VLENZ Update, No 163, February 16, 2010


Video games can change

the way people behave

THE NEW ZEALAND CONNECTION …  Real Life Auckland Meeting,  Wednesday, February 17

Although highly critical of some aspects of video gaming, Frida Castillo, the author of the report “Playing by the Rules,” produced by two Swiss Human Rights organisations,  suggests  that properly-designed video games  can be beneficial for players and actually change behaviours.

She recommends that game creators weave in elements of international law to draw players into more realistic, immersive situations.

“Games could actually be more creative if some of these rules were incorporated,” she said, in a report quoting her, in Time Magazine mid January.

“It’s an idea that’s already catching on. We’ve long known that video games have a unique ability to promote a message; now designers are creating games built not around destroying worlds but saving our own,” she says.

“Games are growing up,” says Suzanne Seggerman, president of Games for Change – a group promoting games with a positive impact – in the same Time Magazine. “People are realizing that they can do a lot more than entertain.”

This is something that  New Zealander Owen McCall (Pictured right), CIO at New Zealand’s “Big Red Sheds” (The Warehouse) and co-founder, with consultant Ian Howard, of the New Zealand Life Game Project   strongly believes.

The  Life Game Project, which was launched last year,  has invited  a number of  people to the  4th Life Game Project Gathering at  6 pm (New Zealand time) tomorrow,  February 17, at Gen-i, Level 17, Telecom House, 92-94 Albert Street, Auckland

The Gathering is taking place as the Life Game Project  “gathers steam”,  “is in the process of delivering stuff, ” and is well positioned to play a bigger game …”, according to  McCall and Howard in a general  invitation issued to  those interested in the Life Game Project concept. The invitation’s  RSVP was to lynn.power@thewarehouse.co.nz “to assist us with the room set-up and catering.”

The Life Game Project’s purpose is to support “New Zealand as a place where everybody is safe and loved by harnessing the power of immersive games technology to foster the development of life skills and positive lifestyle choices.’

If  you are interested in Games for Learning  and want to learn more it is also worthwhile accessing  the Microsoft-associated Games Research Institute, a first-of-its-kind, multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional gaming research alliance that will provide the fundamental scientific evidence to support games as learning tools for math and science subjects among middle school students.

VLENZ Update, No 162, February 04, 2010


Aussie court  loss for Media Moguls

may bring pirate ‘bloodbath’ closer

Are our “children” safe?

Is this what Hollywood wants to do to Downunder pirates now…

Well, it looks like   Hollywood’s attempts to beat the film and music pirates, at least Downunder (in Australia),  just got that much harder.

Asher Joel noted in  Sydney Morning Herald today that  the Australian ISP iiNet has slain  those who own the film industry in a judgment delivered  earlier in a landmark  Australian Federal Court piracy case.

“The decision has the potential to impact internet users and the internet industry profoundly as it sets a legal precedent surrounding how much ISPs are required to do to prevent customers from downloading movies and other content illegally,” Joel said in his report.

In a summary of  the 200-page judgment  delivered in the court, Justice Dennis Cowdroy said the evidence established that iiNet had done no more than to provide an internet service to its users.

“iiNet is not responsible if an iiNet user uses that system to bring about copyright infringement … the law recognises no positive obligation on any person to protect the copyright of another,” Justice Cowdroy found.

According to Moses, Neil Gane, executive director of the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft, which brought the case on behalf of the Hollywood studios, arguably owned mainly by Media Moguls, said  AFACT would review the decision before deciding whether to appeal.

You should read the report and video here if you haven’t yet read it from the link above and look at the video here.

But whether  an appeal proceeds one  thing seems  certain  the studios are going to come gunning  for the individuals that use BitTorrent and other file-sharing applications, now they cannot get the ISPs.  Whether or not you support piracy you can expect the blood of  Mister and Master and Mrs and Miss Everyman on the floor.

That could mean all our kin, or at least some of them. Who doesn’t know somebody who  illegally downloads music or movies?

There is no doubt in my mind  that none of us will have the money or guts to fight the Media Moguls  once High Noon arrives. Perhaps it is up to us to see that our kith and kin desist from this illegal practise. But will we?

It’s also interesting that Australia, the onetime home of Rupert Murdoch, was chosen for this battle.

The studios involved included:  Village Roadshow, Universal Pictures, Warner Bros, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, 20th Century Fox and Disney, and the Australian Seven Network.


