October 16 2015 edition

Thanks to Frederic Descamps, Daniel Laughlin, Ben Sawyer, Russell Shilling, Meghan Ventura, and Mitch Weisburgh for contributions to this issue! Please forward us your news and favorites to the contact information shown at the bottom.


G4C Student ChallengeHave you heard about the Games for Change Student Challenge? New York City students will create digital games about social issues in their local communities on five themes to compete for prizes. More info here! Submissions are open until January 30.

Edchat Interactive is holding a two-part online discussion with Jeff Borden, Chief Innovation Officer of Saint Leo University and former VP Instruction and Academic Strategy at Pearson. First chat is October 26!

YouTube Gaming announced the addition of mobile game livestreaming (Android-only) and monthly sponsorships this past week. Sponsorships are essentially donations to channels you enjoy.

GameDesk launched several new science games on iOS this past week, Geomoto and Pangean, both earth sciences games that they produced utilizing player motion tracking. Check out the whitepaper on their design process, and great video.

Jen Helms, co-founder of Playmation Studios, discusses how to create game designs for educational games that are fun to play and provide deep learning of the subject matter in a thoughtful piece on Gamasutra.

James CollinsDML Central interviewed James Collins, Digital Media Project Manager at the Smithsonian, about his recent presentation at the Serious Play Conference and the relevance of games to museums.

Is it possible to learn to drive a manual transmission by playing racing games? Mike Fahey at Kotaku grabbed a racing wheel, gear shift, and copies of Forza 6 and Project Cars to find out.

Chris Ferguson writes a piece for the Huffington Post on the continuing discussion around potential negative impacts of video games.

What types of games work best for teaching elements of the Common Core standards? The Hechinger Report considers quiz games and Minecraft in a conversation with Daniel O’Keefe of the Institute of Play.

Matthew Farber talks with Justin Leites of Amplify Learning about the use of games for informal learning. They discuss The World of Lexica, Twelve a Dozen, and the importance of playing together.

Salt Lake City built the U.S.’s first “protected intersection” for bicyclists this month. Nick Falbo, designer of the concept, was previously an animator on games like Rock Band and Mass Effect. He used his experience to bring the virtual world to life in his pitch. Video.

Coding and Making

Grace Hopper CelebrationThe Grace Hopper Celebration took place last week, an annual conference celebrating women in computing. There were 12,000 attendees this year, up from 8,000 last year! In case you missed it, here are Day 1 and Day 2 summaries.

The STEM Education Act of 2015 was signed into law in the U.S., explicitly including computer science in the definition of STEM. This makes it possible for Noyce Teacher Scholarships to cover computer science learners, and directs the National Science Foundation to continue funding informal computer science education programs.

Intel introduced the Arduino 101, a development board based off the Curie module that will be packaged with an electronics and coding course for kids. The Curie includes an x86 processor, Bluetooth LE, and six-axis acceleration tracking.

Computer science is now the most popular major for women attending Stanford University. Nationwide undergraduate computer science programs average 18% female; Stanford is now at about 30%. Progress!

Margaret Hamilton is a computer scientist who directed programming for NASA’s Apollo Guidance Computer software stack while working at MIT in the 1960’s. Her work on job prioritization was fundamental in the success of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Check out Wired’s great piece celebrating her work, and her Wikipedia entry.

Girls Who CodeTwenty-six tech companies including Twitter, Facebook, and Microsoft have signed a hiring pledge with Girls Who Code, stating they will consider hiring alumnae from the program, as part of an effort to improve gender diversity in tech.

Erica Baker, a build and release engineer at Slack who is behind #RealDiversityNumbers, a Twitter effort to get companies to report their tech diversity numbers, reminds us to consider gender diversity AND racial diversity!

Secret Coders is a digital graphic novel that teaches computational thinking skills. Check out this great edSurge interview with author Gene Luen Yang.

Frances C. is a twelve-year-old girl who learned to love coding by being introduced to Scratch. Read about her experiences in this Medium piece.

Speaking of Scratch, are you curious to learn Scratch but looking for guided lessons? Ucodemy has launched Itch, a version of Scratch with lessons that tie into their cloud-based e-learning platform.

Curious to play with a Scratch-like language to build 3D objects? Try out Beetleblocks! Video.

Pocket Programming is an Android app for budding learners of Ruby and Ruby on Rails. The quiz app is designed to bolster your programming knowledge while you’re on the go.


Minecraft Story ModeMinecraft: Story Mode (Everything) – The first episode of this story about a game that has no story has been released! Seriously, it’s Minecraft. Go play it. Video.

Fair Play (PC, Mac, Web) – Jamal Davis is a young black student on his way to becoming a renowned professor in this U Wisconsin game that explores implicit biases. Read the article, then play the game! Video.

Neurotic Neurons (Web) – Nicky Case, co-creator of Parable of the Polygons, explains exposure therapy using this impressive dynamic web app.

Geomoto (PC, iOS, Android) – In this geology game from GameDesk (discussed above) you’ll learn about plate tectonics by smashing tectonic plates together. How often do you get to do that? Video.

PAUSE (iOS) – Pause is a relaxing app/game that wants to help you relax. Created by ustwo and PauseAble, this app was designed to battle stress and depression. Video.


Grace HopperThe Queen of Code – Who worked on the Harvard Mark 1, invented the COBOL programming language, and created the term “bug”? Meet Grace Hopper.

MINECON 2015 Teaching with Minecraft – This great panel of students, educators, and YouTube stars spoke at MINECON about using Minecraft for teaching.

How Oldschool Sound/Music worked – How did game audio progress from beeps and boops to live orchestra? 8-Bit Guy gives you the scoop.

Geeky Kids: Feedback for the Head of Xbox – Future innovators spoke to GeekWire about their love for Microsoft’s game console. Well, mostly love.

Knocking on Nintendo’s Door – If you’re a Nintendo fan you’ll enjoy this older video of someone just wandering into Nintendo’s original headquarters in Kyoto. Um, hello?


IndieCade 2015 – Largest celebration of independent games in the U.S. Los Angeles, CA. October 22-25.
GameCity Festival – Exploring and celebrating the art of videogames. Nottingham, UK. October 22-31.
GameSoundCon – The art, technology, and business of game audio. Los Angeles, CA. November 3-4.
Mozilla Festival – Forging the future of the web. London, UK. November 6-8.
Practice – High-quality game design conference for pro designers. New York, NY. November 13-15.
Serious Games Showcase & Challenge – The serious games competition at I/ITSEC. Orlando, FL. November 30 – December 4.
Global Game Jam – The world’s largest simultaneous weekend game jam. Everywhere. January 29-31.


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