Teaching Guantanamo Bay in Second Life

10/04/2009

At MipTV two lecturers showed us what they’d been doing with Guantanamo Bay in Second Life http://tiny.cc/bM9UW I thought this was a visionary tool for teachers.  Pupils can swiftly come closer to the story in a way that hours of news footage are unlikely to ever achieve

The game, which requires you to sign over your avatar to another’s control, also integrates the facts and feelings researched through the footage, interviews, news reports, poetry and other official and personal sources of information around the issue. It’s an amazing piece of work and points to a whole new way of undersatnding War, Peace and Citizenship both formally and informally.


What I learned at Crossover Play

22/03/2009

I went on Crossover because it said:

“Participants will have a unique opportunity to explore and experiment with game forms and digitally mediated play; working as individuals and in teams they will also brainstorm, develop and prototype ideas for new ones.”

It did it in spades for me. Loads of ideas were swiftly generated and one or two we took a little further. There was the challenge to use Mobile, Horror and the conference location, Crathorne Hall,  to create a multi-platform event. Ours included bulk texting of all delegates, some of whom didn’t appreciate the late night horror texts – and who can blame them?

One text linked to our specially shot horror video on youtube. This also caused us a few problems as the link appeared broken in our bulk text, making it non-clickable when it went to the various handsets. We repaired this and made a tiny url which we retexted only to find it mysteriously sending the delegates to a spanish site. We stopped using Tinyurl and went to tiny.cc which worked much better and finally got people to the correct video. By now it was costing a small fortune in texts but I was addicted to bulk texting.

In the evening we took the other delegates on a small tour of the house which culminated in a dramatic attack on our tour guide, involving a lot of twigs, fake blood and a bit of meat the kitchen kindly provided.

It was a great experience for me, and I really enjoyed working with Andy Pawlby of London Quest and Darren Navier at Numiko. Working with them I learned how quickly you can create an exciting event in this way. Thanks also to loads of help from Adam Cassells who did so much on the tech support side – and had a camera with just enough battery life left in it.

A significant part of the week for me was that I started to think about game mechanics. Mark Sorrell and Margaret Robertson both shed light on the underlying structures of games.

This led onto another group activity where we presented the unusually titled “I am Human Cancer” game.

Another fun session with the Wellcome Trust gave us ‘Frankenstein’s Lab’ and then it was on to the last task, 24 hours to come up with our final project.

After much musical chairs I worked with the dream team of Charles Kriel, Mark Sorrell and Trina Garnett on a console game.

I also got involved with another group in a C4 brainstorm around Allan Carr, in which we got to consider what kind of multi-platform might extend an entertainment offering.

The week was filled from morning till 2am most nights, as game and play fever raged. We pitched and repitched to teams of slave-driving mentors and on the last morning we presented the final projects. It was a hard week and Frank rarely let up on the pressure. I learned so much because I met and worked with people I would never have met any other way. It was a fabulous experience. Do it.