FWD News: Industry Events Focus on Diverse Power of Games, Pt 3

Gamification Summit LogoMore gaming industry events are on the horizon this summer, focusing on such themes as health, defence, training, simulations and serious games, as well as on gamification. In this overview, Game Forward takes a closer look at events coming up in August and September, namely SIGGRAPH 2011, the Serious Play Conference and the Gamification Summit NYC.

We will also recap the recently passed Games+Learning+Society 7.0, as a follow-up to previous posts where we looked at events in the months of May and June, as well as at earlier industry conferences between February and May 2011. Read More...


SIGGRAPH 2011, the 38th International Conference and Exhibition on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques, is taking place August 7-11, 2011, in Vancouver, Canada. Widely recognized as the most prestigious forum for the publication of computer graphics research, this interdisciplinary educational event is expected to draw 25,000 professionals. It is sponsored by the Association for Computer Machinery.

In addition to a leading-edge technical program, the conference provides close-ups of the latest in digital art, emerging technologies and hands-on opportunities for creative collaboration. The conference also hosts the international SIGGRAPH Computer Animation Festival, showcasing works from the world's most innovative and accomplished digital film and video creators.

Of particular interest to Game Forward are some game papers which will be presented at this year’s Conference. In the event titled “Analyzing Player Behavior and Experience,” researchers will notably present papers on evaluating user-enjoyment in alternate reality games, on understanding player behaviour within game environments and on evaluating the application of gesture-based game to healthy older adults. You can view the condensed schedule of the Conference here.

SIGGRAPH runs alongside a three-day commercial exhibition and three co-located events taking place August 5-7: High Performance Graphics 2011, the 2011 Joint Symposia on Computational Aesthetics and Sketch Based Interfaces and Modeling and Non-Photorealistic Animation and Rendering and the ACM/Eurographics Symposium on Computer Animation 2011.

For updates and to learn more about featured events, visit the SIGGRAPH website.

Serious Play Conference

As previously reported by Game Forward, the Serious Play Conference is set to take place from August 23-25, 2011, at the Digipen Institute of Technology in Redmond, WA. The inaugural event will feature presentations by leading serious game developers, serious games analysts, game design authors and senior project directors who already leverage games for corporate and military training, health care and education.

Six broad topics are broken down into seven individuals tracks, dubbed the School/At Home Learning, Business/Corporate Training, Military/Government Sims, Games for Health, Games for Good, Game Developer and Faculty tracks, which will run simultaneously aside from a couple of plenary sessions and panels. Click here (Excel) to download the complete schedule.

Sessions under the games for learning header are notably designed to help school administrators, educators and companies that offer at home learning products determine how to best select or contract for serious games that meet learning objectives and deliver measurable results. A keynote panel on how to access the value of games will have participants look at various aspects of using video games as education assessment tools.

Speaker sessions on this topic will notably include a presentation by Ashraf M.A. Ahmad, Chairman of Computer Graphics and Animation Department at Princess Sumaya University for Technology, on serious games education in the Middle East and in Northern Africa; Ted Henning, Associate Faculty at National University, will discuss the integration of entertainment games in standards-based curriculums; and Jeremy Friedberg of Spongelab Interactive will talk about how to implement game-based learning. Many other speakers are scheduled to present on the diverse facets of games for learning.

Government, military and homeland security sessions offer to help government, Department of Defence and Homeland Security officials, as well as the developers that support them, develop measurable and effective programs using games and simulations that teach both soft and hard skills. Presentations will focus on products for use on commercial, off-the-shelf hardware, and notably include presentations on creating a serious-games or educational simulation curriculum; simulation strategies; digital learning products in distance learning; development tools, languages and platforms of today and tomorrow; cutting-edge games and simulations that teach soft skills, field skills and readiness training for military and local emergency first-responders; and smart phone applications.

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The health and medical header groups presentations designed for medical professionals as well as health care, pharmaceutical and insurance industry executives who want to boost the use of serious games in training health care professionals and patients, or who are interested in reducing the cost of health care through professional and patient education. Session will touch on proven software used to teach soft skills for patient care, staff training, surgical procedures, product and device training and emergency personnel; casual and iPhone games in the health care, pharmaceutical and insurance industries; and assessment programs for skills evaluation, among other subjects.

