What a difference a year makes. The Serious Games Summit in Washington D.C. on Oct. 30-31, the third I’ve attended, was a reminder of how exciting it is to work at the epicenter of a field with the enormous potential of Serious Games. Ben Sawyer, CMP and everyone involved deserves huge credit for producing such an excellent conference.

Serious Games Source has posted articles on the two keynotes by MIT’s Henry Jenkins on media convergence and serious games’ bredth of change and by Jack Emmert on designing MMO behaviors. Both are excellent articles which leave little to add.

Two other sessions that stood out for me were the presentations given by Dr. Shasha Barab on his science game project Quest Atlantis (QA) and by Dr. James Bower on his virtual gaming/educational website Whyville.net.

Quest Atlantis is “… a learning and teaching project that uses a 3D multi-user environment to immerse children, ages 9-12, in educational tasks. Building on strategies from online role-playing games, Quest Atlantis combines strategies used in the commercial gaming environment with lessons from educational research on learning and motivation. It allows users to travel to virtual places to perform educational activities, talk with other users and mentors, and build virtual personae.” You can find out more about Quest Atlantis here.

Whyville.net is a virtual world geared for teen and pre-teen girls and boys run by a small team of about 35 people. Self-funded at startup, corporate sponsorships now support the venture which is “within 10% of break-even” according to Bower. “Whyville’s 2 million registered ‘citizens’ come from all over the world to learn, create, and have fun together. Whyville is their world. Whyville has places to go, things to do, and of course, people to see. Whyville has its own newspaper, its own Senators, its own beach, museum, City Hall and town square, its own suburbia, and even its own economy – citizens earn ‘clams’ by playing educational games.”

I’ll reduce my other take-aways to a few websites I’ve been reading this week. For the best and latest thinking on serious games check out: