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       Totem's top 10 serious games    Who doesn’t love a list?!  The team here at Totem Learning have been discussing our all-time favourite Games for Learning, or Serious Games (not to be confused with Gamification). It’s a really interesting subject we want to share with you all!  It was very difficult narrowing down our favourite games to just ten. How can you compare a game like ‘Americas Army’, an army simulation game boasting prestigious awards such as “Guinness World Record for ‘Most Downloaded War Game’ 2009” and the eagerly awaited, ‘Code Spells’ which teaches Coding in an immersive magical landscape? They deal with two very different subjects and have different goals. But after lots of ‘umm’s and ‘aah’s we have collated a list together (with no real order) to share with you accompanied with the promise to explore all the genre has to offer in greater depth in the coming weeks.     Re-Mission     A third person shooter developed by HopeLab with direct input from medical staff and young cancer sufferers. It teaches children in remission about their treatments and the importance of their follow up care in a unique and informative way. It’s been a huge success! Achieving its goal with such success a sequel has even been released boasting even further successes such as winning ‘the Parents’ Choice Gold Award’.       

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


            Free Rice     An incredibly worthwhile game that everybody should play as often as they can. This game educates players on various subjects while simultaneously helping those most vulnerable.  It has accomplished so much since its release, late 2007; over 98,117,454,870 grains of rice have been donated to those in need through this simple multiple choice game.     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


       Food Force    A contender for the most downloaded game in the Serious Game genre and a sequel co-developed with Konami; this game teaches the importance of food nutrition.     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


       
           Nightmare: Malaria     Educating players on malaria while simultaneously working towards the end of the, completely preventable, disease; this game is challenging, both in gameplay and emotionally, with an impressively beautiful art style.       

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


          September 12th      A simple, yet profound game! Straight to the point; Shoot or Don’t. Very few games have achieved the level of impact this game has and none to our knowledge in such a short time frame. If you make the choice to ‘play’ the game you quickly realise how impulsive action only brings you further away from your goal.     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


        DragonBox     Secretly teaching children Algebra! DragonBox proudly boasts teaching 83% of children the basics of algebra in under an hour of game play. What results! This game had to make the list. If you check out the reviews on the Play Store adults are raving about the game. There’s been some obvious competition between parents and children to play the app too!     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


        The Leadership Game     Shameless Promotion! Our leadership game has been used by all sorts of people in managerial professions, including Football Management teams and CEO’s. It is currently undergoing a complete upgrade with some really interesting and innovative mechanics accompanied by beautiful graphics being included in the new release.       

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


          Typing of the Dead       
        
        
        Fighting off Zombies while learning to type; an inspired combination! Lovers of the zombie genre will find endless hours of entertainment playing this touch-typing game.     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


        Grace’s Diary     Gorgeous graphics, simple gameplay, abusive relationships- this game deals with this sensitive issue effectively, providing players with the necessary skills to recognise abusive relationships (whether their own or a friends') and information on how best approach the situation.     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


        The Business Game     More Shameless Promotion! But we believe in our products and we know their merit so no apologies from us! This simulation game teaches great business and enterprising skills regardless of age or experience. The aim is to turn a profit and run a successful business, adjusting constantly to the market for three virtual years. Players will have to be adaptable and forward thinking to beat the game, it’s a real challenge! You can always message us for a free trial and try it for yourself; but be warned the Yellow Robin Reliant!     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     There are so many exceptional games in this innovative and ever-progressing genre; this list is just a taster! Serious Games are used to educate on so many issues it would be folly to think this list is conclusive. It is just a scratch on the surface! In the coming weeks, we will be going into the different applications Serious Games have been used for and feature the top ten of those categories.   In the meantime let us know your favourites! We would love to hear your views too, tweet us @teamtotem or use #TL10

TOTEM'S TOP 10 SERIOUS GAMES

Who doesn’t love a list!

The team here at Totem Learning have been discussing our all-time favourite Games for Learning, or Serious Games. It’s a really interesting subject we want to share with you all! 

       Totem's top 10 serious games for 'Earth Day'    It was Earth Day Wednesday - Who took the Google Quiz and what did you get? Be honest! I got a ‘Woolly Mammoth’, ‘So unique, you're technically extinct. But on the bright side, scientists hope to be able to clone you some day’.  As promised we are bringing you another list collating together ten serious games out there on the market. Last week we brought you the list  Totem’s Top Ten Games for Learning , this week can you guess the theme?  It’s Environmentally Aware Games!  To kick it off we are going to start with a serious game that has a ‘Call to Action’ built in making it (almost) unavoidable to not get involved in the issue of Fracking.     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


         Frackman  - Drilling under homes and fracking for gas to make a profit- at times action eat into profits but the costs to the community are a much bigger deal. The game play is limited but if you want to take a second shot at it Team Giraffe have built in a ‘Call to Action’ which sends the player to an online petition calling for the ban of fracking under homes- a hot issue at the moment with Mark Ruffalo publicly calling on the Government to ban all kinds of Fracking. Good intentions and useful links for further reading, but  What the Frack  is the game to play if you are serious about learning more on the issue. It’s very wordy but very informative and you are free to choose the outcome, good or bad.            

