The 2013 NMC Horizon Report for Higher Education identifies 6 emerging technologies that would have impact on teachng and learning in the nearest future. Game and Gamification is one of them. Let's look at the game statistics from Ryan Jenkins:
- 183 million active gamers in the USA
- Active gamer plays 13 hours a week
- 69% of households play computer or video games
- 97% of youth are gamers
- 61% of surveyed CEOs have daily game breaks
According to the Horizon Reports, the benefits of educational games are the following: 1) Video games stimulate dopamine, a chemical that reinforces learning; 2) Educational games increase "soft skills", such as problem-solving, critical thinking and collaboration and 3) Stimulation games connect learning envoronment with real-time applications. Various disciplines have been already introducing educational games into their curriculum, for example, the Historical Williamsburg Living Narative project at the University of Florida and the University of Minessota Nursing School project.
In the recent years there has been growing interest in 3D game environment. Based on the information from eonreality the 3D technology shows an increase in attention level to 92% compared to 46% from the traditional envoronment. It seems that the 3D environment would be of great benefit in many disciplines, and especially for Language Learning, as learning language involves a lot of active and passive memory processing. Unity 3D is one of the game platforms that porvides tools and assets necessary for 3D game projects. Here are some key features, described by Inside Academia Technology:
- Simple drag and drop interface
- Exports in many formats, e.g. Web player, IOS, Android, Window Phone, Xbox 360 etc
- Supports Java, C#, Python
- Strong community support
- Asset store
During the three weeks of my winter break, I have experimented with Unity3D. Having access to some free assets from the Unity store was of a great help as I was able to find some settings for my first demo. I have imported several audio files and created simple scripts that play specific words and show those words when the player approaches certain objects. You can find the demo version here. You can walk around the house and listen to Spanish words describing objects. As a simple draft, there are only few labels outside and inside the house. In the future, I am planning to increase the complexity and add performance evaluation of users.