February 3 2017 edition

Thanks to Drew Davidson, Catherine Jhee, Russ Shilling and Meghan Ventura for contributions to this issue! You can send us your news and favorites by replying back to this newsletter or using the contact information shown at the bottom.

Games and Education

ISTEThe International Society for Technology in Education is calling for feedback on the second draft of its Standards for Teachers. The Standards are a framework for learning, teaching, and leading amplified by technology. I’ve found the ISTE Standards a valuable reference in the past and look forward to the updated version for teachers!

Are you aware of the Games for Change Migration Challenge? This $10,000 game design competition is open to entrants from around the world, focused on game designs that encourage greater understanding of the complex challenges of migration for both migrants and their communities. Deadline is February 15.

The Joan Ganz Cooney Center has published an infographic on digital games and family life. Distilled from a survey of 700 parents whose children play video games, the data demonstrate the timelessness and ease-of-use of board games!

The Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon recently published a free book on “Creative Chaos”, the dynamic process of collaborative design and development in interdisciplinary teams. There’s some great information in here highlighting the value of diversity in teams, specifically how constructive conflict and the exchange of ideas lead to more innovative results.

Lego LifeLego launched a social network for kids under 13, Lego Life. Participants can share images of their Lego builds, try out build challenges, follow other users, and comment using a limited set of Lego emoji. Looks like a great place to get inspiration for your next Lego project!

Gabo Arora is founder of United Nations VR, and director of well-known VR empathy pieces such as Clouds Over Sidra. The Voices of VR Podcast talks with Arora, and the article is quite good too, with some unexpected tips and recommended resources.

A new report “The Legacy of inBloom” utilizes interviews and research to trace the closure of the education data warehousing startup. inBloom seemed to hold such promise for education data geeks, working to harmonize the ecosystem through standardization and infrastructure. Unfortunately the dream came apart. This interesting piece housed on Medium gets into some of the details… we recommend you start there!

The past few weeks we have been having a very dynamic conversation about immigration and refugees in the United States. I urge you to read the thoughts of several innovative game developers on the topic. Navid Khonsari of Ink Stories, developer of 1979 Revolution, plans to donate proceeds of their game to the ACLU. Mahdi Bahrami, developer of beautiful games Farsh and Engare, shared his frustrations about trying to visit the US to meet other game developers, or work with US-based distribution platforms like Steam.

Coding and Making

CSTAThe Computer Science Teachers Association is looking for your feedback! The public review period for the revised K-12 Computer Science standards is now open. There’s a lot there, so don’t try to tackle it all at once πŸ™‚ Pick the grades you have the most expertise or opinion about, and please give them your thoughts.

Kiki Prottsman (Code.org) and Jane Krauss (NCWIT) give you some suggestions on how to make computer science less daunting and more fun, in an interview for Edutopia. They are launching a new book, “Computational Thinking {and Coding} for Every Student”. Sounds great!

Building a diverse tech workforce could require mandating computer science in school, according to Sabina Bharwani, Managing Director of Innovation Strategy at Teach for America. Check out Bharwani’s thoughts about diversity and the challenge of adequately delivering computer science education for all.

THE Journal discusses the transition of CS Education from club to curriculum, in a wide-ranging piece primarily highlighting work being spearheaded by San Francisco-based Hack Club but in use in classrooms around the United States.


I got a little too busy last week to keep up with all the amazing games coming out. How sad is that? So this week here are some of my favorite computer sciencey puzzle games.

Human Resource MachineHuman Resource Machine (PC, Mac, iOS, Android, WiiU) – Help solve problems for your boss by writing a little Blockly code to automate your work! Video.

TIS-100 (PC, Mac, iOS) – Explore the inner workings of an obscure computer by solving challenges through assembly language programming. I swear, assembly language can be fun! Video.

SpaceChem (PC, Mac, Android) – Construct elaborate factories to transform raw materials into valuable products! It isn’t writing code, but it smells kind of like writing code. Hmmmmm. Video.

Infinifactory (PC, Mac, PS4) – It’s kind of like SpaceChem but in 3D. And isn’t everything better in 3D? Video.


22 Percent ProjectThe 22 Percent Project – Turkish game company Gram Games has launched a new initiative aimed at bringing more women into the game industry, through a series of game dev workshops. Fantastic!

Mathematics is Forever – What makes mathematics beautiful? Eduardo Saenz de Cabezon shares his love for mathematics with you in this funny short TED talk, in Spanish with subtitles.

G4C Industry Circle: Schell Games – Sabrina Culyba, principal designer at Schell Games, presented her Transformational Field Guide in a Games for Change Industry Circle livestream last week. You can grab the handouts here!

360 Google Spotlight Story: Pearl – Congratulations to the creators of this touching short story, the first 360-degree VR film (animated) to be nominated for an Academy Award. You can watch it on your desktop using the mouse to look around the scene, or even better, watch it on your mobile device!


Kidscreen Summit – Exploring new horizons in kids entertainment. Miami, FL. February 13-16.
DICE Summit – The game industry’s annual executive leadership summit. Las Vegas, NV. February 21-23.
Game Developers Conference ‐ The biggest conference to attend for game developers! San Francisco, CA. February 27-March 3.
SIGCSE 2017 – The largest computing education conference worldwide, organized by ACM SIGCSE. Seattle, WA. March 8-11.


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