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.

Fought to add this student, they totally got it.

first blog postWe fought with registration for about a month to add this student.  I have to say that I am exceedingly glad that we toughed it out too as his blog entries dig deeply into what I was trying to express.

This first post was about the Marshmallow Challenge which I did with all of my classes this semester.  I think one of my favorites is his paper prototyping post where he makes his teen daughter play.

Overall I don’t think I could have said it better.  http://journey2mastery.wordpress.com is the blog, and I look forward to seeing great things in the future.


Digital to Physical – a workflow

This is basically the plan for an Art 74 3D module for Fall 2013.

The process is basically left to right, with the goal of getting to finish/present.

Production software includes: Minecraft, Blender (or really any 3D software) and Sketchup. Students will be required to show building competence in Minecraft (for its social aspects and as a critique platform) and Sketch-up. Substitutions for sketch-up can include anything from Maya to Blender depending on the individual experience. Original work for the class needs to be made in each space, but groupwork is possible in MC.

Processing should pass through meshlabs, but that is not 100% necessary, it will function to do file translation though for any of the file formats.

Output modes include paper-crafting and 3D printing. Paper crafting permits two very interesting output modes, the over-sized printer which allows color and large models, and the laser which can perform all cutting and even scoring which reduces time on smaller models. Our 3D printer can be utilized as well, though there is no guarantee of function. Finally Shapeways can be used as a service bureau, but the delay may be very long on prints and there is an added expense involved.

The purpose of this project series is to connect students to digital processes and material constraints based on design. To extend and intersect ideas of technology and art and to find the place of creative innovation and the extension of traditional media.