2017 Abstracts

Alexander V. Libin, Scientific Director, Veteran Affairs DC Medical Center & Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Georgetown University
Predictive Analytics for Embedded Assessment Framework: Developing Data-based Multimedia Technologies

Games are humans’ inherited first choice when it comes to mastering the world, whether they are aimed at everyday life learning, understanding other people’s actions and motivation, or striving to succeed in everything that we do.

Two main features – virtuality and engagement – provide the player with the wide range of gaming experiences. According to the Libin Game Model, each game can be presented as a complex engaging system functioning through the configuration of exchanges between a player and gaming environment mediated by a goal-setting mechanism. A special class of Well-being Focused Games originates in playing activities of a therapeutic value making it possible to provide relief to elderly nursing home residents via systematic individualized interventions. The foundation for such naturally-occurred personalized connection between humans and gaming agents is rooted in empathy as the most basic human quality. A continuing question within the robotics community concerns the degree of human-likeness robots ought to have when interacting with humans. Finally, an ultimate embodiment of gaming experience – a personalized robot – is a promise of a true companionship, enhancing the game with life-like qualities and engaging Alzheimer’s patient in a unique game of touch, empathy and trust. Well-being Focused Gaming is an ever expanding area of both the conceptual merging of simulated reality and everyday life and a multiplicity of practical applications based on the concept of positive experiences that is necessary for effective learning in a variety of existing realms.

Summary Incorporating the elements of training, education, and therapy into the entertainment process leads to the development of an enhanced constructive model of entertainment. A therapeutic and training effect of the artificial agents is influenced by (1) one’s current needs and individual preferences, (2) a gaming agent’s physical (embodied) or digital (virtual) features and behavioral configurations defined through the intensity of simulations and responses, and (3) the situated context created by the entertaining environment which defined by such factors as intensity of involvement, mode of emotional experiences, and individual psychological profiles.


Alicia Sanchez, Defense Acquisition University
Complying with 508 for Government Contracting

In this session you will learn about the policies that dictate 508 compliance for games and simulations as well as strategies for implementing these policies.  Examples of 508 solutions will be shown, and a process for ensuring that 508 compliance is achieved early in development will be detailed.  Attendees will come away from this session with a deeper understanding of both policy and practice.  


Amber Coleman-Mortley, Digital Media Manager, iCivics
Herding Cats: Community Management and Social Media for Successful Gaming

If you build it, they will come… False. In this session we will discuss the importance of involving your community of users in each step of your company’s growth. We’ll discuss how users become “evangelicals” for your mission; and ways to create meaningful relationships that benefit all parties.


Andrew Hughes, Founder, Designing Digitally
Immersive Learning and the Future of Workplace Learning

The days when employers could dictate messages and working practices to employees are long gone. Now workplace learning is a two-way relationship between companies desire to stay competitive, and balancing the demand of information by employees to engage job functions. With the struggle for competitive advantage set to continue throughout the age for business, it pays dividends to create a flexible and technology-enabled learning ecosystem that can foster the future generations in the workforce.

During this session we will discuss the best practices that companies should consider include the use of mobile technology, adoption of social learning tools, alignment with corporate objectives, use of adaptive learning principles, and the ability to measure effectiveness. We will also discuss the short term and long term approaches to workplace learning including Virtual Reality, Gamification, Serious Game, and Augmented Reality for the workplace.

This session will talk about planning, developing, implementing, and supporting the future of workplace learning to assist companies ensure they do not end up behind the innovation curve.


Ask Agger, CEO, Workz
How Behavioral Design Helps Make Better Games and How Games Can Be Used in Behavioral Design

From learning to doing: how can behavioral design help us make better games, and how games can be used in behavioral design?

In enterprises all our learning, development and change activities are about changing behavior. If new knowledge, skills and insights doesn’t translate into ordinary work day behavior they are a lost investment. It only matters what we actually do and gets done. In this session, we draw on inspiration from behavioral economics and behavioral design when we look at how complex organizations can use game-based approaches to improve their ability to transfer learning and training efforts into tangible behavioral changes. Through insightful cases from global organizations we try to identify how can behavioral design help us make better games for change and learning, and how games can be used as an accelerator in behavioral design. Ask Agger is author of Third Generation Storytelling (“Medfortæller” in Danish) and one of the contributor to the new book “Behavioural Design” (“Adfærdsdesign” in Danish), which was published in February 2017 with contributions from leading practitioners and researches in the field.


Avery Rueb, Affordance Studio
Morbus Delirium: A Case Study for Transmedia Games and Rethinking the Museum Experience

In this hands-on presentation, you’ll get the chance to try out Morbus Delirium, our new choose-your-own-adventure game for the Montreal Science Centre which launched in March, 2017. In the game, players have to find the cure for an infectious disease that is invading Quebec and the world. To stop its spread, players (target range 8-14) choose their own narrative all while examining pathogens, identifying symptoms, travelling back in time, locating patient zero and finding a vaccine. 

During the presentation, we will lay bare all of our challenges and opportunities throughout the 16-month development cycle. We’ll also put together a list of best practices based on our experience for working with museums to make serious games. 


Ben Ward, Kansas State University
Transmedia, unicorns, and marketing, oh my!: The not-quite epic failure of transmedia design efforts in Oz.

Transmedia storytelling, also called Alternate Reality Games, have been designed to intrigue, engage, and even engineer groups of people since the release of The Beast in 2001. A few colleges and Universities have employed them to engage their student populations and even teach them a thing or two using narrative game mechanics. Presenters will chronicle a highly successful transmedia design effort at Kansas State University, and the subsequent annual efforts to replicate the engagement and enthusiasm. Best practices and not-quite epic failures will be discussed, as will tips (and laments) for marketing to our current student populations.


Bernard François, PreviewLabs
Why you shouldn’t pursue your first idea

This talk will cover how you can use brainstorm techniques in combination with rapid prototyping to avoid pursuing your first idea and instead of going for your best idea.
Brainstorming, as well as rapid prototyping, will be explained based on inspiring, practical examples from serious games. A common mistake in the development of a new product is that people tend to go for their first idea, without really considering many other ideas or without putting it to the test.

In this talk, Bernard Francois, the founder of PreviewLabs, a unique company specialized in rapid prototyping, will cover how you can use brainstorm techniques in combination with rapid prototyping in order to avoid pursuing your first idea and instead going for your best idea.

Brainstorming as well as rapid prototyping will be explained based on inspiring practical examples from serious games.


Beth Rogozinski, Pear Therapeutics
The Challenges of Creating Mobile Games for Regulated Health Situations

For the past several years, game and media producer Beth Rogozinski has turned her attention to making games for mental and behavioral health – some of which have been submitted to the FDA to be regulated as a Class Two medical devices and are available only with a prescription. These games are based on clinical data and random control trials – making the process of developing fun and engaging games even more challenging. Add to that the FDA oversight and rigorous testing and QA specifications and game making becomes serious business indeed. But well worth it. Outcomes with these games and apps can far exceed treatment as usual and for mental and behavioral health patients these games can provide the privacy, dignity and access that they’re never before had.


Boris Willis, Associate Professor of Experimental Game Design, George Mason University
How Choreographic Thinking Can Improve Game Design

This workshop will look at the ways a choreographer constructs an experience for an audience and how those tools could be helpful to game designers. We will explore how the arrangement of objects and the progression of movements create audience engagement. 


Brad Tanner, Clinical Tools
3D Virtual Reality Using Oculus to Teach Complicated 3D Structures in Healthcare

Virtual Reality holds enormous promise to teach complicated 3D structures. In our effort to use Oculus Rift and Samsung VR technology to teach neuroanatomy and neurochemistry related to weight management we have uncovered the vast potential of this technology alongside the challenges in implementing it.


Carole Bagley, Univ. of St. Thomas
Elements of Effective Instructional Learning Game Design

Game-based learning is a form of game play with specific learning outcomes; it is instructionally designed to provide a balance between subject matter that needs to be learned, playing games, and the capability of the learners to apply the knowledge and skills in the real world. Whether you’re rolling dice or racing against the clock, adding gamification elements to e-learning courses is a great way to keep learners focused and motivated.

This presentation will focus on:

  • Elements of Game Based Learning
  • Critical Aspects in Game Creation
  • Demonstration of three games:  Who wants to be a Millionaire, Backward Basketball and Dusty the Dragon.

Practical experience and challenges with the creation and use of Games in Learning will occur.  Participants will be asked to join in the discussion.


Carolyn Reams, CIA
Cloaks, Daggers & Dice: How the CIA Uses Games

Try your hand as a CIA officer! David Clopper, Rachel Grunspan and Volko Ruhnke will guide you through one of the games actually used for the nation’s spooks. There is only room for 8-10 players, but you can watch.


Chris Totten, American University
Teaching Serious Game Design through Classroom Play

Serious games–games made for education, training, or other real-world purposes–has become a legitimate branch of game development and study education separate from consumer entertainment games. Is this separation good for students learning to make serious games though? This session from game design expert Christopher W. Totten demonstrates classroom activities for incorporating mainstream game history into serious games courses to provide students with lessons in compelling game design. 

This session from game design expert Christopher W. Totten demonstrates classroom activities for incorporating mainstream game history into serious games courses to provide students with lessons in compelling game design. 


Christopher J. Hazard, CEO / Founder, Hazardous Software
The Intersection Between Serious Games and Cyber Security

Though cyber security has been given considerable attention and resources lately, understanding the dynamic aspects of strategic decisions remains a challenging problem. Many in the field come from either a technical background or a policy background and must learn and understand new aspects of increasingly complex roles. Dr. Hazard will discuss a broad cross section of considerations for strategic cyber security from perspectives of modeling, serious games, and artificial intelligence, including adversarial behavior, budgeting, network topology, hardware selection, data duplication policy, human psychology, and attack surfaces of software and applications.


Chrystian Vieyra, Vieyra Software
Workshop: Mobile Apps and Sensors for STEM Teaching

During this interactive session, bring your own mobile device, and learn about three different sources of mobile apps for STEM learning in a gaming context: EdGE at TERC (https://edge.terc.edu/), PhET (https://phet.colorado.edu/), and the speakers’ own free sensor-based Physics Toolbox apps (https://www.vieyrasoftware.net/). All three of these resources provide free tools for STEM education that are build on a solid discipline-specific research base, much of which has been supported by the National Science Foundation.

In addition to having the opportunity to interact with each resource in small groups, the presenters will discuss some of the research on app development and effective strategies for how teachers choose to implement them in their teaching.

Participants will progress through two learning sequences using apps from the aforementioned sources: (1) force & motion and (2) light and color. Additional resources will be shared for learning about additional STEM topics. In learning about force and motion, participants will engage with EdGE at TERC’s “Impulse” game to make sense of the relationship between force, motion, and energy change of a system, play with Phet’s “Lunar Lander” game, and then use Physics Toolbox Accelerometer to measure and describe the motion of their mobile device as they spin, dance, and jump. In learning about light and color, participants will engage with EdGE at TERC’s “Quantum Spectre” game, PhET’s various geometric optics and light and color simulations, and play a sorting challenge using Physics Toolbox Color Generator. Sample lesson plans will be made available for many of the resources.


Dan Turner, CEO, Clarity Health Assessment Systems, Inc.
Using Psychological Measures to Train for Police Officer Well-Being

Police officers experience stresses and pressures that result in disproportionate rates of suicide, divorce, post-traumatic stress disorder and premature mortality. Officers are typically reluctant to come forward and address their psychological health due to concerns about appearing weak or negatively impacting their careers. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, increasing pressures on first responder mental health require new approaches to training for well-being and resilience. Well-being data collection from officers in the field requires mental measures that are brief, easy and transparent in their intentions; with understandable and actionable results. Dan Turner will describe the efforts underway at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT and nearby police departments to build a mobile mental health app that engages officers to address these challenges.


Dan White, Filament Games
How VR Changes Learning

Filament Games CEO Dan White will discuss the potential of Virtual Reality to facilitate interactive, inquiry-based learning. Through the lens of Filament’s recently awarded SBIR project for a STEM-oriented VR learning game, White will demonstrate how VR can build students’ interest in STEM and other content areas through identity, embodiment, and immersion.

