October 23 2015 edition

Thanks to Ben Sawyer, Russell Shilling, Greg Toppo, and Mitch Weisburgh for contributions to this issue! Please forward us your news and favorites to the contact information shown at the bottom.

Games

Google CardboardThe New York Times is planning to ship 1.3 million Google Cardboards to its readers on November 7. The inexpensive virtual reality headsets will come packed in with the Sunday newspaper and include a link to the Times’ VR documentary, “The Displaced”.

Edchat is holding a Minecraft education discussion with Garrett Zimmer on November 12. Garrett is building a suite of game-based learning modules for Minecraft in the classroom. Check out his work at minegage.com.

Games for Change and N Square are running a game design competition focused on the risk of nuclear weapons. The competition invites submissions of game designs that encourage a greater understanding of nuclear proliferation. The winning idea will receive a $10,000 prize!

Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan is a game under development from a team in Cameroon that draws on African fashion, music, and myth to create an epic action-RPG. The game is based on a fantasy view of what Africa may have been like if it hadn’t been colonized.

How can you get started utilizing games to teach English language skills in the classroom? Edutopia explores game-based learning for language and provides a handful of interesting resources.

CogniToys Green DinoLet’s talk a little about toys! Kidscreen covered research from PlayScience and the Casual Games Association highlighting differences in the way boys and girls approach digital play (boys want action and avatars, girls want character and narrative). Artificial Intelligence is making its way into your toys this Christmas, from Mattel’s Hello Barbie to the CogniToys Green Dino. How can they avoid the “creepiness factor”? MTV covered Project Mc2, an MGA Entertainment line of scientist dolls for girls that will be accompanied by a live-action Netflix Original Series. Lastly, for fun, take a look at these cheeky political dioramas using Playmobil characters!

MIND Research Institute posted a detailed infographic on why games are a useful tool for getting students to engage in math and explore mathematical thinking. The creators of ST Math assert that most students would rather eat broccoli than do math problems! So perhaps games can help.

We don’t link to EdWeek articles much since the site is paywalled, but this is a good one. Beth Holland is kicking off International Games Day in Rome with a presentation to librarians called “The Power of Games to Create New Learning Opportunities”. Holland suggests that games, like libraries, bridge communities, encourage problem solving, and make learning fun.

The UK government is launching Cyphinx, a skyscraper in Minecraft that will host cybersecurity games. The portal was developed by Serious Games International and is designed to help identify potential future cyber security personnel.

We make a bit of a pastime out of exploring the gamified toothbrush market. Meet the Kolibree Toothbrush, which you can now use to play Go Pirate 2, the “most engaging smart toothbrush game for children”. Yay!

Coding and Making

US Department of EducationThe U.S. Department of Education announced the Educational Quality through Innovative Partnerships (EQUIP) program, which will increase student aid flexibility for students attending non-traditional institutions. Under EQUIP, students of some coding camps and MOOCs may quality for federal aid.

Facebook launched TechPrep, a hub for parents and children seeking relevant computer science education resources. The site is targeted at underrepresented minorities and is available in English and Spanish. Check it out!

The BBC micro:bit will be delivered to all year 7 children in the UK later this year. You will soon be able to run Python on it thanks to the hard work of this chap, some folks at ARM, and the creator of MicroPython.

A few weeks ago we covered the release of Wonder, a friendly visual programming tool for the Dash & Dot robots from Wonder Workshop. They’ve announced the Wonder League Robotics Competition, a series of team coding challenges and a final competition to get kids excited about coding with the cute robots. VentureBeat did a great piece with more details on Dash & Dot, which includes thoughts from the author’s daughter.

Utah has partnered with Code.org to expand computer science education in the state. The partnership will increase access to computer science courses for students and provide professional development and training for Utah teachers.

Creatures & CodeLooking for a new picture book to help introduce your kids to coding? Check out The Wonderful World of Creatures & Code, a cute A-to-Z picture book with memorable rhymes and quirky creatures that has reached full funding on Kickstarter.

Glowforge raised $27.4 million in a 30-day crowdfunding round on its site – wow! The Seattle startup is creating an inexpensive 3D laser cutter that can be used to cut or engrave many materials, exciting makers.

MissionBit is a non-profit bringing computer science education to the underserved in San Francisco. Through collaborations with San Francisco Unified and coding bootcamps like Hack Reactor, MissionBit is working hard to expand opportunities for San Francisco’s African American and Latino youth. Video.

C-STEM Studio is a web resource with code, documentation, teacher guides and textbooks for teaching STEM skills through computing and robotics. The University of California at Davis project utilizes Ch, a C/C++ interpreter and scripting language, and RoboBlockly.

Playables

Human Resource MachineHuman Resource Machine (PC, Mac) – I’ve been waiting for this one! Human Resource Machine is a puzzle game that looks a lot like programming, from the creators of Little Inferno. Welcome, new employee! Video.

Cloud Chasers (iOS, Android) – A father and daughter seek to find their way across the desert in this thoughtful game about migration. Manage your precious water reserves carefully as you thread your way through a dangerous landscape. Video.

Sleep Furiously (iOS, Android) – Connect words on a jumbled grid to form complete sentences. The results are kind of silly! Think of it as a fridge magnet game. Video.

RedWire (Web) – I’m not quite sure what to make of RedWire, but it’s certainly intriguing. RedWire is an online game engine that lets you easily remix and mashup games. Video.

Videos

Magic Leap Solar SystemMagic Leap Demo – Magic Leap has been quietly developing new augmented reality technology, landing a $542 million investment round led by Google in 2014. Check out this new video showing the view through their tech.

World’s largest LEGO brick caravan – Think you have LEGO skills? Then you’ll really appreciate this 215,000 piece Caravan build!

Sesame Street welcomes first autistic character – CBS Evening News covers Sesame Street’s introduction of Julia, a new character who lives with autism. Nice job Sesame Street!

Star Wars Battlefront – You’ve already seen the latest Star Wars trailer, right? Now check out this Sony PlayStation holiday commercial for EA’s upcoming Star Wars Battlefront. It is really on point.

Pokemon Expo Gym sneak preview – I know you’ve missed the dancing Pikachu videos. If you were to visit Japan you could go to this new Expo City Pokemon gym! More pictures.

Conferences

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.

Resources

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