Success does not equal happiness (Watch this!)

Today’s TED Talk is a perfect complement to the lecture on motivation. The speaker is a psychologist who studies “positive psychology,” and the talk is about how to make yourself more successful by making yourself happier. Usually we think about the world the other way around: If we succeed, then we will be happy. But in practice, often success leads to stress… if we get a good grade, we start worrying about whether we will get a good grade again. If we meet our sales goals, we get given an even higher sales goal. His field of research suggests that if we use proven techniques to improve our happiness now, we create a mindset that will make it easier for us to succeed.

Watch this now. It will make you happy.

How many “schools for gamers” are there?

Over at the “Best Colleges Online” web site, they have created a listing (with links to more information) of the “Ten Best Schools for Serious Gamers.” We’ll be talking directly to the Quest to Learn folks later this semester, and I’ll be visiting with some of the USC gaming folks in February (I promise a field trip report when I get home).

Do any of you know of some school or program that should be included in this list? When will the Maize and Blue make it?

Portal 2 as Written by Great American Authors

Videogames already have some pretty good writing, but what if they were created by not just good writers, but great writers? Here is a blog post that imagines that for Portal 2:

Got any rewrites of your own? Add them in the comments!

Cite this!

Working on a paper for class (perhaps this class)? Need some help with citation formatting? Check out this great online tool, Son of Citation Machine. This nifty site does all the major citation styles (hint: for EDUC 222, choose APA 6th), and thanks to the magic of crowd sourcing, might even already know how to cite what you have in mind. If not, just enter the requested information into the boxes, and the site will generate a proper in-text citation and entry for your end-of-paper reference section!

Son of Citation Machine (APA 6th Style):


Feel constrained by 200 words? How about 6?

Students in EDUC 222 know that the limit on weekly reading reactions is a paltry 200 words. How are you supposed to express your deep understanding of the readings in only 200 words? Here’s something to make you feel better.

Sebastian Wernicke, speaking at TEDx Zurich 2011, demonstrates the potential of boiling all TED talks down to just 6 words. Starting with over 2.3 million words across all TED talks currently on the web, Wernicke cut things back by 99.9997%! See for yourself below.

Next time you are working on a reading reaction, instead of feeling hemmed in by “only” having 200 words, think about starting with 6 words, and enjoy the extra 194!

Don’t be any of these people…

As we prepare for a new year of blogging and commenting, NPR reminds us of the 20 people we’re likely to meet in the comments section.

More on Gold Farming….

Gold Farming – it’s not just fun and games! Here’s a great blog post by Cory Doctorow about the recent World Bank report on the ‘grey market’ in emerging economies. Gold farming and other services that can be sold to rich players who’d rather not do any heavy lifting is a really big deal.

BREAKING local news: WoW gold traders investigated

Wow! (I mean, WoW!)… check this out. Right on our campus, the FBI was investigating an illegal gold-trading scheme in World of Warcraft.

Now there’s something to think about as we prepare to read and talk about cheating next week!

McGonigal’s Next Big Thing

Have you read Jane McGonigal’s recent book yet? (Lots of you posted about it on this very blog.) It’s a great overview of why games are a good model not just for learning but for broader societal change. But as a consummate multi-tasker, McGonigal is also always juggling several projects. One of her next big ones is an alternate reality game launching with the New York Public Library. Read all about it!

Good vs. Bad “Gamification”

A few weeks ago in class, I introduced you to the idea of “gamification” and “game mechanics.” As with anything, there’s a good and a bad way to approach this idea. Here’s an excellent little blog post that digs into the topic, and explains why “true” game designers hate the gamification trend so much (they really are just hating on the “bad” gamification).

Prone to FPS motion sickness? Then don’t watch this!

What if Mario were a first-person shooter (FPS) game? These animators let you find out.

Moral Combat: Why do liberals play computer games like conservatives?

Here’s an interesting bit of musing on something I hadn’t thought much about before. When a game is blatantly political or take a blatant point of view (the Rapture-themed games where you have to run around saving people come to mind), at least I know where it is coming from. But do games in general encourage or shape political thought? Do game designers have an agenda?  Hmmm….