Session attendees will learn:

  • The advantages of learning through Virtual Reality in terms of identity, embodiment, and immersion
  • The impact Virtual Reality will have on the education sector
  • The challenges of implementing VR in a formal education setting
  • Game design strategies to facilitate deeper learning through Virtual Reality

Daniel Greenberg, Game Designer, Media Rez
You Can’t Be Serious: An Entertainment Game Maker Seeks Fun and Funding in the Serious Games Space

How do we make games about serious topics without making them excessively serious? What much-maligned entertainment video games can teach serious games, and vice versa.


David Clopper, CIA
Daggers & Dice: How the CIA Uses Games

Try your hand as a CIA officer! David Clopper, Rachel Grunspan and Volko Ruhnke will guide you through one of the games actually used for the nation’s spooks. There is only room for 8-10 players, but you can watch.


David Conover, Connally High School
Turn Your Classroom into a Global Cultural Learning Opportunity

David Conover, an at risk high school teacher in Austin, Texas, has  created a 4 yr game design program that is engaging and motivating students from an impoverished neighborhood to attend class and teaching them solid career skills in technology. His classes have become the most popular courses at the school.

​In addition to introducing students to available software and applications as well as programming, David connects his classes across the Internet and Skype with students abroad on global issues like immigration and fake news.  They eventually also form companies and learn what it’s like to be entrepreneurs.  Some take on community projects – like making games for sick kids at a nearby hospital.

Hear David talk about this award winning program, and why it works.


David Crusoe, Senior Director – Youth Digital Engagement and Education Technology, The Boys & Girls Clubs of America
Engineering Visitor Digital Experience using Play, Learning and Social Engagement

Join Dave Crusoe, Senior Director for Digital Youth Engagement of Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA), to learn about how his organization is engineering a visitor digital experience to draw more members, more often, to its 4,200 Clubhouses.

BCGA’s philosophy for visitor digital experience is drawn from museum exhibition engagement design and retail design and involves elements of play, learning and social engagement. Digital experiences are increasingly woven throughout a member’s visit, though most interactions a youth will have are not specifically digital.

In the first part of the session, Dave will present a theoretical visitor experience design. In the second, he will discuss the specific implementation of his idea and share lessons for corporate and game/design agencies.


David Deeds, Director of Information and Learning Technologies for Schutz American School in Alexandria, Egypt
It’s Not Whether You Win or Lose: GBL Hits and Misses in K-12

Implementing Games-Based Learning in a K-12 school is a lot like playing baseball. With one app, you might score a home run…with the next two, you strike out. A myriad of factors are fighting against you…institutional, cultural and other variables…and so if you manage a batting average of .300, you’re winning…whether or not anyone else, including if not especially your bosses, think so! Sometimes academics ask David if he’s conducting research into GBL utilization. He answers: “If that means have I been doing it every [expletive deleted] day in the classroom for the past 15 years, the answer is ‘Well, duh!'” He’ll share some of the tools, techniques, etc., that have worked….and others that haven’t. 


David Metcalf, Institute for Simulation and Training, UCF
Mobile Games Developed for Military Healthcare Training

The military has been a long-time innovator in the field of Military Medicine and the use of serious mobile games and simulation in a variety of settings. In this session, you will see leading edge examples of the use of Augmented and Virtual Reality along with casual and social mobile game design for both professionals and patients. Extending the field of use into the US Veterans Administration includes studies on patient engagement and advanced visualization using mobile game design techniques. Recent analysis and evaluation techniques from I-Corp and Hacking For Defense – extended to the healthcare domain, will also be explored as a method of determining where mobile games are most appropriately used to achieve health outcomes.


David A. Smith, CEO, CEO.Vision
Immersive Computing and the Future of Collaboration

We humans are defined more by how we communicate than anything else…

Head wearable displays – once they are good enough – will transform the nature of how humans work, collaborate, communicate and even think. These wearable systems won’t just augment reality, they will augment the human being – providing new super powers that will be fundamentally transformative in what we are. This will be a true fusion of the creativity and romance of the human condition with the powerful information processing. visualization and networking of the machine. This will in turn enable an augmented conversation where the users of the system are able to communicate and explore complex new ideas with each other. The machine will be in service to enabling and ennobling humans and humanity to collaborate and achieve a higher plane of existence as individuals and as a species.


David Wortley, CEO / Founder, GAETSS – Gamification and Enabling Technologies Strategic Solutions
Trends in Serious Games for Health and Well-Being

This presentation looks at the trends in the development of serious games for health and well-being applications and seeks to illustrate how advances in disruptive emerging technologies such as wearables and virtual reality are influencing the types of games being developed.


Dmitriy Babichenko, Jonathan Velez, University of Pittsburgh
To Scope or Not To Scope: Challenges of Gamifying Clinical Procedures Training

ScopingSim is an interactive alternate-controller-based serious game that uses off-the-shelf open-source components that can be plugged into virtually any computer and is designed to leverage engaging gaming elements to motivate learners to practice both mechanical and diagnostic aspects of scoping procedures.

This presentation will address a number of challenges that we had to overcome in order to develop a useful working prototype, including collecting requirements, underestimating costs, dealing with student developers and continuity of support, setting up experiments to identify models of expertise and feedback mechanisms, and making decisions on whether or not to use VR technologies. Physical medical simulators (mannequins) are widely used for training medical students and medical personnel to perform specialized procedures, hone diagnostic techniques, and improve clinical decision-making skills in critical situations. Such mannequin simulators, however, are often extremely expensive, require development of complex teaching scenarios, support of technical staff, and presence of a clinical expert for debriefing and feedback.

To address these issues we began to develop ScopingSim – an interactive alternate-controller-based serious game that uses off-the-shelf open-source components, can be plugged into virtually any computer, and leverages engaging gaming elements to motivate learners to practice both mechanical and diagnostic aspects of scoping procedures.

This presentation will address a number of challenges that we had to overcome in order to develop a useful working prototype, including collecting requirements, underestimating costs, dealing with student developers and continuity of support, setting up experiments to identify models of expertise and feedback mechanisms, and making decisions on whether or not to use VR technologies.


Doug Whatley, CEO, BreakAway Games
The Ethics of ‘Making a Difference’

When we create a game for education, assessment, training, or enlightenment, rather than entertainment, there is an expanded set of stakeholders invested in the product. Real world constraints significantly focus game design leaving developers to question their ethical responsibilities to the public and the stakeholders. This dilemma driven by the tension between really wanting to use a game to make a difference and the way that it is subverted by the requirements can be difficult. This conversation will cover the practical issues of the serious games industry’s impact; or what it really means to “make a difference” with games.


Douglas Eyman, Associate Professor, Writing and Rhetoric English Department George Mason University
Come for the Games; Stay for the Games Research: Undergraduate Games Research

A case study on implementing an undergraduate games research and scholarship initiative, this talk outlines the formation, initiation, challenges, and future of the Games-Engaged Analysis and Research Group (GEAR) at George Mason University. The talk will address: the challenges and opportunities presented in collaboration between faculty from disparate disciplines; transdisciplinary and humanities approaches to games research; practical concerns involving funding and student participation non-credit-bearing activity, and the benefits of incorporating undergraduate researchers in serious games studies.


Dov Jacobson, CEO, GamesThatWork
Learning with Boeing: A 100-year-old Corporation makes its First Game: 

When a powerful manufacturer works with a nimble game studio, they each can learn a lot. Hopefully, they learn how to work together. 

What might that look like for the game maker?

First, you listen – 

  • What are they asking for?
  • What do they really want?

 

Then you pitch.  If you pitch a game, you must communicate its value –

  • What makes a game different from other kinds of learning?
  • What’s the difference between a game and a gamification?
  • The game costs a whole lot more! …Is it worth it?

Once you sign an agreement, you must maintain agreement.

  • How do you ideate together? How do you decide?
  • How do you support the training professionals, not threaten them?
  • How do you test your game on their users?

The hardest part comes at the end:

  • How can you facilitate deployment?
  • When are you done?

Edward Metz, Dept of Ed
SBIR Grants


Elizabeth D Jones, George Mason University Game and Technology Academy
How Computer Game Design Impacts Literacy

My greatest challenges were overcoming institutional norms and limited technology. I had to secure academic and financial instructional support, partner with subject matter experts in the gaming community, develop a curriculum that supported Virginia’s learning outcomes, select students, and secure appropriate technology. With the support of my administration, the Game and Technology Academy at George Mason University, and trusting in the reading process, I shared the computer lab, and the students and I problem-solved how to overcome the technology shortages and slow network services. More than 27% of teens spend three hours or more a day connected to video games. (ESA, 2016, p. 3). As the number of students participating in the gaming community increases and the gaming culture becomes an integral part of adolescents’ social context, middle school teachers must decide how to incorporate video games into the classroom without sacrificing curriculum and discover effective strategies to remove the social stigmas associated with struggling readers and remediation. Video games are often used in the classroom to support basic skill practice and reading remediation. However, gamification extends beyond literacy skill practice. According to Gee (2003), video games provide “an alternative way to think about learning and knowing that makes the content view seem less obvious and natural.” My presentation will share the findings of a pilot reading program developed in collaboration with the Game and Technology Academy at George Mason University. The reading program focuses on teaching reading strategies while examining narrative video game design.


Elizabeth Newbury, Program Associate in the Serious Games Initiative, Wilson Center
Education and Competitive Gaming; Why Esports Is Impacting Classrooms


Evert Hoogendoorn, IJsfontein
Make it work: Validation of applied games.

Traditional validation is thorough and slow, and does not comply with the fast and agile development of games. Successful games need to be both validated and profitable. This talk is about our quest for strategies that let us develop agile, but thorough on effectiveness and safety at the same time. Our games have been subject to validation studies for over a decade. This used to be done by researchers in universities with our finished products. Whatever the outcome would be, was uncertain and if it were to be negative we couldn’t do anything about it anyway.

In 2010 we delivered a game for training medical specialists to stabilize patients with the “abcde method”. This game was validated by the Erasmus university with traditional validation strategies. The results (positive) came out in 2015. In the mean time we were working on the 7th expansion of the game and it had been accredited to the highest level for several years.

First of all, in a typical lifetime of a game the time it takes to validate anything with traditional methods just takes too long. Second the traditional methods like RCT are primarily developed for drag validation and not very suitable for complex interventions like games.
We set out to look for new strategies with experts from different institutions and (medical) universities. After several attempts and iterations, we are now applying a strategy for validation in which every iteration of the game, from paper prototype to beta-version is subject to a test (as we have been doing in game development for years) that is designed not only for gameplay and usability purposes, but also complies to the academic rules for validation.

We have been doing this with a game for the prevention of PTSD with the Free University of Amsterdam with very promising results. We have just started a new project with Radboud University and Trimbos Institute about depression with High schoolers, and we will start with an awareness game for Dementia with the Geriatric Centre of the Academic Medical Centre in Groningen.


Gary Goldberger, FableVision Studios
The Importance of Co-Play: Building Playful Experiences for Families

Every year, museums welcome millions of visitors to their informal learning spaces. How do you create a media-enriched exhibit that engages both children and their parents?  Stimulate thoughtful conversation?  Deliver an experience that’s both educational and retainable, so the visit is impactful and leaves guests thinking?  The answer: use play. No matter your age, play is compelling, authentic and meaningful.  Play is the gateway to creating a physical, tactile experience that educates and resonates with learners of all ages.

Attendees will hear about work the speakers have done for museums of all shapes and sizes: from the New England Aquarium to the Smithsonian Institution.  Learn tips to create unique, personalized play spaces the whole family will enjoy.


Glenn Larsen, National Science Foundation
SBIR and Other Funding Sources for Your Game

The National Science Foundation (NSF) awards nearly $190 million annually to startups and small businesses through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)/Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program, transforming scientific discovery into products and services with commercial and societal impact. The equity-free funds support research and development (R&D) across almost all areas of science and technology helping companies de-risk technology for commercial success. The NSF is an independent federal agency with a budget of about $7 billion that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. For more information, visit www.nsf.gov/SBIR.


