Ludology Podcast focuses on Gutsy, with Interviews

In the recent episode of the podcast Ludology, an analytical discussion of the how’s and why’s of the world of board games, Geoffrey Engelstein interviewed both Eric Teo and myself about the new game we developed with Susan Perkins and a group of AMNH youth learners, Gutsy.

I think it came out really well. You can check it out here.

My two favorite quotes from Geoff:

“This was the first time I have heard about a board or card game specifically designed to support a museum exhibit.”


“I kept thinking about all the germs that were on the cards that we were passing between the players.”

I’d say: Mission accomplished!

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Epic headshop at 31;65, or Minecraft & 21st Century Learning

Epic headshop at 31;65
Minecraft & 21st Century Learning

Slide 1:
Evening. My name is Barry Joseph. I’m the associate director of digital learning at a little museum just down the block from here – you might have heard of us – the American Museum of Natural History. Let’s see what I can add to our discussion. I’ve framed this talk as: Epic headshop at 31;65.

Slide 2: I thought I would talk about Minecraft and 21st Century Learning, and show you some examples, like when I was at Global Kids, this after school program, and we did this global injustice program based on Hunger Games. [please click on video below]

That was my son, btw, Akiva, who was five at the time. He’s now nine, and here tonight. Akiva, please wave hi. Continue reading

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Gutsy Defies Expectations in New Review on Dice Tower Podcast

Our new card game, Gutsy, received its first review this week, on Episode 432 of the Dice Tower, a podcast about board and card games that has a audience of about 25,000. We’ve been delighted by the game, currently for sale within the shop associated with our new exhibit The Secret World Inside You but, well, we made it – of course we’d be happy with it! But how would the mainstream gaming world feel when they first played it? Would it meet their expectations for a good game? This was our first chance to find out.

You can listen to the 3-minute review below, which I excerpted from the full episode.

For those looking for the soundbites, here we go:

“It’s very light, almost Flux-light sometimes, because you are changing hands sometimes. So any planning you might have had going on can get thrown out the window if these events come up.”

Translation for non-gamers: Gutsy discourages long-term strategizing because it includes random elements that can undermine your plans. So it might not be for serious gamers.

“Even though its goal is to teach you something, and it is being sold to the general public in the gift shop at the American Museum of Natural history, it’s actually an interesting game.”

Translation: Gutsy defies expectations. No one expects a game including educational goals to be any good. And no one expects any game, of any type, developed for sale in a Museum gift shop, to be of interest to hardcore gamers.

“A light game for sure, a chaotic game, but a game with decisions, and novel mechanisms, and one I have to appreciate.”

Translation: A game design succeeds because it offers players interesting and meaningful decisions, and enables players to make them in a unique way. Gutsy does both.

“So I liked Gutsy, I don’t think it’s one I would play all the time, but I have to appreciate it. It’s a gutsy move to have gone in this direction with a card game being sold in a museum gift shop.”

Translation: AMNH raised the bar for what gamers can expect from a Museum-produced game. At least… that’s how I hear it, and I’m sticking with my story.

Thank you Dice Tower for taking the time to review our game.

Download your own print-and-play version, for free, and let me know what YOU think.

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NYT VR & the Mooshme Matrix of Place-based Augmented Devices

Last March, I penned a post “Augmented Wearables and the Future of Museums” in an attempt to better understand the emerging landscape of augmented/virtual reality wearables, and what they might mean for museums.

A potential game-changer occurred last week that has led me to update what I had called, for lack of a better name, “the Mooshme Matrix of Place-based Augmented Devices.”

Essentially I realized most devices could be best categorized by answering two questions:

Number 1: Is the device intended for private or social use?

Number 2: Is the device intended to enhance the user’s experience of their surroundings or transport them somewhere else?

With my new update, the empty matrix now looks like this:

AugmentationMatrix.002The vertical axis of space charts “here” (the augmentation deepens the user with their surrounding physical space) to “there” (the augmentation transports the user to a different space, often referred to as virtual reality). The horizontal axis of people charts “me” (the augmentation is for a single user OR each user has a personalized experience) to “we,” formerly known as “us” but that avoided the available rhyme (the augmentation connects the user with the people around them, their social network, and/or other users of the device).

