Creating geotainment with teenagers

At the moment I am working on a pretty exciting project which I got funded by the City of Munich. Based on free www.gps-mission.com. I am enabling educationally disadvantaged teenagers to create, review and play geotainment.

During the two day course two groups of teenagers first scout the area to come up with riddles based on their surroundings. With these each group creates a „GPS Mission“which the other group tests and reviews.

We also discuss basics of game design and storytelling. Goal is not to have bare riddles but to decide on a story which link the places and objectives together. Nice examples groups came up with till now are a suspense secret agent story and a voyage to Harry Potters Hogwarts (with a Bus Stop standing for Platform Nine and Three Quarters).
The kids love that they can use an iPhone to play the mission and are very motivated. The geotainment aspects makes it easier for the kids to be creative as we are working not only in virtual but also real space and they can basically „touch“ the riddles. One challenging aspect of the concept is that I only have a limited amount of iPhones and therefore don’t have a smart phone per kid. In a week I will try the project with 5 kids per iPhone which I think is the upper limit.
I would like to thank some people who helped to get the project to where it is now:
  • Mobile learning expert Chris Nash with whom I had an inspiring discussion in London
  • Marike Schlattmann from Lern-welten is working with me on the project.
  • and last but not least the City of Munich and Netzwerk Inter@ktiv which are open for innovative media education projects.

Update:

You can find a summary of the projekt results here:
https://tausend-medien.de/2012/gpsmission

"Silver Gaming" in Germany

Videogames are more and more becoming a regular medium. Like older mediums (books, TV) they are increasingly being used by a variety of people (across gender and age barriers) for various different means (e.g. entertainment, learning). As part of this process different specialized markets emerge (this was one of the topics of my diploma thesis).
On the 25th of January 2010 the first congress about gamers exceeding the age of 50 took place in Germany. As project manager for the conference I was very happy we hit a nerve with the topic which we labelled „Silver Gaming“ (we were sold out 🙂 . The next conference will most likely be taking place end of April in Nuremberg.
I especially liked the presentation by Nintendo. They mentioned the pressure of the strong ageing in Japan as a main reason for the development of alternative input methods for their consoles.
Other presentations included:
  • Roland Weiniger (SpieleGilde (GamesGuild) Games Industry Association): Serious Games – A huge growth area for the cultural industry.
  • Prof. Dr. Karl-Werner Jäger (Committee of Standard Practice (ANP) in DIN registered association (e.V)): Standard framework for the development and organization of user interfaces of interactive systems and games
  • Guido Hunke (A.GE Bodensee agency for generational marketing, Ravensburg) and others: Games in the senior and generational marketing area
  • Hermann Beißer (Head of the Käthe-Reichert-Nursing Home Workers‘ Welfare Association (AWO) Nuremberg): Video games in assisted living and nursing homes
  • Prof. Dr. Helmut Herold, Prof. Ethelbert Hörmann, (Ohm-University Nuremberg): genesis – “nuts and bolts “ promotion/advancement with computer games
A first summary of the findings of the congress in German can be found in this press release. A more detailed documentation will be released on the website of the congress in the future.
If you are interested in the topic but Nuremberg is to far, you can meet many of the participants of the conference in the Xing (~German LinkedIn) Silver Gaming group.

Pädi 2009 winners announced

The winners of the 2009 „Pädi“ – the pedagogic interactive awardwere announced. The Website www.kindernetz.de/minitz won the award in gold in the kids category, „Line RiderFreestylefor teenagers.
Other winners includeRhythm Paradise„, „Maus DS – Der mausgeflippte Denkspaßand „Professor Layton and the Curious Village„.

I was happy to be part of thePädi Expert Team“ which took part in the decision making process of the award. There will be an award ceremony on November 12th 14-16 in the Munich Gasteig/Carl-Orff-Saal with approx. 600 guests.

More info on the award (in German)

Der pädagogische Interaktiv-Preis – bundesweit einzigartig in seiner Konzeption – basiert im Unterschied zu vielen anderen Preisen, die entweder auf die künstlerische Komponente, die technischen Details oder die curricularen Lerninhalte Bezug nehmen, zu einem wesentlichen Teil auf praktischen Erfahrungen im Einsatz der multimedialen Produkte.

Mit dem Pädi werden Lern– und Spielprogramme pädagogisch bewertet, die Kinder und Jugendliche in ihrer Freizeit nutzen.

Der Pädi ist einerseits eine Orientierungshilfe im schier undurchdringlichen Dschungel der online- und offline-Angebote für die Heranwachsenden und andererseits eine Auszeichnung für die Hersteller von pädagogisch wertvollen Multimedia-Produkten. Er ist ein Ansporn für ihre Bemühungen, sinnvolle Produkte für Kinder und Jugendliche anzubieten und damit einen Beitrag zur Förderung der Medienkompetenz zu leisten.

You can find more infos on the Pädi and a full list of the winners of this 12th here:
www.sin-net.de/paedi.htm

Gamescom

At the gamescom in Cologne especially the PSP gameInvizimalscaught my eye.
The game allows players to interact with their environment, using the PSP Camera to look for and interact withinvisiblecreatures. It is the most convincing augmented reality game I have seen so far, while they still have problems with the prototype camera they were using at the gamescom.

Remote Control here we go!

