Monday, 25 September 2006

Free Game development environment

There are many open-source game engine already available. However, this is the first time Microsoft is serious about building a community of game developers. According to this post, 10 universities [in USA, I suupose] to add XNA Game Studio Express and Xbox 360 game development into their curricula starting this fall [Spring in Southern hemisphere]. For the rest of us,

XNA Game Studio Express will be available for free to anyone with a Windows® XP-based PC and will provide them with Microsoft’s next-generation platform for game development. By joining a “creators club” for an annual subscription fee of $99 (U.S.), users will be able to build, test and share their games on Xbox 360™ and access a wealth of materials to help speed the game development progress. This represents the first significant opportunity for novice developers to make a console game without a significant investment in resources.


The XNA Game Studio Express beta will be available Aug. 30, 2006, as a free download on Windows XP, for development on the Windows XP platform. XNA Game Studio Express will give anyone with a Windows XP-based PC access to a unified development tool that liberates the creation of great Xbox 360 and Windows XP-compatible games...

I'll going to download the XNA beta now. Will let you know after I have some testing...

Sunday, 24 September 2006

The Solution to Obesity

Peregryn suggests to use financial incentives offered by the government to solve the problem of obesity.

Whenever you show up [in a government sponsered gyn] you sign a form or swipe an ID card which will then entitle you to that day's payment on your tax return.

I suggest we look to the East and copy their solution.

For schools, each day would start with a morning assembly/exercise where everybody gather in the playground and do 45 minutes of exercise.

For workplace (white collar workers in particular), ditto.

The key is to include *everyone*, no exception. Managers and executives should lead by examples.

cross posted to Corporate E-learning

Thursday, 21 September 2006

Problem of Being an Expert and Having Expertise

In a comment to the post Larry Sanger, Citizendium, and the Problem of Expertise by Clay Shirky, Eric Finchley wrote:

["You" here refers to Clay Shirky] I disagree with your comments on expertise. It seems to me that you are conflating expertise and authority. A judge has a socially constructed authority to pronounce sentence, just as an opinion commentator has the authority to write for a diverse audience in a national newspaper. But we haven't said anything about their expertise here.

Another example: cardiac surgery. Are you suggesting that the reason a cardiac surgeon is allowed to operate is entirely socially constructed? Surely such an individual has a fairly unique set of abilities, expertise, in this domain. The reason we don't allow Indian MDs to do this without review is to verify that such a person has the skills and knowledge to be operating successfully -- that is, that they are an expert. Now, those standards may be social facts, but in most cases they are reasonable and necessary.

David Berry also commented:
This is a very interesting argument but I think you overplay the socially constructed nature of authority and expertise and underplay the obduracy of expertise-reinforcing institutional outputs (such as PhD certificates etc). So, I agree that indeed they are social facts, but "expertise" is also manifested in concrete objects in the world which prescribe back on us a particular preferred social network organisation. In other words, experts are experts due to a network of human and non-human actants.

Is expertise pure "social-fact", a socially recognised procession of a collection of "scientific fact" as in positivism, or a connection of nodes including other experts, databases or organisations?

Friday, 1 September 2006

Game On! The Future of Literacy Education in a Participatory Media Culture

by Henry Jenkins, Head of the MIT Comparative Media Studies Program.

Here is a re-ordering of Henry's words for my own understanding. First the background:

In this new landscape of video games, cell phones, podcasting, blogging, instant messaging and other kinds of media-intensive experiences, children are participants – not spectators, not even consumers in the traditional sense of the term....Let’s be clear that participation is related to but different from interactivity. Interactivity is a property of technologies; participation is a property of cultures. Games are interactive; game culture is participatory.

An important sentence in the essay is:
Through games, young people are learning how to play, perform, express themselves, and collaborate in large-scale communities.

He further elaborates:

Play refers to a process of exploration and experimentation. Think of games as problem sets. Each step forward involves trying out possible solutions: some work, some don’t, all must get refined through further play.

Games also involve trying on and performing different identities. Game identities are a complex mix of fact and fiction, self and other.

Expression refers to the ability to create new content, often inspired by the culture around us. In the new games culture, players are encouraged to design their own characters, make scrapbooks of their game play experience, animate movies using game avitars and share them with other consumers, take the game design tools and make their own additions to commercial games.

Collaboration describes how members of online communities share information, pool knowledge, compare notes, evaluate evidence, and solve large scale problems.

However, the most important we should consider is:
Yet, there is another skill often missing -- judgement. Researchers using games in the classrooms are finding that children are adept at learning new content through games but the game itself remains largely transparent: few kids ask about the motives or accuracy of the ways games depict the world. [my emphasis]

In my previous post Why Most Off the Shelf Commerical Games Will Not Work in Education? And What Is The Alternative?, I rejected off the shelf commerical games as a good approach to learning based on the black box nature of the underlying world depicted by the game. here Henry provides a good reason why my rejection is off the mark. To use selected off the shelf commerical games as a vehicle for learning, we must, at the same time, "teach" learners about judging the content - the world depicted by the game, how real or how accurate the game world reflects the real world. Most importantly, game world is game world. Game world is NOT real world! If we can get this message across effectively, I withdraw my objection to using off the self commerical games in learning situations.