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learning technologies

       Serious Games awards    Here is a list of awards for serious games, its a work in progress so please contact us if you know of any more we can add - or any more detail about submission deadlines for next year's awards...   Games for Change Awards   New York, Applications Closed 2nd March  The Games for Change Awards celebrate the year's best social impact games. There are three categories; Best Gameplay, Most Significant Impact and Most Innovative. Winners are announced at the Games for Change Festival's Awards Ceremony.   Serious Play Conference Awards   Pittsburgh, Deadline for Applications 1st April, Cost $150-350   The Serious Play Conference, now in our 5th year, is a leadership conference for professionals who embrace the idea that games can revolutionize learning. Speakers, who come from all parts of the globe, share their experience creating or using games in the corporation, classroom, healthcare institution, government and military and offer tips on how to move game-based education programs ahead.    German Computer Game Awards (Serious Game Category)   Netherlands, Applications closed 31st January   In the category of Best Serious Game the best Computer Simulation (Serious Game) will be awarded from Germany. Serious Games use technologies from the computer and video game industry, for example, simulation technologies to treat serious issues in a fun way. So you use the motivational and / or entertaining game mechanics for the transfer of skills and knowledge and can be used in education and training. This category can be awarded in other sectors of the economy as an alternative successful examples of playful representation (Gamification) as well as technology transfer from the computer and video game industry. If there is such a distinction, the category is renamed in the respective year in Best Playful representation (Gamification) and Best Technology Transfer. This award is endowed with € 30,000.00.    Serious Play Awards   California, Application Deadline 14th March   The Immersive Learning Research Network (iLRN) is an international organization of developers, educators, and research professionals collaborating to develop the scientific, technical, and applied potential of immersive learning.    The eLearning Awards (Learning Technologies Award Category)   London, Application Deadline 30th September   Celebrating quality, excellence and best practice The Learning and Performance Institute hosts the annual Learning Awards to recognise outstanding examples of high standards, best practice, innovation and excellence in Learning and Development.    The Fun and Serious Game Festival Awards (Serious Game Category)   Spain, Application Deadline TBC but likely to be September 2016   The Fun & Serious Game Festival was established in 2011 to recognise the best fun and serious games of the year and, through them, the work of artists, developers, directors, producers, and all the professionals in the video game industry.    Bilbao (Spain) will be the city of video games thanks to the 5th Fun & Serious Game Festival, which is becoming a leading event in the sector in Europe.    Awards are given to the best video games in entertainment and other industries. The latter are the so-called ‘Serious Games’ using video game technologies in developments for education, health, aerospace, culture and many other sectors.    The awards are meant to debunk stereotypes about video games and give a well-deserved boost to the video game industry.    GALA Conference Awards   Italy, TBC but likely to be October 2016   The GALA Conf SG Awards wants to favor the flourishing of the SGS market by encouraging students, newcomers, amateurs developers and small studio to present their work in a friendly contest. Organized by the Serious Games Society, the awards are based on the judgment of experts of the SGS network.     The experts will evaluate the user experience and the learning effectiveness of the submitted games. Games on any application field are welcome.    Gamification World Awards   Spain, TBC but likely to be October 2016   The Gamification World Awards (GWA) will honor the most outstanding gamification projects of the year and their creators. Awarded by an international Jury, the main goal is to encourage the various agencies/promoters/companies to share their projects in the Gamification World Map. In addition, they are meant to become an annual meeting point for the gamification industry, where the best projects of the year can be recognized.    The Serious Games Showcase and Challenge   Florida, TBC but likely to be September '16   The Serious Games Showcase & Challenge is the premiere venue for recognition of excellence in the field of Serious Games development. The Challenge prides itself on helping foster creativity and innovation in Serious Games since 2006 as part of NTSA's I/ITSEC Conference held in Orlando, FL.    The Brandon Hall Group Excellence in Learning Awards (Learning and Development Category; Best Use of Games and Simulations for Learning)   Florida, Application Deadline 23rd September '16   Now entering its 21st year, the Brandon Hall Group HCM Excellence Awards Program is the most prestigious awards program in the industry.  Often times called the “Academy Awards” by Learning, Talent and Business Executives, the program was one of the first of its kind in the learning industry, which was pioneered in 1994.    