Thursday, October 26, 2006

Ayiti: The Cost of Life

Ayiti: The Cost of Life is an educational game about education and poverty.

Playing 4 Keeps participants chose to focus their game on the general topic of poverty as an obstacle to education, with Haiti as a case study and setting for the game. Global Kids worked with UNICEF as a premiere partner hosting the game.

"Playing 4 Keeps (P4K) is an innovative youth media project that involves a team of Global Kids youth leaders at South Shore High School in Brooklyn, New York, USA. These young people learn to develop and produce socially conscious online games, while gaining skills in game design, digital media, leadership, and peer education. The program is a collaboration with the award-winning online game design company Gamelab, with whom the Global Kids Leaders have worked closely in the production of the Ayiti game."

It would be nice to know how much of the game the high school kids made and how much Gamelab made. How did the process really work? Was it programmed in Flash? Had it been programmed in an easier language eg Game Maker, would the kids have been able to do more? Would the result have looked as good. How are the goals of student engagement in game creation and social change balanced when kids make games for change?

See africagame , a teacher Bill Kerr has made games for change for his students. This game is open source. Westall Sceondary College students have made their own Game Maker games about malaria in africa.

An area worthy of further study. When students make games for change, must there be trade offs between student learning, social change and open source?

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Blogger Bill Kerr said...

thanks for this one tony - initially I found it a bit confusing tracking the groups behind this game

Playing for Keeps (P4K) is a school based (in Brooklyn, New York) subgroup of Global Kids, which attracted support from Microsoft's Partners in Learning Mid-Tier Initiative, which seeks to identify and encourage "pockets of innovation" for increasing digital literacy and career readiness

As you say P4K then teamed with GameLab to produce "socially conscious on line games" and this game is the result

Have you played this game yet? I read that it's hard (MySpace link ) and I'm not much of a game player, unfortunately.

P4K future plans involve setting up a Global Kids Island in the virtual world of Teen Second Life. It's hard to keep up with it all!

The Cost of Life has also been released on this MySpace account and there is a promotional vodcast there which is worth watching

It's interesting to me how MicroSoft reaches out everywhere including into social justice areas. I recently reported in the africaGame links page that Bill and Melinda Gates made progressive political and medical statements about AIDS

Sunday, October 29, 2006 12:24:00 PM  
Blogger Bill Kerr said...

also check out the recent GameLab press release , which includes this:
"And now for something completely different. The Macarthur Foundation is awarding a major grant to Gamelab and the Academic Co-Lab at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. The $1 million+ award will fund the research and development of Game
Designer, innovative educational software that will teach junior high through university students about game design by letting them create and modify games. The Academic Co-Lab, headed by leading game scholar Jim Gee, will work closely with Gamelab throughout design and production. Game Designer is part of The Macarthur Foundation's ongoing support for research and innovation in digital media, youth, learning, and education."

Sunday, October 29, 2006 12:35:00 PM  
Blogger Bill Kerr said...

Yet more.

Eric Zimmerman is CEO of GameLab and has just co-edited The Game Design Reader, which complements their earlier book, Rules of Play. From the Game Designer reader blurb:
"Salen and Zimmerman have collected seminal writings that span 50 years to offer a stunning array of perspectives. Game journalists express the rhythms of game play, sociologists tackle topics such as role-playing in vast virtual worlds, players rant and rave, and game designers describe the sweat and tears of bringing a game to market. Each text acts as a springboard for discussion, a potential class assignment, and a source of inspiration. The book is organized around fourteen topics, from The Player Experience to The Game Design Process, from Games and Narrative to Cultural Representation. Each topic, introduced with a short essay by Salen and Zimmerman, covers ideas and research fundamental to the study of games, and points to relevant texts within the Reader. Visual essays between book sections act as counterpoint to the writings."

Sunday, October 29, 2006 12:46:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

"Have you played this game yet? I read that it's hard"

Its not so hard once you get used to the idea that your family is going to die, its just a matter of how long.

Maybe you can win but sofar I have just found different ways to die.

Monday, October 30, 2006 4:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I liked it - cute little sim. Nice graphics and simple sounds, easy to play (not easy to win!)

What I learned is that once you have bad luck, you die. The only time I got even close to breaking even was when the family got some lucky business loan that allowed the dad to work consistently all four years. But every sim is the designer's statement of opinion.

I hope the kids who worked on this project did real work and had a lot of input setting up the simulation and making decisions about how the various choices affect the outcomes. In any event, I imagine the kids who were involved in the production learned quite a bit.

Hopefully all the various powers-that-be in this operation don’t have a lot of expectations that this is actually going to be played anywhere or teach other kids about poverty. At best, I could see someone else showing this to other kids and challenging them to come up with their own sim. It's just too limited and opaque to do much else.

As you say, it would be so much better if other kids could peek under the hood and see how this was made, and to have the same tools available to them.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006 1:09:00 PM  

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