On the business and corporate training side, presentations will focus on how to develop long-term, measurable and effective products for internal and external use. The track will include sessions with representatives of innovative firms such as The Boeing Company, IBM, Microsoft, Forrester Research, Google and Novel, among others. Featured courses will discuss games to develop basic business capabilities, including sales and other soft skills, internal and external product training, compliance training, customer safety and other aspects of corporate gaming.

Finally, on the topics of simulation and game designers, the conference will feature sessions addressing the work of individuals, including freelance and employees, who plan, develop and implement simulations and serious games on behalf of larger enterprises. For updates on the conference and to register, visit their website.

The conference has recently co-located with the 2011 Game Education Summit North America, running August 24-25. The summit, in its fourth year, will bring together academics that offer game education programs as well as executives and experts from the video game industry. Registered attendees of this event will be able to attend all of the sessions at the Serious Play Conference.

Of particular interest to Game Forward, the Summit features a talk by Tom Dusenberry of Dusenberry Entertainment on the impact of gamification in education. Sang Ah Jeon of the University of Exeter and Sang Rin (Eric) Shin of the China Marketing Center at Fudan University will discuss how to make successful serious games to teach English as a first language in Asian countries.

Other noteworthy topics include a version of the At Risk training game for families of veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, developed by Kogito Interactive, and how to teach science by using digital literacy and 3D gaming. The bulk of remaining talks focus on the various facets and requirements of teaching game development and design.

For updates on speakers and view the summit’s full schedule here.

Gamification Summit

A follow-up to the first Gamification Summit, which took place in San Francisco, CA, in January 2011, the Gamification Summit NYC moves to the East Coast of North America to bring forward content exploring the power of games to create breakthrough engagement with customers and employees. The event will take place September 15-16, 2011, at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York, NY.

The summit features keynote presentations by Susan Bonds of 42 Entertainment, who will share her secrets on how to engage consumers through offline interactive, viral and engaging gamified experiences, while Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, Co-Founder of the Gilt Groupe, will share lessons in engaging retail consumers online.

Sessions will touch on different aspects of gamified engagement, such as giving rewards for positive changes in behaviour, and will notably feature examples from the Microsoft Office’s Ribbon Hero game, which aims to make its utilities fun and engaging. Other sessions of interest to Game Foward will look at gamifying the classroom and the controversial topic of gamification as recruitment tools for extremism, presented by Alix Levine of Cronus Global.

The summit will also present a series of panels on performance enhancing game mechanics, health behaviour changing games, education and training through gamification, and gamifying online community engagement. Gabe Zichermann of Gamification.Co will host a hands-on workshop, which will take participants through the complete process of developing and implementing a gamification strategy.

For updates on featured sessions and to register, visit the summit website.


Last but not least, the Games+Learning+Society Conference 7.0 presented by the University of Wisconsin–Madison, recently took place June 15-17, 2011, in Madison, WI. The grassroots “indie” event brought together creators of high-quality digital learning media to discuss progress in the field and games that serve the public interest. The conference focused on game studies, education research, learning sciences, industry, government, educational practice, media design and business applications.

The event featured a long list of speakers and sessions, some of which touched on game assessment techniques, including a case study of Hortus, an online simulation game where players take on the role of herbalists and learn about plants by growing them in their gardens; games as tools for creativity and imagination; multiplayer game environments; and curriculum design.

More sessions notably looked at civic engagement, including studying conflict resolution with PeaceMaker, a serious game for peace; science and STEM education games; examples of problems and failures in designing games for learning; language learning, for example, the use of a Spanish version of World of Warcraft to advance second-language education; and literacy, including using role-playing games to teach fiction writing.

Various other sessions of interest included a presentation on Project ARKHAIA; a post-mortem of Vanished, a curated game presented by MIT; the use of tactile feedback to enhance player experience; a workshop featuring games for history learningdesigning middle school science games for students who have difficulty reading; and a flash game called Treatment, which introduces students to clinical trials. 

A pre-conference educators symposium was hosted on June 14, and featured a panel discussion on technology implementation in school; various round tables on subjects including virtual learning environments, the research results for Mecanika, a game to learn Newtonian concepts, mobile civic engagement, and transforming student behaviour and health through game play. It also featured workshops, notably one on designing games for active citizenship.

Many more subjects were explored during the conference, which you can learn more about by checking out the full schedule of the three days of events at its website.