Blog Redirect

August 3, 2009

This Blog now exists on the Thinking Worlds site. Please go to

Thinking Worlds authoring tool now Live!

March 31, 2009

The Thinking Worlds authoring tool is now live and available for download from

Go to the site for demos, tutorials and movies.

Here are some vids of the tool in action:

Upcoming Expos

March 17, 2009

The launch of the Thinking Worlds authoring tool is but a few weeks away. I was over in Orlando last week showing the technology to folks at Defence Game Tech and the eLearning Guild annual gathering.




This week we are in London for Game Based Learning 2009 and next week the tool will be demonstrated in san Francisco at the Serious Game Summit – we have a presentation on Tuesday 24th of March in the afternoon. Come along to see Sims being built live and direct.

gamesbasedlearning seriousgamessummit

Look forward to catching up with people there.

paths and cameras

paths and cameras

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Learning in your sleep

February 12, 2009

There has been a lot of conjecture on the role of sleep in memory formation and consolidation. New research indicates that – in animals at least – that sleep is crucial for consolidating memories at a biochemical level. Donald Clark is a big proponent of ‘spaced practice’ in learning – taking breaks for consolidation and optimal performance. Well, its official, take a break for a kip and you’ll do yourself right. Neuroscience gets better every day. Red wine, chocolate and now sleep helps learning performance.

“If you ever argued with your mother when she told you to get some sleep after studying for an exam instead of pulling an all-nighter, you owe her an apology, because it turns out she’s right. And now, scientists are beginning to understand why.

In research published this week in Neuron, Marcos Frank, PhD, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience, at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, postdoctoral researcher Sara Aton, PhD, and colleagues describe for the first time how cellular changes in the sleeping brain promote the formation of memories.

“This is the first real direct insight into how the brain, on a cellular level, changes the strength of its connections during sleep,” Frank says.

The findings, says Frank, reveal that the brain during sleep is fundamentally different from the brain during wakefulness.

“We find that the biochemical changes are simply not happening in the neurons of animals that are awake,” Frank says. “And when the animal goes to sleep it’s like you’ve thrown a switch, and all of a sudden, everything is turned on that’s necessary for making synaptic changes that form the basis of memory formation. It’s very striking.”

The team used an experimental model of cortical plasticity – the rearrangement of neural connections in response to life experiences. “That’s fundamentally what we think the machinery of memory is, the actual making and breaking of connections between neurons,” Frank explains

See full article at

Serious Games and Social Networks – the next frontier?

December 20, 2008


A client approached me recently with a query about Facebook. Their mandate is to deliver adult skills training to learners through a multitude of access points to provide learning opportunities for all. They have developed Immersive Learning Sims for workplace training that have proven effective in enahancing the employment prospects of these individuals. Their research has shown, not surprisingly that a whole cohort of this target group aged 18 – 28 spent a great deal of time on Facebook. So their question was whether Facebook and other social networks could be a delivery platform for their immersive sims.

Social Functionality

I saw this first as a technical question – we can deliver browser based 3D games and Sims; Facebook has an API so there should be some way of achieving this. However, digging into the API and looking into the phenomenon that is Social Games gave a different perspective. It was clear that the motivation and behaviours of users in social networks differed from other online communities and were radically different from those in our clients usual deployment environments.

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Online Educa Virtual Worlds and Serious Games

December 8, 2008

Just got back from Online Educa in Berlin. The snow and the wonderful Christmas decorations in Berlin lifted everyones spirits and I think contributed to a great show. Serious Games and Virtual Worlds were big features on the talk circuit – although less so in the exhibitors. Generation Y was the other big theme for me. Caspian gave two talks and our tech featured in a couple of others.

We were right next door to Second Life and Crisware which made us feel at home. We had our camera at the ready at the stand and in our talks. We asked a number of people about their thoughts on 2009 and what it held for Serious Games and Virtual Worlds for learning. Views included: more of the same; no uplift; focus on defence and public with budgets not affected by credit crunch; need for rapid development tools; scorm; and web delivery.

The videos are linked below – Clive Shepherd; Donald Clark; Adrian Hall (x DFES); Euan Mckenzie; Birgit Reiser (EU); Rolf Neilsen; SecondLife x 2. Enjoy.

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Learning and Generation Y

December 5, 2008

I am over in Berlin having a great time at Online Educa. Yesterday I gave a talk and discussion on Generation Y which is one of the conference themes. The discussion focused upon the tools, methods and techniques that educators and trainers can use to successfully engage with Gen Y learners.

Defining Gen Y – easy in terms of age but in terms of attributes and attitude was a lot more fuzzy. There was active discussion on the term ‘digital native’ and how useful or dangerous this term was for practitioners. See the presentation below.

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Is online gaming and social networking the answer to child development?

November 29, 2008

This is an interesting one given the age old ‘divide’ when it comes to children and gaming – is it good or bad?

There have been many conversations and studies around both the benefits and drawbacks, but one that is of particular interest is a recent research commissioned by the MacArthur Foundation. The three year study saw researchers interviewing and monitoring hundreds of children’s time spent on social networking and online gaming.

A key finding of the study revealed that online gaming and social networking is beneficial to children’s development, teaching them how to communicate in today’s world whilst strengthening technical skills.

An abstract from the report reads:  

“For a minority of children, the casual use of social media served as a springboard to them gaining technological expertise — labelled in the study as ‘geeking out.’ By asking friends or getting help from people met through online groups, some children learned to adjust the software code underpinning some of the video games they played, edit videos and fix computer hardware. Given that the use of social media serves as inspiration to learning, schools should abandon their hostility and support children when they want to learn some skills more sophisticated than simply designing their Facebook page.”

Having found the initial news piece on Slashdot, it was interesting to see the reader comments and their clear divide on this finding. While some clearly favour bringing up their children in a traditional way, enrolling them in outdoor or sporting activities etc, there are a number of readers who firmly believe in the benefits that online gaming (in particular) can bring.

While both views have substance, we can’t deny that today’s younger generation is far more digitally savvy and equally eager to consume digital content. Not only do they enjoy participating in online games and social networking, but it’s fast becoming the way in which they learn and will expect to work when entering the job market.

But as they say, everything in moderation! Why not judge for yourself and have a read of the full whiter paper. 

Rapid Sims – A case study

November 10, 2008


What does this motley crew have to do with Rapid Sims? This is the Caspian team picking up an award for best learning game and simulation at the eLearning awards in London.

The award was presented for work on The Rome Game – a game that takes players back in time to ancient Rome where in their role as a futuristic Time Knight they must solve mysteries to protec the integrity of time from those that would change it.

This was our first game developed with our authoring tool Thinking Worlds 3.0. This enabled a very complex game with 48 different scenarios, 20+worlds and hundreds of historical characters and artefacts to be delivered end to end in six months. I’ll publish some examples of TW3.0 in a bit but for now I’ll share the award submission document as a case study.

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The coming era of Rapid Sims

August 23, 2008

The eLearning world is alive with the buzz of Rapid elearning. Infact, with companies like Kineo and Line Communications in the UK making huge strides then this is more than a buzz – it is driving uptake.


A challenge for the nascent ILS sector is that ILS development is an unknown quantity for most would be buyers in the Organisational training market. High levels of uncertainty and possible anxiety exist around: what an ILS takes to develop; how much it will cost; how long it will take; how it can fit in to training and how long it will take.


The eLearning development market is aided by the wide availability of authoring tools that facilitate the rapid and flexible production of eLearning courses. For ILS to go mainstream a big part of the solution will be ‘Rapid Sims’ tools to simplify, speed up and extend the utility of ILS.

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