Research Projects

Astrojumper – Astrojumper is a game aimed at improving interaction and development for children with Autism. Additionally Astrojumper is a successful exercise-based video game which requires players to exert themselves physically. Astrojumper was developed in collaboration with members of the UNC-Charlotte VisCenter and members of the Future Computing Laboratory. One of Astrojumper’s most unique characteristics is that it was developed for a cave, 3 giant screens with projectors, and a head mounted tracking system as well as stereoscopy, i.e. 3D images.

BeadLoom Game – Dance Tool is a new Culturally Situated Educational Game that utilizes dance and pop culture element to teach fundamental Computer Science concepts. Dance Tool provides players with the tools to create a dance for their character. The creation of this dance is an abstraction of the creation of a computer program. Through Dance Tool, students can create their own custom dances, play pre-made challenge dances, and share their dances with friends on our social community site. Dance Tool has been presented at SIGCSE 2011, and won 3rd place in the Microsoft Student Research Competition.

BOTS – BOTS is a social collaboration-based game where players work together to solve puzzles using simple programming concepts. The game is played with a network of friends, using “code blocks” collected through mini-games, achievements, and social networking to build and share gadgets and solve puzzles. Aimed at an introductory computing audience, BOTS will help teach the concepts of computational thinking to students with no prior programming experience, and facilitate a social network for innovation and sharing of ideas between students and faculty.

Dance Tool – This is a culturally situated design tool (CSDT) developed to teach students simple programming concepts with a youth-culturally oriented environment. This project incorporates dance and music to appeal to middle school students and the younger generation. It was designed to teach iteration and conditional statements through using the same concepts found in dance and music theory. By leveraging the atmosphere of dance and music, middle school students are more likely to find learning the programming concepts more fun and exciting.

EDM Vis – EDM Vis stands for Educational Data Mining Visualization and is a portion of Dr. Barnes’ NSF career award project. The purpose of EDM Vis is to help educators and researchers alike be able to explore and analyze user data that is generated from software logs. A student uses either an educational game, an Intelligent Tutoring System, or even just plays a game, and that software logs the interactions that the student is performing. Afterwards we collect all the log-data and load it into EDM Vis, so that we can explore, analyze and understand how a particular student, or even a class of students may have used the tool. That way we can get a better understanding of how a software tool was used, so that we can either improve the tool, or see where students are learning, or what aspects of the tool were the most effective at achieving the desired goal.

Snag’Em Game – Snag’em is a large group networking game which is essentially a human scavenger hunt.  The game allows players to create their online profile and forge connections with other users. In this social networking game, players create a list of facts about themselves, called tags, which are then randomly presented to other players as missions. Missions are presented in the format, “SNAG someone who works in the Games and Learning lab,” and can only be completed by interacting with a person who fit this qualification.  This game can easily be distributed in either a conference or university, which makes it very representative of the other games in the SNAG suite.

World of Workout – World of Workout is an iPhone application that serves as a game-based pedometer. Like a standard pedometer, World of Workout counts the user’s steps to determine the distance traveled in a given time period. However, World of Workout uses Role-Playing Game (RPG) elements to provide motivation to the players through quests, level-able characters, and in-game items. These addtions go beyond the standard pedometer hardware and work with the intrinsic motivation found in highly successful, commercial games (such as World of Warcraft) to provide a motivational fitness tracker.

Wu’s Castle

EleMental – EleMental: The Recurrence is a novel game that provides computer science students the opportunity to write code and perform interactive visualization to learn about recursion through depth-first search of a binary tree. We designed the game to facilitate maximum transfer of learning to writing real programs, while also providing for interactive visualization. We conducted a study with computer science majors to measure the impact of the game on learning as well as on attitudes toward educational games.  Our results demonstrate and the enthusiasm students have for learning games and provide insight into how such games should be constructed.

Table Tilt – A cooperative, 2 to 6, player game built for the iPhone platform. Players need to work together and communicate with one another in order to move a ball to the designated goal. This game makes use of iPhone’s accelerometer to understand the orientation of the device, and the game-ball rolls around on the screen based on the angle of the phone. However traps are also placed randomly about so the game requires finesse as players try to work together and score as many goals as possible within a set period of time, while also avoiding the unwanted traps.

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