[Note: For those of you getting this link because of your “(baby)alexis” notifications, I couldn’t help not including you. :)] Osy (“Osy Osmosis”), a game cooperatively developed by myself and members of a research team at the University of Georgia hit the App Store late last night. Osy’s development has spanned just about two years now, though actual development time was about three months to vertical slice, which was the deployed widely for preliminary testing throughout schools in Georgia. It is this version of the game featured in the documentary piece found on the Osy website. Little happened with the game after that point until April of 2010, when the UGA OVPR provided a VentureLab seed grant for our freshly created company IS3D, LLC. A portion of this money was used to port Osy to iOS and move the game into full production. It paid for bringing in wonderful folks like Ben Throop in to tell us what we’re doing right and wrong.
What makes Osy special, for me, is that it is my stab at thinking about making games… that just happen to contain concepts that educators are interested in teaching to students. I often say very deliberately that Osy is not “edutainment.” Put more academically, the procedural rhetoric of Osy is the story of osmosis. Too often, educational games ignore the procedural rhetoric and only thinly layer educational images/concepts on top of game mechanics that have nothing to do with the message they hope to deliver. In far too many cases it is actually worse, “gamelike” visuals are layered on top of quiz/test systems and it is referred to as a “game.” In part, this is because testing/quizzing is the primary procedural rhetoric (or game mechanic) of schools. I recall one day during the design of Osy where I said something to the effect, “If you put a quiz in my game, I’m done with it.” This is an approach, that I think is conscientious of the kinds of critiques that some are leveling at the Game-ification of Education.
I’ve also been somewhat worried about many people researching games and education becoming too focused on only the importation of off-the-shelf standard game industry games into the classroom. Isn’t that the equivalent of giving up the ghost? Why not create high quality games with education sitting in the back of your head? Clearly, game developers draw on scientific concepts for the systems within games (physics, evolution, …) though it comes secondary to the overall game. Why not have it as an equal on the field of idea-battles that occur during the development of a game? That I want a player to understand/feel/know X where X includes some scientific knowledge becomes part of the design process.
Go Osy go!
Just wanted to let everyone know that Al’s surgery this morning went off without a hitch. The was a ton of super goo that came out, but no infection, which is good, as it means the tubes are most likely to take hold that way.
The post-anesthesia anxiety that is typical with little ones was a bit hard, but she is fine and busy now taking a well deserved nap.
I’m not fully sure when it began to grow, but it has now been a staple curiosity of the backyard ecosystem for several weeks now and has even spawned several unsucessful artistic forays. Behold something straight out of my imagining of Lewis Carroll’s imaginings.
Ok, it has now been removed from the front page of UGA.edu, so I feel a bit more comfortable posting about it. About a week and a half ago I was featured in the UGA Faculty Newspaper, Columns. This was then turned into a lead story on the UGA Website. What this meant was that for a brief moment (about 4 days) I was on the front page of the UGA website. Eeek! Well, I’ve finally been cycled off in favor of something about Second Life, which I don’t mind in the least. For those interested, however, I’ve posted a PDF here of the site while I was on it. I’m sure everyone is dying to see more photos of me, so I must not disapoint… That was sarcasm.
So I feel compelled to blog it when it happens, but Georgia Trend recently published an article about the growing industry in Georgia. You can read the particular quote from me after the break. But what I’ve been screaming about since arriving here is that the real opportunity for Georgia is the opportunity to make a different kind of industry. This is why I’m so interested in independent game development. Rather than importing existing large companies, Georgia has an opportunity to really forge their own industry. Ian Bogost’s comments seem to capture this far better than mine did, but at their heart are close to my own:
“Most graduates go off to California or Seattle or wherever the industry is thriving. A lot of them would happily stay here if there was more of an industry to graduate into,” says Georgia Tech professor Ian Bogost, researcher, critic, designer and author of the recently published Racing the Beam: The Atari Video Computer System. “We’re not going to be viewed as a serious player in the industry until we see some successful products released, with critical acclaim and all that stuff.”
“Georgia doesn’t need to create an industry. It needs to create a unique industry,” he says. “We should be looking at what a regional games industry would look like. Every state is looking for ways to capitalize on this new form of entertainment, but the opportunity we haven’t cashed in on is the specific voice of Atlanta or Georgia or the Southeast.
After the break you can read the text of an email that was sent out to Clinton Lowe and the attendees of our first Athens GGDA/IGDA meeting. Overall the event was very successful. I think we came away with a core group of people interested in making the chapter a success. I think the chapter itself will also be an excellent starting point for independent game development efforts in the Athens area. GameJam time!