SilverFish Studios is an independent software company based within Northern Ireland. SilverFish will have been operating for 2 years come June – no mean feat in the current financial climate. They have had many ups and downs but SilverFish provides a fun working environment and the team are highly motivated, talented and supportive of each other. They have been involved in designing and making several games (one due for release soon), been teaching game development for local schools, and have been engaged in quite a lot of web development and consultancy – typically they enjoy taking on jobs that require aspects of problem solving and innovation.
They work hard and no more so in building Fly Cast Master which is an iOS app designed to help (beginner and experienced) anglers improve their technique by analysing their casting motion (while holding the phone). Fly Cast Master was a complex App. to make due to the design and construction of robust motion detection algorithms and the necessary collaboration with experts from the angling domain for data collection, testing, and in the provision of suitable training materials – trainers, equipment suppliers, anglers, and collaborators at Irish Angler magazine.
My wife, Therese Charles (or @bionic_rez), established SilverFish with the support of her father Brian McGinnis who was her greatest fan. He would be incredibly proud of what she has achieved with the company and particularly in achieving the release of Fly Cast Master. I’m involved with SilverFish in an advisory role – mainly over a working lunch or after hours – but it has been very educational and enjoyable for me to be even superficially involved in helping a software product reach the App. store. I’ve learned about the process and this will help me in my future teaching, research and consultancy.
With the support of the local and international angling community and industry there are a number of ways that Fly Cast Master can be taken forward, and SilverFish have a number of plans in place already. So I hope that you will download and have a go at Fly Cast Master – see if you can beat the top score! One of the great things about Fly Cast Master is that you can still practise your casting even if you can’t get out! If you are enjoying the App. or have any constructive feedback let SilverFish know – they are passionate about making the angling trainer as educational and fun as possible.
Koster’s post on this topic explains the importance of balanced economics in commercial virtual worlds:
Does a virtual economy affect player retention?
From time to time I think about this in terms of the design of educational virtual worlds. Economics should be equally important within these worlds and it seems that this is often neglected in their design. I believe that status can be a sort of “currency”, i.e. points, awards, badges, roles, etc., especially if these are restricted and shared among players/users. I have been playing around with these ideas for the design of our Virtual Learning Landscape, and with the virtual Fish Tank idea that I discussed at the recent Game Based Learning summer school I think that tradeable items (or sendable) in fish tanks that are representative of learners could improve the long term engagement with the virtual world.
This is an interesting read on getting into programming through games, by creating macros, scripts, and logical blocks: http://www.hideandseek.net/2011/05/25/programming-games/. Of course much game playing is about planning, puzzle solving and thinking strategically, which is also very beneficial to being an effective programmer.
Koster has an interesting article on his blog in relation to what fun is with respect to games. Sex comes into the discussion – are we have fun because we are learning, and if so why is sex fun?
I tend to be with Koster on this debate. Fun has a lot to do with learning, experiencing new things, and overcoming challenges which are close to your level of ability.
Games based learning researchers will be keen to see how this new Microsoft project works out for school students in the New York area. As strange as it seems I’m not sure $1.5 million will be enough funding to do anything large scale.
This is an excellent article from (Henry Jenkins – MIT) – even if I only say that because it supports my own experience and instinct (plus bias!). In (crude) summary: games are not just for male children, they are social and there is very little evidence that they encourage violence among the young, except that violent play may lead to violent play. Sort of obvious when you think about it. There is more to the article than this and it is good to see such a clear and reasoned debunking of these commonly believed myths.
If would could save all the money wasted on poorly designed violence-in-games research we perhaps we could put that into more proven contributors to youth violence!