Honour Water: A Singing Game for Healing the Waters

Posted on: September 8, 2016

An assistant professor of Media and Information, Writing, Rhetoric and American Cultures at MSU has drawn on her heritage to design a singing game that raises awareness of threats to water and offers paths to healing through song.

As an Anishinaabe, Metis and Irish game developer and researcher, Elizabeth LaPensée’s knowledge became a valuable asset in ensuring the accuracy and genuinity of Honour Water.

The game was developed by Pinnguaq with LaPensée in partnership with Nibi Walks and the Research for Indigenous Community Health Center. Support was also provided by The Pollination Project.thewomenedit

LaPensée said Honour Water “draws on Indigenous ways of knowing to reinforce Anishinaabeg teachings with hope for healing waters.”

The inspiration for the game came from Anishinaabe grandmothers who lead ceremonial walks called Nibi walks.

Because water songs are more prevalent in some areas over others, LaPensée, who was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest local, brought these songs to Anishinaabe gatherings at a Native American Youth and Family Center where community members could discuss their language, song, thoughts, and food.

Since not everyone could attend such gatherings, LaPensée created Honour Water as a means to pass on both the language and the water songs.

Water carriers, singers, and native language speakers joined forces to work on Honour Water. LaPensée said they came together with “the hope of sharing songs for healing the waters that can be shared with all people, because the wellbeing of water is vital for all life.”

The game lets players follow a scrolling text in English and Anishinaabemowin to sing along with the Oshkii Giizhik Singers.

“Fun gameplay passes on these songs in a way that encourages comfort with singing and learning Anishinaabemowin,” LaPensée said. “Honour Water offers a way to become comfortable with the vocables of Anishinaabemowin and learn about Nibi (water).”

Honour Water will be exhibited at the leading Indigenous media arts festival: imagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. 

The game is now available through the Apple iTunes store and can also be accessed through http://www.honourwater.com/.

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GEL Lab collaborates with MSUFCU on new game Saving Draggy

Posted on: May 26, 2016

Saving Draggy

The Games for Entertainment and Learning (GEL) Lab at MSU, part of the Media and Information (M&I) department in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences (ComArtSci), recently completed a new game sponsored by the Michigan State University Federal Credit Union (MSUFCU) called Saving Draggy.

Targeted to kids aged 5 -10, Saving Draggy focuses on increasing their cognition and understanding of basic financial concepts as they engage in an epic quest to save Draggy – their baby dragon. All graphics, music, code, script, story and game design were created by undergraduate M & I and computer science students in conjunction with Associate Professor Brian Winn.

So far, the game is a hit. At least that’s what Winn told us after performing a few rounds of user testing with kids aged 5-10, “(The) kids had a very positive response to the game. They were excited about the theme (saving your baby dragon in an epic adventure game) and really liked the mini games embedded within the larger adventure game.”

This isn’t the first time the GEL Lab and MSUFCU have partnered on a gaming project. In fact, Saving Draggy is the fourth financial literacy game MSU has created with the credit union. Past games include Spartan Villa (ages 17+), Saving Magic (ages 10-13) and Saving with Piggy (ages 2-5). The GEL Lab is currently working on the fifth game for MSUFCU, geared for ages 13-16.

Saving Draggy is available on the web, Apple iOS and Android. It is 100% free to download and play.

By Nikki W. O'Meara

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Freaky Deaky Flashback (Spring 2013)

Posted on: April 10, 2013

Date: Spring 2013

Funding: Project in Game Design and Development Capstone course with Pixo Entertainment and Eyde Studios

Authors: PI: Brian Winn, Student Team: Justin Girard, Matthew Vorce, Ryan Rogers, Mbongeni Chirunga, Hao Wu, Christopher Edwards, Rick Meurs, and Serena Nash

In Freaky Deaky Flashback, you assume the role of an undercover FBI Agent, Daniel Jacobs, immersed in the rebellious counter-culture of the late-1960s. You must infiltrate a group of deviant college students whose peaceful demonstrations have turned explosive. Your goal is to figure out who set off a bomb during a student demonstration and apprehend the suspects before they do any more damage.

Freaky Deaky Flashback is based on the Freaky Deaky book by Elmore Leonard and motion picture directed by Charles Matthau. In Flashback, the player interacts with Robin Abbot, Skip Gibbs, Mark and Woody Ricks, Donnell Lewis, and Chris Mankowski in their youth, providing a rich backstory on the characters in Freaky Deaky.

Flashback features an explosive bomb defusal puzzle (Dynamite Dash), a high-speed chase game (Hot Pursuit), and an intense shootout game (Fully Loaded). Across the games, players can aspire to earn forty-eight achievements and level up across ten ranks of ability. The game’s story is told through a sequence of compelling motion comics (aka, "flashback" sequences). The game also provides details on the Freaky Deaky motion picture; include a film synopsis, trailer, and character overviews.

The game was developed through a unique collaborative effort between students in the Michigan State University Game Design and Development Specialization, Eyde Studios located in East Lansing, MI, and Pixo Entertainment located in Southfield, MI.

Project URL: http://gel.msu.edu/freakydeakyflashback

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Spartan Villa (Fall 2011 - Fall 2012)

Posted on: September 30, 2011

screenshotDate: Fall 2011 - Fall 2012

Funding: Game made possible by generous support of the Michigan State University Federal Credit Union (MSUFCU)

Authors:Brian Winn, Chad Fleming, Ben Szymczak, Kristy Cunningham, Matt Vorce, Alex Lockwood, and David Cornelius

In Spartan Villa, your goal is to create the best college house on campus. Design the house, build the rooms, and throw parties and social events, all to attract the best tenants. Be a generous landlord and shower your tenants with high-end rooms and lavish parties or create the next student ghetto. The choice is up to you! But be careful, if you do not manage your finances successfully, you may just lose your house.

