Microsoft Acquires MinecraftEdu, Tailored for Schools – The New York Times

While Minecraft is known as a game, it is more akin to a digital sandbox, inside which players can construct anything they want, much of it out of block-shaped materials. The creative, rather than destructive, possibilities of Minecraft have caught the eyes of educators, who see it as a supplemental learning tool for everything from anatomy and earth science to math and literature.

In the Santa Ana Unified School District in Orange County, Calif., for example, elementary school students in social science classes have met up inside the game and recreated the features of local historical sites they have studied, such as the Mission of San Juan Capistrano. Students in science classes there have used it to demonstrate their understanding of building circuits.

Source: Microsoft Acquires MinecraftEdu, Tailored for Schools – The New York Times

That Dragon, Cancer: A game that wrestles with grief, hope, and faith | Ars Technica

That Dragon, Cancer is the form’s rare exception: a game that follows a family’s suffering through cancer therapy for their year-old son. The game dares to attach grief and tragedy to its core interactivity, and as such, it has grabbed a lot of pre-release attention. While it’s not new for indie and experimental games to take on ambitious, emotional concepts and existential crises, never has one come along that has been so frank, so nakedly autobiographical, and so imbued with its creators’ spiritual identities.

Source: That Dragon, Cancer: A game that wrestles with grief, hope, and faith | Ars Technica

We’re boring our kids in school: This easy reform will actually help them learn – Salon.com

The U.S. Department of Education and the National Science Foundation are investing millions of dollars into gaming experiments. Deep-pocketed philanthropies like the Gates and MacArthur foundations have committed to spending upward of $100 million to promote educational gaming. In 2011, publishing giant Pearson LLC joined forces with Gates to push for more education-related games, and President Obama, at the urging of several experts, invited a video-game scholar to be a senior policy analyst in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Source: We’re boring our kids in school: This easy reform will actually help them learn – Salon.com

Dungeons & Dragons and the ethics of imaginary violence — Hopes&Fears — flow “Video Games”

Slaying a few mindless kobolds is one thing, but D&D violence can assume much more imaginative and sinister forms. Take an example, from my own history of D&D campaigning: my character (Shamir, a 3200-year-old Chaotic Evil character) was, along with his party members, attempting to locate a map within a local inn. When the innkeeper refused to reveal the map’s whereabouts, Shamir began cutting off the innkeeper’s fingers, then hit the innkeeper’s wife, and then, when it was revealed that the map was actually hidden inside a different inn, he burned the inn down for good measure. (He later forced an orc to hold a crystal that induced uncontrollable psychic agony and vomiting.) Why did Shamir, or rather, I do it? Because it felt like the right thing to do at that moment.

Source: Dungeons & Dragons and the ethics of imaginary violence — Hopes&Fears — flow “Video Games”

A special board game about nonverbal communication / Offworld

And Then We Held Hands, by Yannick Massa and David Chircop, is a tabletop game about silently negotiating the emotions of a partnership. While a free print-and-play version of the 2014 jam game has long been available, the developers have successfully Kickstarted a brand-new, professionally-illustrated edition with a new mode and some enhancements. The art is by the talented Marie Cardouat, of Dixit fame, and backers have the option to support a musician who has donated musical accompaniment for players. It’s so exciting that Kickstarter funds will enable this deservedly well-loved, unusual board game to thrive in a market that tends to demand less sentimental or more explicitly-themed works.

Source: A special board game about nonverbal communication / Offworld

The UN Is Using Virtual Reality to Make the Rich and Powerful Feel Empathy | Motherboard

Waves of Grace is the second in a series of short films made in collaboration with VR video app Vrse and filmmaker Chris Milk (and some funding from VICE). It’s an effort to use virtual reality to connect people with real life in the strife-ridden parts of the world that too often remain distant and abstract. Even with the limitations of current VR gear, it’s damn effective, enough that it’s easy to talk about the film as though it were an actual experience. Decontee Davis’s voice was in my ear as I stood at the side of a hospital bed, where she sat with a patient for whom human contact was no longer a part of everyday life. I visited a dusty schoolyard where children sang and glanced warily at me. I stood at the foot of an open grave as anonymous men in white suits lowered a body bag, so close I could almost feel it brush my knees.

Source: The UN Is Using Virtual Reality to Make the Rich and Powerful Feel Empathy | Motherboard

This ’empathy game’ reveals a real challenge for indie games – Offworld

Now recovered, she’s just released an autobiographical game called Ohmygod are you alright about her experience—of the injury, the hospital, and the additional challenges treatment poses for a low-income trans woman, as well as the sense of aloneness she experienced after the accident. She calls it a “direct sequel” to dys4ia, her popular piece about going through hormone replacement therapy. Since its release in 2012, dys4ia’s been celebrated in the press as an “empathy game”, as it seemed to allow people to feel for Anna in a circumstance that many of the players would never experience themselves. By playing Anna’s autobiographical story, players learned more about the experience of transition and dysphoria, and said they felt empathy for her.

Source: This ’empathy game’ reveals a real challenge for indie games – Offworld

The digital game that could cure TB – BBC News

A team of undergraduates from Abertay University in Dundee has created Sanitarium, a game that invites people to play doctor.Using scarce resources they must treat as many TB patients as they can.

Behind the game lies a mathematical model developed at St Andrews University that uses data from human interactions to simulate a drug trial. The data collected by the game could help deliver new drug treatments to the developing world quicker and cheaper than ever before.

Source: The digital game that could cure TB – BBC News

Watch the Trailer for ‘Hacknet,’ a ‘Fully-Immersive’ Hacking Simulator | Motherboard

Hacknet is being developed for PC and is designed to be more realistic by using real UNIX commands. Also in contrast to its peers, Hacknet does not feature levels or classic game elements, to avoid “breaking the illusion.”

Surprise Attack Games, an indie developer based in Melbourne, says it wanted to move away from the “Hollywood-style” version of hacking we see in terrible movies, and the hacking mini-games we see in games like Deus Ex, which are more like a Rubik’s Cube than anything you’d do with a computer.

Source: Watch the Trailer for ‘Hacknet,’ a ‘Fully-Immersive’ Hacking Simulator | Motherboard

15 Professions That Are Using Games for Training | Mental Floss

6. NursingWhile surgeons can benefit from games, game developers haven’t forgotten about nurses. Some hospitals have programs where staff can simulate responses to various emergencies or care situations. The goal is to increase the standard for patient safety and minimize human error.

7. Electronics and Appliance RepairPutting the right part in the right place takes a lot of experience and knowledge of hundreds of different models. Technicians can get an opportunity for repetitive practice by “dropping” parts into specific areas on a machine using a cursor.

Source: 15 Professions That Are Using Games for Training | Mental Floss