Category Archives: Playing


Designing Engaging Educational Games: An Identification of Emotions for Modeling Pedagogical and Adaptive Emotional Agents: Short Description

My dissertation research builds on my Masters thesis, has been ongoing in various stages for the past three years and is part of a larger project and lab mobilized around How We Learn (Media and Technology Across the Lifespan) within the Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy at UBC.  The HWL lab, funded through various agencies including the Social Sciences and Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), sponsors and supports a range of undergraduate, MA, MEd, and PhD research theses.  My study has been designed and conducted in close collaboration with Dr. Stephen Petrina and the graduate team of
researchers assembled in the HWL.

The Heroes of Math Island game employs principles from computer science,  learning, emotion, and game theory.  The game is implemented on an XNA professional gaming platform (a runtime environment provided by Microsoft) that allows for implementation of rich game mechanics and uses heuristics and semiotics from the gaming field: achievements, avatars, characters, levels of difficulty and quests.  The game has a narrative and activities happening
on an island employing as a central site a castle where students get “quests”
from a king or queen.  Similar to Rodrigo et al. (2012), the Heroes of Math Island game has an agent (the monkey) that uses emotional expressions to respond to situations in the game.

This study will provide critical information about emotional design methodologies with a focus on exploring and understanding emotions during educational game play.  Understanding emotional responses in human-computer interaction is extremely timely and relevant for teaching and learning in digital environments.

Resarch questions:

  • What affective states are important with respect to student’s interaction with an educational game?
  • What affective states are elicited during the Heroes of Math Island game play?
  • What are students’ levels of interest and achievement in the mathematics content areas after gameplay?
  • What are the students’ subjective reactions with respect to Heroes of Math Island game and to the underline mathematical content?

The game has a mathematical content (students solve 3 activities: divisibility, prime numbers and de-composition); however the focus is on design of technology and on the affective interaction and response.

Experiments were conducted by me and three BCIT students who were knowledgeable with respect to this study and involved in the design and implementation of the game.


Chicken Philosophers


PLATO: For the greater good.

ARISTOTLE: It is the nature of chickens to cross roads.

CAPTAIN JAMES T. KIRK: To boldly go where no chicken has gone before.

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR: I envision a world where all chickens will be free to cross roads without having their motives called into question.

JERRY SEINFELD: Why does anyone cross a road? I mean, why doesn’t anyone ever think to ask, “What the heck was this chicken doing walking around all over the place, anyway?”

FREUD: The fact that you are at all concerned that the chicken crossed the road reveals your underlying sexual insecurity.

EINSTEIN: Whether the chicken crossed the road or the road moved beneath the chicken depends upon your frame of reference.

KARL MARX: It was an historical inevitability.

SADDAM HUSSEIN: This was an unprovoked act of rebellion and we were quite justified in dropping 50 tons of nerve gas on it.

LOUIS FARRAKHAN: The road, you see, represents the black man. The chicken ‘crossed’ the black man in order to trample him and keep him down.

FOX MULDER: You saw it cross the road with your own eyes. How many more chickens have to cross the road before you believe it?

BILL CLINTON: The chicken did not cross the road. I repeat, the chicken did NOT cross the road.

MACHIAVELLI: The point is that the chicken crossed the road. Who cares why? The end of crossing the road justifies whatever motive there was.

BILL GATES: I have just released the new Chicken Office 2012, which will not only cross roads, but will lay eggs, file your important documents, and balance your chequebook.

OLIVER STONE: The question is not, “Why did the chicken cross the road?” Rather, it is, “Who was crossing the road at the same time, whom we overlooked in our haste to observe the chicken crossing?”

DARWIN: Chickens, over great periods of time, have been naturally selected in such a way that they are now genetically disposed to cross roads.

LAWYER: Our firm has recently handled a number of cases involving chicken crossings and would recommend you obtain independent legal advice.

BUDDHA: Asking this question denies your own chicken nature.

RALPH WALDO EMERSON: The chicken did not cross the road .. it transcended it.

ERNEST HEMINGWAY: To die. In the rain.

MICHAEL SCHUMACHER: It was an instinctive manoeuvre, the chicken obviously didn’t see the road until he had already started to cross.

COLONEL SANDERS: I missed one?

The Amazing Machine

OK Go: This Too Shall Pass. Rube Goldberg Machine version. Check it out!!



Meet Barbie the Pink Computer Engineer!


Amazing, it only took until 2010 to get a Barbie with a laptop! Though I’ve never met a professional woman (or any woman) who wears funky pink glasses to coordinate with her shiny pink computer, smart phone and wrist watch, Barbie designers flagrantly boast that they: “worked with the Society of Women Engineers and the National Academy of Engineering to ensure that accessories, clothing and packaging were realistic and representative of a real computer engineer.”