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


                 Rhino Raid  – I really enjoyed this one! A rhino out for revenge on the poachers who have mercilessly taken his beloved. Really captivating graphics coupled with simple but addictive gameplay.  It has entertainment value without compromising on its aim; there’s plenty of information to absorb in just a short period of play. Flint Sky Interactive have even made it really simple to find out more and donate from the game  .           

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


            Climate Defence  – Not the most captivating or motivational game, it gives the player a brief look at the real struggle of slowing down climate change.  An unbeatable game (unless you cheat), on ‘Real’ mode there is no way to win, driving home the extent of the damage done to our planet. Facts pop up offering further information on climate change and its effective but lacks depth. It is informative but if links to external related sources were incorporated it would make for a better educational experience.                

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
               Oilgarchy   
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


              Oiligarchy     – On to oil! At first glance (I thought) this game was an easy play through and hadn’t much to offer. But boy was I wrong! It is a really controversial play; weighted choices like ‘prompting a homeland attack’ or ‘declaring war on Iraq’ are easily made, your focus is on profit not people! Environmental issues: from destroying the local wildlife and villages to issues such as the harmful gases speeding up climate change are touched on too. This is a very pointed game despite its simplistic, colourful art style and the initial impression it might give.             

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


                Human Footprint Interactive    – Better to think of this as an educational tool. Found on the National Geographic site, it offers up some interesting individual information such as the amount of chickens needed to sustain your lifetime egg intake. – Fun Fact, ‘Ireland’s annual harvest supplies a lifetime of potatoes for 91,000 Americans’.  Planet Food  is very similar, awarding players badges for completing different tasks; growing awareness of the food we eat; more interactive and offering a wider range of avenues to discover, a great way to grow individual awareness.          

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


           Earth Hour    - A really sweet game with a very simple objective; ‘turn off the lights’. It was created for WWF as part of the ‘Earth Hour’ initiative which takes place globally on the last Saturday of March every year. There is a ‘Call to Action’ located below the game which gives the player more information on the effects of climate change and there is also a ‘Donate’ button for WWF.            

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
               Fraxinus - Played on Facebook   
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


            Fraxinus –Play this on Facebook and seek revenge on your friends for all those ‘Candy Crush’ and ‘Farmville’ notifications. This game is just as fun and addictive but a heck of a lot more productive! Working out the sequences and ‘stealing’ them from other players all while helping scientists (actual real-life, white coat wearing scientists) develop a cure for the Chalara fungus; a disease that has the potential to wipe-out 90-95% of Britain and Irelands Ash trees, a colossal figure when you consider Ash is the third most common tree in Britain! – If this is a cause you are passionate about then I really recommend looking into  BIFOR    and the work they are doing. For those of you who enjoy walks in the countryside and want to do your part saving the trees too,  Tree Health Survey  is an App which allows users to report issues of disease in trees to the appropriate Government Officials.            

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


              Citizen Science  – The ‘Steward’, foretold to save the local lake from becoming too polluted to swim in, time travels to gain a better understanding of the actions which resulted in the polluted lake. It is aimed at a young audience but there’s an important lesson we can all take to heart; each one of us have a role to play in building a better, more environmentally friendly world. ‘Citizen Science’ the term itself is a worldwide movement where individuals do what they can to progress the research of scientists into various environmental solutions, like the ‘Tree Health Survey’ and ‘Fraxinus’.  Zooniverse  is a huge database of Citizen Science projects with a range that caters for every interest.           

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


             Plan It Green  -        A building sim; the aim is to give an old energy sucking town a newer greener facelift. As Mayor there are a range of factors to consider when building; this game incorporates alternate energy solutions like solar powered houses, wind farms, even hydro plants! It was enjoyable and an easy play. Sim City EDU (only for teachers and students), Electro City (a more challenging play), IBM CityOne (choose to either the environmental route or a corporate route, makes for an interesting selection of players) – are just a few more titles in the building sim category with an environmentally aware aspect.             

