visiting 66 historical sites in the city, which will reveal insights into the beliefs, culture, economy, and daily life during the Abbasid Caliphate period.

Ubisoft has emphasized its commitment to discussing various topics, including sensitive ones like the harem, eunuchs, and slavery, in a nuanced and accurate manner. The feature will also include light-hearted entries on topics such as Table Manners and Market Inspectors. Video games for history education have massive potential for deep learning – and we’re eager to hear more about this feature once the game is released in October 2023.

Students Showcase Their Work in Augmented and Virtual Reality at the Qualcomm Institute (UC San Diego Today)

via today.ucsd.edu

Exciting news for XR enthusiasts! In a recent showcase at Qualcomm Institute‘s Atkinson Hall, undergraduate students from UC San Diego presented their final projects that applied computer science and extended reality to various topics. The projects included using virtual reality to educate the public about climate change and its impacts, with one team developing a video game set near the Great Barrier Reef where players become citizen scientists combating coral bleaching. Other projects involved navigating through wildfires, exploring Maya ruins, and learning about environmental issues.

Another group of students worked with the Cyber-Archeology Warehouse, creating an immersive metaverse space for archaeological research. They developed a digital avatar of Mahatma Gandhi using artificial intelligence platforms to mimic his voice and personality, despite having only 36 minutes of footage as a reference.

Overall, the exhibition showcased how students applied digital tools and technology to diverse subjects, from climate change to historical figures, demonstrating the potential of augmented and virtual reality in education and research

Can young children learn from educational apps? (KQED)

This article by Ph.D. Cara Goodwin explores whether young children can learn from educational apps on smartphones or touchscreen devices. Research suggests that young children can indeed learn from interactive apps, particularly in STEM-related concepts like math. 

However, studies indicate that older children tend to learn more from apps than younger ones, and the content of the app also influences the learning outcomes. To identify the most educational apps, Goodwin suggests that parents and educators look for gameplay that promotes active learning, engagement in the learning process, meaningful learning, and social interaction. 

While some research suggests that the interactive nature of apps enhances learning, other studies argue that it may overload children’s attention. But despite these mixed findings, apps still seem to provide an advantage over traditional classroom teaching, mouse-based computers, paper, physical objects, and passive screen viewing.

Goodwin also recommends that parents wait until children are at least 3 years old before introducing educational apps. When engaging with apps together, Goodwin writes that parents should provide assistance and encourage critical thinking. All the more reason to make sure young learners are engaging with high-quality educational games

Video Games at MoMA: Do They Belong There? (The New York Times)

via moma.org

Can video games be considered works of art? That’s the question this article tackles, detailing the Museum of Modern Art’s (MoMA) cautious approach to including video games in its collection and exhibitions. The current exhibition titled “Never Alone: Video Games and Other Interactive Design” explores the potential of video games as an artistic medium. However, article author Zachary Small suggests that MoMA could do more to bridge the gap between art lovers and game designers.

The exhibition features playable video games and viewable digital experiments from video game history. The curators believe that gaming is a psychological act that has defined an era where many relationships are mediated through screens. Games like “The Sims” by Will Wright offer players the freedom to choose their experiences, making gaming a unique form of artistic expression.

The decision to include video games in the museum has been debated, with some critics believing that games are not on par with traditional art forms. Small draws parallels with the initial skepticism faced by performance art, which later became an established genre in museums. He asserts that the immersive and visceral nature of gaming makes it an engaging experience for audiences, similar to live performance art.

Despite the potential, MoMA faces challenges in incorporating games more extensively. Designers often do not own rights to their creations, making acquisition difficult. Additionally, issues like legal negotiations, lost source codes, and obsolete technology pose hurdles to showcasing games in the museum. Nevertheless, this article encourages MoMA to embrace gaming further and demonstrate why it belongs in a contemporary art museum. What are your thoughts on video games as an art form?

Cat’s Cosmic Atlas Announced For Nintendo Switch & PC (Bleeding Cool)

Publisher/developer RedDeer Games recently announced the upcoming release of an educational game called Cat’s Cosmic Atlas for Nintendo Switch and PC. Players will take on the role of a young cat learning about stars and the solar system in a cozy and enchanting environment inspired by children’s literature. The game aims to seamlessly integrate astronomy education into gameplay, allowing players to expand their knowledge about celestial bodies as they journey through the sky and make new discoveries. While no specific release date has been provided yet, the game is expected to launch before the end of the year!

That wraps up our game-based learning goodness for this month. We trust you’re keeping cool and brimming with enthusiasm for the upcoming school year, which promises to be filled with endless technological possibilities. If you’ve ever considered developing your own educational game, don’t hesitate to reach out to us! With 18 years of experience and an impressive portfolio, we’re fully dedicated to crafting impactful serious games that align with your vision and goals.

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