Update: Wii 2 Announced

Check it out:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-13186597

Not many details yet, but I figured it was worth a quick post.

New Nintendo Gaming System

Good news for Nintendo fans!  Apparently there are a lot of sources right now practically guaranteeing that there is a new Nintendo gaming system coming out soon. Supposedly, it will have HD graphics, although it isn’t certain whether the graphics will be comparable to the Xbox 360 or the PS3. Here’s an article that sums up many of the different reports from other gaming websites:

http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2011/04/report-nintendo-system-with-hd-graphics-to-be-revealed-this-month.ars

Game Informer is reporting that the new system will have HD graphics, while IGN reports that, “Our sources have said the console is significantly more powerful than the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, and that Nintendo’s intent is to recapture the hardcore market.” Who knows how this new system could potentially be used in the classroom, but I figured there were enough Nintendo-lovers in the class to warrant a post on this. If you see any updates on this news, post it in a comment!

Video Games and PE Classes

A lot of what we’ve been talking about in class has dealt with using video games to teach core subjects such as math and science, or even more complex skills such as teamwork.  What we haven’t talked much about however, is how we can use video games to enhance physical education, which is becoming an even more important part of K-12 education because of the growing problem of obesity in the US.  Here’s an article about a school that’s using Wii Fitness to enhance their physical education program (scroll down to the “Wii Fitness” heading):

http://www.yorkdispatch.com/ci_17845024

Here’s a great quote that I thought summed up their philosophy behind using the Wii, addressed why it was effective, and how it was supplemental:

Students at Dallastown participate in 45-minute gym classes every other day, which is quite a leap from one-day-per-week gym classes many of the students had at their elementary schools last year, said Harvey.

That’s why it’s important to mix things up in gym classes to keep the students from getting bored, he said.

And a favored gym-class activity among students of all physical conditions and fitness levels is the Wii Fitness room, he said. Students have the opportunity to box, bowl and run by using the Wii fitness games, he said.

“Sometimes the students don’t realize they’re sweating and getting a great workout because they’re thinking they’re playing a video game,” said Harvey.

A major advantage of the Wii Fitness room is that all students are able to be involved and put “on an equal playing field,” said Harvey.

“It’s great because you can take a great athlete up against a student with no athletic experience and the non-athletic person can still come out on top,” he said.

The biggest misconception of the Wii Fitness is that it’s taking over traditional gym classes, said Harvey.

At most, students might participate in the Wii Fitness room about five times a year because of all the learning units the students must go through, he said.

It seems that the Wii, in this school, is being integrated in a way similar to other games we’ve seen in schools. It’s not “taking over” traditional physical education, but it is helping to motivate kids. Perhaps in the future, the grading system could incorporate scores from kid’s Wii Fitness games, either as bonus points or a subset of points for their grade.  Although, schools may not want to invest too much in Wiis right now, as there may be something new on the horizon for Nintendo… Something I’ll address in my next post.

Ever wonder how some of your favorite classic video games got developed?

If so, check this article out:

http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2011/04/the-secret-history-of-super-mario-bros-2.ars

It’s a great example of how the structure and design of a game can affect its playability and entertainment value. Can you believe it? Super Mario 2 was almost a vertically scrolling type game. Thankfully, this prototype failed miserably and we ended up with the version we all know and love. I also thought that this was a refreshing thing to hear about Nintendo:

“The rapid-prototype development process on display here informs Nintendo’s design philosophy to this day. The company doesn’t begin development with characters and worlds: It starts by making sure that game boasts a fun and compelling game mechanic. If it’s not perfect, Nintendo has no qualms about throwing it out.”

This seems to be somewhat of a “lost art” today, with hundreds of repetitive first-person-shooters, sports game sequels, and GTA knock-offs on the shelves. The industry seems to be much less concerned with making  games that are truly great (forget perfect), and more concerned with making games that people will buy. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise given the nature of capitalism, however it would be nice to see a return to the “let’s make a perfect game” style of design and development. What do you guys think?

Game Design Similar to Ender’s Game

http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2011/03/the-enemy-gate-is-down-5th-cell-debuts-innovative-shooter-hybrid.ars

Jeremiah Slaczka may have never read Ender’s Game, but his game HYBRID looks a lot like the Battle Room from the famous science fiction novel. And although the game was not designed to be a “learning” game, it seems to owe at least some of its success to the application of learning principles.  5th Cell was looking for a new spin on third person shooters, something that could be differentiated from classics such as Halo, Call of Duty, and Gears of War.  The result was a shooter with a parkour-style movement and cover system emphasizing slower, more careful battlefield tactics.

The part of the article above that struck me most was that it took them a whole year to design (just) the movement system, but it only takes about twenty minutes for a player to learn, thanks in part to the simplicity of the controls.  To run across a room filled with whizzing bullets, from one point of cover to another, you simply point one of the thumbsticks in the direction you want to go and tap A.  Your player will automatically jump/flip/parkour-move over any obstacles in the way.  Oh, and if you double tap A you can fight on ceilings and walls.  The rest of the moves are simple one or two button combinations, too.  Sounds a lot like Gee’s Amplification of Input Principle to me.  And the gameplay seems like it utilizes Gee’s Multiple Routes Principle pretty heavily.  If you can fight from any surface of a room, including the ceiling, using everything and anything as cover, you’re going to have plenty of options.

I, for one, am excited about this game.  I think that although the game is not a learning game in the sense that it teaches any K-12 content, it still has the potential to teach gamers a lot.  Especially those of us that love first and third person shooters, but don’t know much about battlefield/movement tactics.  I can definitely see myself taking tactical concepts learned from HYBRID and applying them to my favorite shooters, such as Call of Duty and Halo.  And even though the tactics won’t translate perfectly – I don’t think the next Call of Duty will allow you to walk on ceilings – I’m guessing that my gameplay will still improve (Gee’s Transfer Principle, anyone?).

Duty Calls.

http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2011/02/free-duty-calls-game-promotes-bulletstorm-mocks-war-gaming.ars

The Duty Calls trailer and download:

http://www.thedutycalls.com/download.html

And Bulletstorm, the new videogame being made by Epic Games and EA which is attempting to change how we think about shooters:

http://www.bulletstorm.com/#

The makers of Bulletstorm actually made a short game making fun of traditional first-person-shooters, like Call of Duty. Their short game mocks the fact that typical shooters take themselves way too seriously, and place way too much emphasis on realism. At first, I thought the game looked completely ridiculous, and was slightly offended, given the fact that I LOVE serious shooters like Call of Duty Modern Warfare (1 and 2). But they make a good point; after what we have learned in class so far, I have begun to question the importance of realism (in terms of graphics) when it comes to making a good, fun game. But, is realism in terms of the degree to which gameplay represents reality the same thing? Part of me enjoys the realism of games like Call of Duty, and I find it to be extremely engaging. But many great games also emphasize fantasy, which is also very engaging. Halo is an example of a shooter that I think is more focused on fantasy than realism (and is arguably the most well-known videogame of all time), but Bulletstorm seems to take it to the extreme.What do you guys think? Does Bulletstorm look like it’s pushing too far away from realism? Or do you think it will actually be a popular release?

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