Heidi McDonald, iThrive
Guiding Principles For Teen Games

This talk shares insights identifying common qualities of games that may promote teen thriving with positive psychology practices. iThrive utilized a two-tiered approach to find these qualities and create a road map for developers to design for positive psychology practices. Experts at a series of think tanks, lead by McDonald, deconstructed the positive psychology concepts into guidelines for positive psychology constructs, both in terms of what systems and features might help and harm the promotion of these practices in players. A semester’s long study with design students, lead by Rusch, revealed that games with the strongest positive psychology components were those that had the most emotional impact, and few game features. Insights from both investigations will be shared, including exemplar games that align with a set of positive psychology practices; the common qualities those games share; and design tips for creating products that can support teen thriving.

Positive psychology practices promote positive youth development, but how can these practices be embedded in games? Drawing from insights collected from industry experts and game design students engaged in a semester-long study, we constructed a road map of the qualities of games that might lead to positive psychology habits.


Ira Sockowitz, CEO, Learning Games Studios
How to Deliver Measureable Learning in Social Mobile Games

Mobile technologies have become an integral part of life but they have not yet been adequately integrated into educational settings and career pathways training programs. Research has shown how mobile technology, and games played on them, engages learners, increases retention and the completion of programs as well as improved outcomes for learners. This session will focus on how the learning sciences, instructional design and game mechanics can be effectively combined to increase access to, persistence in, progress through, and completion of educational games.


J. Mark ‘Atis’ Lozano, ATIS Consulting
Serious Play, Serious Training: Warriors As Your Student-Users

Mr. Lozano will largely present discoveries from an ongoing research project I’m investigating, which addresses the uniqueness of the military community of warriors as a body of learners/students in today’s Ed-Tech dependent environment.

The research outcomes include “student body” profile information (and demographics), which is of value to content developers in knowing their audience.

The above will be offered within the overarching context, theme of Serious Games, focused on;

  1. their usefulness and their limitations,
  2. a touch on game theory (it’s origins and purpose),
  3. military use of games for training (current and historical), and
  4. how playing games can help with;
    1. learning and retention,
    2. issues of resistance to learning,
    3. and certain peculiarities in adult education which present themselves particularly in military teaching-learning environments.

James Casey, Virginia Serious Game Institute (VSGI), George Mason University
Applied Research and Economic Development Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Higher Education-based Serious Game Development: The Virginia Serious Game Institute (VSGI) at George Mason University

Higher education institutions struggle with establishing new models of innovation and entrepreneurship. A typical research funding model is for a faculty member or two (co-PIs) to apply for a federal or private grant to conduct research, and when funded, reduce their teaching load, hire a few GRAs or post-docs to help conducts said research, publish a few papers and/or a book, and writes a final report to the funder. In most cases, the short and long-term impact on the institution, besides the counting of research dollars toward their R-1 status, is negligible at best. The Virginia Serious Game Institute (VSGI) is a new applied research, innovation, and entrepreneurship model for higher education, and in this case, focused on serious games technology discovery to improve the human condition. This presentation will outline the three major interconnected and inter-related subdivisions of the VSGI: Applied research, community outreach, and startup incubation & acceleration, and their combined impact on the GMU campus, the Prince William County community, Commonwealth of Virginia, and globally.


James Collins, U.S. Department of Education
Education and Competitive Gaming; Why Esports Is Impacting Classrooms


James Gatto, SheppardMullin
Don’t Play with the Law

Serious games create many opportunities for innovative and creative functionality, content and business models. It is important to insure that you understand how to maximize IP protection for the fruits of your creativity and ensure that it does not run afoul of legal or regulatory issues. This presentation will map the legal landscape for serious games and provide practical advice for how to protect your IP and avoid legal problems.


James Lester, North Carolina State University
Narrative-Centered Learning Environments

For the past decade our lab has been investigating narrative-centered learning environments for K-12 science education.  This line of research has the dual objectives of increasing learning effectiveness and promoting student engagement. In this talk we will introduce the design of narrative-centered learning environments, describe their roots in intelligent interactive narrative and narrative-based tutorial planning, explore the role of student goal recognition, and discuss their impact on student learning gains and engagement through empirical studies conducted in K-12 schools.


James Piechocki, Senior Manager, Learning Innovation, Raytheon Blackbird Technology
VR — Tech Disruptor or Pet Rock?

VR and AR are among the hottest new technologies in the gaming space. But it’s in the training world that these new media are truly rocking the boat. With a ten-year edge over its competitors, Raytheon has gamified in-house Oculus training experiences for its Patriot Missile and dominates the field of large-scale VR training  for government, medicine, industry and the military.

Why should your organization consider Virtual and Augmented Reality for its training efforts? Should you? What are the benefits and advantages to customers? The risks to stakeholders?

In this workshop, you will create your own virtual reality training using data from one of the world’s largest logistics companies; from Gartner, the Platinum standard in research; from veteran developers; and from users themselves.

  • Hands on time with HMDs and wearables from Oculus, HTC and Microsoft, as well as pro-cameras that range from $300 to tens of millions of dollars from Nokia, Jaunt, Arriflex, and even more exotic gear from Technicolor VR Labs in Hollywood.
  • The use of haptics – wearables which simulate touch and even textures for added realism.
  • Nokia’s amazing Ozo demo: the first use of VR that fully insinuates you into a complete world.
  • The Raytheon “Pet Rock” analytic approach to new technology. How situational awareness is necessary to avoid wasting time and to optimize return on investment.
  • Thousands of dollars of the latest 2017 Gartner Research data on immersive media, its potential, penetration in business and government, including Gartner’s VR vendors watchlist.
  • Actual DOD data that show dramatic changes in behaviors and returns on investment which you can present to your stakeholders and customers.
  • A technical/creative analysis of various formats: avatar characters vs live action, camera moves vs static “lockoff,” narrated/hosted vs. experiential.
  • A comparison of VR cameras and post software in a handy table you can incorporate into planning.
  • A VR design and scriptwriting primer applying proven models of behavior change from Bandura, Sabido, Kirkpatrick to ensure effective training.

Like the tech we are studying, this workshop is fully interactive and 100% group sourced, with frequent Q&A to keep it real and tailored to your needs. Professionals at all levels in industry, government, IT, gaming and the military (Thank you for your service!), walk away with tools they can put to work immediately.


Jennifer McNamara, VP Serious Games, BreakAway Games
Developer Secrets: How to Avoid Common Mistakes when Contracting for Serious Games

Drawing upon 15 years’ experience making serious learning and assessment games for external customers, the presenter will discuss common mistakes organizations have made (or allowed their developers to make) in the procurement, design, development, and employment of serious games. Strategies for overcoming these issues will be shared to prepare stakeholders to lead successful serious game initiatives. The presentation will conclude with a discussion session where attendees will be encouraged to share their questions and experiences related to serious game efforts.


Jesse Schell, CEO, Schell Games
Superchem: the VR Chemistry Lab

Virtual reality is poised to make big changes in both formal and informal education. SuperChem VR, the latest project at Schell Games, tackles both types at once by serving as a virtual chemistry lab for schools, but also as a fun adventure game for home players. In this talk, Jesse Schell discusses the design of SuperChem VR, and his thoughts on how VR can be a meaningful part of the future of education.


Jessica Pilsner, Educator, Renton Prep
Games-Based Learning. Isn’t it just learning after all?

This presentation will challenge the term “Game-Based Learning” and propose an alternative perspective to traditional technology-use. This perspective breaks down the barriers between subjects by developing a multidisciplinary and collaborative approach, using the learning potential already inherent in games and technology. It will address challenges innovative teachers face in implementation.

From faculty and parent buy-in, to access, to game systems, those who have utilize have time and time again run into the same challenges as they implement games into the classroom, particularly those that were not originally designed for education.

Not only will this presentation challenge the title “”game-based learning”” it will also address how this change in perspective provides (reason) and the research to support educators use of games in the classroom setting. From my experience using VR, PS3 and PC games in the classroom I will address how I overcame limited access to gaming systems, resistance of coworkers and helping to students understand what they were learning.
-Documentation of learning and connections using free resources such as SWAY and Office Mix to share publicly and to parents the showcase student make connections to multiple subjects.
-Utilizing student-centered teaching model to allow for students working on multiple activities as students filter through game experience with limited number devices.
-Walking teachers through multi-subject connections and having my own students document them within their projects


Joelle Pitts, Instructional Design Librarian and Associate Professor, Kansas State University Libraries
Transmedia, unicorns, and marketing, oh my!: The not-quite epic failure of transmedia design efforts in Oz.

Transmedia storytelling, also called Alternate Reality Games, have been designed to intrigue, engage, and even engineer groups of people since the release of The Beast in 2001. A few colleges and Universities have employed them to engage their student populations and even teach them a thing or two using narrative game mechanics. Presenters will chronicle a highly successful transmedia design effort at Kansas State University, and the subsequent annual efforts to replicate the engagement and enthusiasm. Best practices and not-quite epic failures will be discussed, as will tips (and laments) for marketing to our current student populations.


Jonathan Velez Learning Technologies Lab and Pharmacy Innovation Launch Lab, Univ. of Pittsburgh
To Scope or Not To Scope: Challenges of Gamifying Clinical Procedures Training

ScopingSim is an interactive alternate-controller-based serious game that uses off-the-shelf open-source components that can be plugged into virtually any computer and is designed to leverage engaging gaming elements to motivate learners to practice both mechanical and diagnostic aspects of scoping procedures.

This presentation will address a number of challenges that we had to overcome in order to develop a useful working prototype, including collecting requirements, underestimating costs, dealing with student developers and continuity of support, setting up experiments to identify models of expertise and feedback mechanisms, and making decisions on whether or not to use VR technologies. Physical medical simulators (mannequins) are widely used for training medical students and medical personnel to perform specialized procedures, hone diagnostic techniques, and improve clinical decision-making skills in critical situations. Such mannequin simulators, however, are often extremely expensive, require development of complex teaching scenarios, support of technical staff, and presence of a clinical expert for debriefing and feedback.

To address these issues we began to develop ScopingSim – an interactive alternate-controller-based serious game that uses off-the-shelf open-source components, can be plugged into virtually any computer, and leverages engaging gaming elements to motivate learners to practice both mechanical and diagnostic aspects of scoping procedures.

This presentation will address a number of challenges that we had to overcome in order to develop a useful working prototype, including collecting requirements, underestimating costs, dealing with student developers and continuity of support, setting up experiments to identify models of expertise and feedback mechanisms, and making decisions on whether or not to use VR technologies.


Judy Hale, Hale Associates
The Challenge of Certification: Providing More Robust Assessments through Games

Share stories and techniques about certifications for learning game designers and for games as learning and assessment products. Join the discussion of the growing demand for games as assessment methods and as alternatives to traditional multiple-choice exams. Come discover the overlapping worlds of games and certifications.


Karen Schrier, Assistant Professor/Director of Games and Emerging Media, Marist College
Design Principles for Knowledge Games

Games such as Foldit, EteRNA, Apetopia, and Reverse the Odds aim to solve real-world problems through play, such as understanding protein folding or how people perceive color. These games have been called Games with a Purpose (GWAP) and crowdgames or crowdsourcing games, because they crowdsource information, data analysis and puzzle solving power from a crowd of players. I call them Knowledge Games because they help us create new knowledge, such as novel understandings of cancer or human behavior (and not just learn knowledge we already know as a society).

In this presentation I describe Knowledge Games, share examples, and walk through the top 10 actionable design principles – based on scientific and social scientific research – which (when applied properly) help to make a successful Knowledge Game.


