Games to boost diversity

Games can be used to teach, inform, entertain and fascinate, but they can also be used to help change attitudes and biases. The road to equality in the workforce has been a long, slow one and a dream we are still far from accomplishing. Molly Carnes, co-director of the Women in Science and Engineering Leadership Institute at the University of Wisconsin, is hoping to see more women, minorities and people with disabilities working in science and engineering. She has been awarded a $2 million grant to develop video games to help neutralise biases towards minority groups, which sees them discriminated from scientific jobs.

A diverse workforce is seen by Carnes as a competitive advantage and a necessary step for the advancement of science. The Director of the National Institute of Health said that “Such diversity generates new perspectives, approaches and answers to challenging problems. We’re optimistic that these awards will help identify new methods for addressing the compelling need to increase the number of people from underrepresented groups who pursue careers in the biomedical, behavioural, clinical and social sciences.”

The project aims to start small, within the faculty of the University of Wisconsin but if the experiment in ‘transformational approaches’ and neutralising unintentional biases is successful it could very well find itself being implemented in other industries. The game will place faculty into situations where they can recognise the self-defeating nature of their biases and how a lack of diversity is ultimately harmful for their workplace.

Molly Carnes work sounds fascinating and is yet another great example of how games can be used for good!

Read more here: http://seriousgamesmarket.blogspot.com/2010/10/serious-games-promote-diversity-in.html

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Digital 2.0 at Hello Business

We’ll be attending an exciting event at the end of next week called Hello Business, which will be taking place at the ICC and Custard Factory in Birmingham. The 2 day conference offers insight and advice into how businesses can make the most out of digital technology. There will be business master classes, digital surgeries, cutting edge workshops and pitch training. So, naturally we’ll be there with our very own stall and will have a WeForest demo for you to play around with. If you’re in the area make sure you pop along and say hello!

We look forward to seeing you!

For more info on Hello Business and how to buy tickets visit: http://www.hellobusiness.net/

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Game Therapy: Social Media Games to aid Mental Health?

It’s like we’ve been saying all along, games have enormous potential to help make the world a better place. In this case, social media games are helping insomniacs and those with depression and anxiety with their battles against their condition.

Some sufferers are already using computer based programmes to aid their Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) that helps them to avoid patterns and thoughts which may exacerbate their condition. However, often this computer based therapy occurs in isolation and therapists are excited by the interactive, communal and supportive potential of social networks and social media game technology to help their patients.

Therapists would like use the principles of social gaming to help create a new approach to their PC-based CBT packages, to reflect the changing ways people are using computers. Dr Shaun Lawson, who is at Lincoln University reading Computer Studies is directing the research project and he believes that CBT programmes have failed to keep up with the times.

“The way that people interact with computers these days is not by sitting down in a room on their own looking at a screen. Today people use computers to connect with each other. The way that people engage with social networks, how many times they do it in a day, it is very similar to the kind of ways that we would really want people to interact with CBT treatment,” he said.

People tend to use social networks and forums as a therapeutic space anyway, as it allows them to vent frustrations, admit failure and celebrate progress with an openness they probably wouldn’t have in real life interactions.

Dr. Lawson is also keen to utilise the addictiveness of social games to encourage patients to engage more with the Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and to keep coming back throughout the day. Also potentially creating a social game that takes some of the principles of CBT, the access to therapy for insomnia and anxiety can be widened to those who struggle to get it. Whether these CBT programmes do move to a social media platform or just take principles from social games back to a PC-based format, they will have the potential to be more effective than ever.

We too are trying to help people consider the impact of their behaviour and decisions with our new game Red Mist, a prison simulator currently in development to help tackle youth violence and crime. Just because, well, we want to help people reconsider their life choices and help make the world a better place through game technology.

For more information read the BBC News article here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-11454894

To read more about Red Mist visit our project page here: http://digital2point0.com/projects/red-mist/

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How hard is it to live without paper?

It’s the end of the week, so apart from meaning we have the weekend to look forward to; it also means that the paperless office challenge has come to an end. So, how did we get on? Well, we’re the first to admit that we’re not perfect and that this was a difficult challenge but we did our best! We have only printed off one document this week, which is fairly average for our office. Even then we’ve recognised that we perhaps didn’t need to print this document off as other alternatives could have worked – like putting the details into a spreadsheet. We’ve also managed to cut down on note-taking on paper, but some of us in the office have complained that it is far easier to take notes on paper. It’s a valid point, when on the phone it is much easier and quicker to write with a pen in one hand than attempt to type with one hand with the phone in the other. It is also easier to arrange thoughts onto paper, to put them in a format you can understand quickly – that’s assuming you have good handwriting mind you! Then for the creative department sketching out ideas on paper is often the first step when creating concept art.

