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IN THIS ISSUE:
The White House Office of Science & Technology Policy (OSTP) hosted the first-ever White House Game Jam last month to showcase the potential of education games and further the EdTech movement. Answering President Obama’s call-to-action to create “educational software that is as compelling as the best video game,” the event was designed to not only foster discussions about how games can complement education, but to create prototypes for engaging educational games that adhered to the Common Core State Standards Initiative and Next Generation Science Standards.
Twenty-three teams of developers from large studios, including Sony PlayStation and Rovio, education innovators GlassLab and BrainPop, and indie studios and universities produced games supporting subjects such as ecology, spelling, political science, and math. K-12 teachers in Washington, DC provided initial ideas for the games and served as consultants throughout the development process. Local students were invited to play test the games. The 48-hour game jam attracted over 100 game developers, 15 teachers, and 10 policymakers.
The event was heralded as a success by Mark DeLoura, senior adviser for digital media at the OSTP. “Games are a potentially powerful force for improving learning outcomes in the classroom,” DeLoura said. “The White House Education Game Jam was all about connecting developers, designers, and teachers to stimulate thinking about creative games that can help students learn concepts that are typically quite challenging.”
The game jam is the latest example of the growing national conversation around how video games can positively affect education. This past summer, leading academics from around the country launched the Higher Education Video Game Alliance (The Alliance), a unique initiative supported by ESA that provides a platform for members, professors, and campus leadership to showcase the critical role of video game programs in education. Drew Davidson, entertainment technology center director at Carnegie Mellon University and the Alliance founding member, attended and described the event to as “inspiring.”
As the world scrambles to treat the victims and contain the deadly Ebola epidemic in West Africa, researchers from the University of Washington’s Institute of Protein Design are taking a novel approach: creating treatments through a collaborative online puzzle game called Fold.it.
Fold.it was established in 2008 by the University of Washington's Center for Game Science in collaboration with the university’s Department of Biochemistry to help scientists solve complex biological problems through protein folding. Improperly folded proteins in the human body are associated with an array of diseases and illnesses, including Ebola. With the help of Fold.it, scientists hope to gain a better understanding of how proteins are folded so they can develop new drugs to combat diseases.
The Fold.it Ebola project challenges players to find the most efficient way to fold proteins into their complex forms through a series of 10 puzzles. Players earn points based on their performance. Scientists then select and analyze the highest-ranked solutions to determine whether the protein folds could assist in a real medical treatment.
In past challenges, players deciphered the protein that helps the HIV gene multiply, and remodeled an important reaction in organic synthesis. Both challenges had stumped scientists for over a decade, but gamers were able to unlock them in just 10 days. Researchers hope that players will have similar success in in the continued battle against Ebola.
Hundreds of registered Fold.it players tried their hand at the Ebola puzzle. The insights and protein patterns by gamers have helped jump-start a breakthrough that researchers hope will lead to a cure. This past September, Fold.it announced a third anti-Ebola puzzle. While scientists are far from testing the potential drugs in humans, these steps are significant landmarks in developing a drug to fight Ebola.
As we approach this year’s midterm elections, the growing importance of modernizing our country’s voting system is increasingly clear. We live in a digital age where innovative solutions make all types of challenges easier, modern, and accessible. To achieve these results, Rock the Vote believes in joining forces with the country’s most brilliant and politically-active developers, designers, and gamers to produce the voting tools of the future. Election-based technology needs to be fast, easy-to-use, relevant, and sophisticated. Now, more than ever, we have 24/7 access to video game technology and functionality through our omnipresent smartphones, tablets, and, of course, game consoles. It is time to wield these amazing resources to enhance youth voter mobilization and registration efforts.
Together with VGVN, we’re heading to high school and college campuses across the nation to reach video game enthusiasts and help them register to vote through VGVN’s online voter registration tool. The registration process takes about five minutes — less time than it takes to reboot your game or load a new level. To register, please visit: http://videogamevoters.org/rock-the-vote
Rock the Vote has always employed a strategy of developing innovative tech tactics to engage and empower young people to turn out to the polls. We were the innovators behind 1-800-REGISTER in the 90s, built an online voter registration tool from the ground up, and even made it possible to complete a voter registration form via text message (text REGISTER to 788683).
Now is the time to focus on the positive impact of technology and gaming for our generation. Video games allow for a dynamic mix of multimedia, artistic expression, and immediacy. Through this partnership, and with your help, we can actively create a culture around voting that is cool, efficient, and essential.
— Ashley Spillane, president of Rock the Vote
In The News
Latest News Releases
Calling All Writers
ESA invites members of the video game community to submit original articles for inclusion in our monthly newsletter. Articles should be no more than 500 words in length, and focus on new video game-related research, innovative industry trends, or interesting applications of entertainment software in areas including education, health care, business, and social impact. If you are interested in submitting an article for consideration, please email ESA with your name, affiliation, and a brief abstract of your proposed piece.
Quote of the Month
"In the consumer world, within two weeks you will know whether you have a hit and within six months no one will remember the game. In the educational world, you may not know whether you have a hit for two years, but then you will have people buying that game for 10-15 years."
— Lee Wilson, CEO, Filament Games
Did You Know?
Nearly 400 colleges and universities now offer professional certificates and undergraduate or graduate degrees in video game design, an increase of more than 50 percent since 2009 when 254 schools offered such programs.
Statistic of the Month
PC gamers are just as likely to be men (51 percent) as they are women (49 percent), according to the latest report from the NPD group.
ESA Foundation Impact Update
Entertainment Software Association
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