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What’s New in Game-based Learning – November 2021

Be-leaf it or not, the month of turkey, pumpkin pie, and cranberries galore is upon us! And with every new month comes a new installment of What’s New in Game-based Learning, a cornucopia of noteworthy news from all around the world to keep you updated on GBL while you sip that PSL. Let’s get into the news!

via Giphy

Augmented reality will let Western University students swim with sharks (The West Elgin Chronicle)

A Western University biology professor is giving students an up-close and personal look at sharks, à la “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” through augmented reality. Professor Paul Mensink is teaming up with AR platform EXAR Studios “to develop an app that will shrink students to ‘mini-size’ to explore the inside and outside of the long-persecuted basking shark.” Yep, that’s right — the inside and outside! In this app, players can be swallowed by the sharks as they observe them and then journey through their digestive systems. Students shouldn’t let that scare them, however – in addition to giving players a biology lesson, this app’s goal is to demystify the misunderstood basking shark, which is harmless to humans and much prefers munching on plankton. 

Northern uses VR simulation game to improve accessibility (RailAdvent)

A new VR simulation funded by the UK Department for Transport’s Accessibility Transport Research and Innovation Grants and developed by Connected Places Catapult is now in the testing stages! This game is designed to support people with disabilities and travel-related anxiety, making it easier for all to navigate the Northern Railway. The simulation includes “a range of characters with differing accessibility needs and provides varying journey scenarios.” The developers hope to increase public transport accessibility by using VR to raise passenger confidence and familiarity with the Northern railway station. This VR simulation is currently being tested by the Northern Accessibility User Group (NAUG), “[t]he largest pan-disability train company user group / advisory panel in the UK.”

Language Learning Game “Influent” Arrives on iOS This Month (Cinelinx)

We’ve covered Influent here on the blog before, but to recap, this 2014 vocabulary and pronunciation practice game allows players to explore fully rendered 3D environments, where the vocabulary and native pronunciation for nearly every object is accessible with the click of a mouse. This iOS app isn’t the same exact game from 2014, however – it’s gotten some substantial upgrades. Matt Malliaros, writer for Cinelinx, notes that “[t]he mobile version will feature a revamped progress tracking system, Discord integration, and Polish, Welsh, and Dutch language packs.” Previously only available on Steam, Influent was released on iOS devices on October 20, 2021. This app is free and comes with French, Korean, and Italian language packs. Additional language packs are available for purchase at $3.99 each. 

Pending video game based on First Nation’s history (The Sarnia Observer)

To address a lack of public school education on Indigenous history in Ontario, Canada, Aamjiwnaang Chief David Plain and Head of Production at the Online & Digital Education Academy, Ryan Lindsay, are working with Lambton college to create a third-person adventure game tentatively titled, “Three Fires.” The game is going to be based on Plain’s book, “The Plains of Aamjiwnaang: Our History,” and will feature historical figures from Plain’s research into his ancestry. With the game, Plain hopes to make Aamjiwnaang history more widely available to youth: “‘Not a lot of people even from our own community know the true history of how we came to be, where we came from, how we settled in this particular area,’ he said… ‘A lot of our history is oral tradition, and a lot of our youth learn by modern technology.’”

This Video Game Could Help Your Child Manage Anger and Stress (VeryWell Health)

Based on the 1978 arcade game Space Invaders, the Regulate and Gain Emotional Control (RAGE-Control) game uses biofeedback to determine a player’s emotional state and respond in real-time. The more stress the game perceives (through heart rate and other measures) the harder time a player will have with the game mechanics. This encourages players to remain calm. While researching the effects of this system, researchers found that children who played the game with biofeedback had lower heart rates than those who played it without, and “[t]heir caregivers also reported improvements in the child’s anger management and behavior.” It’s important to note that RAGE-Control didn’t necessarily reduce children’s anger, but it did increase their ability to regulate their emotions in healthy ways. Find out more about video games, emotional regulation, and biofeedback research at Mightier, a commercial program for families born out of the RAGE-Control game. 

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