So, we like writing on paper. It’s a habit we’ve found difficult to crack even in this mostly digital age, with the help of word-processors and styluses. How can we lessen the impact of using paper then? Well, firstly good recycling practices are the key, especially when you consider that it takes 70% less energy to recycle paper than it does to make it from raw materials. It also means cutting down less trees, which we don’t need to tell you is a good thing! It’s been estimated that if half the worlds paper was recycled it would mean saving 20 million acres of forest. Buying recycled paper is one way to lessen the impact of using paper on the environment, but are there other more sustainable ways of manufacturing paper? Of course there are, and you may find some of them quite surprising! The Egyptians famously made their paper from papyrus, and there are many other fibrous plants we can make paper from, including hemp, jute, flax and bamboo which are all much faster growing than trees. Paper can even be made from the dung of herbivores such as elephants, cows, reindeer, horses and even pandas! The website Poo Poo Paper which specialises in selling animal poo paper, tells you the process of turning poo to paper (if you’re interested) http://www.poopoopaper.com/pootopaper.html

So there you go, there are some interesting alternatives to traditional paper. Of course, the simplest way to lessen your impact though is to make sure you think before you print and recycle what you have used! You can also register to have the opportunity to be one of the first to play our exciting new WeForest game http://bit.ly/weforest. To learn more about reforestation, biodiversity and sustainability, whilst you play online you can be a real-world hero!

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The Paperless Office Challenge

This week, in the name of helping out the environment we will be trying out a paperless office. What does this mean? Basically, trying to cut out printing out documents and making notes on the computer rather than on paper (however after a bit of a debate we’ve decided that we would still like to keep our loo roll, in case you were wondering). Although we don’t get through a lot of paper in the office during a normal week, we thought it would be a neat idea to try and cut it out completely (or as much as possible) for a whole week and see how we get on. It might be a bit of a challenge, especially cutting out use of the old pen and paper, but hopefully it will help us explore the many alternatives that are at our fingertips nowadays!

We’ll keep you up to date this week with how we get on, as well as looking into eco-friendly alternatives to your average sheet of paper. So, who will slip up first? Who can’t give up paper and why? Who is a green god/goddess and uses the least? You shall find out by the end of the week!

If you’re inspired by our attempt at a paper free week, then feel free to join in at home or at work too and let us know how you get on. The more the merrier! Or, if you know that you really, really can’t give up paper for a week then you can help us save trees another way and sign up to play WeForest! You can sign up here http://bit.ly/weforest

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Want early access to WeForest?

Here at Digital 2.0 we are making you an offer you can’t refuse! How about if we told you, you can help save the world whilst getting to be one of the first people to play our exciting new game? “Where do I sign up?” should be your first question. Well, we’ll get to that in a second. First of all, you probably want to know some more about what you’ll be getting to play, and how by playing this game you will be making a difference.

Here we have WeForest, which you’ve probably heard a fair bit about in the past few months and you may even have already played the Fruit Catcher mini-game we made available earlier this month. If you haven’t heard already, then I’ll get you up to speed. WeForest is an online social game, which allows you to make your own avatar, build your own forest and temple and play loads of exciting mini-games! What’s even better is that not only will you be learning about biodiversity and reforestation but every time you buy in game items all profits will be going towards the WeForest charity’s aim to plant 20 million km² of trees by 2020. Time to get planting!

Want to be one of the first to play WeForest? Sign up here: http://bit.ly/weforest


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Games you can believe in!

Many of us guiltily object to being stopped in the streets by representatives from charities who just want a ‘minute of our time.’ Mostly we object because we are busy people with busy lives, we’re on our way to meet someone or late for work, we don’t have a spare minute to make awkward small talk on the pavement with a stranger who wants our money. Many of us have probably also thought at some point, ‘there must be a better way?’ Most of us would like to give to charity, but we want an element of control over the process: who we give to, why we give, how much we give and when we give are all important factors.

Fortunately, social networks and gaming technology are offering an alternative. The Facebook application Causes was launched in May 2007 and since then over $22 million has been donated through the app to 390,000 different causes. Joe Green, the Co-founder and President of Causes had this to say:

“I have learned that everyone has something valuable to contribute towards improving society, but most people have no idea how to get started. The reason for having a democratic society is not only about what gets decided, but how we reach those decisions.  The process of grassroots organizing is about building capacity in individuals to come together and take collective action, to take ownership of their society.  I founded Causes to help as many people as possible discover the potential within themselves to make a difference.”

With roughly 17 million active monthly users, Causes is making an impact on the online donation front. However, the Causes app can only harness a fraction of the collective Facebook attention span that is commanded by the big social media games. The most popular social games such as Farmville, Bejeweled Blitz, Texas HoldEm, Cafe World and Mafia Wars are played by millions. According to Gamasutra, 61.6 million people have tended a farm on Farmville, and if each of these people spent only 5 minutes per week playing the game, that amounts to 20 million hours of collective game play. Imagine the potential impact that 20 million hours could have upon any cause!

As Derrick Mains the CEO of GreenNurture wrote in an article about ‘Gaming for the Greater Good’ it is up to charities, businesses and games developers to create a culture of gaming which is about improving society and tackling environmental challenges. If we can harness the collective intelligence, time and wallets of social gamers to solve problems, raise money, promote sustainable and peaceful living by creating games for good, then we are making a step in the right direction. We will no longer be paying a couple of quid a month to a charity because we feel obliged to, but instead giving money, making decisions and enjoying rewards, because we want to!

Here at Digital 2.0 we are doing our bit to raise awareness of the impact deforestation has upon our planet and how sustainability and biodiversity can help reverse the damage mankind has done. Our WeForest game launches at the end of October and all profits go towards charity, so you can know that you’re doing good whilst you play!

More info on WeForest here: http://gamesforgood.wordpress.com/2010/08/24/weforest-update/ and here http://www.digital2point0.com/projects/weforest/

Read more about Causes here: http://exchange.causes.com/about/

Read Derrick Mains’ article here: http://www.triplepundit.com/2010/08/how-social-gaming-can-advance-sustainability/

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