The Dutch Game Awards (Serious Game Category)   Netherlands, TBC   The Dutch Game Awards are the professional awards for the Dutch and Flemish gaming industry. On 30 September they are awarded for the eighth time during the Awards Dinner.    The Tech and Learning Awards   TBC likely to be April '16   Tech & Learning's Awards of Excellence program has been recognizing outstanding ed tech products for over 30 years. With a solid reputation in the industry as a long-standing, high-quality program, the AOE recognizes both creative new offerings and significantly updated products that help educators in the business of teaching, training and managing with technology. All entries are given a rigorous test-driving by qualified educators in several rounds of judging. Products are also carefully screened by the T&L editorial team.   Evaluation criteria include the following: quality and effectiveness, ease of use, creative use of technology, and suitability for use in an educational environment.    eLearning Awards - Best Game for Learning Category   London, Application opens March '16 and closes June '16   The E-Learning Awards showcase some of the most recognisable, memorable, and life-changing e-learning worldwide.  They are internationally recognised and open to organisations of all sizes - if you offer outstanding e-learning, then you should be entering the E-Learning Awards!     Independently judged to the highest and most rigorous of standards, there is no greater recognition of your hard work and commitment to e-learning than winning an E-Learning Award.  Reaching the shortlist is really something to shout about. Winning is proof to your, clients, colleagues and rivals that you're at the top of your game – a shining example to the learning and technology world.    Elearning! Learning Champions Award    TBC, likely to be December '16   The first annual Learning! Champion Awards recognizes individuals for exceptional contributions to the industry. Nominees can be innovators, thought-leaders, trail-blazers, mentors, cutting-edge technologists, rookie of the year, creative consultants, or high performing learning leaders that positively impact the learning industry.  Nominate a client, leader or mentor for consideration.    IMGA International Mobile Gaming Awards    EU Applications closed January'16, but applications are open for the IMGA China, Application Deadline September '16   In 2004 games were made for phones with a resolution 176 x 220 pixels and they had to be below 1 MB in size. Now games are running on devices with 2,048 x 1,536 pixels and many games are heavier than 1 GB. The first IMGA had 85 entrants and it took only half a day to judge them. Now, more than 1000 entries are expected and 20 judges will begin pre-judging three weeks before the actual 2-day judging session in France.    Serious Games and Applications for Health - Papers/Demo/Workshops Submission   Florida, TBC but likely to be November'16   It is with great pleasure that we invite you to participate in the 4th International Conference on Serious Games and Applications for Health, IEEE SeGAH 2016, to be held in Orlando, at the Center for Emerging Media, University of Central Florida, from May 11-13, 2016.    Game Developers Choice Awards   San Francisco and France, TBC   The Game Developers Choice Awards are the premier accolades for peer recognition in the digital games industry. Each year, the Choice Awards recognize and celebrate the creativity, artistry and technical genius of the finest developers and games created in the last year.     VS- Games, Paper Submissions      Applications close 25th March'16    VSGames 2016 aims to continue the series’ overall goals of developing and nurturing theoretical and academic rigour in the discussion of serious games and virtual worlds.    JCSG   - Serious Games Papers Submission   Australia, Application Deadline May'16   We invite researchers, developers, practitioners, designers, writers and artists of serious games to submit their work and join us at JCSG 2016. Accepted papers are expected to present high quality material that illustrates the broad range of work in serious games and gamification, with particular interest in best practice and field / case studies, but also underlying theories, models, designs, and artwork. We seek submissions on serious games, supported on, or across, any technology and delivery platforms, including traditional or novel, augmented and virtual reality, mobile and location-based, and transmedia, etc.    IITSEC   Application Deadline November '16   To recognize the impact of individuals and teams upon not only the I/ITSEC Conference but the greater Training, Modeling and Simulation Community, a variety of awards and recognitions have been established. Each has its own method of nomination and award process, please select the specific award for details and history.     Serious Games Conf, CeBIT    TBC   Under the heading Virtual & Other Realities the 9th Serious Games Conference (SGC) focuses on Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and other digital application environments. Since 2015 the SGC also looks at Applied Interactive Technoligies (APITs) and therefore integrates the potentials for the industry 4.0. Consequently the conference approaches sociocultural as well as economic potentials in the field of Serious Games and Gamification.    



