January 1 2016 edition

Thanks to Rob Duncan, Misha Eydman, Grant Hosford, Russ Shilling, and Kurt Squire for contributions to this issue! Please forward us your news and favorites to the contact information shown at the bottom.

Happy New Year! The past few weeks have been pretty relaxed for us here – we hope you too have had time to recharge.


Games Done QuickGames Done Quick‘s bi-annual charity gaming marathon is under way, streaming speedruns through January 10. Donations go to the Prevent Cancer Foundation to “Stop Cancer Before It Starts”. Check out their Twitch livestream!

Clever gamers are creating computers inside of sandbox games like Drawf Fortress, Little Big Planet, and Minecraft. Check out Wired’s article on this phenomenon and then go try it yourself!

Gizmodo covered the Society for Neuroscience’s annual meeting in Chicago and noted the large number of studies focusing on the impact of video games on the brain. The article covers Sabrina Schenk’s work on probabilistic learning, Gregory Dane Clemenson’s study on environmental enrichment, and others.

With leadership changes at the U.S. Department of Education, will the department continue its emphasis on game-based learning in 2016? The National Education Technology Plan makes several references to the value of learning games. GamesAndLearning wonders what the future may hold.

3D Sunshine is a block-based construction tool that you use inside virtual reality to rapidly build objects and structures. Check out creator Steven Schkolne’s YouTube channel to see how easy it is to use! Or this video.

Dev4X is building a global open gamified platform for learning, aiming to reach the most under-served. The Phase 1 prototype has been created and field tested in East Africa, and work on Phase 2 is under way. Check out their site to learn more about this ambitious effort!

Coding and Making

Ubisoft CodexUbisoft Montreal’s CODEX initiative will foster coding instruction for kids and learning through games. We talked briefly about this $8 million program a few newsletters ago – it will fund partners such as non-profit Kids Code Jeunesse. Learn more in this video.

Can coding be integrated into the kindergarten classroom? Educator Wes Dicken shares his experiences introducing coding to both students and parents!

codeSpark CEO Grant Hosford reached out to let us know about an update to The Foos. In Foo Studio, kids can build and program their own game levels starring the Foos, and share them with others! You can check out Foo Studio in this video.

Dale Dougherty, founder of MAKE Magazine and creator of Maker Faire, sat down with EdSurge to talk about what is next for the use of making in education.


PBS KIDS ScratchJrPBS KIDS ScratchJr (iOS, Android) – A great version of ScratchJr, a tool for telling stories and making games, designed for children ages 5-8. Includes over 150 PBS KIDS characters that you can use in your projects! Video.

Toca Blocks (iOS, Android) – A unique 2D world-building app in the colorful Toca universe. It’s kind of like Terraria meets Super Mario Maker, but designed for a much younger audience! Video.

PeaceMaker (Mac, iOS, Android) – Impact Games’ well-known game PeaceMaker has come to mobile! Work to bring peace to the Middle East or experience the agony of plunging the region into disaster. Video.

PeaceMaker (iOS) – GlassLab’s White House Education Game Jam game has shipped! Battleground 538 is a turn-based strategy game that puts you in control of a presidential campaign in the final 12 weeks, giving you deep insight into the electoral college system. Requires a GlassLab account. Video.


Asi Burak2015 Asi’s Farewell Party – Asi Burak has moved on from his role as President of Games for Change. Check out this video of industry luminaries wishing him well!

Daily Edventures interviews Mark DeLoura – At a recent event at Microsoft I sat down with Anthony Salcito, VP Education, for a chat about computer science education for his Daily Edventures blog. (Note: I’ve been doing some work with Microsoft the past few months.)

Go To College Music Video ‐ First Lady Michelle Obama teamed up with CollegeHumor to create this amusing hip hop video as part of the Better Make Room campaign. FLOTUS can rap!

360 Holiday Tour at the White House ‐ Did you catch the VR tour of the White House holiday decorations? Check them out in your Google Cardboard, Mattel View-Master, or Oculus Rift! You can also view them in 2D, just be sure to turn up the resolution and pan around the scene.

Fast-Forward Girls 2015 Behind the Scenes – GoldieBlox made a great video highlighting role models for girls. It was so much fun. Then someone called in a copyright claim on it. Boo! Watch this Behind the Scenes version instead. For now.


Future of Education Technology Conference – Bringing educators and technologists together to share teaching techniques. Orlando, FL. January 12-15.
CUNY Games Festival – A conf on game-based learning in higher ed. New York, NY. January 22-23.
Global Game Jam – The world’s largest simultaneous weekend game jam. Everywhere. January 29-31.
EduCon 2.8 – Education innovation un-conference. Philadelphia, PA. January 29-31.
Kidscreen Summit – The kids entertainment industry’s most important annual event. Miami, FL. February 8-11.
DICE Summit – The game industry’s annual executive leadership summit. Las Vegas, NV. February 16-18.
SXSW Edu – Education sub-festival before SXSW Music / Film / Interactive. Austin, TX. March 7-10.
Game Developers Conference ‐ The largest game developer conference. San Francisco, CA. March 14-18.


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