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Request For Information - Game Based eLearning

by Eric Preisz · 07/23/2013 (9:36 am) · 28 comments

Request for Information

Back in March, I wrote about GarageGames’ big picture. When you visit, you will learn a lot about Torque 3D and Torque 2D, but there’s a lot more going on “under the hood”. One project, GarageGames Services, is building a cornerstone for bigger and better things.

We started GarageGames Services In January of 2012 to diversify our business and build stability. It’s been 18 months since then and we’ve been fortunate to land several contracts with Microsoft, Disney, a large College, and others. This work is challenging, rewarding, and in many cases, quite purposeful (i.e. in one project, a goal is to train individuals in 3rd world countries how to use computers).

The winds of change are blowing in higher education and the result has been a lot of interest in integration of games into the classroom and online portals. Several of our projects over the past eighteen months resulted from this interest and with some solid past-performance under our belt, we are looking to grow this area of focus.

But we can’t do it alone and we are looking for your help. To find the resources we need, we are publishing an inquiry to help us locate contractors and teams who have experience in specific domains. For those of you who have never heard of an RFI, it stands for a Request for Information. Basically, it’s a formal way of asking other companies to introduce themselves to your company. Please share this document with teams or individuals who you think fit the profile. And if you are interested in a full time position, please keep an eye on our job board for open positions that are coming.

You can download the RFI by clicking the button below.

About the author

Manager, Programmer, Author, Professor, Small Business Owner, and Marketer.

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07/23/2013 (12:58 pm)
Really awesome to see GG involved in the field of education!

I always thought that interactivity was the ultimate tool for learning, looks like the world is finally ready to embrace the concept wholeheartedly.
07/23/2013 (1:44 pm)
@Simon - The work we've done has had some limited testing in the field and the early numbers look like games have a positive effect on student engagement. And even though I played my share of Oregon Trail many, many, years ago in a classroom, I think it's still the early days for interactive software in education. It's quite challenging and I think that game studios and educational institutions have a lot to learn from each other.
07/23/2013 (2:35 pm)
Back in the Mid-2000's, when I was working as a training and education software developer for a college, we used to do interactive training programs for small to mid-sized industries. Everything from a business that produced playground equipment to a company that did 'powder coating' for auto parts. The feedback we got even back then from those projects, was really decent. From initial database records, the more game like we made the assorted simulations and training the more information seemed to be retained by the participants. In fact, in some of the industries, the program trainers found that the level of 'competition' went up and encouraged trainees to improve as they went, (it was believed to be based on a 'score' system we did in many of the sims.)

Glad to see GG is helping spread the word! Keep up the good work.

07/23/2013 (4:26 pm)
Kids can be fun to work with. I loved teaching robotics to kids in grade school. I found the most success when I taught them the principles of how the stuff works and let them apply that knowledge. My favorite experience with that was when the kids had designed a system that used light sensors to control their robot. Everything worked before the contest they were participating in. However, at the time of the contest it stopped working. One of the kids realized that they were wearing white shirts (contest shirts) and that it was causing the light sensors to reflect to the sensor too much. So she got a darker over shirt and it worked perfectly after that. The only reason she understood that was because we talked about how lighter objects reflect visible light better than darker objects. It was the principle she learned and applied. That was really an awesome moment to watch the kids move beyond their knowledge and apply it real world. Game environments can provide that kind of real world feedback in a way that is just not possible with pen and paper.
07/23/2013 (4:37 pm)

So true. Good on you for taking the time to work with these kids. America is very far behind when it comes to S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) education, and I truly LOVE hearing about others that try to show how all of this is both practical and fun. Much respect and thanks to you and your efforts. Keep up the good work!

(oh yeah... one other thing.... Aliens? mass consumption of alcohol... LOL....... Pretty sure I was sitting next you YOU in that spaceship Brother!) LOL!

07/23/2013 (4:54 pm)
That is one of the reasons I am pursuing writing a game. I want to create a game that will inspire kids to interact with the real world. I used to play Tony Hawk Skateboarding games a few years ago. Those inspired me to actually get back into Inline Skating and I started skating aggressive inline skating. It is so much better to fly out of a real half pipe than it is to do it in game. The game inspired the action though.

After playing minecraft for the last 2 to 3 months I am now completely changing the direction of what I want to create. Minecraft is one of the gems that really pushes you to think and be creative in a good way. I want to do something similar except have it really talk to the real world. Almost a virtual reality interaction type game that can control or be controlled by real world devices. Except the kids/adults will be able to build/buy their own devices. A lot on what I want to do is still up in the air, but I am going to get a good feel for the gameplay in the next 90 days. In addition I thought I would blog about my prototype so people can follow the development from idea to reality.

