On day one of the 2010 GeoDesign Summit, Ola Ahlqvist discusses massive multiplayer online gaming (MMOG) technology and how it is finding its way into education and training environments.
00:01 Can everyone hear me? Yes. Well, then I'm fine.
00:02 All right, thank you. So how many of you played some kind of game over the holidays?
00:07 [Inaudible audience participation]
00:08 Yeah, see? Games are a lot of fun and engage people. Anyone played Monopoly?
00:14 A few. Do you remember the rent of Broadway?
00:19 [Audience participation] I want to say it's 400 and...400 [inaudible]...
00:22 There you go. Right. Useful trivia.
00:25 Do...does anyone know the ballpark figure of the actual square foot rent of a flat on Broadway?
00:32 [Inaudible audience participation]
00:34 Right. Never mind. Anyway, I'm working with a...a whole range of really great students at Ohio State...
00:43 ...and we wanted to attack this thing of global or collaborative mapping in a slightly different fashion.
00:51 So looking at parti...participatory mapping, I couldn't see that much public participation.
01:00 And also with the growth of social networking, although they try to pinpoint their location of friends and stuff...
01:05 ...they're still not using space as a really...a foundation for social networking.
01:12 So thinking about this, can we blend spatial environment, social networking functionality into a single platform? Yes.
01:19 I could only look into my son's bedroom and find him playing this Tibia game...
01:24 ...online, massive multiplayer gaming environment where he joins in with ti...
01:30 ...other fr...people that he know...learned to know through the Internet...
01:35 ...and they solve pretty complex things. Often you see maps.
01:42 Started looking at games. It's usually a voluntary activity.
01:47 It has a lot of make-believe; you have imagined things, or you've envisioned things, and you have some kind of goal in mind.
01:56 Sometimes it...it involves a lot of intellectual, sometimes physical activities.
02:01 And...and it...it has been shown that game play can promote a lot of higher-level thinking...
02:07 ...problem solving, social interaction, and collaboration.
02:09 So I want to show you a brief clip here real quick, hopefully, with some sound.
02:18 And have you heard of Leeroy Jenkins? Some. Okay, you're in for a treat.
02:26 So here we go; it's poor quality, poor audio.
02:30 [Video clip playing in the background]
02:31 Yeah. So these players now join in, donning a headset from their home computers...
02:37 ...and they take on roles like a master sorcerer, something like that.
02:42 And they're planning this attack on an opposing team, and you can see them kind of roaming around there...
02:52 ...dividing the tasks, figuring out how much energy, how much resources they could pitch in...
03:01 ...how much they will earn...learn from it, how much they will earn, strategize.
03:07 But what we eventually going to see, there's this one guy in the lower left that doesn't pay attention. That's Leeroy.
03:14 And all of a sudden, he just...just breaks with the plan, just doesn't stick to it and creates basically mayhem.
03:23 [Video clip playing in the background]
03:31 Yeah, there's the analytics.
03:38 There he goes.
03:39 [Video clip playing in the background]
04:13 All right. That's enough.
04:18 So yeah. You can see the dynamics of it, the real time, the collaboration, the immersiveness.
04:23 It's multimedia; it's really engaging.
04:26 Actually, there's been studies and...and analysis of this very game, World of Warcraft.
04:32 And you can see that looking at over 40,000 discussion threads on this official World of Warcraft forum...
04:39 ...about druids and the way they evolve, about 89 percent of all the postings is about some kind of social knowledge construction.
04:48 Right? And there is building on other ideas, counterarguments, system analysis, mathematical models as insights...
04:54 ...all of those things that we as educators, as the university profession try to instill in our students, right?
05:00 So why not look at games as education?
05:04 More things about video games. It's really a social activity now. It's not this confined space that...
05:10 You're really engaging with other people. It's continued to grow despite the deteriorating economy.
05:16 It's now up to the level of the film and music industries in terms of economic activity.
05:21 And look at that last fact. By the age of 21, average American kids have spent more than 10,000 hours playing such games.
05:29 That is five years of work in full-time job, 40 hours per week. Right?
05:35 How's that sit on a...on a résumé? I've got five years of experience; I'm now a...sor...master sorcerer.
05:43 Well, I wouldn't laugh.
05:46 It might just become... As...as the bosses, the hiring managers grow up...