Since beginning of May I am working for remote control productions running their research department.

remote control productions is an independent, internationally active production house, with an emphasis on mediation, development and production of entertainment software and research services. With its extensive experience and far-reaching contacts, remote control productions acts as an important interface between developers, publishers, distributors and investors.

It feels great to be here. The general focus of the company is very interesting with projects which try to do something new and/or have an positive impact on society or the video games business in mind. On top of that the company is very much involved in education, the local IGDA chapter, contacts to political institutions and the Verein für Videospielekultur (club for video games culture) on which I blogged here.

One of my main projects is our weekly newsletter which goes like this:

Up-to-Date in 30 minutes
Keeping an eye on current trends and affairs is an imperative for anyone concerned with the video games industry.

With the RCP-Newsletter, remote control productions are offering a compact overview on the latest trends and news as well as concise figures. Whilst we are tracking the international market very closely, our special focus lies on Germany. This not only provides our readers with detailed information about international happenings but also with insights into the German industry and current political developments.

Our newsletter summarises news items from more than 40 different sources, relevant to the games industry, in a short and clearly arranged way, thus giving you the advantage of having all relevant news at hand in only 30 minutes a week.
The sections of the newsletter are covering the following areas:

  1. Current Market Data: Software-Charts with sales figures, global hardware sales and company reports
  2. PC and Videogames: announcements of new titles worldwide on all platforms
  3. Online: news about digital distribution, social networking platforms and online games
  4. Companies: fusions, takeovers, openings, closings and partnerships
  5. Technology and Hardware: firmware updates, new middleware versions, technical innovations, licensing of engines
  6. Politics, Culture, Events and Education: political decisions and amendments, cultural events, changes in education, conferences and events
  7. Feature Recommendations: articles and blogs concerning current topics and trends
  8. Event-Calendar: the most important conferences and events of the next three months

The RCP newsletter is released once per week (48 times per year) in English and German language.

What do you think about it? And if you are interested, please request a free sample copy at my new email address: utausend [) r-control.com 😉

Homework

I occasionally play games with the two nieces of my girlfriend. This got me thinking about how they are affected by playing them. In the case of the two little girls these were Wii Fitt, some horse game and Nintendogs.
I studied Sociology which helps me to self reflect on my gaming habits. But it is interesting how little we (who we design games) actually think what effect these games have on others. My diploma thesis showed that people have very different reasons why they play games and choose the games to play also depending on these reasons.
When I was a kid, I did not play games to learn. I also never played any specific learning game. But I think I still learned a lot from these games. In this post I don’t want to get into the question how the violence in these games might have affected me focus on two positive effects they might have had.
One of them was that I learned quite some English playing RPGs and Adventures. Playing them might also have been a great incentive for me to pay more attention to my English teacher.
Another type of game which aided my (basic) understanding about how the economy or society works were simulations like Railroad Tycoon or Civilization.

Today (as homework) I gave myself two topics I want to learn about in the future:

  • The two little girls are probably not old enough for all of the above games, but I will check out some games which they might like to play while additionally having a rather positive effect on them.
  • I want to learn more about how learning actually works.

In school the Math teacher told us that we would need this boring formulas our whole live and therefor should listen to him. He was right. While probably not everybody needs the formulas we all need the logical thinking we also learned on the way. Question is: Does a game like Crazy Machines help your logical ability in the same way as School Mathematic does. Neuropsychology should have something to say about it. What I know is that getting someone to play Crazy Machines is way easier than motivating him to attend a math class.

The million dollar question on learning programs and games is how much „learning“ these should be to actually being played.

Searching new opportunities

2008 was a very busy but also very successful year for me.

  • In January I sold my online gaming company Neodelight.com to 7Seas Technologies (press release).
  • I also did some consulting e.g. for www.fettspielen.de (more).
  • In August I completed my master’s thesis titled: „Explanatory Models of Computer Gaming Consumption“ an empirical survey focusing on the differentiation of casual and hardcore games (more).
  • In December I wrote my final exams for my Master in Sociology, Political Science and Psychology and now am officially a „DiplomSoziologe Univ“, hooray!

With my company successfully sold and my diploma certificate in the pocket I now have my head cleared for new challenges.

So if you

  • know of any interesting jobs (preferably near Munich)
  • or are in need of a consultant with 8 years of experience in the social, online and casual games market (and an additional year shooting documentaries 🙂
  • or you need a researcher who does not only know the business side of computer games but has also researched them from a scientific angle,

then I am at your disposal.

If you want more information on what I did, can do and want to do in the future then check out my LinkedIn or Xing profiles or go back to the main page of my website at www.ulrichtausend.com.

As I am travelling North America until 14th of march reaching me though email might be easier than calling my cell (you find the contact info here).

‚Organized‘ gaming in Munich – here we go!

I am really happy that I came across the „Videospielkultur e.V.“ (club for video games culture) end of last year. The club is very active organizing lectures and discussions on the cultural aspects of video games as well as their impact on society.


AND they are hosting the bi-weekly Games Lounge. There you can play the newest (and oldest) games from a massive library on good equipment. And as most people attending are from the games business it is also a perfect way to discuss games while making new connections.
For me the games lounge is what I always wanted to exist. And I am a bit sad that I will miss couple of them on my well earned post graduation travel to North America 😉 . It is just quite a sight to see the Bavarian Minister of Media playing guitar hero.