Kat English and Rebecca Mir, Ad Council
Social Cause Gaming: Helping Millennials Develop Positive Saving Habits

How do you motivate someone to change their behavior to impact positive long-term change? One way is to encourage people to “game for good” by designing a game that changes people’s perceptions and behaviors around a social cause. In this presentation, the Ad Council’s digital team will share challenges and lessons learned when developing a narrative game about financial literacy. Given the changing financial landscape, saving is more important than ever. But for many young working adults, it feels overwhelming and impossible. The “Feed the Pig” campaign from the Ad Council and the American Institute of CPAs encourages young adults to adopt positive saving habits and provides simple tools to help them save for their goals, whatever they may be. In 2016, the Ad Council partnered with Games for Change to launch a Game Design Challenge inviting game designers and developers to propose a game idea that encourages young adults to make saving part of their daily lives. The winning concept Yesterday’s Tomorrow: Your Financial Adventure, is a narrative game experience that allows players to jump between life stages and ages to see how financial decisions have a tangible impact. Over the course of the project, we encountered many challenges, from navigating legal concerns to reducing implicit bias within the game’s storyline to be sensitive to the unique and distinct economic challenges that millennials face. Late in the game cycle, we made a big decision to cut stories and edit the copy to make sure the game embraced the humor and personality that are hallmarks of the “Feed the Pig” campaign, while remaining a useful learning tool. We will share best practices from our experience with Yesterday’s Tomorrow and the Game Design Challenge as well as other Ad Council gaming projects.


Kenneth Bibbins, Founder/CEO, PrepWorld LLC
Trauma Informed Game Based Learning for Kids

Traumatic life events experienced in early childhood can result in a wide array of adverse outcomes that may extend well into adulthood. Game-Based learning can help to ameliorate trauma by instilling competence, confidence, and connectivity in end users. Integration of Technology in Trauma Informed Game Based Learning

BACKGROUND: Understanding game based learning and its effectiveness in building resilience beyond anecdotal evidence is a practical issue, a research issue, as well as, increasingly, a scholarly pursuit. Regardless of the increasing amount of hype and scholarly articles, there still is a gap of coherent understanding whether game-based learning works, and if it does, under which circumstances. To address this gap, we reviewed empirical studies on game-based learning, it uses and the outcomes. We focused on how game-based learning is being used in education, the work place and how game based learning is being used in disaster literacy and trauma informed solutions. We looked at what were independent variables as well dependent variables (psychological and behavioral outcomes), how game-based learning was used, as well as the methods and results of these studies.

In spit of the overwhelming fact that each year millions of children are disproportionately impacted by disasters disrupting their lives, families, schools, and communities; from simple house fires—to the levels of devastation witnessed in the 2004 Tsunami or the 2005 Hurricane Katrina disasters, and the recent FBI study reports that shows “active shooter”” incidents have tripled in recent years—with 29% of these attacks occurring at schools creating the need for school lock-down measures, which are now commonplace in school districts I had to overcome hurdles from the school system as well as the business leaders and practitioners that typically intervene post event. Schools are very resistant to change, however in the last 200 years the only change schools have embraced is “”technology.”” There is overwhelming research that suggests schools should not wait to deal with the enormous difficulty of explaining disasters or hazards to children, kids, and youth for the first time after they occur, yet due to implementation and cost I’ve learned schools will put their head in the sand and follow the status quo. Innovation in schools are not the norm. When looking at the desired outcome of the PrepBiz solution which is to ameliorate disasters trauma, we began speaking to the outcome of our solution instead of its functionality and it is then we were able to gain traction. In spite of the fact that 32 states mandate school systems educate their students on more than fires, hurricanes, earthquakes and floods getting buy-in was difficult. With the landmark Compton lawsuit where students are suing the school system to make all schools trauma informed the interest has opened with key stakeholders looking for solutions. We’re still fighting to overcome specific industry self interest, however in the past few months we’re getting super traction not only from schools but investors and organization that support youth wellness and preparedness.

STUDY DESIGN: The primary study hypothesis is that gamification can build resilience in youth to combat the negative effects of “toxic stress,” “post-traumatic stress disorders” and loss some youth experience post disaster. Using PrepBiz™ trauma informed gamification app which recognizes the emotional and trauma effects of disasters on youth are not always immediate and can last for years and may also affect their academic attainment. PrepBiz™ provides collaborative guidance in the form of “”engagement knowledge”” to build resilience through gamification infusing emergency preparedness principles across the entire educational experience to help kids build confidence when faced with these types of incidents and may help ameliorate psychological morbidity that some youth may experience post disaster. The main goal is to provide practitioners, educators, parents, and schools with gamified trauma informed strategies for future prevention interventions. A secondary goal is to enhance scientific understanding of the use of gamification in building resilience to adverse childhood experiences. In summary, the current empirical research on gamification largely supports the popular view that, indeed, gamification does produce positive effects, but many caveats exist. Most frequently, the studies bring forth three categories of caveats: the context of gamification, qualities of the users using the system and possible novelty effects. The findings of the review provide insight for further studies as well as for the design of gamified systems. We feel gamification can be a great strategic partner to emergency preparedness and as such deserves fundamental investment of time, capital, and attention from key stakeholders in both the public and private sector. The field needs more funding and research activities to grow this budding field.


Kevin Allen, CEO, El Games
Game Play Design and the Hero’s Journey

How emotion and authenticity drive player engagement

In this seminar, principles of the classic hero’s journey will be examined along with the attendant emotional threads, covering how the journey effects overall design from storyline development, characterization, and voice execution.  The speaker will cover the evolution of development.


Kevin Dill, Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems
The AI is the Game: Crafting the Behavior that Creates an Experience that Drives Learning

At its core, the process of creating an educational game is ultimately one of crafting a software product that will engender a particular experience for the player – an experience that will cause the player to acquire the skills or knowledge being taught. There are many factors that contribute to such an experience, such as the subject-matter content, the graphics, the audio, the gameplay mechanics, the dialog… but one of the most important – and one of the most often overlooked – is the game’s AI. It is the AI which creates the behavior of both the characters in the game and of the game as a whole, and it is that behavior – the things that happen, the things that the characters do and say, and the times and ways in which all of these occur – that ultimately defines the experience. The experience is created as a direct result of the AI’s ability (or inability) to evaluate the situation, make appropriate decisions, and deliver an appropriate performance (much like a stage actor’s performance) on the part of the characters and other gameplay elements. Or, to put it more succinctly, the AI is the game. It is the AI which drives behavior, and that behavior is an essential element of both effectiveness (i.e. how well the player learns) and engagement (i.e. how completely the player is drawn into the game).

Recently there has been quite a bit of hype (and, in some cases, dread) around modern developments in AI, but the approaches used by games are quite different from those used in applications such as self-driving cars, speech recognition, cognitive modelling, or even world-class Go opponents. Nevertheless, the game AI community is vibrant, with numerous conferences, publications, and web sites. Over the past 15 to 20 years this community has made immense strides in techniques that can craft behavior that is appropriate to the particular type of game and the particular type of experience that is being envisioned by the game’s designers. At the same time, computers have become more capable, players have become more discerning, and games have become correspondingly more complex. With the increase in both expectations and complexity, it sometimes feels like a battle just to hold the line and deliver the same quality of experience that we achieved 20 years ago through simpler means!

This talk will present the state of the art in Game AI. It will begin with a discussion of what Game AI is and how our goals differ from those of many other disciplines of AI. From there, it will give a whirlwind tour of problem areas and techniques to address each one. Along the way it will discuss not only what is solved, but also exciting areas for future work and what solutions in those spaces might look like, all the while maintaining a strong focus on those areas that are crucial in games for learning rather than just games for entertainment. Last, but certainly not least, the talk will provide references to major sources of material in this field.


Kevin Holloway, Center for Deployment Psychology, Uniformed Services Univ Of the Health Sciences
Virtual Professional Training in Evidence Based Psychotherapies, Gaming for Behavioral Health Providers


Kevin Miklasz, BrainPOP
Moveable Game Jams for Kids: Coding for Social Change

The Moveable Game Jam initiative was a series of student game jams in the New York City area led by Games for Change, as part of its Student Challenge. The Hive Digital Media Learning Fund at the New York Community Trust supported the game jams, and it took place at different locations—hence, moveable. Session partners included the Institute of Play, the SpazeCraft, CoderDojoNYC, Global Kids, Museum of the Moving Image and Mouse. Themes included Future Communities, Climate Change, and Local Stories and Immigrant Voices. Each session was documented onto the Moveable Game Jam Curriculum Guide. The document is an excellent resource for anyone who replicates a game jam afterschool, or in a classroom. This workshop is hands-on, and the Guide will be shared with all.


Kimberly Hieftje, Yale Center for Health & Learning Games, play2PREVENT Lab
Re-purposing Serious Games: Making it Count Twice (or More)

PlayForward: Elm City Stories is a risk-reduction videogame that has been modified to focus on unique adolescent health behaviors. Like PlayForward, serious games can be developed early on with the intention of repurposing them for multiple uses, thus increasing their potential use and reducing time and costs associated with development. Development and evaluation of high-quality serious games is often a lengthy and expensive process, yet important for the expansion of the field. At the Yale Center for Health & Learning Games, our play2PREVENT Lab builds and evaluates videogames that prevent adverse outcomes and promote healthy lives in youth and young adults, using the most rigorous scientific methods available. We build our games by combining health and research expertise with professional game designers and developers.

PlayForward: Elm City Stories (PlayForward) is an evidence-based, theory-driven, engaging iPad game developed for the purpose of HIV prevention and risk reduction in young adolescents. In the game, players “travel” through life, facing challenges and making decisions about friends, offers, and situations that bring different risks and benefits. The player navigates challenges, not by picking the right answer, but by practicing the associated skills of refusal, future forecasting, and prioritization – that give his or her character the chance to build a great life. The game allows players to see how the choices one makes in life impact both short and long-term goals. PlayForward has been evaluated in a full-scale randomized controlled trial of 333 at-risk youth (11-14 years) attending after-school and school-based programs. Data was collected from the iPad and offline standardized instruments. Players were followed for up to two years post-play to evaluate if playing the game would result in significant changes in attitudes, knowledge and behaviors and data analyzed over the first 12 months demonstrates efficacy. PlayForward is now entering a distribution and sustainability phase with the goal of implementing the game broadly in schools, after-school and youth programs.

Using our existing game as a model, we are currently developing and evaluating adapted versions of the game that focus on specific adolescent health behaviors, such as the promotion of HIV testing and counseling (PlayForward: Testing!) and the prevention of tobacco/electronic cigarette use (PlayForward: smokeSCREEN). By using our existing game system, we are able to create new high-quality, evidence-based games with different foci, but at a reduced cost and decreased development time. The goal of this presentation is to share our experience with conference attendees, providing new insight into how serious games can be developed early on with the intention of re-purposing them for multiple uses, thus increasing their potential use and reducing costs and time associated with development.


Kristen DiCerbo, Vice President, Education Research, Pearson R&D
Building Engaging Games for Learning AND Assessment

This session will describe findings and lessons learned from a research program investigating the use of games as both learning and assessment tools. Key questions around process, such as who are the right people to have on the team and how to balance conflicting views from engagement, learning, and assessment perspectives will be discussed. In addition, research-based examples will be provided of: specification of learning progressions, task design to align with learning progression stages, identification and summarization of evidence from log files, and reporting to inform instructional decision-making.


Leslie Robinson, Trance4mation Games
Social & Emotional Dialogue Games provide Resilience and Stress Reduction for Police Officers, Veterans and the Incarcerated

There are few tools to assist people with meaningful interpersonal dialogue and connection which heals and restores the self, relationships, workplace and society. From the most vulnerable to the most heroic among us, millions of people have no one to share or to process their lives and experiences with.

Trance4mation Games has developed and nationally launched first of their kind restorative dialogue games for veteran reintegration, prison reentry, diversity & inclusion, and police officer dialogue. These physical board and card games provide a safe structured space for people to explore, reflect on and share their struggles, feelings, dreams, values and experiences with one another, and to bridge and connect people across all divides and barriers. Designed to promote and facilitate connection, emotional health, resilience, stress reduction, and growth and development, these games makes courageous, authentic, heart to heart dialogue accessible and enjoyable, while bypassing the stigma of speaking on issues one is struggling with. To date, these games have impacted tens of thousands of people’s lives.

