daze before christmas

Christmas Games!!

December is here. Christmas season is around. People are starting to get crazy at the malls, Cartoon Network does not stop advertising the most “amazing” toys for kids. Ohhh yeah, I can sense consumerism in the air.  Ohh well, I also need to buy a couple of gifts. Sadly, I’m part of the crowd. But you know… who cares??? Anyhow, that’s another topic.

Most of the people are waiting sooooo badly for all these cheesy Christmas specials on TV… or maybe some movies. C’mon! I cannot pretend, I love  “The Snowman.” Absolutely amazing!!! But.. have you EVER, yes, EVER wondered about Christmas related video games? Ohh yeah!!! They exist, they are around… they are part of our life. We cannot just ignore them! There are not that many, some totally suck, others are ok. These are few games that came to my mind or that I have played.

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Thesis avaiable online

Great news! My thesis is officially accepted and avaiable online. It is my pleasure to share it with all of you!!

Title:  “Using Commercial Games to Support Teaching in Higher Education.”

URL: http://spectrum.library.concordia.ca/978973/

I really appreciate your support all these years. Now it is time to move on and expand my horizons :)

pudgy

Betty Boop!

Last fall, I had the chance to teach a course in “Animation and Video Games History.”  It was an amazing experience, I learned a lot about two of my  favorite hobbies: games and animation.  Among others, I re-discovered one my favorite cartoon characters of all time: Betty Boop. I’m sure you know her, but.. have you actually seen any of her cartoons? (besides her awesome cameo in Who framed Roger Rabbit?)

Some background about her.  During the late 20s and 30s, the animated world was ruled by Walt Disney. Mickey Mouse’s “Steamboat Willy” was released in 1928; the first “Silly Symphonies” in 1929 and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937. The role of female characters in most of these cartoons was quite clichée. For example, Minnie Mouse represents the typical female and fragile character. Her main role is to be mostly an companion of Mickey Mouse. Most of the animation at this time was following this same recipe.

Max Fleischer, creator of Betty Boop, decided to break the standards proposing animations more experimental and innovative. For instance, we have Koko the Clown and a series of cartoons called Talkartoons.  From the last ones, in Dizzy Dishes, a different character was born: Betty Boop.

Originally, she was a dog. The main reason was because, as a dog, she would be more appealing to the main character, Bimbo. Eventually, Betty Boop had some transformations until she became as we know her. For instant, her dog-ears became her earrings. From the start, Betty Boop was an icon of sensuality; this was quite controversial. However, behind her sensuality, there is a very kind, caring and innocent personality.

Through her episodes, we can see a lot of variety. Some of them, such as Snow White, are more experimental. This short is heavily influenced by innovative animation techniques, for instance, some characters transform from one thing to another (metamorphosis). Others shorts had pretty cool 3D effects, an example of this is House Cleaning Blues. Max Fleischer used the multiplane camera technique to reach this effect.  Other episodes were more family oriented. Examples of this are Baby be Good and Betty and Grampy.

There is a lot of history behind this character. If you haven’t had the chance, I really encourage you to check out some of her episodes.

 

games

Thesis

My doctoral thesis, “Using Commercial Games for Teaching at a Higher Education Level”, is about to be published. The process is a bit slow; it should be online before the end of the year.

As a preview… this is my abstract. Thank you for your patience.

Using Commercial Games to Support Teaching in Higher Education

Commercial games are those that are distributed primarily for entertainment. Because of their immersive and engaging characteristics, they are often used as teaching tools in Higher Education. However, it is not clear exactly how faculty members incorporate the games to their courses. This study analyzes the way commercial video games are used as an instructional tool in Higher Education.

This study took a qualitative multiple-case approach. Three cases were studied pertaining to the games Minecraft, World of Warcraft, and SimCity. Fourteen faculty members who have used commercial video games as part of their courses were interviewed. Courses’ syllabi, calendars, and descriptions of assignments were also considered.

Results of this study show that participants are influenced by their experience, personal and research interests, perceptions, and popularity of the games. Participants used the games as different types of media such as video, virtual environments or simulations. Participants tended to choose the game first, then figured out the pedagogy.  They integrated the games at different levels: to illustrate something, as an object of study, as a context for class related activities, as a production tool, and as a context to apply theory. Overall, participants’ experiences using the games for teaching was positive but the majority only used games to support the teaching of lower order thinking skills and many did not proceed with game play according to pedagogical practices recommended by education specialists. Opportunities and limitations were specific to each game with the exception of technical issues and lack of informational resources on how to play the games.

Keywords: video games for learning, video games for teaching, Higher Education, Minecraft, World of Warcraft, SimCity, Commercial off-the-shelf video games, COTS

 

 

 

 

Emotional Games?

I was playing a couple months ago “To the moon”… what a great game! quite emotional.

That made me think about few other “emotional games.” They may not be emotional for everybody.. but for me, they were :)

  • To the moon
  • Botanicula
  • Braid
  • Dragon’s Age Origins
  • Limbo
  • Journey
  • Passage

Do you have any other suggestions?

 

Meeting report from IGDA’s Montreal meeting “Prototype: A Developer’s Best Friend” is ready.

Report: Prototype: A Developer’s Best Friend

By Salvador Garcia-Martinez

On April 24, we had a very interesting and motivating presentation by Simon Darveau, creative director of Spearhead Games and previously working extensively on the Assassin’s Creed franchise and other games at Ubisoft. The main goal of this presentation was to introduce the audience to the integration of effective prototyping during the game’s development process.

Simon started talking about his experience prototyping games, kindly shared a number of tips to integrate prototyping in the game development process, and finally answered some questions from the audience.

 

Invitation to participate in my research study about using commercial games for teaching in HigherEd

Do you teach in higher education (College, community college, or university, Cegep (in Quebec))?
Do you use one of these games in your teaching?
• World of Warcraft
• Minecraft
• Any of the Civilization series
• Any of The Sims series

If so, would you be willing to share your experiences of integrating the games into your teaching for my dissertation study?

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Player Telemetry: Tech Solutions for Tracking (notes from IGDA Montreal Roundtable)

“Player Telemetry: Tech Solutions for Tracking”
Moderator: Thiery Adam – Producer, Ludia

Sub-Topics:

  • Pros and cons of different third party telemetry tech solutions
  • Challenges to cross-platform player telemetry.
  • Tricks to both optimize telemetry traffic and still get all the information you need.

Discussion Notes: (Notes taken by Salvador Garcia-Martinez)

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Cargo-bot

Thanks to my colleague Will Robinson this week I discovered a very interesting game for iPad: Cargo-Bot.

Cargo-Bot is a puzzle game where you teach a robot how to move crates. You have to ‘program’ a robot/crane in order to properly place boxes. With the help of loops and conditional variables it is possible to create different solutions for the same program. The game rewards players for creating the most efficient method. This game was programmed entirely on an ipad using Codea, which is a visual code-editor is built on Lua, a lightweight programming language.

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