Here is a list of awards for serious games, its a work in progress so please contact us if you know of any more we can add - or any more detail about submission deadlines for next year's awards...


       Team Totem 2016    New Year is always a time for looking forward to the year ahead – our team have been discussing what’s on their radar for 2016 and here are some highlights:                 






        PJ (Creative Producer)    2016 will have a heavy focus on VR and AR technologies in the gaming space. However it will be a slow growth process as unit price points, technology processing power and rendering speeds will hamper these technologies in becoming truly ubiquitous in 2016.   That’s not to say that these technologies won’t be hugely profitable for some hardware manufacturers and game developers, as early adopters will always invest in new technologies and new game IP. What will be interesting to see is, the creative use of these technologies and who and which variants of these technologies come out on top.                   






        Helen Routledge (Head of Design and Production)    In 2016 the trend towards understanding the real value in ‘proper’ gaming techniques and mechanics over just slapping badges and scores onto content will continue. The ‘easy’ trend of gamifying content has saturated the market place and we are seeing commissioners of content as well as learners shy away from these cheap tricks to boost short term engagement.   More and more we are hearing that gamified elearning just isn’t ‘doing it’ for learners; many elearning providers have replaced the classic next button with a dice graphic – it still performs the same function, it’s just, now it’s a fancy next button.     In terms of which areas of learning will do well in 2016 for me, I believe soft skills will continue to thrive and personally I’d love to see the area of recruitment move forward – as the possibilities of using games to evaluate possible new recruits are huge!  Also I forecast huge book sales!     












        Stuart Jackson (Artist)    The “big thing” I’m most excited about in the year ahead is the advancements in procedural generation in games. Many of this year’s up and coming games include procedural generation, especially “ No Mans Sky ”. Having technology that pushes the boundaries of design is something I think will inspire the future of serious games!      












        Amy Wing (Media Production and Marketing Executive)    I’m looking forward to seeing more 360 degree videos in 2016. There have already been some interesting applications already. In 2015 we've seen examples used on news channels and film trailers. This week, Pixar are releasing their first 360 animation, which is really exciting. But the most interesting aspect is the doors this opens for documentaries. The immersive nature of 360 filming gives film makers an avenue to reach their audience in ways never before possible.  The most prominent example from 2015 is  Polar Sea 360 . This hybrid of 360 filming and traditional filming techniques explores the effects of the changing Artic environment. The focus is how this change effects the Inuit population. To date it is the best use of 360 filming I have seen. The attention to sound, the care taken to cuts, ensuring a fluid immersive experience for viewers I suspect, is just a taste of what’s to come in 2016.                                             












        Vicky Rose (Head of Communications)    This year it would be great to see more collaborative (crowd sourced) problem solving.  One of Nesta’s predictions for 2016 is that Universities will move on from their individualistic heritage and become challenge driven, harnessing the collective brainpower of students worldwide to solve sustainable development goals.  We’ve seen it in the gaming world: Back in 2011, players of  Foldit , an online puzzle game about protein folding solved a molecular puzzle in 3 weeks where researchers had worked on the problem for 13 years.  Cancer Research released Play to Cure™:  Genes in Space  – the world’s first free mobile game that uses the collective force of players to analyse real genetic data and help beat cancer sooner.      