05:51 ...and realize what that means to become a master sorcerer in this game, that guy's...has to have something. Okay.
05:58 So what if we could exploit a fraction of this energy and use the multiplayer online gaming around a geographic setting?
06:08 So our goal with the GeoGame prototype is to create a fun game that embeds some type of geographic learning.
06:15 We want it to have mus...massive multiplayer online gaming capabilities; that's hundreds of...of people joining.
06:22 Simulations that are played on top of a GIS as if it was a board game we were playing on.
06:28 Having...ability to have the real world feed into the game.
06:33 So we could bring in real-time weather, ground conditions, demographics, anything...
06:38 ...and really also put emphasis on the social interaction, the collaboration aspects.
06:45 So the first prototype we created was really, really bare bones.
06:48 It was two years ago, and our first mission was just to create an...an...a real-time editing component to a map.
06:57 It was built in open layers.
06:58 The next iteration was built with...the Google Earth API was brand-new by then.
07:03 It was also multiuser; you could log in concurrently having real-time interaction with the map.
07:08 You could do real-time editing, you could have chats and...and also add additional geodata.
07:13 So you could search for a KML and just pull it up and...and that could be part of the game.
07:19 The third prototype was a little digression on one of those touch tables...
07:25 ...where we also looked into how we could embed service-oriented computing into this.
07:31 So similar to a Risk game, but instead of using lookup tables for the troop replenishments...
07:37 ...we were using GP statistics, population statistics to inform that.
07:43 So you would actually learn a little bit about what the economy and population of different states in the U.S. was.
07:50 And also, we also pulled in weather data to s...
07:56 ...provide some kind of information about how easy you could move across a state.
08:00 So up in Ohio right now, terrible winter conditions, hard to move troops through, so that would affect the game.
08:09 And it was also really cool.
08:11 Most recent development, then, is called the GeoGame Green Revolution.
08:14 That's something that we're currently testing in geography classes.
08:19 And what we want to achieve is to have our students play this game...
08:22 ...and understand a little bit more about what we mean with the green revolution.
08:26 And we built it using a Sun-developed platform for mous...massive multiplayer online gaming called Project Darkstar.
08:35 And we used the NASA Worldwind interface as our...our geographic platform.
08:41 That made sense simply because both were written using Java so they could easily be stitched together.
08:47 We wanted to, as I said, emphasize the...the social aspects, so...let's see.
08:58 We were thinking about how does people behave, or...or what are our...our...
09:04 ...our situation when we do things in the real world.
09:07 We take on roles. So I could be a father or I could be a professor in...in one role, or I could be a soccer coach in another role.
09:13 And I would take on these identities similar to the sorcerers in...in this other game.
09:18 So we can have a master profile, but then we assume a character and then we form a cohort...
09:23 ...and the cohort then takes on some kind of objective, some kind of task, and build a scenario from that.
09:29 So we formulate a setting in terms of the geographic setting, the rules, the regulations...
09:35 ...and also some data that we need to...to perform the whole game play.
09:41 So this is what it looks like right now. There's a little interface; we have the map in the middle.
09:46 I can't show it online, sorry.
09:49 You can bring up different layers. There is showing how you can act out the...the role of farmer in rural India.
09:58 So you try to maximize your production, either by choosing traditional methods or with enhanced wheat or...or fertilizers.
10:07 You can also do transactions, like there's a market, sort of eBay style; you can make bids...
10:12 ...and you can put up labor for...for sale and...and all kinds of things.
10:18 We've built everything with open standards so much of what you see relies on a configuration file...
10:24 ...that's written in an ontology definition. It's a separate ontology file that you then...
10:30 ...when you start the game, can pick another one that would be another setting, another game maybe.
10:35 And also the rule engine could be modified using that ontology. KML is used for the data import.
10:41 And the future work is then to just kind of tune this in and then allow anyone to use it and kind of build further.
10:49 One of the important things I think we can see with this is that...
10:52 ...the emergent properties that come out of having multiple people play this...
10:57 So let's say we did this farm game in a number of classes we're testing this quarter, and then aggregate the results.
11:05 So if every...every village is doing really good, that automatically...the demand would drop for crops, right?
11:13 Some simple economic model could be plugged into that.
11:16 You could see crop prices drop and you wouldn't get as much out of your yield, and that would also be kind of a learning experience.
© Esri 2013 http://www.esri.com