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Thousands of gamers came together last month and raised more than $5.1 million for children’s hospitals through Extra Life, a 24-hour video game marathon to benefit Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) Hospitals. Funds will support medical treatment and research at participating CMN Hospitals.
This year, Extra Life partnered with the ESA Foundation and featured an ESA Foundation Challenge. Together, they set a fundraising record that exceeded last year’s effort by approximately $1 million. Grants for $30,000 will go to the hospital whose players raised the most money and also to the hospital with the highest per capita fundraising. Extra Life is accepting donations through the end of 2014.
Visit Extra Life’s website to learn more and donate.
Students in the School of Communication at American University in Washington, D.C., have an opportunity to participate in a fellowship program that will use video game theory to shape the next generation of newsroom leaders.
With the support of a $250,000 donation from the Knight Foundation, the Journalism Leadership Transformation (JoLT) program will support six fellows – three journalism students and three professional journalists. Fellows will enroll in American University’s game design master’s degree program, where they will organize and participate in multiple summits with academics and journalists in Washington D.C.
“Effective game designers excel at weaving together a compelling mix of context goals, challenges and rewards that encourages players’ ongoing involvement,” said Jeffrey Rutenbeck, dean of the School of Communication. “What can journalism learn from the way they think?”
Visit American University’s website to learn more about the JoLT program.
The Gannett Company, the nation’s largest publisher, is experimenting with the way it delivers news to audiences through an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. Audiences can virtually follow the Harvest of Change campaign that features four rural Iowa farming families and the technological, economic and environmental challenges they face.
Screenshot from “Harvest of Change” campaign.
“This is the way we, as journalists, are going to need to communicate to the Minecraft generation,” said the Gannett Company’s Digital Vice President Mitch Gelman.
The ESA Foundation, the video game industry’s philanthropic arm, encourages this trend through a grant to the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. The Pulitzer Center used the grant to develop an educational role-playing game with Decode Global. The purpose of the game is to increase media literacy and global issue awareness among high school students from low-income communities. Students can learn journalism techniques and improve critical thinking skills by playing the role of an international journalist.
Several new independent studies revealed significant educational, psychological and therapeutic benefits of video game play for gamers of all ages.
A study from Brock University found emotional and developmental gains among gamers. Researchers found that adolescents who play sports video games show enhanced self-esteem and confidence and are more likely to get involved in athletics. The study’s authors attributed these gains to the safe environment sports video games provide children to experience success and to develop and master sports-related skills.
Akili Interactive’s Project: Evo is a brain training game designed to simultaneously tax several mental abilities and help reverse mental decline in an aging population. When players repeatedly exercise their cognitive health, they strengthen multitasking and executive control. Project: Evo is still undergoing clinical trials but the preliminary research is promising. A study that examined NeuroRacer — another Akili game and uses similar mechanics as Project: Evo — found that older adult players improved their memory, focus and multitasking abilities. Akili is seeking the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of Project: Evo as a medical device.
Screenshot from the “Project: Evo" brain training game.
Researchers from Florida State University tested the brain-training effectiveness of the popular video game Portal 2 versus cognitive learning software developed by Lumosity. Portal 2 players vastly outperformed their Lumosity peers and showed increased performance in problem solving, spatial skills and persistence. This study was the first to test a commercial video game against one specifically designed to enhance cognitive function.
In The News
Latest News Release
Calling All Writers
ESA invites members of the video game community to submit original articles for inclusion in our newsletter. Articles should be no more than 500 words in length, and focus on these topics:
Those interested should email ESA with your name, affiliation and a brief abstract of your proposed piece.
Quote of the Month
"She looked at me and said, ‘This [video game] looks like a cartoon.’ But when she put the headset on, she started to cry, and she started to tell me her story with a degree of emotion that I had not seen in eight weeks of treatment with her."
— Dr. JoAnn Difede, director of the Program for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Studies at Cornell University, on video games’ potential as effective therapy tools.
Did You Know?
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is offering a free series of massive open online courses (MOOCs) that focus on unique aspects of the video game industry. Courses will cover design, development and implementation of educational technology that includes video game design.
Statistic of the Month
Seventy-four percent of K-8 teachers report using digital games for instruction, with four out of five reporting that their students play at least monthly and 55 percent reporting that students play at least weekly, according to a new study from The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop.
ESA Foundation Impact Update
Entertainment Software Association
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