Designing virtual pets to foster mindfulness and collaborative practices
Can a computer game help us live more mindful, reflective lives? I’ve been working with artist Pía Mota to create a game that draws insights from the research literature on mindfulness, positive psychology and emotional intelligence to get closer to this challenging goal. In 2011, the Games for Change conference involved just under 125 speakers including Gabe Newell, Jesse Schell and Al Gore, so having the opportunity to present about this nascent effort at that venue was a great privilege. I had to take a break from this project during the 2011-2012 school year to focus on my dissertation research, but I’m excited to be getting back to it soon.
Getting people to write down the properties of concepts (dog: “is furry”, “has four legs”, etc.) has long been a method used by psychologists and linguists to learn more about how people conceptualize word meanings, but the pace of research is slowed by two major challenges: the difficulty of collecting large amounts of data, and the variability in the descriptions produced by study participants. WordBots, a game in which you describe objects by selecting from a list of pre-defined properties or writing your own, aims to solve both of these problems. The versions in the video and photo above have since been supplanted by a somewhat simplified version for use in controlled experiments.
An adaptive MIDI rhythm game
My first complete project in XNA, this is a music game that makes letters appear to the beat of any MIDI file you may choose to load. The player’s job is to press the letters before they reach the center orb. After using the C# MIDI Toolkit to interpret the MIDI file, it guesses at the most prominent notes and makes letters appear in appropriate locations at appropriate times. Surprisingly addictive!
I audited Ted Castronova’s one-semester game development course in which a class of sixteen students with no prior experience worked together to create a video game. You can learn more about what we created and get the download here.
The IU Manuscript Mystery
I helped Sarah Smith-Robbins, Asmalina Saleh, and Ellen Jameson develop and execute a small Alternate Reality Game as part of the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning’s Games and Learning event series. Can you solve the puzzle in the image below?