This interactive (non-confrontational!) workshop will introduce workshop participants to the Trance4mation Games’ methodology, development process, partnerships, challenges, and lessons from the field. Facilitated and presented by Leslie Robinson, a former Department of Defense Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program Cadre speaker, National Diversity Trainer, and Psychotherapist. Join me for an uplifting experience!


Lisa Marriott, Assistant Professor, OHSU/PSU School of Public Health
Working with Local Schools on Nutrition Education

Games for improving health and education: approaches for integrating data collection and persuasive system design on an academic budget


Lucas Blair, Co-founder, Little Bird Games LLC
The Importance of Understanding and Designing for the Meta-game

The “metagame” is the game around the game. It is the ebb and flow of new strategies, playstyles, and theories created by players in response to changes in rules and new information. In this session, we will look at examples of meta gaming and discuss ways to design learning experiences around it.


M A Greenstein, Ph.D., Founder/Chair / Executive Director, Art Center College of Design, George Greenstein Institute / RotoLab
Title Neurons Sparking!: Generating 3-D brain game narratives: A 3 step method.

Workshop Session: Participants will engage in human centered design thinking, story-telling and a mini intro to neuroplasticity in order to generate 3-D game narratives. Three BIG narrative and game mechanic Ideas will be explored; 1 Define Your Time/Space Continuum, 2 Define your Epic Challenge and 3) strategizing outcomes for overcoming your Achilles Heel. Participants will leave the conference session with a wider scope of how to use the teaching of science by means of growing science informed game narratives. We will touch on VR enhanced brain game industry and the basic design mechanics that govern serious games that are also good for our brain.


Mano Barkovics, Student, Univ of Washington
Serious Play in Government Leadership Training

Living inside the culture of the content with the client advances narrative as we become digital actors together for long periods of intuitive building. Any expert can be “dropped down” into the environment to crowdsource results. In doing so, we structure the interplay to create a virtual culture: “exposing tacit and explicit knowledge digitally, transferring mental models to virtual mental models and nurturing behavior patterns to avatar based patterns” (Jensen, 2017).

Today’s development team creates an immersive culture by working in world always with the client. As 2b3d innovates in government, costs are reduced by meeting only in world and task to performance is greatly increased, as we mature serious play. Ethnography is the key.

At its very fundamental base, learning is a social activity. Technology enhances social interactions, it does not replace it. Serious play combines augmented reality and virtual reality. In this session, we will challenge you to increase the time you spend inside the technology to ignite and sustain the fire in learning.


Mark Suter, Teacher, Bernards Township Schools
How Teachers Can Use VR in the Classroom: Beyond the Novelty

Over the past three years, foundry10, an education research organization, has been studying the potential of Virtual Reality in Education. The research has focused on the implementation, immersion dynamics, and integration of content across the curriculum.

Working with a variety of classroom curricular areas, with students and teachers from 30 schools, we have gathered data as well as anecdotal stories to help illustrate how VR functions in a learning environment. Students from all over the US, Canada and parts of Europe, completed pre/post surveys and educators participated in extensive qualitative interviews in order to better understand what it means to learn with virtual reality.

Please join teachers Steve Isaacs and Mark Suter as we share what we have learned about how to effectively utilize VR for classroom learning through content creation (both inside and outside of the virtual world), content consumption and content integration and overcoming the obstacles inherent in implementation.


Matt MacLaughlin, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command
Mobile Games for Training a Large Workforce

When members of TCM-Mobile first approached Soldiers about training and education in the mobile space, their feedback compared it red and blue monkeys. What was born of those discussions was the purple monkey concept. Are you a purple monkey? Swing by and find out.

Chartered in 2013, the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command, Capability Manger Mobile (TRADOC, TCM-Mobile) faced an increase of mobile users on secure and personal devices and fast-paced technological advancements in the mobile environment. The development team has become a leader in Army mobile, serving 500,000 Soldiers and service members annually with only 4 government employees. This session will not only detail TCM-Mobile’s innovation driven work in mobile applications and serious gaming but also how they managed it with an agile team structure.


Matt Nolan, Assistant Professor, George Mason University
Arcology and Games: Design the future

This lecture consists of three parts: Defining Arcology, outlining Paolo Soleri’s design principles based on Arcology, and revealing how games can be used to model, simulate, and refine the design of future villages.


Michael DiPonio, Team Leader,Tech, Serious Games Dev, Quicken Loans
Working with Business Partners in Developing Serious Games for Enterprise

This session will cover how our Serious Games team works alongside our internal business partners in the conception, planning, development, and deployment of games for the enterprise. We’ll cover our pipeline from start to finish, using practical examples wherever possible to illustrate the process.


Michael Sutton, Chief Gamification Officer/Chief Knowledge Officer, FUNIFICATION LLC
Game-based Learning Through Flow and Flow-based Leadership: the FLIGBY Simulation

The presentation will outline and illustrate the game-based learning value proposition and cases where this simulation teaching tool has been applied successfully. FLIGBY was designed by experts to be the globe’s top leadership development game; it won the Gold Medal Prize of the International Serious Play Awards in Seattle in 2012. FLIGBY’s credentials as a game-based leadership teaching and training tool has evolved to prominence in the last 2 years. The Game offers a unique databank, generated by thousands of player decisions linked to skill measures, ready to be exploited for academic and practitioner research purposes. Creativity, flow and happiness are core concepts of positive psychology. These traits are particularly relevant for organizations, especially in forming value-based business management practices. A significant thought leader, Csikszentmihalyi, stated: “the best way to manage people is to create an environment where employees enjoy their work and grow in the process of doing it.” The concept of Flow and Flow-based leadership have been incorporated into new serious gaming format: FLIGBY (FLOW is Good Business for You”).


Michelle McIntyre, University of Massachusetts Boston
Designing an Effective VR Learning Experience

As game studios, instructional designers, and faculty experiment with implementing VR as a valuable learning experience, certain important elements need to be addressed before a successful VR experience can occur. This interactive session will ask participants to brainstorm how current VR content in STEAM could be successfully implemented by including active group work suggestions, provide objectives, align assessments, and add scaffolding for effective VR learning experiences.


Michelle Zimmerman, Innovation, Microsoft Education
Classroom Innovation and Multi Discipline Learning Stimulated by the Use of Games

Games can be used by teachers as a vehicle for a multidisciplinary approach to learning. Some educators think that games for K12 must be specifically designed as educational to be effectively used in classrooms. Not so.

Games can become a hub to teach philosophy, poetry, creative writing, as well as the transfer of learning for science and mathematics. Multi-player modes can train students to seek more authentic collaboration.  Of course the learning must be structured to support design and outcomes.

Project Based Learning and integration with Virtual and Augmented Reality experiences can also lead to dynamic hybrids between hands-on and game-play.

Games such as Journey, Portal 2 and Minecraft become the hub for project based learning, just a few of the wealth of resources. When educators help students make games they are using connect to subjects or life  outside of the game, fascinating projects can emerge.

This session will provide examples of how teachers can do all of the above.


Mitch Weisburgh, Founders, Academic Business Advisors
The Game of Selling to Schools

The five elements to any game are space, goals, components, mechanics, and rules. We will review these components of the game of selling to schools:

  1. Space: what is the K12 market for EdTech and Games
  2. Goals: what is a win?
  3. Components: who do you need to reach, how do they make decisions
  4. Mechanics: what are some of the methods to reach, sell to, and support schools
  5. Rules: what are the written and unwritten rules in this market

In the unlikely event that people attending still have questions after our riveting presentations, we will answer all questions with alternative facts.


Monica Cornetti, CEO/Founder, Sententia Gamification
Basics: A Certification Course for Trainers and Program Leads

In this hands-on and interactive course, attendees will learn the 5-step process of gamifying a learning or talent development program.

A well-designed and well-implemented game-based learning program promotes engagement, meaning, mastery, and autonomy. Learn how the deconstruction of games is used in gamification design to create behavior change within organizations so you can run or supervise a program for your organization..

Upon completion, you will earn a “Level 1: Gamification Apprentice” Certification, a certificate of completion, and a Gamification Apprentice Badge. Plus, this program earns you six (6) recertification credits with HRCI, SHRM, and ATD.


Nolan Bushnell, Founder, Brainrush

Brainrush uses video game technology in educational software, incorporating real brain science, in a way that Bushnell believes will fundamentally change education.


Pablo Suarez, Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Change Center
Become a Disaster Manager: Red Cross VR Explorations for Flood Risk Management Downstream of Dams

Can you help save lives and money by taking action before a disaster hits? A new virtual reality (VR) game created by the Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre puts users in the shoes of decision makers, letting them decide whether or not to ring an alarm bell, stamp papers for aid delivery, and load supplies into a relief truck – all from a virtual hill overlooking the green valley and the surging waters of the dam.


Patricia Myers, Oak Grove Technologies
Elements of Effective Instructional Learning Game Design

Game-based learning is a form of game play with specific learning outcomes; it is instructionally designed to provide a balance between subject matter that needs to be learned, playing games, and the capability of the learners to apply the knowledge and skills in the real world. Whether you’re rolling dice or racing against the clock, adding gamification elements to e-learning courses is a great way to keep learners focused and motivated.

This presentation will focus on:

  • Elements of Game Based Learning
  • Critical Aspects in Game Creation
  • Demonstration of three games:  Who wants to be a Millionaire, Backward Basketball and Dusty the Dragon.

Practical experience and challenges with the creation and use of Games in Learning will occur.  Participants will be asked to join in the discussion.


Patrick Cerria, TumbleJam, LLC
Dalcroze Eurhythmics & Classroom Management in Today’s Developmentally Diverse Classrooms

According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, 13% of the American Public School population (ages 3 to 18 years) receive special education services.  These services could be a self contained, or inclusion class.  Perhaps it’s “pull-out” services in a resource room for small group instruction. It could be speech, occupational, or social skills therapies.  Regardless, roughly 6.5 million children report to school every day and qualify for these services.

I studied method of teaching music called Eurhythmics at The Juilliard School in Manhattan and have spent the last fifteen years working with varied populations of students.  Jaques Dalcroze, the Swiss educator and composer who created Eurhythmics, did so out of a need to teach students in a changing social and technological world.  Eurhythmics is a method that focuses on the physical aspects of music.  Dalcroze preferred to call his methods “games” and “exercises” as opposed to “lessons” or “instruction”.  The tenant of his method is “All musical ideas reside in the body.”

My program TumbleJam™ is inspired by my Eurhythmics studies.  I have been using TumbleJam in self contained schools of autistic and physically disabled students.  I’ve also taught in inner-city public schools as well as alternative high schools for inner-city students labeled at-risk and with behavioral classifications.  Regardless of the population or age, the response is overwhelming.  Students love the physical and social aspects of the games and exercises.  There is no technology — but rather use live music and games to enhance emotional, musical, social, and creative expression.  My session is going to demonstrate how these games bring students together, create a positive learning space, allow for individual awakening and create an understanding of the group dynamic.  Participants will be up and moving around as well as improvising and laughing.


Paul Darvasi, Ludic Learning
How Serious Games Aid Peace Education and Conflict Resolution

This session will explore how digital games can be used for peace education, and facilitate interpersonal and geopolitical conflict resolution. Drawing from his work for UNESCO, Paul will discuss how digital games are uniquely suited to produce empathy, grant perspective-taking, explore ethical dilemmas and encourage a sense of complicity. These qualities can catalyze changes in individual behaviors and attitudes, and contribute to reductions of intergroup tensions and hostilities.

The understanding of how games produce these beneficial qualities are transferable to a variety of social and learning goals. A broad swath of digital games will be used as examples, any of which can be used to enhance endeavors in diverse sectors.


Paulette Robinson, Office of Personnel Management (OPM)
Microlearning and Gamification in Policy Leadership

The policy courses for government leaders offered by OPM in its open enrollment catalog have been redesigned using a blended model that includes microlearning and gamification. 

In this session, Dr. Robinson will report on the development process and the effectiveness of the new designed based on data collected.  