     A comprehensive list of citizen science games can be found  here . Technology helps with networking individuals and games are a great way to drive engagement and increase accessibility in some of the more complex problems.                     






        Richard Smith (MD)    I agree with PJ on VR in 2016. Oculus Rift and Windows HoloLens among many other devices are released and the API to integrate will be built in to Unity and other game engines. Gamification is about to crash in to the Gartner chasm in the Hypecycle. People are going to realise that is it not the answer to everything and has limited used in many applications such as L & D.       






      Serious Games to rise further as a serious experiential medium, fuelled by the technology advances, the faster and greater uptake of VR and other tech and the realisation mentioned above about gamification and it’s limited suitability in l & d Experiential/immersive learning whether “virtual” or real with things like “escape games”, role play, actors etc. Making learning as real as possible is going to be a trend too.                          Tom Cutler (Developer)     CES 2016  is currently on over the next few days, which is the consumer electronics show, so some interesting new tech will probably surface over the next few days. I know that the consumer version of the oculus rift is available for  preorder  now so I also expect to see a huge surge in VR activity.     












        Mark Pocock (Artist)    While I also agree with PJ that VR is going to the centre of attention in 2016, I would also like to point out, the strive for ever more realistic graphics is also turning a rather sharp corner. It doesn’t take a genius to compare game graphics from 10 years ago and now, to see that things have moved on significantly as it did in the decade before that and before that etc.. But in the few years or so the introduction of Physical Based Rendering (PBR), has seen visual believability step up to a whole new level.  In the background we have some fantastic shader coding that has allowed for believable specularity, reflections and global illumination across various platforms and hardware specifications.      






      In the foreground are the Artists who utilise this technology to create beautiful visuals that brings the games industry nearer to film level CGI. So my feeling is that with tools such as Substance Painter/Designer and Quixel; we will start to see more flexible artistic workflows which in some cases ignore the likes of Photoshop with more focus on the development of material/substance libraries for painting straight onto models, to create lush looking PBR textures for use in top end engines, of whom are forever improving and expanding on their usage of it to push boundaries.   In summary I believe 2016 to be the year of PBR. Companies are already trying to push graphics to the next level using this new technology.  With games such as The Order: 1886 and Assassin’s Creed: Unity already showing this off in 2015, by 2016 I would expect its usage to be more mainstream.      









New Year is always a time for looking forward to the year ahead – our team have been discussing what’s on their radar for 2016 and here are some highlights:


       Levelling up Leadership with serious games    Leadership, like many other soft topics which are classed as critical 21st Century skills is a tough nut to crack. There is only so much theory one can learn about a soft skill before you need to bite the bullet and head out to the real world to practice your new found knowledge. But therein lies a challenge; to practice leadership skills you need people to lead and said people may not be immediately available. And to top it off, if you turn out to be a poor leader, you risk widespread damage amongst the team.  So how can we address leadership development using games? Or to put it another way how can a game produce a better leader? Using the lessons Totem Learning learned from the development of a multiplayer leadership game I wanted to share the top tips on how games can help build this critical skill.   The top 3 areas where I believe games can bring real benefit to leadership development are;   To allow skills practice  To observe emerging leadership skills  To evaluate leadership capabilities   Those 3 criteria really became the foundation for a leadership game which I absolutely loved designing and love seeing people play.     