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


                        Flower  – It’s always good to take a little time and appreciate the world around us. If everyone did this, who knows, maybe all these other issues we’ve discussed wouldn’t be issues! This game is really beautiful. It is tranquil, calming and very spiritual. Playing as the wind, flower petals are collected resulting in a whirlwind of beauty where each blade of grass moves independently! This game is gorgeous but it is more than just a simple pleasure for your senses (it has a great sound track too), it encourages a need in the player to actually go out into the real world and appreciate all it has to offer. This game is raved about by avid gamers and non-gamers alike. A nice little positive to round off a content heavy list!          There are so many games out there that focus on real issues, educating people of all age groups and motivating people into action, this is just a drop in the ocean of what’s on offer ( there’s games for that too). It is well worth the exploration and there are some real gems that provide great ways to get involved!     Here at Totem Learning, we have been busy doing our bit too!  Is IT Green , is the Serious Game which will equip players with the knowledge and skills to make their business energy efficient and save money in the process.     Nicky Rhodes our resident 3D and 2D Artist has been working diligently on this project. She has recorded her process and methods for any aspiring artists to learn from and we are delighted to announce they will be released on our blog very soon. Not to be missed by artists at any stage of their career, there’s sure to be something to learn for all – talking of which did you see Chris Chadwick’s post on  the Golden Ratio ?     Remember you can get involved on the discussion of your favourite Serious Games and candidates for future Totem Top Tens by using the hashtag #TL10 on twitter!

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TOTEM'S TOP 10 SERIOUS GAMES FOR 'EARTH DAY'

The second in Totem's Top Ten Serious Games Series. This blog is all about games that address environmental issues. 

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       Halloween Special: Scary Serious Games!     It’s Halloween and we’ve been thinking about ghouls and ghosts and the whole horror gaming genre and how that has been leveraged in the Serious Games world.   Here are a few Serious Games that sprung to mind:  Nevermind     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              Image from www.nevermindgame.com with thanks   
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


     This game which is being developed by Flying Molusk uses BioFeedback technology to detect your heart rate, so that the game dynamically responds to your fear or anxiety:  “Nevermind is a biofeedback-enhanced adventure horror game that takes you into the dark and twisted world of the subconscious.  As you explore surreal labyrinths and solve the puzzles of the mind, a biofeedback sensor will monitor how scared or stressed you become moment-to-moment. If you let your fears get the best of you, the game will become harder. If you’re able to calm yourself in the face of terror, the game will be more forgiving.  Nevermind strives to create a haunting gameplay experience that also teaches you how to be more aware of your internal responses to stressful situations. If you can learn to control your anxiety within the disturbing realm of Nevermind, just imagine what you can do when it comes to those inevitable stressful moments in the real world…” www.nevermindgame.com  See the  website  for a video and more information  Typing of the Dead     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              Image from www.thisisozone.com  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


     In a nutshell, rather than shooting zombies in this game, players must type out words or phrases to kill them. The words or phrases which appear in a box increase in complexity as the game progresses.  Despite being a learning game, this game received huge praise for its humour and originality from mainstream critics. Here’s a  video  of the original, although further versions have been released since.  Zombies, Run!     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     This falls into the camp of health games. It is a mobile game that works with GPS.  From their website  www.zombiesrungame.com   “Zombies, Run! works anywhere and at any speed. We immerse you in an action-packed game and story mixed with your own music, whether you're jogging in a park, running along a trail, walking to work, or even running on treadmills.  And if you want a serious workout, turn on thrilling zombie chases that force you to speed up to escape the hordes!”  Here’s the  trailer  for Zombies, Run! 3:      Its known that using emotion of all kinds (even fear) can enhance the learning experience, helping to make the learning more ‘sticky’ and create those memory hooks, not to mention making the game more exciting and engaging. At Totem Learning we’ve taken inspiration from the horror game genre – for example by using certain mechanics to create a sense of claustrophobia in our game about the danger of enclosed spaces on board cargo ships (with GUI inspired by The Walking Dead!), and using paranoia and fear in a concept that we worked up for a multiplayer game that tests strengths in a variety of 21st Century skills: the Phoenix Project (for the trailer video click  here )     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              The 'Gateway' hospital in Phoenix Project  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


     A final point that I can’t omit on the subject of scary serious games is the Uncanny Valley. Animated avatars abound for role plays and interactions in the world of serious games – but have you ever seen games in which the characters (unintentionally) look terrifying? The uncanny valley hypothesis explains this:- as a simulated human (e.g. robot or 3D computer animation)  becomes more realistic the response is that of revulsion as we notice the differences. The below chart illustrates the point and a great video by Extra Credits on what this means for games can be found  here      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


    

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              Repliee Q2 an Actroid developed by Osaka University and unveiled in 2003  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


     If you know of other scary serious games, we'd love to hear about them @teamtotem

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HALLOWEEN SPECIAL: SCARY SERIOUS GAMES!

It’s Halloween and we’ve been thinking about ghouls and ghosts and the whole horror gaming genre and how that has been leveraged in the Serious Games world.

Here are a few Serious Games that sprung to mind:

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