Delve into the reality of virtual online worlds at the Online Game Developers Conference.
My advisor is submitting a proposal to talk about cross-functional teams, which is on the usage side of the topic, so I am hoping that similar talks will address the uses - particularily educational - of online games and worlds.
For more information, check the ODGC website periodically. At the moment, they do not have anyone other than the keynote speaker listed (a woman, btw, which is unusual given the stereotype of male developers....), but I assume the agenda and speakers will be listed by March.
Mini-games are small video games, usually distributed online, that are easy to play in a short amount of time. They have been used most typically in advertising (Volvo) or getting across a political message (Howard Dean's campaign in Iowa).
Here is a cute concept used by Nintendo to organize a collection of mini-games with a similar, unifying story: Mission in Snowdrift Land.
This is cute advertising, and not terribly intrusive at that, but the real reason to share it is to point out how a semester's collection of concepts and practice games could be grouped in a unified way.
Think about a set of games used to illustrate how to organize a kindergarten or pre-school setting should be run. Or how to cope with on the job problems such as racism, information confidentiality, or sexual harassment.
We do not need to invest hundreds of hours in programming time, although we may need to sharpen our story-telling skills, to make engaging games.
Think about how you organize a semester's course. What is the unifying theme? Can you make it fun??
Virtual worlds and online multiplayer games have been around in some fashion or other since the mid-1970s. One man (and friends) now boldly choose to document this history at Virtual Worlds Timeline
This project will be interesting to follow as it gets off the ground. Documenting historical events in virtual space presents unique challenges of data collection, access and quality as well as examining the biases inherent in people's perspectives.
For anyone interested in historical research in a new medium, a chance to test theories of practice if I ever saw one, this is something to watch!