November 09, 2006

Making Games with Missionmaker

I'm in Dundee today at the Consolarium, the Scottish Centre for Gaming in Education, to find out more about Missionmaker from Immersive Education. Immersive Man, Tim Price-Water, lets us know that this game-making app will be available in about 10 months as a commercial product but interestingly enough this has been borne out of a research project funded by Intel at Oxford University. Kar2ouche is one product from them you might know, to help kids make multimedia 3D 'comics' in French or Spanish. The same high end graphics and play elements are in evidence in Missionmaker and in MediaStage, which featured at the recent TeachMeet06 and which David's covered in his current Booruch podcast.

When we talk about social media we often talk about how kids get it and digital immigrants don't. The same is true of these 3D worlds and game-making ventures. So Immersive's aims are more than most companies stretch to - they want teachers, too, to see that these fun 'games' are highly educational. They don't want teachers to think that gaming is just another flash in the pan and use the messages in Prensky and Johnson: the plot lines in today's games, the interactions that kids enter into with modern games are so much more complex than the plots of 1970s TV like Starsky and Hutch. Why, then, is there educational value questioned so much?

So is game-making just a flash in the pan? Certainly not. Just think about the aims of the ZX Spectrum and the BBC Micro - they were educational tools based around games for learning. Oh, it beings back those Saturday afternoons in rainy Dunoon doing all those 48k programmes...

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As probably the only non-gamer in the same session as Ewan, Tim - our teacher - keeps looking at me whenever he uses words such as 'scepticism' (ie about games in education). Funnily enough, this is an area I am actually fairly uncritical about! I have long been convinced that game-playing (in all senses, both in the physical and virtual worlds) should be a central component of any any philosophy of learning. I'm only a 'non-gamer' because I've never been particularly good at them.

So, the concept of 'games literacy' interests me - the focus on areas such as narrative, representation, freedom, choice - these are all key to the fundamental justification for using gaming in education.

You can see some uses of Mission Maker in Shropshire by viewing our blog http://missionmaker.ethink.org.uk

Can't vouch for his because I only just found out about it a couple of days ago but this http://www.fablusi.com/ is a link to a free resource to design educational games which is available right now.

"Scottish Centre for Gaming in Education" is a phrase that only matches this blog in google - any ideas how I could find out more anyone?

LTS will soon be launching much more detail about its aims and missions and my colleague, Derek Robertson, has been working to put things together. He's over at hotmilkydrink.typepad.com

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About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is a teacher, speaker and investor, regarded as one of Europe’s foremost experts in digital media for public services.

His company, NoTosh Limited, invests in tech startups and film on behalf of public and private investors, works with those companies to build their creative businesses, and takes the lessons learnt from the way these people work back into schools and universities across the world.

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Do you worry that your school or district could better harness its people, digital technology or physical space? Do you want some actionable inspiration, a mentor for a learning journey with your staff?

In a keynote or masterclass we can give them concrete ideas based on experience, enthusiasm fired by a vision of what can be, and backup before and after to make it happen for them.

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