HP announced its user-friendly Sprout 3D Capture Stage scanner back in 2015, and the Sprout Pro was released about a year ago. While HP was busy unveiling the Sprout Pro G2 at CES 2017 this week, two creative and thoughtful educators from Central Michigan University (CMU) have been busy using the platform to reinvent how ecological management is taught in the classroom, by designing an innovative hybrid video/board game. The two-player game, called Rangers vs. Planners, teaches students the value of effective eco-planning.
CMU faculty members Joe Packer, Communication and Dramatic Arts, and Tony Morelli, Computer Science, put their heads together to come up with this groundbreaking new game, which is one of the few ecology-focused educational games currently out there. Its use of both analog and digital inputs is one of the features that helped it get accepted into the Meaningful Play Conference, where over 300 attendees gathered to discuss game design, development, and how games can be used to educate, entertain, and persuade.
The two Rangers vs. Planners players use coordination, and Sprout technology, to design a realistic city, manage the city’s development challenges, and balance the needs of the humans and animals inhabiting the city. Packer and Morelli used Sprout’s 3D scanning technology, which can be used to turn your desk into both a physical and digital workplace, to design the game – users just put an object on the touch mat, hit “Scan,” and the technology captures a 3D color image of the object, so they can build a 3D model.
So, how do you play? First, you have to create the city. Then, you can determine which player will be Player One (the city planner), and which player will be Player Two and manage the city’s wildlife population. With each roll of the dice, the two players will control and manage their new city together.
“We created a virtual world which is altered by the actions on a board game,” explained Packer. “One player takes on the role of a city planner, rolling the dice to collect resources and allocating those resources into various buildings which they place on a map. These buildings increase the player’s score, but also have an environmental consequence for the other player within the digital world.”
A city’s wildlife population is very vulnerable. Player Two has to take care of the animals by designating necessary construction-free zones in the city. Their score is based on how healthy they’ve managed to keep the environment. The final score tabulation for the two players is made up of a total of the scores based on development and environmental protection.
Packer and Morelli are both interested in discovering more ways to increase the use and play of hybrid games, such as the one they created together. This is a relatively new genre in games, but it’s good that they were accepted into the Meaningful Play Conference, as it brings together industry professionals and scholars to understand and improve upon games. The primary conference themes are exploring meaningful applications of games, and issues people come up with when designing meaningful play. Packer and Morelli also believe that educational games, especially paired with new technology like 3D scanning and printing, have endless opportunities.
“Not many people realize what is possible with this new technology,” said Morelli. “During our game design phase we uncovered the prospect of helping individuals with a variety of disabilities. From motor to cognitive impairments, I see numerous ways this technology can change the way people live their lives.”
3D printing and scanning definitely play a major role in educational games these days, from the Kideville Kit to the interactive Little Designer book. We definitely hear a lot about the technology being used for younger students, but I think Packer and Morelli’s new game is a really fun and important way to bring the technology to a university setting. Discuss in the HP Sprout forum at 3DPB.com.[Source/Images: Central Michigan University]
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