Ready Player One

I recently had the chance to read the book Ready Player One (to see what it is about please read the synopsis below). This is a great book for use in gaming and educational classrooms. I will more than likely be incorporating it into my Gaming and Simulation class. The books does a great job of predicting what our world might look like in years to come. While a fiction book the idea behind VR technology and its role in our lives and internet may not be far off. In fact, as the technology progresses I believe its pretty spot on. So I definitely recommend this text to anyone interested in gaming, instructional technology, or in need a fun book to read. I also love all of the 80s references as I grew up in the 80s and loved reading about games like Joust and Adventure – 2 of my favorites from Atari. You can read more about the book here: http://readyplayerone.com/

Book synopsis:

It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place. 

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. 

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them.   

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved—that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt—among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life—and love—in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape. 

A world at stake.

A quest for the ultimate prize.

Are you ready?

eSports: Gaming to pay the rent

Here is a really interesting article on mashable about esports: http://mashable.com/2014/10/07/gaming-to-pay-the-rent/

“Robert Lee sat down with his parents over dinner at a favorite Chinese restaurant to break the news: He decided to drop out of college after one year at California State University in Fullerton to pursue a career as a professional video game player.

Lee had started to make more than a little money broadcasting his gameplay on Twitch while commuting to school three days a week. He wanted to make that a full-time job.

“The way I saw it, school was always going to be there, but this opportunity to make money playing video games was not always going to be there,” he says.

Almost three years later, Lee is a pro League of Legends player, earning a salary that pays enough to cover rent, clothes, food and a couple luxuries, he says, though he declined to provide a figure. That’s in addition to the millions of dollars in prize money that his team, compLexity, is competing for at tournaments around the world.” If you follow the league of legends championship and want to bet on your favorite team click here for lol betting.

Game developer salaries

Thought this article was pretty interesting:

The average game developer in the U.S. earned just over $83,000 USD in 2013, while Canadian and European based developers averaged a salary of $71,000 USD (up 9 percent from 2012) and $46,000 USD (no change), respectively.”

Those who hold business and management positions earned an average salary of over $101,000 USD in 2013 – the most of any discipline. Audio professionals and programmers followed closely behind, each earning average salaries of over $90,000 USD.”

Play this game to help cure cancer!

This is a very cool idea. I would love to see more people doing things like this. My Gaming and Simulation class is currently evaluating this game while I am at my conference next week:

http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/support-us/play-to-cure-genes-in-space

The game
The mission of Genes in Space is to collect a fictional substance dubbed Element Alpha. This represents genetic cancer data, which might underpin certain types of cancer.

As a recruit of the game’s ‘Bifrost Industries’, your mission is to collect the valuable and tradable substance Element Alpha and rise through the employee ranks by:

Mapping your route through the densest areas of Element Alpha.
Following your route as you fly through space collecting as much Element Alpha as you can, destroying asteroids along the way.
Avoiding and shooting asteroids to get to the next level of Element Alpha collection.
Upgrading your ship to become more powerful and trading your Element Alpha for more points.

Download from Apple App Store

Download from Google Play

How a High School Teacher Is ‘Gamifying’ World News

This seems very cool:

“When I started teaching, the average ninth grader looked like a zombie in class,” Nelson toldMashable. “One night when I was lesson planning, I took a break and literally checked my Fantasy Football team and I had this realization that I was learning a lot about the NFL — things about football and the NFL I wouldn’t have otherwise learned.”

The next day Nelson proposed the idea to the class. At first, the idea was met with skepticism, mostly due to the students’ lack of familiarity with how Fantasy Football works. But after the students became familiar with the format of the game, they warmed up toFantasy Geopolitics — both as a game, and as a new way to learn.

“My students started asking to do more with [the game]. They wanted to make trades, form alliances and so I just started listening,” says Nelson. “Whatever they wanted to do to control their own learning experience, I did it. Now, they playfully trash talk about their countries and become fans of those countries, which spurs them to want to learn more. It’s almost like they are trash talking each other into learning more.”

“I’m ‘gamifying’ learning. I’m ‘gamifying’ news to get them over the hump and not see reading the news as some difficult task.”

As for the format of the game, Fantasy Geopolitics is simple. It starts with a draft session, during which students select a team of three countries (the U.S. and China are banned due to their domination of the news) and then the players track stories about those countries in the news.

Using the Times Developer Network API, provided by The New York Times’, Nelson created a website that tracks how many times a country is mentioned in the news, and students get one point for every mention.

Full Story Here

xbox one’s best feature and how it can be applied to business and education

I recently obtained an xbox one. After a few weeks of playing around I have found what I believe is an awesome feature with tons of potential in gaming, education, and business. The feature? The Kinect recording feature. Essentially this is basically like an in game DVR service. So when I am playing a game and I do something that I believe is cool I can say ‘xbox record that’ and it will automatically record the last 30 seconds of play and put that away in my stored videos. Now this is awesome because it does not interrupt my gameplay at all. I dont need to press a button, stop playing, or go back and watch a clip later on to choose a part I want to have.

Now how does this apply to business and education? Well in all of my classes there is an archive that is basically a recorded video of the class. The problem? Its 3 hours long each week. Just imagine a student looking for one chunk of information from that class and having to sort through all of that video. Just imagine if during the class the student could place some kind of marker on the class so that they could come back? This would be like taking notes without having to actually take the notes and thus not distract the student from listening. This exact thing could take place during business meetings and such. Now I realize that there are recording devices out there that do this kind of thing but its not seamless and as easy as xbox’s kinect.