From Skylanders to Arena: Board Gaming Gets a High-tech Twist

by Hap Aziz

In the last post, guest blogger Martin LaGrow discussed the online education potential of the new Activision computer game Skylanders. Martin’s premise in part was related to the compelling nature of the real-character and virtual-environment combination in game play along with the observation that the virtual environment is actually engaging beyond the typical collection of text-heavy web pages. Skylanders represents the first of a new wave of interactive software, and that will prove to be extremely valuable in the context of mastering educational content. Provided, of course, that game designers and publishers are able to “get their act together” when it comes to designing and delivering game content.

At the Gamasutra.com website, Chris Morris has written about a new product technology demonstrated by ePawn at the Computer Electronics Show called Arena that will connect to a computer in order to facilitate greater interaction between player and game system. Arena potentially goes one better than Skylanders by providing a reconfigurable game board surface in the form of a 26 inch interactive screen display surface, and physical objects placed on the screen surface will be tracked in real time. Thinking outside of the box from the education perspective, one can imagine a variety of scenarios in which the Arena display can be used as an extension of course content. The first question that comes to mind, though, is, “What game development company would be willing to take the lead on this content development for the education marketplace?”

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Filed under education, education technology, games

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