Not only does Geek Chic Barbie have an official fact sheet, to further experience the reality of being a computer engineer, the doll comes with a special code to unlock exclusive online game content on Barbie’s Digital World. I wonder if Blondie has one of those reality-probing holes in her body (like in the Matrix)? Barbie could use a real-life-lesson in the beauty of being a whole woman (not a wide-eyed, hollow-headed objectification of the over-sexualized and stereotyped female figure) in a technologized world where hot pink laptops do not win the popular vote.

Like it or not, however, Barbie is a popular culture icon and a role model for girls. According to Mattel, 90% of girls ages 3-10 own at least one Barbie doll and has 18 million registered users worldwide. As Nora Lin, President, Society of Women Engineers affirms:

“All the girls who imagine their futures through Barbie will learn that engineers — like girls — are free to explore infinite possibilities, limited only by their imagination. As a computer engineer, Barbie will show girls that women can turn their ideas into realities that have a direct and positive impact on people’s everyday lives in this exciting and rewarding career.”

Barbies new slogan: “I can be…”

Your Digital Age

If you want to know how old you REALLY are, then consider the media you use instead of the generation you were born into! This idea is from Penelope Trunk (Brazen Careerist) & Margaret Weigel (who has done research on digital media engagement at Harvard & MIT): “”We should not judge people rigidly by the years they were born… if we want to define people by categories, it should be by behaviors because this is something each of us chooses.” 

Add up your points to figure out what generation you’re really a part of:

Do you have your own web page? (1 point)

Have you made a web page for someone else? (2 points)

Do you IM your friends? (1 point)

Do you text your friends? (2 points)

Do you watch videos on YouTube? (1 point)

Do you remix video files from the Internet? (2 points)

Have you paid for and downloaded music from the Internet? (1 point)

Do you know where to download free (illegal) music from the Internet? (2 points)

Do you blog for professional reasons? (1 point)

Do you blog as a way to keep an online diary? (2 points)

Have you visited MySpace at least five times? (1 point)

Do you communicate with friends on Facebook? (2 points)

Do you use email to communicate with your parents? (1 point)

Did you text to communicate with your parents? (2 points)

Do you take photos with your phone? (1 point)

Do you share your photos from your phone with your friends? (2 points)

0-1 point – Baby Boomer

2-6 points – Generation Jones

6- 12 points – Generation X

12 or over – Generation Y

While Penelope & Margaret created this test June 25, 2007, it is already dated. Further, what about Generation Z (otherwise classified as iGen, Gen @ and Generation Now)?

$6500 in 1909, 2009

My car was getting difficult to drive, more specifically it was taking Herculean effort to turn the wheel. Thinking that the power steering fluid might be low, I drive to visit the trusty Mini-Mechanics (Mini is particular about its fluids, you can’t just use the Canadian Tire brand). Six hours and a **whopping** $6500 later…. and my wee car is whistling like new again. Power steering failure was diagnosed by the Mini-doctors, who only operate using brand new parts to repair the offending malfunction, refusing to patch the problem. Both the power steering rack and the power steering motor-pump are just shy of $2000 EACH and there were other apparently rusty parts that needed to be replaced in order to put my car back together. Hip hip hoooooooooray for warranty!! 

A bit of internet research finds that 100 years ago I could have bought 5.5 cars for $6500 or 1000 quarts of milk or 1000+ loaves of bread. However, at an average income of $637 per year (or $53 per month), I would most likely be walking.

Interesting statistics from one century ago: 

  • Total vehicle production in the U.S. is 4,192
  • Top speed for new cars is 8 mph. Gasoline fuel efficiency is 35 mpg
  • Total vehicle registration is 8,000. There are 10 miles of paved roads
  • In 1900, 115 auto deaths – 96 lynchings
  • Theft is a problem, even in the early days, so the Leach Motor Carriage has a removable steering lever – an early anti-theft device
  • Avg. Income (US)………………………………………… $637/year
  • New Home (Median Price)…………………………….. $2,225
  • New Car (Avg. Cost)……………………………………. $1,168
  • Milk (Qt)…………………………………………………… $0.07
  • Bread (Loaf)………………………………………………. $0.04

I don’t have a pic of my Cooper, which is most certainly NOT red (that would clash with my hair 😉 so here is a more interesting Mini XXL Luxury Limo for you to gaze upon, complete with a pool in the rear.



How To Write an Abstract

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