Pedro Pablo Cardoso Castro, Senior Lecturer, Leeds Beckett University
Methodology to Assess the Fitness of Commercial Games for Higher Education

Development of a comprehensive framework to evaluate the designing of commercial games and its fitness for their use in Higher Education Immersive learning environments are gaining terrain in education in the form of advanced applications of virtual reality, the use of transmedia approaches and computer applications to simulate realistic environments for training (e.g. military, aviation, security, medical training). However, despite the increasing application of digital technologies, their use in Higher Education (HE) has not been properly documented and the methodological foundations to effectively use computer-assisted immersive learning environments in HE are underdeveloped.

As such immersive learning environments have been used in higher education (Freina and Ott, 2015) to include computer-based simulations (e.g. for financial data scenarios), Virtual reality (such as Second Life), physical simulations of medical situations (for degrees such as in nursing) or transmedia practices (as seen in interactive Web series such as Inanimate Alice where the experience is spread across multiple platforms).

This paper explores the use of a modified commercial application of a computer-assisted immersive learning environment developed by the Hydra Foundation at a Higher Education institution in the North of England – Leeds Beckett University. Using a range of business situations (e.g. Fracking in the North of the UK and a Fast Fashion manufacturing business), both undergraduate and postgraduate students take part in the immersive learning simulation in order to develop critical decision making skills, including exposure to ethical issues.

In this paper, we evaluate the instructional design and deployment of experiential models in both the commercial (Hydra model) and in the modified immersive learning platforms that use the same system. The scenarios used in the modified use of the commercial Hydra platform are based on the theory of “drama” and “cognitive realism” aiming not to generate realistic or ultra-realistic scenarios but to create meaningful and inspirational learning that involves emotional engagement.

The implications of the use of immersive learning and the repercussions for the further development of a proposed design methodology of instructional design for immersive scenarios in HE is discussed in this paper.


Pete Morrison, CEO, Bohemia Interactive Simulations
Future-Proofing the Virtual Battlespace for the U.S. Military

VBS3 is a highly successful game-based application that is used to train soldiers and marines in tactical training and mission rehearsal. However, emerging requirements reveal the need for technology not readily available in the entertainment space, including whole-earth terrain, real-world weather systems and doctrinal AI. This presentation will discuss how VBS is being rebuilt to leverage the best of what both game and simulation technology can offer, in order to deliver a new generation of training game to the US military.


Peter Jenkins, MD, Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
CDC’s Program to Incubate Games for Public Health Awareness

After being awarded a second-round of innovation funding from Department of Health and Human Services Idea Lab in 2014, three CDC colleagues along with game industry partners produced a game developer challenge event: CDC/HHS Health Game Jam 2014, which focused on HIV Prevention strategies.

This talk describes structure of the event, including recruitment of HHS subject matter experts and contest judging criteria. A follow-up population study among >100 Atlanta-area teens yielded positive results of playing the winning game. 

We will show that the federally supported game developer challenges provide an effective means of producing game prototypes which have impact among selected populations.


Peter Stidwill, FableVision Studios
The Importance of Co-Play: Building Playful Experiences for Families

Every year, museums welcome millions of visitors to their informal learning spaces. How do you create a media-enriched exhibit that engages both children and their parents?  Stimulate thoughtful conversation?  Deliver an experience that’s both educational and retainable, so the visit is impactful and leaves guests thinking?  The answer: use play. No matter your age, play is compelling, authentic and meaningful.  Play is the gateway to creating a physical, tactile experience that educates and resonates with learners of all ages.

Attendees will hear about work the speakers have done for museums of all shapes and sizes: from the New England Aquarium to the Smithsonian Institution.  Learn tips to create unique, personalized play spaces the whole family will enjoy.


Phaedra Boinodiris, Cognitive Designer, IBM
Workshop: Using Games in Local, State Government

We are all living in a deluge of data, yet we have never felt more disconnected from each other. Some governments have made a concerted effort to move towards transparency by embracing open government, making many forms of government data publicly available for consumption. Yet even with such progressive programs, city, county, state, and national governments still struggle to understand the needs of their citizenry, which programs to invest in, how to track the impact of programs and how to best engage the public in general. In this session, IBM’s Global Lead for Serious Games, Phaedra Boinodiris will talk about ways in which Cognitive Design can transform open government.

Out-Thinking Old School

We are at a moment in history where technology, globalization, and our economy is changing so fast. Those changes offer us enormous opportunities but also are very disruptive and unsettling.   The job market will be changing quickly as will the expectations of the schools to prepare students for their careers.  Big data, analytics, and cognitive technology allow us to tackle big problems in new ways. But there are also cultural innovations too that more traditional and mon traditional learning spaces could possibly take advantage of. Join Phaedra Boinodiris, member of IBM’s Academy of Technology, Global Lead for Serious Games and a leader in IBM’s newest EdTech for Social Impact initiative as she outlines an agenda for how to prepare our students for the new workplace in ways that can engage students, enable teachers and harness a new culture of empowerment within schools.

Beyond Empathetic Conversation Bots: How to Mine Data about Players to Create Impactful Experiences

Beyond serious games and beyond gamification, at the intersection of AI and PLAY, applications are being built to truly change people’s behaviors, their mindsets, their way of thinking. Never before have

AI services and agents that mine data about users been more easily accessible. These services and agents can be woven into applications that can then curate highly customized motivating experiences for people. AI promises to create a vastly more productive and efficient economy and if properly harnessed can vastly improve our lives.

But what is the future of AI and Play as it pertains to motivational design? Join Phaedra Boinodiris, an IBM Cognitive Designer and Serious Play Alum, as she walks you through her world of Empathetic Conversation bots that gauge emotion, smart drones and robots, personality-mining RPGs, and a whole host of other projects that will give you a new perspective on how this space is changing.


Philliph Mutisya, North Carolina Central University
Trauma Informed Game Based Learning for Kids

Traumatic life events experienced in early childhood can result in a wide array of adverse outcomes that may extend well into adulthood. Game-Based learning can help to ameliorate trauma by instilling competence, confidence, and connectivity in end users. Integration of Technology in Trauma Informed Game Based Learning

BACKGROUND: Understanding game based learning and its effectiveness in building resilience beyond anecdotal evidence is a practical issue, a research issue, as well as, increasingly, a scholarly pursuit. Regardless of the increasing amount of hype and scholarly articles, there still is a gap of coherent understanding whether game-based learning works, and if it does, under which circumstances. To address this gap, we reviewed empirical studies on game-based learning, it uses and the outcomes. We focused on how game-based learning is being used in education, the work place and how game based learning is being used in disaster literacy and trauma informed solutions. We looked at what were independent variables as well dependent variables (psychological and behavioral outcomes), how game-based learning was used, as well as the methods and results of these studies.

In spit of the overwhelming fact that each year millions of children are disproportionately impacted by disasters disrupting their lives, families, schools, and communities; from simple house fires—to the levels of devastation witnessed in the 2004 Tsunami or the 2005 Hurricane Katrina disasters, and the recent FBI study reports that shows “active shooter”” incidents have tripled in recent years—with 29% of these attacks occurring at schools creating the need for school lock-down measures, which are now commonplace in school districts I had to overcome hurdles from the school system as well as the business leaders and practitioners that typically intervene post event. Schools are very resistant to change, however in the last 200 years the only change schools have embraced is “”technology.”” There is overwhelming research that suggests schools should not wait to deal with the enormous difficulty of explaining disasters or hazards to children, kids, and youth for the first time after they occur, yet due to implementation and cost I’ve learned schools will put their head in the sand and follow the status quo. Innovation in schools are not the norm. When looking at the desired outcome of the PrepBiz solution which is to ameliorate disasters trauma, we began speaking to the outcome of our solution instead of its functionality and it is then we were able to gain traction. In spite of the fact that 32 states mandate school systems educate their students on more than fires, hurricanes, earthquakes and floods getting buy-in was difficult. With the landmark Compton lawsuit where students are suing the school system to make all schools trauma informed the interest has opened with key stakeholders looking for solutions. We’re still fighting to overcome specific industry self interest, however in the past few months we’re getting super traction not only from schools but investors and organization that support youth wellness and preparedness.

STUDY DESIGN: The primary study hypothesis is that gamification can build resilience in youth to combat the negative effects of “toxic stress,” “post-traumatic stress disorders” and loss some youth experience post disaster. Using PrepBiz™ trauma informed gamification app which recognizes the emotional and trauma effects of disasters on youth are not always immediate and can last for years and may also affect their academic attainment. PrepBiz™ provides collaborative guidance in the form of “”engagement knowledge”” to build resilience through gamification infusing emergency preparedness principles across the entire educational experience to help kids build confidence when faced with these types of incidents and may help ameliorate psychological morbidity that some youth may experience post disaster. The main goal is to provide practitioners, educators, parents, and schools with gamified trauma informed strategies for future prevention interventions. A secondary goal is to enhance scientific understanding of the use of gamification in building resilience to adverse childhood experiences. In summary, the current empirical research on gamification largely supports the popular view that, indeed, gamification does produce positive effects, but many caveats exist. Most frequently, the studies bring forth three categories of caveats: the context of gamification, qualities of the users using the system and possible novelty effects. The findings of the review provide insight for further studies as well as for the design of gamified systems. We feel gamification can be a great strategic partner to emergency preparedness and as such deserves fundamental investment of time, capital, and attention from key stakeholders in both the public and private sector. The field needs more funding and research activities to grow this budding field.


Rachel Grunspan, CIA
Cloaks, Daggers & Dice: How the CIA Uses Games

Try your hand as a CIA officer! David Clopper, Rachel Grunspan and Volko Ruhnke will guide you through one of the games actually used for the nation’s spooks. There is only room for 8-10 players, but you can watch.


Ran Hinrichs, 2b3d Studios
Serious Play in Government Leadership Training

Living inside the culture of the content with the client advances narrative as we become digital actors together for long periods of intuitive building. Any expert can be “dropped down” into the environment to crowd source results. In doing so, we structure the interplay to create a virtual culture: “exposing tacit and explicit knowledge digitally, transferring mental models to virtual mental models and nurturing behavior patterns to avatar based patterns” (Jensen, 2017).

Today’s development team creates an immersive culture by working in world always with the client. As 2b3d innovates in government, costs are reduced by meeting only in world and task to performance is greatly increased, as we mature serious play. Ethnography is the key.

At its very fundamental base, learning is a social activity. Technology enhances social interactions, it does not replace it. Serious play combines augmented reality and virtual reality. In this session, we will challenge you to increase the time you spend inside the technology to ignite and sustain the fire in learning.


Rebecca Mir, Ad Council
Social Cause Gaming: Helping Millennials Develop Positive Saving Habits

How do you motivate someone to change their behavior to impact positive long-term change? One way is to encourage people to “game for good” by designing a game that changes people’s perceptions and behaviors around a social cause. In this presentation, the Ad Council’s digital team will share challenges and lessons learned when developing a narrative game about financial literacy. Given the changing financial landscape, saving is more important than ever. But for many young working adults, it feels overwhelming and impossible. The “Feed the Pig” campaign from the Ad Council and the American Institute of CPAs encourages young adults to adopt positive saving habits and provides simple tools to help them save for their goals, whatever they may be. In 2016, the Ad Council partnered with Games for Change to launch a Game Design Challenge inviting game designers and developers to propose a game idea that encourages young adults to make saving part of their daily lives. The winning concept Yesterday’s Tomorrow: Your Financial Adventure, is a narrative game experience that allows players to jump between life stages and ages to see how financial decisions have a tangible impact. Over the course of the project, we encountered many challenges, from navigating legal concerns to reducing implicit bias within the game’s storyline to be sensitive to the unique and distinct economic challenges that millennials face. Late in the game cycle, we made a big decision to cut stories and edit the copy to make sure the game embraced the humor and personality that are hallmarks of the “Feed the Pig” campaign, while remaining a useful learning tool. We will share best practices from our experience with Yesterday’s Tomorrow and the Game Design Challenge as well as other Ad Council gaming projects.


