The Education Arcade welcomed a cadre of new CMS graduate students this fall: Kristina Drzaic, Peter Rauch, Dan Roy, and Alec Austin, all class of 2007, brainstormed and designed Gung-ho!: A Google Maps Adventure. The game is intended to harness the popular and publicly available Google Maps service for teaching elementary and middle school students about United States geography. Staged as a futuristic race across the country, the game challenges students to collaboratively research and synthesize data from several information sources online including encyclopedias, U.S. Geographical Survey statistics, and weather reports to locate natural and manmade landmarks. To bring out the emphasis on understanding and correlating multiple kinds of media, Ravi Purushotma (’06) of CMS’ New Media Literacies (NML) project also participated in gamedesign meetings.
Virtual MIT Now MIT Ghost
The Virtual MIT project, now known as MIT Ghost, also moved forward. The project aims to create a game-like environment based on student life at MIT, borrowing elements from popular massively multiplayer online games like World of Warcraft and Second Life.
This fall, James Nadeau began working on the project with help from visiting scholar Stefan Werning. Both Nadeau and Werning worked on expanding the prototype of the game using Ashdown House as a template. The game was formally introduced to members of the MIT admissions team to begin a process of coordinating further progress with them. In addition, the game was brought to the Undergraduate Association who expressed great interest in the possibilities of the project.
For the coming spring term, a team of undergraduate researchers (UROPs) will begin working on a multi-platform version of the game starting with the modeling of a single floor in two dorms. MIT Ghost is co-sponsored by CMS and the Information Services and Technology department.
During Independent Activities Period (IAP), the Education Arcade also hosted its annual “Storytelling and Games in the Digital Age” workshop. Co-sponsored by Sony Pictures Imageworks, the special effects arm of Sony’s movie studio, the workshop challenges teams of students from CMS, computer science, architecture, and beyond to brainstorm and “pitch” a proposal for a commercial game project from start to finish all in one week.
Featured are lectures from CMS faculty, Sony professionals, and local area game developers. This year, Kristina Drzaic led the winning design, a hypothetical photojournalism game based on a National Geographic license. Also leading teams were Dan Roy and Ivan Askwith (Lemony Snicket), Alec Austin (Lord of the Flies), and Geoff Long (Yojimbo).
Learning Games to Go Gets Manager
Scot Osterweil joins Comparative Media Studies as project manager of the Education Arcade. He will be leading the Learning Games to Go initiative, a project coproduced with Maryland Public Television.
Prior to his arrival, he was a senior designer at TERC, a research & development center devoted to math and science education, where he participated in research projects on the role of computer games in learning, and on the use of video in data collection and representation. Osterweil designed Zoombinis Island Odyssey, winner of the 2003 Bologna New Media Prize, and with Chris Hancock he co-designed the multi-award winning Logical Journey of the Zoombinis, and its first sequel, Zoombinis Mountain Rescue.
Previously, Osterweil worked in television, on the production of Public Television’s Frontline, Evening at the Pops, and American Playhouse, and as an animator on a wide range of programs. He is a graduate of Yale College with a degree in theater studies.