What is funny is what I want to do (except for the sim) is similar in concept to industrial process control. There will be an HMI of sorts with various ways to control in and out of game devices. If a kid wants to hook up a temperature sensor to an Arduino and have the game read that to do something in game then they will be able to. Create a brother alarm system that sends them an email on their phone when he is in his room? We could do that too. Want to have an exercise machine control in game movement? The focus will be software on my side, but I will provide a community driven hardware effort in addition. I am betting on the fact that: if you build it, they will play.
07/23/2013 (5:18 pm)

That sounds awesome man. I have learned a great deal about the true 'value' behind alternate controllers. (Thanks, Dave Wyand for changing my old mind) Your ideas concerning exercise machines and things of that nature, is (IMO) spot on. I too am a HUGE proponent of "build it and they will come". Sounds like you have some GREAT ideas. I will continue to follow your progress. It all sounds exciting and way ahead of my meager attempts. (see... you were on table 1 of the alien craft, so you got all the cool programming and system stuff.... I just got the pretty pictures and a basic understanding of code and scripts... By the way, Dan Webb was on the next table (I saw him... really I did!) he got a bit of my stuff and a whole ton of 'lesser known but HUGELY important' tricks... :-).

07/23/2013 (5:27 pm)
This is an interesting field to get in to and very exciting to improve education.

Back in 2006 I made this educational multiplayer FPS, called Silence of the Terminals (SOTT) using TGE 1.4.2 (and a version was made which had bots too and prettier stuff but that was never released):

It was used at some Australian TAFE's and I believe in New Zealand and a University in America. Can't remember which one I integrated some questions for.

Some of the cool stuff was, you could set what category the questions for the server was (eg. C++ or XHTML/CSS or chemistry) or you could let players choose what they studied.

And as they progressed in the multiplayer game (it was a CTF game type) the questions got harder for that player.

Also the further they got they unlocked powerups for their team.

It was fairly popular with students (made for mature students 15+ I suppose, but mainly for 18+). But some teachers wanted more questions etc, but I thought they were pushing for too much and that ruined the fun. I remember students in other classes playing it and having to figure out the answers to something they weren't in a class for. And that is what I thought it was, trying to get the educational part in under the radar, the fun factor needs to be greater.

This was actually one of the quickest games I've made and was the only one I have actually given out for people to play and made public.
07/23/2013 (7:25 pm)
One of my exams in Object Oriented Programming back then was an old rogue style game and I had to implement an AI for the monsters and the hero. It was very fun and not another boring class. I actually felt it was fun to take that exam :o)

07/23/2013 (7:28 pm)
Wow, I find it interesting that SO many of us have had past experience with such a 'new' field. Very telling. (can someone say 'tech catches up with intent?') Heck, one of my old projects dealt with VR, (spray painting auto parts in a virtual world) This was WAY prior to Rift. Dealt with headsets, and three 'poles' that tracked where the 'user' was virtually standing in a room. Funny to see all this Rift stuff now when the actual tech has not changed much, just more affordable.

07/23/2013 (7:55 pm)
LOL! Nice add on to the whole abduction thing. But between you and me, I think Dan Webb was actually driving the ship. Did you notice the strange tattoos on his arm. Definitely alien tattoo design. I mean who puts a crop circle tattoo on their arm. Then under the tattoo was marks like when you mark off the days in prison. I can only guess that was the number crop circles he had made. This is all making sense now. He definitely has some really good 3D spacial awareness and a strong feel for how terrains should look...from the sky...

@Dan Webb,
I have my eye on you... :|

@Dwarf King,
I think if someone did a very detailed rogue type game and used an engine like Mindcraft people would never stop playing. Heck one could even just do a front end to those code bases and really have something. Have to watch licenses though. Have you played the LOTR based Rogue type game? It is awesome and really hard.
07/23/2013 (8:04 pm)
@Demolishun - What? I love the idea of using Torque to educate. In fact, while I'm posting here (damn you, Frank!!!), I recall that in circa 2005 a university in England used the origiinal CryEngine to teach their students human biology. Now, I'm out.
07/23/2013 (10:53 pm)
@Demo : Minecraft is a great example of the hardest trick to pull off : Enticing players to learn something without forcing it down their throats. Minecraft looked innocent enough at first but really helped me reawaken my artistic side and made me fall in love with design in general.

The games that manage to convey the passion of a field (like Tony Hawk for skateboarding / skating) to its users are the most worthwhile games in my opinion.