A week ago all weekend New York Times subscribers received with their print paper something unexpected on their doorstep, described by one NYTimes reporter as a “Fresh Direct container for three jumbo eggs.” It was a set of Google Cardboard. Combined with their new app, NYT VR, readers can explore print stories in new ways. As the app describes, “Through virtual reality, The New York Times puts you at the center of the stories that only we can tell: incredible stories reported by award-winning journalists, all told in an immersive, 360-degree video experience. The limits of our storytelling capabilities now stretch further than we ever before imagined, and we are excited to experiment with this new form of journalism.”

If you want to know what it’s like, you can read a report from Rick Broida of Fortune Magazine. What interests me most is his description of his experience: “I felt like I was standing there myself.” [note: emphasis is my own]

Compare that back to the Matrix, his “I” and “there”. We now have a device for the lower-left quadrant. AugmentationMatrix.001While Cardboard is not new – at least, not new this month – the NYTimes is providing us an excellent use case for the device. My wife and I watch TV together – television is social. But when I read the newspaper, that’s a personal experience. And newspapers can serve as portals to others places, places we want to learn more about and perhaps only have the safety to visit through the printed word. Now the newspaper is using Cardboard to extend that experience through virtual reality, still as private and personal as reading the paper, and just as transporting as the best journalism.

So as the latest devices enter the market, let’s keep placing them on the Matrix and keeping seeking the ones that I argued best align with museum use: the upper-right, the “we” and “here” quadrant, the one that enhances an individual’s ability to connect with the people and places around them.




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Wacky Promotional Video for Gutsy, the Card Game

Inside our Museum’s latest exhibit – The Secret World Inside You – this video promotion for the Gutsy card game runs as the interstitial before and after the introductory video for the exhibit. It is so awesome! I watch it now all the time. It really captures both the science and silly fun in the game. Download your own copy of the game here.

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MicroRangers Teaser Video

MicroRangers is coming… in just few weeks. And here’s a little teaser.

Below is a photo of the Communicator Coins which just arrived TODAY! We’re so excited to see them. Conceptually, they began as cards – one which I had in my wallet for over a year until it dissolved. Eventually, we moved the concept to these GORGEOUS metal “challenge coins,” which is their official designation within the industry. We look forward to giving them out once the game launches – each players needs one to play and they get to take them home as a keepsake.


And the video below is the opening introduction to the MicroRanger game, before the player actually begins to play.

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Hear me talk about Minecraft all week (please tip your waiter)

14809390790_3a44437c95_bSometimes the Minecraft stars align, and sometimes they get all jumbled, and sometimes they just run into a creeper and get blown up.

Wait… where was I going with all this?

Oh, right! This week I am participating in not one, but two (count them: two!) talks about Minecraft and learning, one in a podcast and one live in NYC.


This Tuesday I will be participating in a live podcast on the topic of “Project-Based Learning in Minecraft”. Together we will asking the question: How can Minecraft be mobilized to support project-based learning experiences?

It will be Nov 10, at 4est. You can learn more about it, or watch it live, here.

The podcast is the second in a series: Supporting Connected Learning Experiences in Minecraft

update: 11/11/15 – it’s all over and you can watch it in full technicolor below


2. LIVE in NYC!

Then this Thursday, at the Bard Graduate Center (38 West 86th Street), from 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm, I’m thrilled to be participating on the panel: Toys in Context: Sweden, Scandinavia, and the Digital World.

Yeah, that’s right – a panel on SWEDISH TOYS, so of course we’ll be talking about Minecraft. Here’s the official description:

Colin Fanning, Barry Joseph and Juliet Kinchin place the popular Swedish game Minecraft within the history of play and contemporary gaming culture. They show how the creative and building aspects of the game, in which its players build constructions out of textured cubes in a 3-D generated world, enable players to collaborate in creating wonderfully innovative and imaginative things. The event concludes with a demonstration in which audience members are encouraged to participate.

Yup, it’s all about the textured cubes. And my son – I think I will mostly be talking about my son growing up with Minecraft over the past 5 years and what that means for 21st Century Learning. And he might even be there to join me. We’ll see.

Come join if interested and, if you can’t make it, I’ll plan to post the recordings up here.

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