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Let the games begin: bridging the virtual world and the Academic world: Future Play 2007

On November 15-17, 2007, the gaming industry comes together with academia in Toronto, ON to "Research. Play. Share." The brainchild of Algoma University College (Algoma U) of Sault Ste. Marie, the event now in its fifth year, will be held at the Novotel Toronto Downtown.

Dr. Dave Brodbeck, the chair of the psychology department at Algoma University, says: "Future Play 2007 brings together people that have diverse interests; game designers, computer scientists, and academics. It allows for interaction between people that would probably not otherwise meet, except maybe in print. We all have one common interest though, a passion for gaming and an interest in its effects on people." Brodbeck is also the host of the widely popular Thunderbird Six podcasts in which he talks with guests about game design, new media and music. He continues, "Future Play 2007 offers a unique opportunity to improve your skills, expand your business, leverage academic research for game design, and network with potential partners and prospective employees."

The conference themes include academic research and emerging industry trends on: game development; game impacts and applications; and what it takes to excel in the gaming industry. A full listing of academic papers is listed on the website, including the following highlights:

· Girls Playing Games: Rethinking Stereotypes (York University & Simon Fraser University)

· Analyzing Sociocultural Perspectives on Violence in Digital Games (Microsoft Corp.)

· Video Game Play: Effects on Nighttime Dreams (Grant MacEwan College)

· Wiizards: 3D Gesture Recognition for Game Play Input (Drexel University)

· Making Players Laugh: The Value of Humour in Computer Games (Carleton University)

Algoma University College has teamed up with the University of Ontario Institute of Technology to bring leaders in the gaming world together to examine the future and potential of computer gaming including keynotes from international presenters such as:

· John Lester "Pathfinder Linden" of Linden Lab presenting how Second Life can be used as a platform for education, focusing on strategies for success;

· Espen Aarseth, from the University of Copenhagen, speaking about the darker side of games and gaming including "game addiction"; and

· Mia Consalvo, of Ohio University, investigating the role of cheating in gameplay.

· John Hopson, from Microsoft Game Studios, best known for his paper Behavioral Game Design which is required reading in many college game design courses.

Game development experts and researchers from across Canada, the US, the UK, Sweden, Norway, and New Zealand are among those already registered. Some of the organizations attending the event include: Artificial Mind and Movement, Carleton University, Garage Games, Groove Games, the MARS Discovery District, Michigan State University, Microsoft, MIT, Pseudo Interactive, Silicon Knights, Western, and more.

New this year, the Arcademy Games Competition, sponsored by Festival Arcadia, faces-off never-before-seen-or-played games from Europe, North America, and Asia, as they vie for recognition and prize packages worth more than $5,000 including a one-day usability session and analysis by the Microsoft Games User Research group. There are three categories of games: Indie Games, Serious Games, and Student Games. Attendees will be able to play the games, meet the developers and vote for the "People's Choice" Game Award.

Three "Serious" Games to watch in the competition include:

· The Booze Cruise: designed to improve awareness of the effects of drinking on driving performance, within the context of a driving game that's fun to play.

· Response Ready: an 'expect the unexpected' emergency preparedness scenario game that encourages learning through trial and error in the forgiving environment of a virtual landscape (from small fires on the factory floor to a nuclear disaster).

· Meeting Officer Roberts: offering Leadership Simulation for Police Officers to practice interpersonal skills, such as conducting performance-feedback conversations, in a risk-free environment so they can better handle similar situations as they arise on-the-job.

More information on the event can be obtained on the website at www.futureplay.org.

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GamesIndustry International


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