I was raised in French (Montreal!) and I distinctly remember playing the Sierra Games with a dictionary by my side. It wasn't just about figuring out the puzzles, it was about learning what words described what things and how verbs and adjectives modified the meaning of other words. That's why I find it shameful that modern AAA games lack this diversity, that sense of wonder for things other than guns and guts and stealth kills.

When I replay those old Sierra adventures today, it's hard to get lost into these tiny digital worlds anymore. Seen from a game-maker's perspective, it's pretty obvious where the map ends, what the game wants me to do, etc. But the passion of their creators made me choose the path of game development.

Damn, now I have to fire up DosBox again...
07/24/2013 (2:33 am)
One of my favorite all time games was mines of Moria. I also got much better at dos scripting so I could make it so I could undo a mistake in game. A lot of the Nethack games do not allow you to save a game. You screw up and that was it.
07/24/2013 (9:24 am)
Quote:Have you played the LOTR based Rogue type game?


No sadly not, I might have to google it then :o)
07/24/2013 (9:20 pm)
I just wanted to check in and say thanks for the updates and posts. Today I sent a letter to several thousand educators regarding our recent work. There is a lot of support, well wishes, and potential leads. Thanks again everyone!
07/25/2013 (10:26 am)
I've been working on a project to develop a game to teach a foreign language to players, hopefully in an unobtrusive way so that the game is immersive and the language skills become part of the game. Pretty certain this has been done before but I'm only doing it for my own interest. Basically it is a FPS game with 2 players or teans of two where the players collaborate on a variety of missions. This is done by passing instructions and warning to the player in the field. At the most basic level the player in the supporting role has a mini-map and is given verbal instruction as to where the player on the ground should go, they then press what they believe is the correct button for that instruction and the player on the ground receives the message verbally and then chooses what he bellieves is the correct button to avoid a trap etc. Misunderstandings on either side have consequences. The game has several scenarios setup to teach different aspects of language. The first one which is here (sorry it's unity only because I have been working on a project with that engine). Mome of these are particularly good and far from bug free as I'm only testing them and changing stuff when I have free time and not using them as showcases so please forgive the obvious
for anyone who wants a look. It is in early stages, lacks the player and creatures and anything really to even imbue it with fun. Of course the sound files are all temp TTS stuff, but it gives a feel for the dungeon level which in essence is just a maze of traps and cretaures and needs ot be negotiated carefully. Other missions play more normally with 360 control and normal play for the player on the ground.

I was also messing about with simple screens for a vocabulary builder as well. I did start on a sentence structure screen similar to the selection game idea (builder 2) but I've had to sideline all these because I'm too busy. But there is a lot that can be done with games in education, the problem that ahs always existed is it is fairly difficult to create a game which is so immersive the player is unaware that they are actually learning. I'm hoping when I get the time that the ideas I had for this FPS may work in just such a way, but early days yet. It's good to see that GarageGames is going into this field.
I've not really used any technologies or whatever for this stuff or have any experience with it other than an interest. So obviously I won't be submitting an RFI but I just wanted to show some of these ideas off as I'm often on garagregames website and have the engines and quite a few stuff and the next project using the pre-open source Torque 2D so I was pleased to see this post. Got carried away a bit I suppose.
07/26/2013 (3:09 am)
That is really cool. I could see a full commercial app using such techniques in a game to really make learning a language a lot of fun. I also had a naughty thought of the benefits of learning the language in Amsterdam. I know that is a bit racy, but the win-lose scenarios could be epic. Thanks for sharing a really cool use of learning by immersion.
07/26/2013 (6:39 am)
@Demolishun, unfortunately virtually all the Dutch speak perfect English so it's a pretty transparent excuse, but then who needs excuses to visit Amsterdam.
As regards the language teaching stuff, not really certain there is even a market there for it, a lot of people like more traditional methods, but then maybe it would work. I remember a Cuban guy telling me he actually learned English from the lyrics in American songs because he loved the music so much he wanted to know the meaning of the words, so anything is possible I suppose if one finds something enjoyable enough. Some ideas don't always work though they just need to be explored. I'm fairly certain the dungeon level will not work that well and will have to be abandoned or at the very least a radical rethink to remove this sort of stop and go gameplay it has at the moment. Oh, well, early days.
07/26/2013 (7:37 pm)
Quote:I remember a Cuban guy telling me he actually learned English from the lyrics in American songs because he loved the music so much he wanted to know the meaning of the words
Oh dear God no! I wonder what the translation for Bruce Springsteen was? Probably resulted in some really bad slang. That is cool that someone could learn a language like that though. Kudos to the Cuban guy!
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