Presented By CyGames
Selene: a lunar construction game

Noted Software Firm Gets Nod to Enhance WJU Videogame

Date Posted: Fri Apr 17 2009

An award-winning software development company whose clients include Discover magazine and leading textbook publishers has been contracted to enhance and support the Selene videogame that has helped the Center for Educational Technologies® study how students best learn science through videogames.

Second Avenue Software of Pittsford, N.Y., was selected to carry out the next iteration of Selene, said Dr. Debbie Reese, senior educational researcher at the Center for Educational Technologies and principal investigator of the CyGaMEs project, of which Selene is part. CyGaMEs stands for Cyberlearning through GaME-based, Metaphor-Enhanced Learning Objects. The videogame research began in 2006 with funding from NASA and continues today as part of a four-year grant of nearly $2 million from the National Science Foundation.

Reese said the Center for Educational Technologies received strong proposals from a number of companies with established track records in game design and development. Second Avenue Software was chosen, Reese said, because of its "commitment to good software development practice, the aesthetic quality of its products, and because the Second Avenue Software approach to educational software is forward looking and complements the CyGaMEs method for instructional game design."

In March, Second Avenue completed Star Formation, a game for the Discover magazine website. The game demonstrates the coalescing of interstellar gases to form stars. It was designed with Adam Frank, professor of astronomy at the University of Rochester, based on his article for the February 2009 issue of Discover. The gameplay allows the user to trigger supernovas in a cloud of cosmic particles so that each supernova scatters particles away from itself.

In the prototype Selene: A Lunar Construction GaME, players learn the major geologic processes scientists believe formed the modern moon. Players create their own moon and then pepper it with impact craters and flood it with lava. The online game offers a great opportunity for students to learn about lunar geology while helping researchers study some key videogame design principles, especially whether young people would learn science better if it were packaged in a videogame.

"The CyGaMEs approach to instructional game design and assessment is the core of this NSF-funded research program," Reese said. "CyGaMEs instructional games such as Selene are designed to make learning more intuitive."

"We're excited to work with the Center for Educational Technologies," said Victoria Van Voorhis, chief executive officer of Second Avenue Software, "because of their commitment to the educational potential of serious gaming."