Rebecca Vieyra, American Association of Physics Teachers
Workshop: Mobile Apps and Sensors for STEM Teaching

During this interactive session, bring your own mobile device, and learn about three different sources of mobile apps for STEM learning in a gaming context: EdGE at TERC (https://edge.terc.edu/), PhET (https://phet.colorado.edu/), and the speakers’ own free sensor-based Physics Toolbox apps (https://www.vieyrasoftware.net/). All three of these resources provide free tools for STEM education that are build on a solid discipline-specific research base, much of which has been supported by the National Science Foundation.

In addition to having the opportunity to interact with each resource in small groups, the presenters will discuss some of the research on app development and effective strategies for how teachers choose to implement them in their teaching.

Participants will progress through two learning sequences using apps from the aforementioned sources: (1) force & motion and (2) light and color. Additional resources will be shared for learning about additional STEM topics. In learning about force and motion, participants will engage with EdGE at TERC’s “Impulse” game to make sense of the relationship between force, motion, and energy change of a system, play with Phet’s “Lunar Lander” game, and then use Physics Toolbox Accelerometer to measure and describe the motion of their mobile device as they spin, dance, and jump. In learning about light and color, participants will engage with EdGE at TERC’s “Quantum Spectre” game, PhET’s various geometric optics and light and color simulations, and play a sorting challenge using Physics Toolbox Color Generator. Sample lesson plans will be made available for many of the resources.


Richard Boyd, Tanjo Inc.
Machine Learning in Serious Games

The Holy Grail for any learning system is personalization and adaptive intelligence. Think Neil Stephenson’s “Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer” Machine Learning is emerging as one of the most powerful tools to achieve personalization as well as making serious games and simulations more adaptive and intelligent. Serious Play Abstract
In this session we will discuss several applications of serious games driven by AI and machine learning, including a Kaizen simulator built for Toyota Motors Asia Pacific as well as a virtual reality water treatment plant. General lessons learned for applying machine learning to make more intelligent and personalized serious games will be discussed.

In 1962, Douglas Engelbart wrote about his conceptual framework for augmenting the collective intelligence of humanity. “The system we want to improve can thus be visualized as a trained human being together with his artifacts, language, and methodology. The explicit new system we contemplate will involve as artifacts computers, and computer-controlled information-storage, information-handling, and information-display devices. The aspects of the conceptual framework that are discussed here are primarily those relating to the human being’s ability to make significant use of such equipment in an integrated system.”

We will discuss methods for combining advanced machine learning technologies and gamification with sources of data, knowledge and experts to improve the collective intelligence of any organization and, furthermore, cause the current status of organizational knowledge to be made apparent to leadership of the organization with a powerful visual interface.


Richard Lamb, WA State
The Use of Measurement and Neuroimaging to Examine the Learning Affordances of Virtual Reality

The presenter of this session will discuss differences in the level of hemodynamic response (used as a proxy for ‘cognitive demand’) as it relates to three different pedagogical approaches of teaching the processes of DNA extraction in life science.

The first approach was using a video lecture approach. The second approach used an immersive virtual reality environment. The third approach was the use of a ‘hands-on’ laboratory in which the students engaged in a wet laboratory extraction.

Functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRs) technology was used in this study to examine hemodynamic localization associated with each condition.

Results suggest that the group using the virtual reality laboratory had a significantly higher score on the posttest compared to the laboratory group and the virtual laboratory group did not statistically significantly differ from the real-life laboratory group related to fNIR.  More importantly, measures of virtual environment hemodynamic responses did not differ from those of the ‘real-life’ laboratory in either location or intensity.

These results suggest that realistic virtual reality based environments and ‘real-life’ laboratory activities activate and produce similar amounts of processing and learning.


Rita Bush, Office of the Director of National Intelligence
How to Use Games to Mitigate Cognitive Bias in Analysis

This presentation describes a four-year, multi-team experimental research program designed to study the effectiveness of games as a training tool for teaching about and mitigating cognitive bias. Game designs were iterated over multiple development cycles, informed by the results of both playtesting and formal experiments. The research showed that it is possible to reduce biased decision-making both immediately and long-term.


Rob Dieterich, Skyboy Games
Student-Developers and Teacher-Publishers: A Model for Project-based Learning

This presenter will outline a typical developer-publisher relationship in the entertainment games industry including a typical milestone schedule. He then describes how this relationship was applied to successfully teach game development and project management skills to high-school students in a two-week intensive summer class. In a partnership between Mason Game & Technology Academy (MGTA) and Envision Experience, the presenter and several others taught hands-on 3D game development skills to high-school students during the summer of 2016. By adopting a model that emulates the relationship between publishers and developers in the entertainment games industry, the teachers were able to maintain a high level of student engagement while mentoring them in the skills they need to develop their own computer games.

Acting in the role of publishers, the teachers had their students divide into small teams that were responsible for conceiving, pitching, and developing projects of their own design. Through a series of milestone checks modeled on a typical publisher-developer relationship in the entertainment games industry, the teachers were able to guide the students’ efforts to maximize their ability to finish their projects within the allotted time.

The aspirational quality of the game developer role-play inherent in the relationship between the publishers (teachers) and the developers (students) helped keep the students motivated during class. Because the students conceived the projects themselves, they were further motivated to complete them and most groups self-managed effectively as a result. This self-management freed the teachers to concentrate on helping the student groups with the particular game development needs of their projects.

This talk presents this developer-publisher model as a method to organize a project-based game development curriculum and describes the effectiveness of its application in the MGTA/Envision summer program.


Ross Smith, Director of Engineering – Skype, Microsoft
Using Games and Play in Skype to Help Connect and Connect with Customers

Games in the classroom help students. This session will talk about how Microsoft’s Skype in the Classroom program uses games to connect classrooms, build bridges between students and the outside world, attend virtual field trips, and motivate teachers through learning exercises. In addition, the speaker will talk about how Microsoft’s community forum makes heavy use of game mechanics to drive engagement, recruit ambassadors, and motivate people to help each other with problems. He’ll reveal some very interesting data behind a large scale community effort.


Ryan Harrell, Southern Adventist University Online Campus
Ready to Fly: Drone Racing as Motivation for Learning

Come explore the educational possibilities of drone racing across a range of learning environments. Take a close look at the educational potential available through these programs, as well as their goals and potential outcomes. Examine existing educational programs, methods for establishing new programs, avoidable pitfalls, and some fun flight footage. Drone racing has exploded in popularity in the last few years, spawning a growing international community thanks to its fast-paced competition and low barrier to entry. It has launched several new television programs on ESPN and other major sports networks in the process. The same elements that make this emerging sport so popular also make it a powerful tool for driving student engagement. The scope of various sciences and technologies used in drone racing deliver a broad range of applied learning, and the competition and results-oriented nature provide un-matched motivational tools for self-guided multi-disciplinary education.

This presentation explores the possibilities provided by launching programs designed to drive student learning and engagement using the sport of drone racing as a motivational force across a range of potential learning environments including community centers, K-12 schools, and higher education. It provides a close look at the areas of learning and educational potential available through these programs as well as their goals and desired outcomes. Existing educational programs, tools and methods for planning and establishing new programs, and avoidable pitfalls will be examined.


Ryan Schaaf, Notre Dame of Maryland University
Game On: Using Digital Games to Transform Teaching, Learning, and Assessment

Most of us have seen the excitement and extreme task commitment involved with playing a digital game. A vast majority of the globalized world play video games as a pastime or hobby.

If teachers could somehow harness the excitement and engagement of playing digital games in the classrooms, then students would experience hands-on, brains-on learning using the digital media that is an everyday, always-on part of their lives outside of schools. 

As educators, we can duplicate the extreme motivation and task commitment of the video game experience into the classroom. 

 This interactive workshop, based on the book Game On: Using Digital Games to Transform Teaching, Learning, and Assessment, is designed for educators and learning game enthusiasts to:

  • find, critique, and evaluate digital games using search and evaluation strategies to determine if they are suitable for instruction.
  • integrate a variety of digital games into the curriculum utilizing standards such as the Common Core.
  • explore the instructional strategies essential to make a digital game- based learning experience a success for students.
  • determine meaningful assessment processes such as process and product rubrics and self and/or peer evaluation practices for digital game-based learning experiences.

Sam S. Adkins, CEO and Chief Researcher, Metaari
Global Game Study

I will provide key findings from two Metaari reports distributed by the Serious Play Conference: “The 2017-2022 U.S. Consumer Mobile Educational Game Market” and “The 2017-2021 Worldwide Game-based Learning Market.” I will identify primary revenue opportunities and catalysts. I will discuss the recent worldwide boom in investment activity. I will also outline Metaari’s Educational Game Pedagogical Framework.


Sande Chen, Consultant, Analyst, Independent
Designing Games For Social Impact

It’s becoming increasingly clear that it’s not so easy to convince others of a different viewpoint or to generate empathy for a cause. Within our social media bubbles, beliefs are constantly reinforced and entrenched. So how can social impact games break down these barriers? How can they go beyond preaching to the choir? This session will look at techniques used in games and other media to further impact and persuade without preaching or browbeating. In addition, attendees will gain an understanding of how games can cause introspection and growth through moral dilemmas.


Scott Brewster, ThinkZone Games
The Game of Selling to Schools

The five elements to any game are space, goals, components, mechanics, and rules. We will review these components of the game of selling to schools:

  1. Space: what is the K12 market for EdTech and Games
  2. Goals: what is a win?
  3. Components: who do you need to reach, how do they make decisions
  4. Mechanics: what are some of the methods to reach, sell to, and support schools
  5. Rules: what are the written and unwritten rules in this market

In the unlikely event that people attending still have questions after our riveting presentations, we will answer all questions with alternative facts.


Scott M. Martin, Dean, Virginia Serious Game Institute (VSGI), George Mason University, Scriyb LLC
Applied Research and Economic Development Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Higher Education-based Serious Game Development: The Virginia Serious Game Institute (VSGI) at George Mason University

Higher education institutions struggle with establishing new models of innovation and entrepreneurship. A typical research funding model is for a faculty member or two (co-PIs) to apply for a federal or private grant to conduct research, and when funded, reduce their teaching load, hire a few GRAs or post-docs to help conducts said research, publish a few papers and/or a book, and writes a final report to the funder. In most cases, the short and long-term impact on the institution, besides the counting of research dollars toward their R-1 status, is negligible at best. The Virginia Serious Game Institute (VSGI) is a new applied research, innovation, and entrepreneurship model for higher education, and in this case, focused on serious games technology discovery to improve the human condition. This presentation will outline the three major interconnected and inter-related subdivisions of the VSGI: Applied research, community outreach, and startup incubation & acceleration, and their combined impact on the GMU campus, the Prince William County community, Commonwealth of Virginia, and globally.


Scott Simpkins, Johns Hopkins Advanced Physics Laboratory
Using Games to Improve Clinical Practice and Healthcare Administration

Leadership at all levels of a healthcare organization plays a central role in patient safety, yet few evidence-based interventions exist to meet this critical function. Simulation and gaming have demonstrated improvement in technical and non-technical competencies of healthcare workers, as well as organizational learning and continuous improvement but has not been broadly applied to the patient safety.

Our research developed, implemented and evaluated a gaming application for building safety related leadership competencies along with strategy development for executive and mid-level healthcare leaders.

Specifically, the work addressed two broad questions: 1) is a gaming application more effective than traditional methods of instruction for improving patient safety leadership competencies, and 2) what makes gaming most effective as a strategy generation tool for patient safety leadership?

Our project assembled a multi-disciplinary team (simulation, training, gaming, engineering, patient safety leadership, business and management, social science of creativity, human factors and organizational psychology) to design, implement, and evaluate patient safety leadership development. It evaluates the impact of two practically relevant implementation factors: 1) team familiarity of participants, and 2) a mindfulness intervention designed to boost learning efficiency.

The impact of this work is broad, given a lack of existing games for leaders and the proven effectiveness of gaming in other complex skill domains.


