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Role Playing (Games) Entertainment Games

Congress Slashes Funding for Peaceful Conflict Resolution Game 84

In a departure from the usual video game setting a recent educational video game called "Cool School" was designed to teach kids peaceful conflict resolution. Unfortunately Congress has decided to slash the funding of this program that has been receiving rave reviews from the testers at schools in Illinois. "Cool School focuses on taking players through a school where just about everything (desks, books, and other objects) are alive and have their own personality. Over the course of ten levels and over 50 different situations designed by Professor Melanie Killen and then-doctoral student Nancy Margie (both of the University of Maryland). The primary goal of the game is to teach students how to solve social conflict through skills like negotiation and cooperation. During the title's development, Killen and Margie were able to work with some talented members of the video game industry, including independent developer F.J. Lennon and animator Dave Warhol." The game is now available as a free download and will play on both Mac OS X and Windows XP.
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Congress Slashes Funding for Peaceful Conflict Resolution Game

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  • The Article... (Score:2, Informative)

    by 26199 ( 577806 ) * on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @04:04PM (#23481306) Homepage

    ...is on ars technica [arstechnica.com].

  • by Otter ( 3800 ) on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @04:05PM (#23481330) Journal
    The Ars Technica article does explain it; Congress funded development of the game but not its distribution. Apparently some sort of computer "inter-network" will be required for schools to obtain it, as if such a thing could ever be!

    That's also what's holding back Duke Nukem Forever, I suppose.

  • by perdue ( 1153995 ) on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @04:30PM (#23481820) Homepage

    the fact that they can't ship out the disk-copy to those 3 schools that have computers but no internet.
    Although TFA [arstechnica.com] is somewhat vague on the point, it seems the problem is not quite that trivial.

    Cool School was planned to be shared throughout every US elementary schools until its funding was slashed by Congress. The game is now being digitally distributed, and its spread through the country's school systems is much slower than originally intended.
    (emphasis mine)
  • by ghostlibrary ( 450718 ) on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @04:39PM (#23482000) Homepage Journal
    Getting games into schools is hard... kinda like the difference between coding a game, and selling it as a bonafide product.

    To 'sell' it to schools, you need to a) make them aware of it, usually by presenting at state teacher's fairs and putting notices in periodicals, b) indicate how it supports curricula standards by providing support material and metrics, c) get it into existing channels so the (usual sole) IT person at the school (typically a resource/library person) is allowed to install it, d) support Q&A and teacher queries (customer support), and e) provide a follow-up reporting on its status so schools can continue using it.

    Which takes time, and time takes money. Hence the need for funding, and why lack of funding makes distribution slow and random.
  • I tried it out (Score:5, Informative)

    by Evets ( 629327 ) on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @04:51PM (#23482224) Homepage Journal
    I actually have a child in the target group, so I downloaded the game to check it out.

    Game-wise, it's nothing special. It's a flash based game with limited user interaction, less than exceptional graphical content, and it plays at 800x600 regardless of your resolution - no full screen capability. In their defense, most games targetting my kids show the same properties.

    In the five minutes I played, I was able to click maybe 4 times, with the remainder of the time spent listening to the characters walk me through the game. The general idea they are trying to get across - building conflict resolution skills - is very apparent. I think my child will enjoy this game - although I think she won't choose it very often over other games that she has available such as Dora or Care Bears titles. Frankly, I think the commercial titles offer a much more clear educational experience, but that's not to say I don't like the game at all.

    Personally - I think community developed games like those built with Scratch [mit.edu] have a much brighter future. Lord knows how many tax dollars were spent on this game, and if you had 5 involved parents working together for a month and a half, you could have something much better and more open to derivative updates.

    Scratch is still flash, but at least you have the ability to update games developed with it - and tailor them to your specific needs/target audience.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @05:05PM (#23482428)
    Lets face it, if it got slashed, it's not because of a bunch of warmongers in congress.

    It's because it's arguably the most dull, uninteresting pointless idea for a game ever :p
  • Re:Question (Score:3, Informative)

    by Uncle Focker ( 1277658 ) on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @05:20PM (#23482704)

    Section 8: The Congress shall have power

    To lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the ... general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
  • Re:GOOD. (Score:3, Informative)

    by mr_mischief ( 456295 ) on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @06:28PM (#23483770) Journal
    Taxpayer money? ITYM bondholder money. When you're spending trillions of dollars you don't have because you can't collect it in taxes the nonessential parts absolutely count as bondholder money.

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton