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WIKI Submissions

Susan Connell
Fall 2003

  1. Comedy in Games

  2. Francois Dominic Laramee

    Based on extensive experience designing electronic games, Francois Dominic Laramee is a prolific writer and editor on the subject of game design and development. He has served as lead designer, producer, programmer or screenwriter for more than 20 games published for a variety of formats including: personal computer, Game Boy, interactive television and the Internet. Ultimate Baseball Online, The Insane Adventures of Happy McGreed, Steppenwolf: The X-Creatures Project, Arcane 2: The Stone Circle, Arcane: The Online Mystery Serial are a few of the games to which he has contributed in various capacities.

    With more than a dozen years’ of experience in the field, Laramee also works as a business process consultant to game development studios and began working as an instructor at the school of computer science of Concordia University in 2002 along with serving as game design and game history instructor at the National Animation and Design Center in Montreal.

    His published work includes editing and authoring articles in Game Design Perspectives (Charles River Media, ISBN: 1584500905) and Secrets of the Game Business (Charles River Media, 1584502827); writing content for the television game show Wizz, the board game Cranium: Édition Québécoise and several trivia web sites; and authoring more than 80 articles, columns and book chapters about game development for numerous periodicals and books in both French and English. Subjects have covered game design elements, writing design treatments and issues relating to the use of comedy in games, which ties in to his occasional work as a freelance comedy writer.


  3. World War II Online

    World War II Online is an elaborate role-playing simulation game that is classified as a massively multiplayer online game (MMOG) due to the vast number of players, in the thousands, worldwide. Like the war it simulates, this game goes on 24 hours a day with real people representing characters in the British, French and German armed forces. Players have elaborate missions and command structures and engage on a battlefield represented by a half-scale map of Europe with accurate terrain modeling. Players can command and operate a selection of precisely modeled vehicles, watercraft and aircraft while using a variety of period weaponry. Virtual uniforms, weapons, and vehicles were designed with realism in mind and based on historical data. Each player views the action from a first person perspective, seeing only what that character would see. Players can hide in vegetation, seek shelter in abandoned buildings, sneak up on the enemy, and re-enact most activities of a real soldier at that time. Each soldier in the game is controlled by another player, with no computer drones to alter the course of events or force players into a predetermined path. Action is determined based on the decisions of the thousands of players logged on at any given moment - giving them the chance to change the course of history - in their virtual world.

    Winner of numerous industry awards including GameSpy's 2001 Gamers' Choice Sim of the Year and IGN's 2001 Persistent World Game of the Year, World War II Online was launched in 2001 and has been upgraded numerous times to add features, enhance realism and increase functionality. The game works with both Windows and Mac OSX platforms and is available for $19.95 as a 130MB download or on CD. After a 30-day free trial, playing the game requires a $12.95 per month subscription fee.


  4. User Interaction Principles

  5. Implications of the Modality Principle in Game Design

    Because audio can be somewhat more difficult to implement in e-learning projects, games and simulations, it is often overlooked in favor of printed text used to describe on-screen graphics and animations. However, cognitive theory and research indicate that, when practical, use of audio narration to explain a visual presentation enhances understanding and related problem solving. Specifically, spoken words (audio) can best be used to describe a graphic or how to use a visual component rather than simultaneously delivering that graphic along with the same word in written form. However, when used gratuitously or redundantly (for self-evident graphics), audio can actually cause a distraction. In some cases, it may be advisable to keep verbiage available as an option in printed form as a memory aid or as an alternative source for the hearing impaired.

    Cognitive research shows that people process pictorial information in a separate channel from auditory/verbal information. Since the capacity of each channel is limited, graphics and supporting onscreen text vie for limited visual bandwidth as the viewer cannot look at graphics and supporting text simultaneously. Conversely, when verbal information is presented in audible form it enters the cognitive system in a different channel where it can be comfortably processed simultaneously. Tests have shown that subjects presented with animation and simultaneous narration generated from 41 to 114 percent more solutions than those presented with animation and onscreen text - even though the information presented was identical.

    When considering the implications of the modality effect in game design, it is also necessary to be aware of circumstances that may impact its application. These circumstances might include the ability of the hardware to support audio, whether the environment where the game will be played is appropriate for audio, budgetary limitations, language limitations and the hearing ability of the audience.

    Clark, R.C., and Mayer, R.E. (2003) e-Learning and the Science of Instruction. San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.

    Mousavi, S., Low, R., and Sweller, J. (1995) Reducing Cognitive Load by Mixing Auditory and Visual Presentation Modes. Journal of Educational Psychology, 87, 319-334.


  6. VTC.com - Software Training for the Creation of Simulations and Games

    The Virtual Training Company (VTC.com) produces online and CD-based training for a wide variety of software in the form of short, concise QuickTime movies that go step-by-step through each software application. The movies are designed so that the viewer can also run the corresponding software and work along with the movie which can be stopped and started as necessary to keep the right pace. Each "chapter" is broken into short, easy-to-digest chunks.

    While not strictly a simulation, the tutorials provide a very flexible, somewhat interactive way to learn a variety of software programs. More significantly, from a game or simulation designers perspective, VTC's course catalogue features training for more than 100 software titles on both the Macintosh and Windows platforms. Titles include several versions of Macromedia Flash, Authorware, Cold Fusion, Director and Dreamweaver; Apple's iMovie, QuickTime VR and Final Cut Pro; Meta Creations Bryce, Poser and Infini D; Courses are also available for various programming languages such as Java, Perl, Visual Basic and C++ and operating systems as well as productivity and business programs. Additional subjects include general tutorials about areas such as Sound Editing, Troubleshooting, Web Publishing, Digital Photography, Scanning and Color Management.

    The company plans to expand their services by adding new features such as online testing, training for newer versions of existing software and more networking and business software courses. In addition they are developing K-12 educational training modules covering mathematics, physics, biology, chemistry and others.

    Courses are available on individual CDs with higher resolution graphics and sound for about $99 each. The online versions are available on a subscription basis for $25 per month and the first three chapters for every course are available free online. The free chapters provide an excellent introduction to a wide variety of software for initial training or a bit of try-before-you-buy simulation.


  7. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi - the Man and the Pronunciation
    Csikszentmihalyi (chick-sent-me-high-ee)

    "...even without success, creative persons find joy in a job well done. Learning for its own sake is rewarding..."

    Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is best known for his research and writings on the subject of Flow - the state where individuals become so absorbed in an activity that they lose track of time and enjoy the activity for its own sake. A former professor and psychology department chair at the University of Chicago, he is currently the Davidson professor of Management and director of the Quality of Life Research Center at Claremont Graduate University. He is also a member of the National Academy of Education and National Academy of Leisure Sciences. In addition, he is the author of more than 120 articles and several books, including: Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience: Good Business: Leadership, Flow, and the Making of Meaning and Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement With Everyday Life.

    Born in 1935 in Hungary, his worldview was shaped by the misery he saw all around him as a young boy during World War II. With this background, he set about in search of positive alternatives - trying to determine what gave people joy and satisfaction. His search involved extensive empirical research starting with artists and creative people. His studies have extended to include business, sports, games and education, including work with Montessori educators. Though not without critics, his work has been hailed by diverse leaders from former President Bill Clinton and British Prime Minister Tony Blair to business executives and even a Dallas Cowboys football coach.


  8. Simulation Gaming Exchange - Directory with an International Focus

    The Simulation/Gaming Exchange (SGX) is an academic site produced by Honors and Masters students from the School of Computing at the National University of Singapore. It serves as an online clearinghouse for gaming and simulation technology with an emphasis on education, training and research. The site's primary audience comprises researchers, university faculty, school teachers, trainers, modelers and simulation developers. It is sponsored by Simulation & Gaming: An International Journal of Theory, Design and Research, as well as of the International Simulation and Gaming Association (ISAGA).

    The site is essentially a user-managed directory that provides links to simulation and gaming subjects organized and cross referenced by Subject (as in academic discipline, e.g. Arts, Engineering, Physical Science, et al), Format (e.g. Role-Playing, Virtual Reality, Edutainment, etc.) and Professional Aspects, an area that includes information about associations, calls for papers, conferences, copyright issues and related issues. Because of its international focus, it includes links to a number of sites beyond the commonly referenced North American resources.

    SGX allows registered users to list and categorize sites of interest to the simulation and gaming audience. Registration is free and registered users can choose to receive updates when new information is posted.


  9. GameDev.net - Online Resource for Game Developers

    Founded in 1999, GameDev.net has become one of the leading online communities for more than 250,000 game developers, from the most experienced to those just starting out. The founders created the site as a resource where game designers could obtain and freely exchange information. The site contains news, technical articles, how-to information, contests, software, a newsletter, forums, a chat network, job offers, designer diaries, game dictionary and a special area for beginners. GameDev's staff members have been producing game development sites since 1996 and several staff members have written books on the subject, but the very active community of game developers fostered by the site contribute a majority of the content.

    Originally conceived as a joint effort by several game development sites to join forces by interlinking their sites. Ultimately the founders determined that one cohesive large site would be more effective and GameDev.net was born. The site has received numerous awards and recognition and has often been described as "the best place on the Internet to learn about game development."


  10. Apple Computer's Involvement in Educational Games and Simulation

    An early proponent of the use of computers and other technology in education, Apple Computer has supported extensive research and other initiatives related to various aspects of instructional technology. Starting in the mid-1980s, Apple computer funded the Apple Classroom of Tomorrow (ACOT) to study a cross-section of about a dozen classrooms in North America and Europe. The goal was to determine how the use of technology by teachers and students might change teaching and learning. While the ACOT program concluded in the late 1990s, it was followed by more broad-based research efforts undertaken by the Learning Technology Group and participants in the Apple Learning Interchange. These efforts have focused on moving beyond the classroom and leveraging the Internet and a variety of multimedia technologies. "A Taxonomy of Simulation Software" by Kurt Schmucker, a Principal Scientist with Apple's Learning Technology Group, provides a detailed, if somewhat dated, overview of simulation in an educational context.

    Although Apple itself was not a developer of games, the widespread use of their computers in educational settings, meant that some of the earliest eLearning games and simulations were developed for Apple computers including the Apple II and Macintosh. In the formative years, Apple's consistent and graphically rich user interface made it easier for students to focus on the games themselves rather than how to get the computer to play them and also enabled more realistic simulations or dynamic game playing. These games have covered a gamut of disciplines from typing exercises to physics simulations to role-playing history lessons. While the graphical interface playing field has largely leveled, Apple's early research about and promotion of the use of educational games and simulations contributed greatly to their early and ongoing development.


Additions or refinements made to:


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© 2003, Susan Connell, Educational Technology Student at San Diego State University