03 September 2009

E.O. Wilson Hypes Games to Sims Gamebuilder

In a tone of what what can only be called mutual admiration, the sociobiologist and the gamebuilder met. The friendly exchange was predictable, even familial, but their conversation on NPR is likely to please only the already persuaded.

Will Wright (of Sims fame) first asked Wilson for an opinion on the standing of games in Wilson's world. The response was ""I'll go to an even more radical position. I think games are the future in education. We're going through a rapid transition now. We're about to leave print and textbooks behind."

This may be so, but there are many questions those more steeped in the intersection of virtual worlds and eLearning would like to have asked. Admittedly, those with more experience generally do not have the standing of either the interviewer nor the interviewer in this case, and it is perhaps doubtful that an above-average NPR journalist would have probed further. Yet it might have been enlightening to hear Wilson consider the "edutainment" conundum, or consider mixed effectiveness outcomes from virtual world learning experiments. And then there is the troubling drift away from written and toward video narratives; today's young person may not be exposed to National Geographic -- even through its online presence, the journal which inspired a young Wilson. [While we're on the subject, for a recent National Geographic Digital Media project, check out the "Infinite Photograph"].

That said, Wilson's belief that virtual worlds are potential "steppingstones" to science's real worlds for young persons seems unassailable. His thoughts on uniting the humanities and the sciences are also worth hearing again, even in this slight form.

19 August 2009

Bohemia VBS Plays Role in First Army Battle Command Training Center's Press Release

A video press release from DoD announced the opening of the Ft. Riley Battle Command Training Center. The clip featured a brief scene from Bohemia's VBS serious game platform running in the background.

According to one reporter with the Ft. Scott Tribune, "the new Battle Command Training Center will allow units to coordinate training through computer-based systems anywhere in the world. Similar facilities are under construction or will be built at all U.S. Army posts with a division or corps headquarters in the coming years, including Fort Bliss in Texas and Fort Campbell in Kentucky."

This facility represents a DoD investment of $29M and is housed in a 160,000 square foot facility. More importantly, the game-based resource can connect with trainees elsewhere, thus creating value beyond Kansas. The facility's training director Bill Raymann said "the center can link brigade commanders with units doing training elsewhere at Fort Riley or other Army posts to improve command and control. . . It will be of particular use to National Guard units that otherwise couldn't do this level of training on their own."

17 July 2009

Coolest G-Man Gamer Job Title

Last May, a press release described the work of the US Naval Undersea Warfare Center using Qwak forums and Second Life. One among the lucky military-industrial crew has a job title designed to vault any resume to the head of the pack.
Theoretically all the pieces are easily and efficiently falling together," said Steve Aguiar, Metaverse Exploration Project lead, at the NUWC. "If we were going to conduct the same experiment physically and assemble all the pieces, it would be quite expensive in resources and cost. To do this virtually, specifically with the Qwaq product, has been quite straightforward.