Sunday, February 27, 2011

Can I make a salad out of his game?

For Week 6 I chose to dive into GameSalad, which is a software development kit for making games and applications for the iPhone, iPod Touch, Mac and Web platforms. I was introduced to GameSalad by a colleague of mine in my department, Telecommunications just to say, who’s using GameSalad in a game design project class he’s involved with. I tried applying to get into that class but was denied for some political reason or other but what intrigued me about GameSalad was its ease of use. Much like Scratch it’s based on a drag and drop interface but with a little more details when it comes to applying behaviors and rules to the actors and the scene.

The games and applications that can be made using GameSalad are immense and it does have educational uses as evidenced by this project: SciTunes is in line to win a STEM award. It’s a game that was built using GameSalad that teaches children about the human anatomy using music and interactivity. The target audience for this game are students in K-2.

I was adamant on using GameSalad for future projects because of its usability and also because you can publish games, on iTunes, with it for free. You can upgrade your account, which is advised, to a pro account for a nominal fee but first time users can get away with the free package which includes access to scores of tutorials and the GameSalad Wiki.

In terms of New Media, GameSalad essentially is about computer-mediated creation. What you create using GameSalad are essentially programmes for computers, be they for the iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch. This is very much a Manovich inspired argument with a little bit of Resnick in there. If the computer is the paintbrush then GameSalad is the paint that one can use to create compelling games and applications for learning.

With GameSalad in mind I would define new media literacy as being a two-pronged category. The first is new media literacy in terms of creating computer-mediated projects. Thus one would be new media literate if they are able to create any form of game or application using GameSalad (or any other tool they choose), it’s about using the computer to make something tangible even if it is digital. The second form of new media literacy is the comprehension of games and applications made using tools such as GameSalad whereby users are literate in the sense that they can use or play the games and applications that are presented to them. It may sound simplistic or even deterministic but applied to the real world new media literacy means being able to create and use computer-mediated tools and objects.

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