Archive for April, 2007

The game industry for some years have pointed the way towards more innovative and engaging teaching methodologies. It is clear that ‘engagement’ is something successful game designers know about. Before long, we will certainly see those elements injected in ‘serious’ education efforts. Are we anywhere close to having physicians, doctors, residents, nurses and other health care professionals learn using such tools? What are the barriers that are still currently in place that slow down adoption of these tools? Are the barriers really more technical than cultural? What do you think?


Review of the ‘game’ on amazon.com

Cure a cold, or amputate an arm, all without cracking open a bottle of pills or getting bloody. The latest in the Trauma Center series of games by Atlus, Trauma Center: Second Opinion lets you play the surgeon in an exciting medical drama simulation game. You’ll need to cure patients of

Your the doctor. Time to heal the sick! You might even save some lives. View larger.

Make life or death decisions. View larger.

Fix those broken bones. View larger.

There’s even hospital gossip. View larger.

everything from routine medical maladies to life-threatening designer viruses.

Game Storyline
Sure, we’ve all imagined what it would be like to become a doctor. Years of medical school, residency, and clinic duty eventually pay off in a rewarding position saving people’s lives. Or, you could skip all that and just put in a few hours after dinner. Trauma Center puts you in the position of having to make life or death choices at the operating table.

Heart surgery and tumor removal might look easy from the morphine end, but how do you think the doctor feels? Well, you’re going to find out! In Trauma Center, patients’ lives are in your hands. You’ll experience all the drama we’ve come to expect from the medical field. So go ahead, toss on some scrubs and step into the O.R.–it’s time to play doctor.

Trauma Center: Second Opinion, is a robust “Wii-make” of the game “Under the Knife,” and features a totally revamped medical toolkit that includes scalpels, forceps, defibrillator paddles, syringes, and more–all designed specifically for use with the Wii Remote.

Other game features include new graphics and animation, new and remixed musical themes, new surgical implements (including a defibrillator), and operation types, a second playable character with all-new missions, multiple difficulty modes for gamers of all skill levels, and a revised control system that takes full advantage of the revolutionary Wii Remote.


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Playing video games has never been considered exercise, but researchers at the Mayo Clinic have issued a study expressing tacit approval for the concept behind Nintendo’s new Wii video game console. The researchers concluded that, if kids are going to spend hours playing video games, it’s better for them to play games that require them to move, rather than just sit on the couch. The study is published in the current issue of the medical journal Pediatrics.


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The International Technology Expo has not started yet but I was there already to check out the preparations and took a few pictures. The technology expo will take place on Silicon Island and Silicon City from April 20-22. This expo will showcase various notable technological achievements related to Secondlife. From the press release: "Lectures, demonstrations, and product launches by the exhibitors are scheduled from noon to 6pm PDT each day, for example Afalalota Cummings will discuss The Lag Project research. SLCN.tv will be there to broadcast these events. In addition SLBC will broadcast live radio interviews of the developers Saturday and Sunday between 2-4pm."

I imagine that once more and more people become familiar with Secondlife and its potential, a lot of technology shows such as the Consumer Electronic Show, expos and corporate presentations will move into this virtual environment. This approach does not only save millions of dollars for holding such events but is also likely to increase attendance once the Secondlife technology has scaled up.

Fig 1. Standing at the entrance of the expo

Fig 2. Visiting a few booths

Fig 3. Sun Microsystems seems to have a significant presence here

Fig 4. I guess this is the sponsors board

Fig 5. Took the opportunity to take a picture of myself at the photo booth

Fig 6. Checking out another interesting booth

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The main difference between the Secondlife platform and the other massive multiplayer platforms is its natural support for user generated content ( anyone can build anything he or she wants). It is therefore not surprising to see a lot of unexpected virtual places namely religious places growing within this virtual environment. I am collecting here a few pictures of the places I took during the weekend. There was even one event with 57 people in the church watching a live ceremony. I think it is very difficult now to argue that Secondlife is a ‘game’. It is clearly a medium. After porn and casinos, some education efforts, it seems that religion is going to be the next driving force within this environment. Early on there were quite a few Buddhism places popping up here and there, a lot of new age religious places too but those efforts were not too elaborate and more of the traditional ‘hippy’ -ish ventures.

I think my message is that it is increasingly important to realize that there is slowly going to be a migration and transformation of activities from the real to the virtual environments. And virtual environments would just be a communication medium with high potential for collaboration and competition. I am not sure whether physical proximity in human affairs will cease to be important in the future but we will certainly take a second look at its importance and what it really means to ‘be’.

Only a year or two ago, the following efforts would have created a big buzz but thanks to Linden Labs, creating in habitable virtual environments is within the range of anyone with a really minimal skill set and with access to the web and some decent hardware. I think the next time you try to venture into Secondlife, know that you are not exploring a ‘game’ but a new means of communication that will gain the status of the phone in a couple of years and that will be one of the main fences of the digital divide. Also know that the technology will evolve and that the frustration with glitches are just the fuel to power the next iterative redesign refinements.

LDS Church

1. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Front door)


2. Inside scene of LDS church

3. Interesting> quoting from this poster: ‘We run chat loggers on this land to aid us keeping track of multiple chat sessions to ensure that no questions are left unanswered. What you say can and will be held against you in the court of God’


5. Another picture inside the meeting hall

6. A 57 person event in a stadium like environment, very similar to those in the real world.

7. LifeChurch TV

8. Watching a live event inside the LifeChurch.tv complex

9. Some attendees expressing themselves during the live event…in praise of …

10. I also discovered this Hare Krishna temple… so looks like a lot of religious organizations are moving into SL and have realized its importance as a social connection tool.

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