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February 2011

The Entertainment Software Association

“JOIN THE © TEAM” TO LAUNCH NEW WEBSITE

JOIN THE © TEAMThis week, the Entertainment Software Association will launch a completely revamped website for “Join the © Team,” a comprehensive educational program that introduces the concept of intellectual property to students in grades K-5 through hands-on activities. First launched in 2005, the new website will offer an expanded array of tools and resources for educators, librarians and parents to use at home and in the classroom. The program helps kids understand what a copyright is, and why it is important to protect creative works.

These new resources will include research project guidelines that parents can use to teach their children how to cite sources appropriately and “Homework How-To’s” that underscore the need to respect the work of others when copying print and online content for use in schoolwork. A new page on the website for librarians and media specialists will feature a media skills guide that introduces the concepts of copyright and academic plagiarism through activities designed to enhance students’ research skills.

Also among these new resources are tips for educators to incorporate computer and video games into their curricula and use them to enhance and reinforce traditional subject material. This integration is already taking place in many classrooms across the country, as students become increasingly media savvy and teachers have begun to recognize the value of computer and video games as learning tools. Games also provide a unique opportunity for teachers to emphasize the importance of copyright and terms-of-use information.

Updated activities on the website reflect today’s current media reality and respond to advances in technology. For example, classroom activities that call for students to complete their own creative projects will now include guidelines for creating online videos that could be posted to YouTube and other digital content.

In a world of instantly accessible information and downloadable content, fostering a respect and appreciation for intellectual property and copyright law at a young age is important.  With The © Team’s help, parents and educators can equip themselves with the tools necessary to instill this valuable knowledge in today’s youth.

To view the “Join the © Team” website, please visit: http://www.jointhecteam.com


ART COMMUNITY EMBRACES VIDEO GAMES

As video games have evolved from simple, linear titles like Pong to the innovative and visually complex games of today, the art community has come to recognize the artistic value of games and their practical applications. Today, games are featured in art installations in well-known museums, but are also used as tools to enhance art education and encourage support for these cultural institutions.

New York City’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), for example, currently features a video game-inspired exhibit titled Long March: Restart by artist Feng Mengbo. Mengbo began what would eventually be the popular MoMA installment in 1993, when he created a series of 42 paintings or “game snapshots” and arranged them to depict a side-scrolling game on canvas. The snapshots illustrate a small Red Army soldier sweeping his way across China. Mengbo finalized the piece in 2008, which now consists of an 80 by 20 foot television monitor that displays the video game masterpiece. Long March: Restart offers social commentary in the medium of a video game, as MoMA patrons or ‘players’ become Red Army soldiers and battle communist troops while viewing the piece.

ARTLAB+In a further melding of the art and entertainment software worlds, the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum in Washington D.C. is taking great measures to prepare the gamer artists of tomorrow. With support from the ESA Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Hirshhorn opened ‘ARTLAB+,’ a 21st century classroom for children that blends technology and art curriculum in innovative ways. The new program will build an environment where young people can explore a variety of technologies while working with the museum’s exhibitions and collections as a way to delve into art and its relation to technology and culture.

Another New York venue, the Whitney Museum, recently launched an online video game project called CLICKISTAN as an interactive fundraising tool. CLICKISTAN is a multi-level game influenced by the art and aesthetics of old computers, and pays tribute to old-school favorites such as Nintendo’s Donkey Kong and Namco’s Pac Man.Once the player has completed a certain number of levels, they enter the ‘golden chamber,’ where they are asked to make a $1 gift to the Whitney’s Annual Fund. Proceeds go towards supporting the museum’s operating costs, including lighting and putting together exhibitions.

While it may not be time to say goodbye to watercolors and oil on canvas, museums and art critics are making room for video game art. Museums across the nation are leveraging video games’ broad appeal to garner support, enhance art education, and attract visitors.


VIDEO GAMES TEACH STUDENTS FOREIGN TONGUES

Following in the footsteps of classic educational games like Knowledge Adventure’s Math Blaster and The Learning Company’s Reading Rabbit, computer and video games are now helping students of all ages learn foreign languages. When compared to traditional language-learning methods such as reading from textbooks and completing worksheets, computer and video games help students develop language skills by allowing users to interact with objects and manipulate variables in exciting digital environments.

Innovative new programs like Operation LAPIS, the first-ever fully game-based introductory language course, are taking the use of electronic games in the classroom to new levels. Developed by Robert Travis, Associate Professor of Classics at the University of Connecticut and Director of the online Video Games and Human Values Initiative, Operation LAPIS teaches students basic Latin through a series of interactive team-based assignments. The program is currently in use at the University of Connecticut and at two Connecticut high schools: Norwalk Free Academy and Brien McMahon High School.

The groundbreaking program uses an electronic role-playing game to immerse students in situations that require them to read Latin and respond to their surroundings in accordance with the worldview of their characters. A class splits into teams, with each taking on the role of a character in ancient Rome. Teams must type directions in both English and Latin for the character to interact with the virtual world. Compared to traditional teaching methods, Operation LAPIS prompts students to think about language through complex interactions instead of memorization.

Professor Travis’ Operation LAPIS is only one of the many programs in use to help students grasp a new language through game play. For example, the company Powerspeak K-12 provides engaging courses for children of all ages that include games and culturally relevant activities to help students enjoy their studies and remain highly motivated. The graphics, video, music and games encourage learning by creating a stimulating digital environment. 

Outside of the classroom, companies such as Rosetta Stone, Inc., maker of the popular language-learning computer program, are now using computer and video games to expand the reach of their language-learning programs. In September 2010, Rosetta Stone released the latest edition of its well-known program, which now features access to an exclusive online community where learners can participate in single and multiplayer games, interactive activities, and live coaching sessions with native speakers.

Rosetta Stone

Last month, the company hosted its second annual Game Jam, a competition that challenges students and professional designers to create games that teach and motivate people in 36 hours or less. Lisa Takehana, Justin Lewis and Gavin Keese received first prize in the professional category for their octopus collaboration game, while a team of Carnegie Mellon University students received first prize in the student category for creating a 3D territory game.

Alelo, a company specializing in immersive simulations that teach cultural knowledge along with language skills, also uses games as teaching tools. Using 3D game simulation technology, Alelo trains U.S. military personnel in foreign languages, particularly in Afghanistan where the language barrier between U.S. troops and local populations creates a number of problems.

The growing acceptance of computer and video games as next-generation learning tools and their application to teaching language is reshaping the way students of all ages learn. Language teachers have long recognized that spending time in a foreign country and experiencing complete immersion is the best way to learn a language. With computer and video game technology, teachers are able to provide a similar environment for students from the familiar setting of the classroom.

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In the News

1/11/2011 — Wii in PE? If it gets you movingThe Washington Post
1/10/2011 — RNA Game Lets Players Find a Biological PrizeNew York Times
1/3/2011 — How Videogames Are Changing the EconomyWall Street Journal
1/19/2011 — 'Virtual World' Helps with Post-Traumatic StressDepartment of Defense
1/1/2011 — First Amendment at the heart of proposed video game banAustin Daily Herald Joystick Blog (MN)

Latest News Releases

Quote of the Month

"This is like putting a molecular chess game in people’s hands at a massive level. I think of this as opening up science. I think we are democratizing science."

— Dr. Adrien Treuille, professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University, on a new online game that challenges players to design new ways to fold RNA molecules

 Did You Know?

Doctoral students at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania recently used virtual world Second Life to recreate four pivotal moments in the civil rights movement. The simulation enables visitors to explore the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott, the 1963 march on Washington, the 1964 Mississippi Freedom School movement and the 1965 voting rights march through historic videos, photos, documents and quizzes.

Statistic of the Month

According to market research firm eMarketer, revenue generated by online games on social networks is expected to reach $1 billion in 2011. The firm also predicts that approximately 62 million U.S. Internet users per month will play social games.

Contact Us

Entertainment Software Association
575 7th Street, NW
Suite 300
Washington, DC 20004

For general inquiries, please email esa@theESA.com.

For members of the media only, please contact Dan Hewitt.

Copyright 2011 — ESA Entertainment Software Association

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