Alan Gershenfeld introduced me to Dan Norton at Filament Games. I was curious about the kinds of games they make, and it seems that their development interests are right in line with my interests in interactive games that have a social cause behind them. One of their games, “Resilient Earth,” sapped away at least a good two hours of my time over the past two days. In this game, you are an “argonaut” on a JASON project undersea robot. You need to do all of the critical scientific legwork to solve a troubling trend — the disappearance of the Hawaiian Monk Seal from a particular part of the Hawaiian island chain. This is no made up scenario. It actually comes from real life. Here are some screen shots and my thoughts on how this game works, what I like about the game, and where I can see this kind of gaming vertical headed as an invesment niche and as important school coursework.

I should add that Dan Norton wrote to me in an email, introducing me to Filament Games, his company:

Of potential, particular interest to you is an upcoming DoE grant we're
about to embark on. We'll be creating a suite of science games to integrate
with special education curriculum, and then independently distributing
variations of those games to different markets to see what sticks.

But, to the game…

You are the virtual operator of an undersea rover
As an argonaut, you correspond with scientists to understand your tasks
As you solve the problems, you learn marine biology, use critical thinking skills
Check your research agenda, complete tasks
That hose is meant to make the shark puke. Research.
Mmmm. Shark puke. Now real research begins. Find out what the shark eats.

The research portion of the game includes other activities, like tagging seals, using statistical methods to count reef fish, presenting your case studies to other scientists, and then implementing a plan to protect the seals. I won’t go more into the game, because I think it’s worth playing on your own to see how life like it is. Sure, it’s animated and it’s definitely pitched towards children. However, I found the reasoning, the interaction, and the level of game play to be well within the realm of adult thinking. I wouldn’t be surprised if some teachers got caught up in this game.

You can learn more about Filament Games by visiting their website, and by coming back to edReformer.com soon. We will be putting up an interview with the game developers in a few days.

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