              Early cardboard mock-up of one of the puzzles in the game  



     From my own perspective when I sat down to design a leadership game, it was really important that every person in that game had the opportunity to become the leader during at least one point in the game. I didn’t want to create a game where there was a leader role and the rest of the team were forced into the follower category.  So that was my first challenge. How was I going to create an environment where there were multiple leaders? Well who’s to say that your role in a game stays the same from start to finish? Why can’t it evolve and change? I felt this was a good reflection of reality in that we all have our strengths and weaknesses and our jobs change overtime. So that revelation really set the foundation for the structure and flow of the game moving forward. I knew I wanted to create a scenario where the game changed, roles were fluid and opportunities were aplenty for those willing to grab them.  Provide the raw information about the situation and see what conclusions are drawn  The design incorporated changing the nature of the connections between the team members throughout the experience. They began as single players, isolated from one another, and so there was great individual responsibility. Gradually we built mini teams by introducing players to one another over time, before connecting them all together into one homogenous team.  The benefit this design decision brought was that each player made their own conclusions about the environment, even though every player started off with the same experience. This was a great eye opener into how each of the team members felt about individual working and reading their environments.  Introduce Multiple Goals  As in the real world, leaders have to balance differing priorities and goals. In our game design we represented this through personal and team goals; through setting up an initial competitive environment, where you were in a race against other players to reach the goal. But over time we introduced the concept that the final goal could not be achieved alone. It was very interesting to see how players reacted to sacrificing their personal gain for the benefit of the team.     



              Players need to collaborate  



     Use pressure techniques to explore behaviour in different scenarios  Throughout the game, players were faced with the overarching goal of escape and completion but also a series of challenging puzzles along the way to push their individual coaching, team and leadership skills. We applied time pressure to these situations where the faster the problem was addressed the more points the team received. As well as these pressurised situations we mixed in non-pressure situations where they had time and no consequences to solve problems. Using a mix of these situations we could assess how each player behaved differently.  Make sure you have a solid foundation  Throughout the design we underpinned the game design with a foundation of leadership development strategy crafted by subject matter experts.  Leadership is about getting others to do things by creating the environment where progress is possible. In our game design, progress was not possible unless the player cooperated: setting aside personal gain for the good of the team. We built in situations where innovative responses were required from the players, often under pressure and in non-routine situations. Influencing skills were an essential ability team members required to ensure a high score.  Another critical aspect of leadership is coaching, a method of directing, instructing and training a person or group of people, with the aim to achieve some goal or develop specific skills. We built in specific scenarios where users had to coach others through situations. These puzzles involved;     Identifying goals  Removing obstacles  Generating options  Planning actions  Actioning the plan   It was important for us to give everyone an opportunity to coach so we always provided opportunities to repeat skills and practice, but in new contexts therefore reinforcing strategies and behaviours.    Problem solving was a core component to the game. A definition of problem solving is that an individual or a team applies knowledge, skills, and understanding to achieve a desired outcome in an unfamiliar situation. Problem solving is central to many games and underpins many of the design decisions we made.  We wanted our players to objectively identify possible causes of a problem and then proposing potential, often creative, solutions to the team. The great thing about using problem solving in games is that it leads to permanent information retention because you come to the conclusion yourself; you make your own connections rather than being told the correct answer. Problem solving is the opposite of memorization where information is often forgotten after testing.  The final component that was important to our foundation was that we had to make the team feel like a team quickly! We had to give the players a common purpose to (finally) align their efforts to. This was achieved through the use of the storyline, repeating subtly through the game the need to work together, the gradual connection of players into the overall team and the gradual increase in difficulty level, building camaraderie.   And finally give good feedback!     






     A sandbox, experimental environment, is no good without guidance and feedback. Because we wanted this game to be used without the need for a facilitator to be present, we had to make sure the game provided all the feedback that was needed. Through the process of highlighting successes and learning from mistakes we were able to bring about a new level of personal effectiveness.   Read more on Unlock: Leadership  



Leadership, like many other soft topics which are classed as critical 21st Century skills is a tough nut to crack. There is only so much theory one can learn about a soft skill before you need to bite the bullet and head out to the real world to practice your new found knowledge. But therein lies a challenge; to practice leadership skills you need people to lead and said people may not be immediately available. And to top it off, if you turn out to be a poor leader, you risk widespread damage amongst the team.

So how can we address leadership development using games?