Project Description:
Managing ones finances can be a daunting task, especially with limited experience. The challenge of learning how credit works, how to implement a monthly budget, and how to properly handle ones finances is that mistakes in real-life during the learning process can be costly. To aid in this challenge, Spartan Villa bridges this gap by creating a realistic financial system embedded in a fun, low-pressure game world. Spartan Villa introduces the player to critical financial concepts through the virtual management of a college house, making the player responsible for expanding and maintaining their house by utilizing their finances effectively. Paying bills on time, allocating funds to the proper accounts, and monitoring their monthly spending are important aspects of the gameplay; ultimately this allows the player to purchase rooms to expand their house, host social events to attract future tenants, and increase their overall credit score. By successfully completing these tasks in the game, the player is able to learn effective money management skills and increase their financial literacy in a way that is engaging as well as accessible to a younger audience. The game was made possible by the generous support of the Michigan State University Federal Credit Union.

Project URL: http://gel.msu.edu/spartanvilla

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Ford Driving Skills for Life Game (Fall 2011 - Fall 2012 )

Posted on: September 7, 2011

Date: Fall 2011 - Fall 2012

Funding: Ford Motor Company Fund & Community Services

Authors: Brian Winn, William Jeffery, Justin Girard, Benjamin Szmczak, David Ward, Dan Sosnowski, Eric Musser, Ben Diefenbach, Evan Cox, Rick Meurs, Justin Ceckowksi

Driving Skills for Life is a modern web-based three-dimensional game that provides players with real-world skills that will help them become better drivers on the road. The game is based on the live hands-on driving training events conducted by the Ford Driving Skills for Life program. However, unlike the hands-on program, which is only available to a select few students, the web-based game will be accessible by millions of young drivers around the world. Further, given the safety of the game environment, the game is able to put players in situations, such as distracted driving in traffic, that is not possible in the hands-on training program.

The game supplements the existing learning materials available on the Driving Skills for Life website. The game provides an interactive and entertaining experience that will create additional draw to the website, engage young drivers in safe driving practices, and teach young drivers new driving skills.

Project URL: https://www.drivingskillsforlife.com/game/ford-ds4l/index.html

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Spartan Remix (Summer 2011 - Fall 2011)

Posted on: August 7, 2011

spartanremixDate: Summer 2011 - Fall 2011

Funding: MSU Alumni Association

Authors: Brian Winn, Shawn Adams, Andrew Dennis, Mike Rossi, Jordan Ajlouni

Spartan Remix is a web-based music construction game that allows players to interactively build, mix, and share their own version of the Michigan State University fight song. The game was developed for the MSU Alumni Association to help build school spirit and maintain a relationship with alumni. The game features a number of social networking tie-ins to promote the spread of the game virally across the Internet.

The game was created in conjunction with Adventure Club Games, which is an East Lansing-based game company founded by alumni from our game specialization.

Project URL: http://gel.msu.edu/spartanremix/

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Grumpy Snowmen (Fall 2011 - Spring 2012)

Posted on: April 30, 2011

logoDate: Fall 2011 - Spring 2012

Authors: PI: Brian Winn Team: Kristina Cunningham, William Jeffery, Jon Moore, Eric Musser, Dan Sosnowski

In the game, rival big ten schools have setup snowforts across MSU campus, populating them with grumpy snowmen. The player controls Sparty in an effort to remove the grumpy snowmen in a whimsical fashion. The game parodies the now classic artillery-style gameplay featured in Angry Birds.

Through play, the game helps educate the player about Michigan State University while also building loyalty and school spirit among alumni, current students, faculty/staff, and fans.

The Grumpy Snowmen Holiday Edition was made as a 2011 holiday game for alumni, faculty, staff, students, and friends of the College of Communication Arts & Sciences at Michigan State University. Due to the popularity of the game, in January 2012 we created 16 additional levels for a total of twenty. The new levels were developed in response to player requests for additional campus locations and game challenges. The twenty level package represents the Grumpy Snowmen Deluxe Edition.

Project URL: http://gel.msu.edu/grumpysnowmen

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Fun in Brain Games (Fall 2010)

Posted on: October 1, 2010

braingamesDate: Fall 2010

Authors: PI: Carrie Heeter, Co-PIs: Apar Maniar, Brian Winn, and Yu-Hao Lee

Brain games have emerged as a new segment of games within serious games, over the last few years there is some research being done as to whether they are effective. This project aims to analyze current brain games from a game design perspective to find out whether they are good games.

Content analysis research was conducted and presented at the 2009 Serious Games Summitt and Games for Health conferences. The research involved analyzing games from the four different brain domains of Attention, Visual Spatial, Memory and Language processing by characterizing them for the different forms of fun, and whether individual elements within the games such as sound effects, music, non-playing characters, fonts etc. were plain or pleasing.

New conceptual and theoretical work is underway to refine our understanding of fun in games.

For more information, see the slides from our Game Developer Conference (GDC) talk (PDF).

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Moon Taxi (Spring 2010)

Posted on: April 7, 2010

Moon_taxi_square_0Date: Spring 2010

Authors: PI: Ziba Scott, Advisor: Carrie Heeter

Take me to the moon.... Moon Taxi is an experiment in video game production methodology and gaming narrative focus. The project was designed to to produce an experience with a unique focus on audio narration and to demonstrate the feasibility of novel approaches to two common problems. First, Moon Taxi's design aims to minimize the effort required to meaningfully integrate the work of game designers and subject matter experts. Second, Moon Taxi tests a method for increasing the potential pool of user created content.

Project URL: http://www.moontaxi.org/

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