Little Big Planet U

Kids playing Little Big Planet

Some really big organizations like HASTAC and the MacArthur Foundation are holding the 2010 Digital Media and Learning Competition, Game Changers; they’re encouraging designers to create levels that engage players in learning science, tech, engineering, and math. As a part of this initiative, Sony will donate a whole bunch of PS3 consoles, copies of Little Big Planet, and copies of Spore Galactic Adventures to libraries and organizations in low-income communities. The chosen participants will be awarded $5000 grants to complete their proposed levels. If the levels are successful, they’ll be given grants to complete up to 10 levels total.

Applications are being accepted beginning tomorrow, and preliminary applications are due by January 22nd. After this, applicants are encouraged to collaborate in order to strengthen their submissions.

I wonder a few things about this competition:

  • Educational games often range from classroom emphasis to gaming emphasis–where will the chosen submissions lie on this spectrum? Will didactics intrude on play (or vice versa)?
  • Will participants collaborate, or will they horde their creative juices?
  • Little Big Planet recently added the ability to allow copying of levels if permitted by the author–the mechanics of a well-made level are lessons in logic, design, and engineering themselves. Copy-ability also allows the community to edit levels, and creates potential for better levels or expansions of the original ideas (think open source and community art). Will the winning levels be open to copying?
  • How will the submitted/chosen levels deviate from the current design trends in LBP? Will the creation of these levels change those trends? (I sincerely hope so!)

It’s pretty exciting to see a serious push toward educational gaming. I’m curious to see what the participants come up with. I might even make a meager attempt myself for the sake of a challenge–though I don’t expect to stand up to the competition.

Photo by Robert Couse-Baker, used under Creative Commons Attribution License.CC Attribution

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About abi nighthill

Abi has a BA in Poetry from Columbia College Chicago.
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