What’s going on at Michigan?!

Video games are bustin’ out all over the place… a classical studies professor starts talking about them, but even before that (OK, like 19 years before that) a video game tournament described as “frenzied” broke out in South Quad.  Read all about those who came before you here, including plenty of Jurassic trash talking.

“Gamifying” Grades in Class

Unless you are totally not paying attention, you are aware that we are using a “game-based” grading system in EDUC 222. As I mentioned in the first class meeting, I was inspired to try this out by reading a blog post about a class taught by Lee Sheldon on MMORPGs in the Department of Telecommunications at Indiana University that uses a similar system. There have been a spate of blog posts about this kind of grading system recently, and I thought you might appreciate some “behind-the-scenes” considerations. As always, your feedback and input on our grading system is welcomed!

How to ‘Gamify’ your class Website” by Anastasia Salter in the Chronicle of Higher Education (this is basically the newspaper of higher education.

Gamifying Homework” by Jason Jones, also in the Chronicle.

And an interesting “post-mortem” on the IU class… do you agree with the students’ feedback on the grading system in that course? What would you change about the grading system in our course?


Up next from The Education Arcade

What are Scot Osterweil and our friends at MIT’s Education Arcade going to do next? Vanished: The MIT/Smithsonian Science Mystery! This is going to be a semi-synchronous multiplayer mystery that begins on April 4th. Students work on environmental science mysteries, assisted by real scientists at the Smithsonian. Here’s a USA Today piece on the game.

What do the numbers on the Vanished web site mean? What is the counter counting down to?

Anybody in 222 want to play?

Call of Duty vs. Halo vs. Atlantic Cod

The fish always wins. See the unassailable logic for yourself in this hilarious video from the nation’s premier ninja. Bonus: Notice who the question is from? (Note: you have to watch a short ad before the video.)

Vodpod videos no longer available.


For The Win

I’ve mentioned Cory Doctorow a few times before, but if you are playing World of Warcraft of any of massively multiplayer online role-playing game, you must read Cory’s second ‘teen’ novel, For The Win. Don’t be fooled by the ‘teen’ label, this is a great novel, with complex characters, a fast-moving plot, and a deep exploration of the world behind MMORPGs, the people who play them, and the hidden (and not-so-hidden) economies that they rely upon and create. This is essentially a story of the struggle between have-nots and don’t-cares, and the corporate powers who try to manipulate both for greater profit. And of course, as with all of Cory’s books, you can find them in fine bookstores as well as online in a variety of digital formats which you may download and read for free on Kindles, iPads, or whatever floats your boat.

World of Goo: App Store Case Study

Have you ever wondered why some games “work” on consoles, but not other platforms? How do developers decide how to price their games? What drives sales on the App store? 2D Boy, the crew behind the marvelous indie game World of Goo, have written an insightful and revealing blog post that explores all of these issues. Must-read for anyone thinking about creating their own games for iPhone, iPad, or other “app store” driven gaming platforms.

It’s a good thing I brought my daughter to Digital Ops…

Check this out: “girls ages 11 to 16 years old who played videogames with a parent behaved better, felt more connected to their families and had better mental health than girls who played with friends or on their own.” Read all about it in the Wall Street Journal, who is citing a a study by researchers at BYU that just appeared in the Journal of Adolescent Health. Now I’ve got that smug “good parent” feeling. The family that kills zombies together…

NYT review of Dead Space 2

Somehow, reading a video game review in the “Old Grey Lady” (that’s an apt nickname for the New York Times) feels a bit like hearing your grandmother drop the f-bomb at the Thanksgiving table (funny story, ask me some other time…) But the NYT just loves Dead Space 2!

You may have noticed this game from its clever “Your mom hates this.” marketing campaign.

This is a game in the “action-horror” genre. Did you play the original? Do you play action-horror games? If so, do you find them scary in the same way you find horror movies scary? I generally don’t play this type of game, but I am curious. There’s also a version out for iPhones and iPads that is getting good reviews.

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