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What’s New in Game-based Learning – February 2024

Welcome, fellow gamers and education enthusiasts, to this February 2024 edition of What’s New in Game-based Learning! In this series, we gather the best game-based learning news stories from the past month to explore the latest trends, breakthroughs, and innovations that redefine how we learn and play. From archaeologists venturing into virtual realms to the bustling competitive gaming industry, each article in this blog reveals how game-based learning is thriving, changing the lives of learners all around the globe. Join us as we uncover all the exciting news that this year has to offer so far!

via Giphy

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Why archaeologists study virtual worlds from video games (WHYY PBS) 

What happens when archaeologists bring their work into virtual worlds? This article details the experiences of two scientists, Alex and Pat, who, during the 2020 pandemic lockdown, explored video games and dedicated significant hours outside of work to study virtual worlds. They particularly focused on games from Japanese studio FromSoftware, known for its action games set in medieval-looking fantasy worlds.

Alex and Pat were able to draw parallels between the intentionally vague history presented in FromSoftware games and their real-world experiences with ancient ruins. This led to them to develop theories about distinct architectural features in games, such as Divine Towers in Elden Ring. These two scientists are drawing from “archaeogaming” – a relatively new academic discipline coined by archaeologist Andrew Reinhard, who explored fantasy worlds in games like Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim and No Man’s Sky for his PhD thesis. Check out the full article to discover how other archaeologists are utilizing virtual worlds for historical understanding, including examples like creating a virtual experience of an ancient villa in Sicily or studying the impact of virtual avatars of historic figures on visitors’ perceptions in museums.

Why we should take competitive video games more seriously (The Conversation) 

This isn’t exactly new news, but in case you didn’t know, the esports industry is booming! This recently published article details how thousands of people flocked to South Korea for the Worlds 2023 championships of League of Legends, and argues that esports should be recognized as a global social, cultural, and economic phenomenon. Drawing parallels with traditional sports leagues, authors Thomas Burelli, Haoran Liu, and Marie Dykukha detail the rapid growth of the esports industry, its increasing viewership, and the emergence of international superstars. While discussing the potential recognition of esports in major competitions, including the Olympic Games, the three authors highlight the need for additional infrastructure, career opportunities, and attention to players’ health and well-being.

The $200b video game industry is a climate opportunity (The Business Standard)

Can video games effectively raise awareness about climate change? In this interview, the organizer of the Green Game Jam, Deborah Mensah-Bonsu, discusses the challenge of creating games that are both fun and educational. She emphasizes the importance of incorporating climate change elements into already successful games and cites examples like Terra Nil by Free Lives. Mensah-Bonsu stresses the need for making climate-related subjects relatable to players and highlights the potential of games to foster a sense of progression among people in addressing environmental issues. Additionally, she shares tips for players to minimize their climate impact, including checking system settings and supporting games with green messages – read the full article for more!

Minecraft releases DLC inspired by the BBC’s Planet Earth show (Destructoid)

This January, Minecraft Education Edition released the Planet Earth III DLC, inspired by the BBC documentary series. This DLC introduces scenarios allowing players to embody various animals such as fur seals avoiding predators, sharks preying on seals, and experiences as musk oxen or arctic wolves in the Canadian tundra. Despite being over twelve years old, Destructoid reporter Andrew Heaton writes, Minecraft’s enduring popularity is sustained by continuous updates and expansions like the Planet Earth III DLC, offering players new and engaging experiences. Available now in 29 languages, it’s a thrilling blend of learning and fun, bringing global audiences closer to the wonders of the natural world!

This Slay the Spire-like made to teach a dev’s daughter maths looks like the best edutainment game I never had (Rock Paper Shotgun)

At the time of this article’s publication on January 8, Rock Paper Shotgun reported that Punkcake Délicieux, the developers of the chess-roguelike Shotgun King, are working on an educational game titled Super Algebrawl. Initially designed to teach the creator’s daughter addition and multiplication, the game evolved into a full-fledged release. Gameplay involves a sword-wielding boar leading a group of mice and boar followers in battles against slime and goblin-like creatures, reminiscent of Slay the Spire. Each character has a number, and players use mathematical scrolls (add, multiply, divide, square) to defeat enemies by matching equations. This game provides a more fun way for players to enhance their arithmetic know-how! Released on January 18, 2024, Super Algebrawl is now available on Steam and itch.io

That’s a wrap for this month’s game-based learning news! We don’t know about you, but we’re feeling inspired. Reading all about the different vibrant intersections of play and knowledge, we’re excited about all of the ways game-based learning can engage learners of all ages and educate people about all kinds of subjects. If you’re feeling inspired to create your own game-based learning solution, contact us today!

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