SBIR Phase I: Building an Integrated Software Platform for Civic Epistemic Gaming

Award Information
Agency: National Science Foundation
Branch: N/A
Contract: 1113297
Agency Tracking Number: 1113297
Amount: $150,000.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2011
Solicitation Year: 2010
Solicitation Topic Code: IC
Solicitation Number: N/A
Small Business Information
525 Junction Rd suite 8200, Madison, WI, 53717-2157
DUNS: 011115248
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Lewis Friedland
 (414) 736-4665
Business Contact
 Lewis Friedland
Phone: (414) 736-4665
Research Institution
This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project is to investigate the feasibility of new game-based software in which youth play the roles of adult professionals. This approach has demonstrated the potential for raising knowledge of and interest in civics and the local community for young people, many of whom are not being reached by traditional curricula. Civic epistemic games are collaborative, interactive games in which young people use sophisticated technologies to learn to think in innovative and creative ways about complex problems. But to realize the potential of these games, the software requires extensive customization for local conditions and to meet district and state standards. The approach in this effort is to focus on an industry-standard social media platform to quickly develop a game that can be tested for traction among the youth market. While platforms are currently being developed for the rapid prototyping of educational multiplayer games for augmented reality, these games involve limited-duration problem-solving exercises placed in narrative frameworks drawn from entertainment gaming, and often feature activities that mimic but do not reproduce professional practice. As well, they are not scaled for large groups of learners. Epistemic games, in contrast, are based on simulations of complex thinking practices--they are authentic recreations of the activities by which professionals learn to solve complex problems. But bringing epistemic games into classrooms requires development and distribution platforms that can host integrated curricula up to 15 weeks long and reach potentially millions of simultaneous users. Early indication from large education-systems providers indicates that there may be a significant market opportunity associated with this effort. If successfully deployed, this effort will address the youth market for educational games and provide a new platform for civic engagement.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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