ThinkBalm provides  worthwhile

new decision-making aid …

What immersive internet will you choose?

Although it came out a little while ago ThinkBalm’s Erica and Sam Driver’s latest opus, “The Enterprise Immersive Software Decision-Making Guide”, deserves a place on the hard drive of anyone contemplating moving an enterprise, business or educational  use  into a Virtual World. It’s a quick, easy  read, being only 29 pages long, but a lot of what the ThinkBalm principals say  makes sense, despite the fact that I have disagreed with some of their ideas in the past.

Erica Driver

Executive summaries are not everything, but the Drivers point out in this one  they have created their use case-based guide, No 4 in a series, for “trailblazers” in virtual worlds – and there are still plenty of those  still out there along with the naysayers who will use any stumble to pull them down – to aid them  in the enterprise immersive software selection process.

“We present “if/then” scenarios and highlight good-fit vendors for common situations,” say the Drivers,  who define  the immersive internet as “a collection of emerging technologies combined with a social culture that has roots in gaming and virtual worlds.”

“While immersive software can be applied in many ways, this report focuses on the most common use cases: meetings, conferences, and learning and training,” the Drivers say.

They note that the key question is, “What business problem(s) are you trying to solve?”  with all other  questions flowing from this one.

The report offers guidance on how to: 1) ask core business questions to frame the discussion, 2) choose a research-and-demo, do-it-yourself, or combination approach, 3) identify requirements based on your use case, and 4) filter your options based on important limiters.

Sam Driver

To develop the decision-making guide, ThinkBalm analysts held structured briefings with 19 enterprise immersive software vendors and conducted interviews with 15 Immersive Internet advocates and implementers.

As the result of these briefings and interviews they have  constructed a number of recommendations which they elaborate on.

These include: Build a list of use case-based requirements and rank their importance; Scan the full vendor landscape before making a decision; Take a use case-based, portfolio approach and select one or two preferred vendors; Look for reuse opportunities; Prepare for market churn in 2010;  Turn to services providers and system integrators for turnkey solutions; Get as much hands-on experience as possible before making a vendor choice.

To know the rest you will have to read their Report. Better still join their community in Second Life, in ReactionGrid  or on the Net

VLENZ Update, No 161, February 02, 2010


Steering Committee named

for  new VLENZ Group

A new steering committee, which includes some of  New Zealand’s  leading virtual world researchers and educators,  has been named to head  the Virtual Life Education New Zealand (VLENZ) group, formed after the finish of SLENZ Project.

The  new leadership group is:  Dr Clare Atkins, of Nelson-Marlborough Institute of Technology, Terry Neal, of BlendedSolutions, Dr Scott Diener, of the University of Auckland, Merle Lemon, of Manakau Institute of Technology, and Aaron Griffiths, of Fxual Education Services.

Dr Atkins and Terry Neal (pictured top right and left) were joint leaders of the NZ$500,000 Government-funded SLENZ Project;  Dr Diener(pictured middle right), the Associate Director, IT Services (Academic & Collaborative Technologies) at the University of Auckland, has led the development of the University of Auckland’s  much-lauded medical simulation project in Second Life,  is active in many international groups related to the use of virtual worlds in higher education, and  is a key player in the New Zealand Virtual World Grid (NZVWG);   Lemon (bottom left),  an MIT lecturer, was a Lead Educator (Foundation (Bridging) Learning) for the SLENZ Project; Griffiths (bottom right) ,the founder of Fxual Education Services,  was the Lead developer for the SLENZ Project. Atkins and Griffiths initiated the SLENZ Project two years ago.

The VLENZ meeting early last week, which set up the steering committee, agreed  to the VLENZ name for the group,which will be a consortium of

individuals rather than institutions. It currently has 32 members drawn from education and virtual world research across New Zealand.

It will continue with this blog at slenz.wordpress.com, as well as becoming a sub-domain of the previously registered edumuve.ac.nz domain as vlenz.edumuve.ac.nz. It has a  Second Life Group  called VLENZ as well as a google group under the same name.

It is likely that the formal group will operate as a non-profit trust although this has not yet been finalised.

The group’s purpose and objectives are to be discussed  at meeting on the NMIT Second Life island of Koru at 10 am on Monday, Feb 8 (New Zealand time),  with the objective of finalising the  group’s  mission statement and initial goals.