Each and Every Student

We had a hell of a year at SJSU. It started off pretty good, but then it became clear that one of my students was experiencing problems. It seems that his chosen major was impacted and he could not get in, he had been attending for many years and it was really depressing. He considered dropping out and ended up not registering for classes. Thankfully we had a conversation during the first week of school and SJSU has a Special Major that lets students create their own course of study. This is about the smartest thing I have heard of at the school because it is flexible and permits degrees to respond to what we are teaching and the real world.

I suggested the Special Major, and my student was encouraged, we looked it up and he pursued it. This was not simple, but we negotiated our way through the process and got him into classes. I am really pleased at his drive, paperwork and running about from point to point getting permission, admission and support was really challenging, but guess what? He graduated this spring, a year after realizing that this was possible. One of the advantages to this special major was that we could choose the classes that needed to be taken, and we could consider what classes were available and the impact on schedule as well.

In the end, SJSU admin came thru for us and my student (as you can see) got a brand new degree in “Computer Game Science”


Do you have a problem that might be solved by a game?

I am looking for experts(relative experts welcome) to work with a development team to create a game prototype to further their research or to help solve a problem. I am leading a summer course and have one or two slots remaining to work with student developers as part of the CSU Summer Arts Game Development Studio.

What does this mean?

I would ask you to come to Fresno on Tuesday June 27 (I can pay a small stipend to cover mileage and a hotel room) and work with a development team to create a paper prototype. We have found that paper prototypes can be very expressive and surface key systems. Provide your expertise and help the development team understand your priorities for the prototype.

Be available via Skype to communicate with your team about the problem and how the solution can be used, advise the team on tasks as digital development proceeds.

Get the prototype at the end.

This is not something to be commercially monetized (without your teams permission of course), but something to further your research, non-profit work or work within an educational context.

The risk is that it will take some of your time and attention, you may not get what you expect out of it, the the reward is that you will have a chance to work with some bright developers on a prototype that could enhance your work.

If you are interested send an email to james.morgan@sjsu.edu and include a basic overview of your problem (or message me), let me know your availability on June 27 and we can go from here. Needless to say, time is short.

Feel free to reach out if this is not a perfect fit, I am looking for the most interesting problems to challenge us.

Emerging Learning Design 2016 – paper prototyping

I had the distinct honor and pleasure of presenting a workshop on prototyping with Teresa Slobuski at ELD2016.  Paper Prototyping Games for Engaged Investigations and Fun in any Subject was my most recent foray into the conference circuit, and I really enjoyed working with Teresa. It helped that the presentation was an abbreviation of an exercise that I do with my Art/CS 108 class but it was also useful to see how the exercise played out in a different circumstance and with different goals.

“Empower student learning thru game development!” We say in our overview. We ended up having a good crowd including the students who designed the conference game, and we made a bunch of games.


I enjoy practicing these skills partially because I think I need the practice and partially because the results always seem to surprise me. In this case we had five playable prototypes come out of the different groups.


Pretty much all of the groups held to the idea of incorporating a learning theme into the game, with the possible exception of my own group which ended up focusing more on the mechanics. It ended up being an interesting experience regardless because it was pretty easy to see how it was connected to our conversation, and the idea of gathering resources.


This first prototyping part is sometimes hard, and sometimes hard for my students. All of these games were made in the 90 minute workshop, and began surfacing a system. A few of our participants were thinking of using the prototyping strategies for themselves to develop games for students where others were thinking about using the prototyping exercise to help students collaborate and understand systems better.


In the end it was impressive to hear everyone talking about their games and what they did end up getting into them, everyone succeeded and I think everyone had fun. I plan to post the session wrapup info, perhaps as an update to this post.


If you are interested in our resources are here: http://bit.ly/paper-prototype-sjsu

and our slide deck is here: http://bit.ly/paper-prototype-slides-sjsu

Second Life tour CS185C



Today we took the CS185C into an ancient world. The SLIS program at SJSU has a great island and they were kind enough to host my class.

We talked about Julien Dibbell’s work A Rape In Cyberspace and though it was somber and serious I think it conveyed some of the power and challenge of Virtual Environments.

We have chosen to use https://discordapp.com/ as our backchannel and so far so good with both text & audio. Our next few weeks are going to be a huge challenge for us as we visit World of Warcraft and Minecraft (Orwell).

Some quick survey results:

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 22.58.17


Games and Stats from Rockage SJ

Screenshot 2015-02-26 18.05.47

The data is not glamorous, and at times not complete, but I am reasonably confident that these represent actual plays and actual play times. The team on site was very good about resetting games that were abandoned and getting the cabinets back to the launcher. So here is my initial analysis:

Totals: Across the four cabinets that our games were on, there were 1246 plays for 4104 minutes. This comes out to 68.4 hours of play in a 23 hour event.  The breakdown per cabinet is equally as exciting (all data is linked at the bottom of this post).

The top five played games were Prismic Shift, Bako Ikimashou, Spellcraft, LaserCat y LaserDog and Recyclegame. Prismic Shift had nearly 10 hours of play by itself and Bako Ikimashou ended up having the longest average game play at nearly 8 minutes.

Spellcraft, LaserCat and Recycle were all brand new on the cabinet with Spellcraft and Recycle having been developed by club teams in Fall 2014 and LaserCat being from Global Game Jam 2015.

I was going to make a clever graphic visualization, but I don’t think I care enough.  If anyone comes up with one I’ll put it here:


Raw Data is here: http://ruby-yacht.github.io/rockagesj2015/index.html

and an initial swipe at processing it is here: http://ruby-yacht.github.io/rockagesj2015/data/stats-cabs-rockage-2015.htm

Analysis is all mine and I will try to post data along with any assumptions. None of this would be possible without our new game launcher by Henry Tran.

Most of the analysis is done by hand here, which is something I want to iron out a little for the future, and also to shift from a running total to include actual data along the way as I think it will make it easier to work with and more meaningful.

CS185 (M)C – Virtual Environments


I am looking for students for a special topics course in Fall 2014 in the Computer Science department at SJSU. The course will focus on Virtual Environments and the interconnected systems, layers, art, communication with servers, programming and dealing with players.  We shall be running Minecraft both locally and on public servers. It is also my hope that we can begin to do basic research in Virtual Environments (with the possibility of a research partner).

I have been running a Minecraft server for several years and have used it to host international art exhibitions, performances and residencies. We shall work to modify the base system through programming in Java and possibly Scala. The course focus will be to understand these systems and create a project within the live environment.

(from my initial posting) CS185c section 3 – will focus on understanding and coding the complex overlapping systems that create a robust virtual environment. We shall build plugins & mods, map cultural systems, leverage emergent game properties with an eye towards player experience and system performance. This course will “eat its own dogfood” and meet on Thursdays in a live Minecraft environment.

Instructor: James Morgan is a founding member of Ars Virtua, and has taught this class twice at UCSD in their Interdisciplinary Computing and the Arts program as Virtual Environments in Second Life and World of Warcraft. He also teaches the CS108/Art 108 Game Studies course at SJSU.

The course is primarily for programmers, but could easily accomodate a few artists or folks interested in the social systems within virtual environments.  If you have any questions, feel free to contact me directly at: james -dot- morgan -at- sjsu -dot- edu

Prerequisite: Java programming or instructor consent.