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What’s New in Game-Based Learning – January 2020

New decade, new us, new roundup of game-based learning news! 🎉

(Image source: Giphy)

That’s right – What’s New in Game-Based Learning is back and better than ever, just in time for the new year. Designed to help you stay informed of the latest trends in our ever-evolving industry, each entry in our monthly series highlights key news stories and announcements from the spheres of educational gaming, games for impact, and AR/VR for learning. Check out this month’s featured articles, and be sure to reach out on Facebook or Twitter if we missed anything!

First-Ever American Sign Language Accessible Video Game Launches on Campus (The Alcalde)

While many contemporary video games contain a multitude of language and subtitle options to allow for greater accessibility, American Sign Language (ASL) is too often ignored by commercial and educational video game developers alike. But the release of Deafverse World One: Duel of the Bots – a free, online, ASL accessible adventure game developed by the National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes at the University of Texas – hopes to change this, offering for the first time ever a full video game experience specifically designed with deaf players in mind. A choose-your-over-adventure game featuring a deaf playable character, the focuses primarily on teaching self-determination fundamentals, challenging players with navigating various scenarios that mirror real-life realities for deaf teenagers such as dealing with ineffective interpreters and communicating with folks who don’t know sign language. [READ MORE]

Mindfulness Video Game Changes Areas of the Brain Associated With Attention (UW-Madison)

Mindfulness, meditation, and self-care apps are a booming business – but oftentimes, it seems many of these products are designed primarily with adult audiences in mind. At the same time, gaming is becoming increasingly commonplace among youth, with an estimated 97% of teens playing video games in their free time. This inspired researchers from the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and the University of California–Irvine to team up and develop a mindfulness game of their own – designed specifically with middle school players in mind. And according to their study which compared the effects of their game versus Fruit Ninja on teenage brains, students who played Tenacity – the mindfulness video game created by UW-Madison/UC-I – experienced changes which led improvements in key areas of the brain related to attention. [READ MORE]

In Trucking, VR Simulator Training Moving to Center Stage, Says Florida Firm (TheTrucker.com)

It’s a common misconception that game-based learning is strictly for children and adolescents – in fact, studies show that adults can reap the benefits of high-quality training games and simulations as well. Consider the $500+ billion U.S. trucking industry, for example – a sector which according to experts is ripe for VR-enabled training disruption. According to John Kearney, CEO at training simulation company Advanced Training Systems, simulation training offers two key benefits to the trucking business: helping to reduce vehicle accidents by producing better-trained drivers, and opening up career pathways by enabling folks who may have never previously considered trucking to get behind the wheel and simulate driving – all prior to ever stepping foot inside a vehicle. [READ MORE]

As the U.S. Ages, Older Americans Flock to Video Games (CBS News)

With the U.S. video game industry continuing to grow at a ridiculously fast pace, it’s likely no surprise that new audiences are entering the fold – and judging by a recent survey from AARP, this growth may be at least partially driven by a rise in older gamers. According to their data, there exists an estimated 51 million senior gamers today – a huge rise from 40 million in 2016. A growing consumer base for commercial and educational game developers alike, CBS News notes that many seniors are attracted to the medium for the sense of online community and interaction offered by games – while others are drawn to the ability to indulge in nostalgic activities like bowling or driving classic cars. [READ MORE]

Using Online, Game-Based Simulations to Train Photonic Technicians and Engineers (MIT News)

Integrated photonics – eloquently described by MIT News as, “a technology that shrinks signals of light to the sub-micron scale and funnels them into light-guiding circuits” – is a rapidly growing field. As such, organizations are eager to hire engineers and technicians familiar with the technology – and universities like MIT are eager to find new and creative ways to teach it. And now, thanks to a three-year, $5 million grant from the U.S. Office of Naval Research’s Manufacturing Engineering Education Program, MIT has announced it will move to help improve students’ understanding of integrated photonics via the creation of game-based training modules, helping to better prepare learners for jobs in both industry and government. [READ MORE]

Miss last month’s roundup of game-based learning, serious games, and AR/VR in education news? Check out our December 2019 entry here!

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