Seth Andrew Hudson, Assistant Professor, Game Writing Computer Game Design Program George Mason University
Come for the Games; Stay for the Games Research: Undergraduate Games Research

A case study on implementing an undergraduate games research and scholarship initiative, this talk outlines the formation, initiation, challenges, and future of the Games-Engaged Analysis and Research Group (GEAR) at George Mason University. The talk will address: the challenges and opportunities presented in collaboration between faculty from disparate disciplines; transdisciplinary and humanities approaches to games research; practical concerns involving funding and student participation non-credit-bearing activity, and the benefits of incorporating undergraduate researchers in serious games studies.


Sharon Gander, Institute for Performance Improvement
The Challenge of Certification: Providing More Robust Assessments through Games

Share stories and techniques about certifications for learning game designers and for games as learning and assessment products. Join the discussion of the growing demand for games as assessment methods and as alternatives to traditional multiple-choice exams. Come discover the overlapping worlds of games and certifications.


Shipley Owens, Stonewall Middle School
How Computer Game Design Impacts Literacy

My greatest challenges were overcoming institutional norms and limited technology. I had to secure academic and financial instructional support, partner with subject matter experts in the gaming community, develop a curriculum that supported Virginia’s learning outcomes, select students, and secure appropriate technology. With the support of my administration, the Game and Technology Academy at George Mason University, and trusting in the reading process, I shared the computer lab, and the students and I problem-solved how to overcome the technology shortages and slow network services. More than 27% of teens spend three hours or more a day connected to video games. (ESA, 2016, p. 3). As the number of students participating in the gaming community increases and the gaming culture becomes an integral part of adolescents’ social context, middle school teachers must decide how to incorporate video games into the classroom without sacrificing curriculum and discover effective strategies to remove the social stigmas associated with struggling readers and remediation. Video games are often used in the classroom to support basic skill practice and reading remediation. However, gamification extends beyond literacy skill practice. According to Gee (2003), video games provide “an alternative way to think about learning and knowing that makes the content view seem less obvious and natural.” My presentation will share the findings of a pilot reading program developed in collaboration with the Game and Technology Academy at George Mason University. The reading program focuses on teaching reading strategies while examining narrative video game design.


Sivasailam (Thiagi) Thiagarajan, Founder, The Thiagi Group
Workshop: Using Serious Games to Teach Cultural Sensitivity
(Tuesday Workshop, 1 hr. 15 minutes)

This session is about increasing empathy and effectiveness in intercultural interactions. You will experience and explore a variety of serious game techniques that have been field tested around the world. The techniques include the following:

  1. Metaphorical simulations that incorporate synthetic cultures to explore alternative norms and values
  2. Jolts that are brief (less than 5 minutes in duration) experiential activities that can be debriefed extensively to produce valuable insights and affective outcomes
  3. Interactive storytelling that invite the participants to create their own stories and to change the setting in other stories to explore the impact of cultural context
  4. Textra games that wrap game-like activities around reading assignments related to cultutral intelligence
  5. Interactive lectures that combine the structure and control of lectures with the interest and motivation of game elements.

How To Start and Run a Training Program
(Wednesday Session, 45 minutes)

Based on his experiences in setting up training programs for corporations and nonprofit organizations, Thiagi presents a step-by-step approach for developing an effective and sustainable program for your own organization. He begins by specifying the mission for the program and using evidence-based principles from psychology and sociology to provide a solid foundation to support it. The topics explored in this session will include linking training outcomes with business results, aligning the design and delivery of training, and incorporating key factors associated with media, the Internet, and communication technology.


Spencer J. Frazier, Lockheed Martin, Rotary & Mission Systems – ASC
Assess and Augment: Toward Games & Training With Biophysical Sensors

The more you know about the mental state of a learner, player, or trainee, the better you can tailor an experience to their current state and progression over time. There are multiple non-invasive techniques for assessing trust, engagement, fatigue, emotions, and learning progress using biophysical sensors. After you collect and understand this data, many possibilities exist for augmenting their experience. Tracking learning progress with fNIR brain imaging and fatigue by measuring pupil dilation then subsequently scaling difficulty is one example. Automating certain user interface interactions through gaze detection is another. Virtual characters that react to eye contact (or its absence) are also a possibility. In the talk, the latest research on the efficacy of these techniques will be provided, along with potential use cases in games, training, and learning.


Stefan Yates, Instructional Design Librarian and Associate Professor, Kansas State University
Transmedia, unicorns, and marketing, oh my!: The not-quite epic failure of transmedia design efforts in Oz.

Transmedia storytelling, also called Alternate Reality Games, have been designed to intrigue, engage, and even engineer groups of people since the release of The Beast in 2001. A few colleges and Universities have employed them to engage their student populations and even teach them a thing or two using narrative game mechanics. Presenters will chronicle a highly successful transmedia design effort at Kansas State University, and the subsequent annual efforts to replicate the engagement and enthusiasm. Best practices and not-quite epic failures will be discussed, as will tips (and laments) for marketing to our current student populations.


Steve Isaacs, Teacher, Bernards Township Schools
How Teachers Can Use VR in the Classroom: Beyond the Novelty

Over the past three years, foundry10, an education research organization, has been studying the potential of Virtual Reality in Education. The research has focused on the implementation, immersion dynamics, and integration of content across the curriculum.

Working with a variety of classroom curricular areas, with students and teachers from 30 schools, we have gathered data as well as anecdotal stories to help illustrate how VR functions in a learning environment. Students from all over the US, Canada and parts of Europe, completed pre/post surveys and educators participated in extensive qualitative interviews in order to better understand what it means to learn with virtual reality.

Please join teachers Steve Isaacs and Mark Suter as we share what we have learned about how to effectively utilize VR for classroom learning through content creation (both inside and outside of the virtual world), content consumption and content integration and overcoming the obstacles inherent in implementation.


Susan Rivers, iThrive
Guiding Principles For Teen Games

This talk shares insights identifying common qualities of games that may promote teen thriving with positive psychology practices. iThrive utilized a two-tiered approach to find these qualities and create a road map for developers to design for positive psychology practices. Experts at a series of think tanks, lead by McDonald, deconstructed the positive psychology concepts into guidelines for positive psychology constructs, both in terms of what systems and features might help and harm the promotion of these practices in players. A semester’s long study with design students, lead by Rusch, revealed that games with the strongest positive psychology components were those that had the most emotional impact, and few game features. Insights from both investigations will be shared, including exemplar games that align with a set of positive psychology practices; the common qualities those games share; and design tips for creating products that can support teen thriving.

Positive psychology practices promote positive youth development, but how can these practices be embedded in games? Drawing from insights collected from industry experts and game design students engaged in a semester-long study, we constructed a road map of the qualities of games that might lead to positive psychology habits.


Tammie Schrader, Regional Science Coordinator, State of WA AESD
Districtwide STEM Education, Using Games

This presentation is about the journey from never having played a video game to speaking at the White House on gamification and then taking that vision and expanding it to 59 school district throughout our state and region.

As a classroom teacher it was very clear what students love to do in their spare time, play video games.  Some never have time to do a single assignment but can play games for 24 hours straight.  I started this journey wanting to leverage the power of play.  Research shows that play is mandatory for not only creativity but for learning new information.  What started out as a way to engage students ended up at the White House to work on the Game Jam and then expanded to a goal and vision of implementing gamification to 59 school districts.

I will be speaking about how to start, implement, maintain, and then expand the vision of using play in education as well as connecting to community support and involving higher education.  We currently have the support of community colleges, four major universities, as well as the library system, businesses, and early learning in a collaborative pre k-16 plan to implement game play to meet the educational as well as social and emotional needs of our children.


Terrence Gargiulo, Chief Story Teller, Accenture
The Importance of Story in Game

Stories are fundamental to how we communicate, learn and think. How do we go beyond the practice of using hero journeys and stories with clean beginning, middles and ends to access another whole dimension of storytelling. Bring your voice to this interactive conversation on how to tap into the natural power of stories in some counter intuitive ways to design, build and facilitate serious games with stories. 


Thomas Talbot, USC Institute for Creative Technologies
TIME TO LEAVE THE LAB: What will it take to make useful games viable for people and businesses?

In his keynote address, Time to Leave the Lab, medical gaming pioneer Thomas Talbot explores the success to date of serious games while sharing their shortcomings. He presents necessary advances to turn interesting experiments into viable, accessible experiences for people as well as providing a model to sustain businesses that create and market such games.


Tobi Saulnier, CEO, 1st Playable
Cognitive Bias Training Game Valuable for Everything from Law Enforcement to Teen

High stakes security and law enforcement challenges typically involve ambiguous information, multiple actors and fluid circumstances. The individuals charged with these responsibilities are also susceptible to the inherent strengths and weaknesses of the human mind and the way it processes information. In high risk situations, an incorrect choice could put not just dollars but lives at stake.

In this session, the speaker will discuss the challenge of developing Cycles, a training game originally developed for the intelligence community. The CYCLES games have been empirically tested games and demonstrate these titles can provide strong and persistent training in the recognition, discrimination and mitigation of six cognitive biases commonly affecting all types of intelligence analysis.

Since many of the same biases impact us daily whether in business, education or game development, CYCLES is being adapted, sometimes with other partners, for use in many different situations. The speaker will share some of the design tradeoffs made in creating the original game, as well as some of the needs and concerns to be aware of when teaching about thought pattern biases. Also considerations for the design team when extending a game created for the intelligence community to varied topics ranging from law enforcement to teaching lessons about empathy to teens.


Tony Beck, NIH / SEPA
Getting Govt Funding for Your Healthcare Game


Tony Crider, Department of Physics, Elon University
Experiential Assessment with Virtual Reality: Lessons from Second Life, Reacting to the Past, and Epic Finales

The dawn of commercially-available virtual reality (VR) opens up new opportunities for immersive environments and game-based curricula in higher education. Many VR software companies have produced products to allow for a new form of experiential education. In this talk, we explore three approaches drawn from non-VR pedagogies that may be used with VR for experiential assessment. The first pedagogy involves student creation and presentation of 3D-exhibits in the virtual world of Second Life. Students received grades based on the quality of the 3D-building, the research done in preparation of the exhibits, and presentations of the work to an audience of non-student residents of the virtual world. The second pedagogy is based on Reacting to the Past role-playing games in which students spend weeks using classic texts to restage historical debates. Students were graded based on their speaking in-class and their writing outside of class. The third pedagogy involves less structured role-play and “epic finales” designed to provide a closing experience in lieu of typical final exams. Students were presented with a scenario and were graded based on recorded video of them collaboratively solving it. For these three pedagogies, we will discuss examples of student work, related education research, and the potential for each to be used in experiential assessment with virtual reality.


Volko Ruhnke, CIA
Cloaks, Daggers & Dice: How the CIA Uses Games

Try your hand as a CIA officer! David Clopper, Rachel Grunspan and Volko Ruhnke will guide you through one of the games actually used for the nation’s spooks. There is only room for 8-10 players, but you can watch.


Walter Greenleaf, Research Neuroscientist and Medical Product Developer, Stanford University
How Virtual and Augmented Reality Technology will Revolutionize Healthcare

Although entertainment, social connection, and gaming will drive the initial adoption of Virtual Reality technology, the deepest and most significant market for Virtual Reality technology will be in clinical care and in improving health and wellness. We know from years of clinical research that VR can address and ameliorate the most difficult problems in healthcare – ranging from mood disorders such as anxiety and depression to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Addictions, Autism, Cognitive Aging, Neuro and Physical Rehabilitation. The list of clinical interventions made possible by Virtual Reality technology is long. VR technology also facilitates clinical assessments and medical training, as well as providing for improved surgical skill training and procedure planning. Personal health and wellness can be improved by using VR to engender better nutrition, promote healthy lifestyles, and to reduce stress and anxiety. As the cost of healthcare rises, VR technology can serve as an effective telemedicine platform to reduce costs of care delivery, and improve clinical efficiency. This presentation will provide an overview of how VR technology will impact medicine, clinical care, and personal health and wellness, and how it will help to facilitate the shift of medicine to direct personal care.