Axing the Interactive Games Fund

Among the raft of cuts made by the Australian government, which it’s leader describes as ‘grown ups’ in a rather patronising manner — is the axing of the Interactive Games Fund to the tune of $10million. This was set up by Labour of course and administrated — very well on most accounts — by Screen Australia. Screen Australia are in turn doing some really important work around ‘screen time’ too, and in fact one of the few bodies to be doing so. The Australian game industry is reportedly worth $1.45 billion dollars in 2012.

Why would you invest in games development? Simple. Games are the multi-billion dollar growth industry which can start in your bedroom and take the world by storm. Australia is (unless your are media hermit) known for being great at games. Go and look up some of the most influential games in the last five years … Australian’s are massive. Then consider that many in games also work in social media, marketing, advertising, film and television — so it’s not ONE company or a few grants which government killed off, but a valuable pathway which also includes education and life long learning. It’s hard to dismiss the culturally conservative undertones which focus almost entirely on game content and ignorant of game-play. The embargo-banning of games such as Saints Row is a typical example of not understanding the medium itself. For example, game-play is vital to the experience of a good or bad game, not content which is background (James Gee). Game-play would therefore be critical to medical and military simulations and so on. It will be important to training and education … but the fact that games have zombies and Murdoch hates them is sufficient it seems.

Compare this to the $248 million allocated indoctrination of children by un-trained and deeply culturally filtered people who freely wander into schools, where as media education is still waiting outside. I know massive spending and massive cuts make more sensational headlines, but for Australian gaming, this fund barely got up before it was pwnd.

I am clearly not a fan of neo-liberalism, and as a free minded citizen amazed at any ideology which believes it can legislate, starve or in any way prevent the continued rise of the interactive media entertainment industry globally — and bemusement at the simplistic ‘leaders’ who believe it prudent to dismiss Australia’s contribution so far or the value of this industry into the years set out in their ‘return to surplus’ as though that has any meaning in today’s society.



Crayons, physics, wipeboards and fun

A colleague showed me this today. It’s called CrayonPhysics, and you can download the demo for nix or spend a measly $20 on a great game, that is going to motivate and engage pre-schoolers upwards. There are endless eCreative applications for it, but one we thought would be really great was to combine this appliction with an IWB and Scribblar. We’ve been working with a Biology lecturer who wanted to combine her internal class with externals. In the past she has had to come up with 2 different types of learning activity, so wanted to find a way to find one. As most of the work revolves around formulas and maths – the IWB was rolled in to replace the wipeboard. We’ve then hooked up Scribbar live, and Bob’s your uncle, external students and internal ones can work at the same time live using voice and vision. We then record the entire thing that the project beams out and stick it on the burbclave so people can re-watch it.

CrayonPhysics would work in the same way! – So while we are using the set up for high-end stuff, there’s no reason not to try this with primary school IWB or EyeBeam between schools and classes. It’s a game! so play will be a great kicker to get kids motivated. They could design their own challenge levels and more … but you get the idea right. $20 and you’re into game-based-learning with maths and physics across the metaverse.

Too tight to buy a game – or still thinking games are not for you – have a look at physicSketch an adaptation …

Games, connecting to others, solid theory and fun … happy-class activities on a total shoe string … if you don’t have and IWB, then there’s the iPhone/iTouch app, Wacom tablet or Wiimote option too. Can’t wait to try this one out with the kids …

Here are a list of virtual boards we looked at, and some short descriptions, leeched from the marketing blurb.

1. Twiddla is a web-based meeting playgroundMark up websites, graphics, and photos, or start brainstorming on a blank canvas. Browse the web with your friends or make that conference call more productive than ever. No plug-ins, downloads, or firewall voodoo – it’s all here, ready to go when you are. Browser-agnostic, user-friendly.

2. skrbl (online IWB) and easy online multi user whiteboard, start skrbl, give out your URL & start working together. Sketch, text, share files, upload pictures all in one common shared space. There are no new tools to learn, nothing to download, nothing to install. Brainstorm on our simple whiteboard to start thinking together, everyone sees the same screen, everybody gets on the same page.Also team skrbl

skrbl now

3. Scriblink (Browser Based IWB) Scriblink is a free digital whiteboard that users can share online in real-time. Sorta like pen and paper, minus the dead trees, plastic, and the inconvenience of being at the same place at the same time.

4. Groupboard – simple java whiteboard

Groupboard is a set of multi-user java applets including whiteboard, chat, message board, games and voice conferencing which you can place on your web page by simply copying a few lines of HTML code. You can also run Groupboard on your own web server. It can be used for tutoring, distance learning, training, or simply for fun! With the whiteboard you can upload background images and draw on top of them, and all of the users connected to the board will see the changes in real-time. Free for 5 users.

5. Dabbleboard (Browser Based IWB Dabbleboard is a powerful digital whiteboard that’s actually easy and fun to use. With a revolutionary new interface, Dabbleboard gets out of your way and just lets you draw. Draw with flexible tools. Reuse previously-made drawings. Share and collaborate in real-time. All as naturally as using a marker or a pencil.

6. Virtual WhiteBoard Virtual WhiteBoard is a web-based collaborative system that provides a realtime canvas for thinking, designing, and working with your colleagues, clients, friends or family. It is free for anyone to use | web 2.0

7. FREE Virtual Classroom! Now teachers and students anywhere in the world, can connect and meet live in the Virtual Classroom for an online interactive class. The collaborative web conferencing environment enables you to communicate synchronously using video and audio or through text chat, and to share presentations, documents and images on an interactive whiteboard. Join us now, to conduct your online live class and experience the next best alternative to classroom teaching.

8 GE IWB A free white board that you can easily invite people to collaborate with. With a plethora of features and no membership required. Great for small businesses, not for profits and just people that want to share ideas.

9. Scribblar Simple, effective online collaboration. Multi-user whiteboard, live audio, image collaboration, text-chat and more