Playing 4 Keeps

[p4k] Evaluation on both Playing 4 Keeps and Ayiti released! 

After two and a half years, Global Kids is delighted to release the results of the independent evaluation by the Center for Children and Technology of both Playing 4 Keeps, our after school gaming program, and Ayiti, the game produced with Gamelab during the first year of the program.

For the evaluation CCT observed the program and interviewed the students. To evaluate the game they looked at the results of nearly 16,000 game plays.

Download the full report here.

In short, when we made Ayiti we wanted to learn if players would learn if the factors affecting access to education within an impoverished condition are both interdependent and exist within a dynamic system. CCT's research found that "the central idea embedded in the game play, that no single factor accounts for success, appears to have been successfully communicated to the majority of players." Bingo!

In addition, they describe how youth report that through their participation in the after school program their experiences involved:

[p4k student] Jean 's thoughts on today workshop 

Hey today I did a workshop teaming up with 3 other people to work on finding Katrina facts. We each worked on one question and wrote the answer on on the paper.

[press] The Parent's Paper spotlights virtual worlds and education 

The January issue of the New Jersey magazine The Parent Paper, has an article entitled "Student's Try a Virtual World", which spotlight's both the programs Global Kids and Ramapo are running within Second Life.

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They quoted Barry several times regarding TSL.

“Once we went into Teen Second Life, we found things we didn’t find anywhere else. In Teen Second Life you have a spatial relationship with others around you and it feels like you are with people. We could do the same workshops for kids virtually that we were doing in reality.

We could do these workshops in ways that we never thought were possible. In Teen Second Life you don’t have to just imagine you are in a factory – you are in a factory. And teens are building the factory. A lot of our top down approach for spreading information was met equally with ideas from the bottom up. The space is about putting young people in charge and giving them tools. What we are able to do as educators in that space is tap into nascent leadership skills.”

[p4k] Gettin our hands dirty 

We had a short week at Playing 4 Keeps, with only one workshop as we came back from the winter break. On Thursday, the whole afternoon was devoted to a more complex version of the role playing exercise we did before the break. Instead of just pretending to be members of a game lab with an imaginary project to develop, the kids were tasked with modifying a game in Scratch.

This was really a perfect use for the software; it’s so easy to use that everyone was able to actually act out his or her role, and in the end we had a unique game. The Scratch team develops and releases games and programs for users to remix, and the one we chose was “Fish Chomp,” a simple game where players control a fish trying to eat smaller fish.

We split the kids into development teams and each one was assigned different responsibilities. The art director, illustrators, and graphic designer worked together to customize the fish graphics, instruction screen, and health and point meters. The audio team found background music and sound effects for the game. Our game and level designers worked on new ways to make the game more challenging, and imagined what further levels would be like. Finally, the programmer implemented the changes. Coding is simple enough in Scratch that within minutes he was able to figure out how the game worked and what could be easily changed.

[p4k] Slate.com counts Ayiti as one of their top picks 

Ayiti: the Cost of Life was spotlighted on Slate.com in an article written by Justin Peters focusing on his top choices of free games to play online. Not only did we make his list, but he had some great things to say.

Best game with a social conscience: No matter how bad things are going, you could always be a subsistence farmer in Haiti. (To our Haitian subsistence-farming readers: God bless.) Ayiti: The Cost Of Life makes the Oregon Trail look like Candy Land. The game puts you in control of the lives of a Haitian family of five. You have four years to guide the family through a catalog of privations and calamities: hurricanes, robbers, depression, illiteracy, and on-the-job injuries. Ideally, you'll find education, prosperity, and health, but you'll probably just come down with malaria and die.

The article was also picked up by Slashdot on their site! They even made special note of Ayiti.

[p4k] Milestones 

In our last week before the new year, Playing 4 Keeps had three major milestones: we chose our issue for the game, the students wrote their first blog entries, and we began experimenting with digital media creation. First, on Monday Barry came out to help resolve a schism in the group: the students were evenly divided between two issues for our game. Half the group wanted to do Hurricane Katrina, and half wanted to focus on the various issues of war and the military that President Eisenhower termed “the military-industrial complex.” While no one knew that term, many students could described its features: excessive spending on increasingly destructive weapons, underfunding social services to fund the military, and starting expensive, devastating, unnecessary wars.

[p4k/Teen] not as expected 

P4K is not what I expected it to be. At 1st i didn't know that it had to deal with global issues but now i understand. For example when we did all the games that we did it was not just fun but also educational as well, and although i didn't know what some issues were I learned eventually. Today was one of the most important days. We had to pick the subject that the game is going to be about which by the way was Hurricane Katrina and the war in Iraq. Many kids had ideas and me also and I also cant wait till we finish and hope that our game that we will work hard on will be played on X-box live which is all i have to say. Well I really hope that it's a game that people will play very often and also educates people and learned about the problems and try to make our world a safe environment to live in. THE END.

[p4k/Teen] todays lesson was about not to ever drink water near the computer 

my name is leighton cordis and i am in the global kids program

[P4K/Teen] ketnia (to be finished later) 

Katrina is bad because when it go to coutry and no one not when it come then it going to be a big flood some people can died.i think it is good to talk about it.

[P4K/Teen] 

When i first heard of playing 4 keeps i was excited to go because i always wanted to make my own game ever since 6th grade. When i started playing kingdom hearts i always liked the way characters looked like and how the story`1