Greetings from the 2010 NASAGA Conference

It seems like just yesterday we were at the NASAGA Conference in Washington, DC. But here we are at the 2010 Conference, this year in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia. And wow, what an impressive line-up of speakers and sessions there is for us to experience. Here are just a few highlights from day one:

Fred Goodman and Thiagi

Our morning began with Fred Goodman’s keynote address. A highly regarded designer of simulations and academic games for close to five decades, Fred spoke about using games as an effective way to get people to “change their minds” rather than just “preserving their beliefs.” In his presentation, Chance, Choice, and Change: The Joy of Learning, Fred focused on the need to transform the minds of those who view learning as a necessary evil, instead helping them to see learning as a process to anticipate with excitement and joy.

His passion on the subject is quite contagious, and it was of no surprise to the audience that Fred is this year’s recipient of the NASAGA Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by none other than the guru of game design, Dr. Sivasailam “Thiagi” Thiagarajan.

PGS wins game design competition with "A Matter of Time"

This morning’s welcome ceremonies included the 2010 NASAGA / HRDQ Game Design Competition Award. As a co-sponsor of the contest, we were thrilled to present this year’s award to PGS for their time and priority management simulation, A Matter of Time. If the name PGS sounds familiar to you, you may recall that the same Poland-based firm won the 2009 award with Strike Fighter, a collaborative negotiating game that was just recently published by HRDQ. Click here to check it out.

Speaking of Thiagi, we had the pleasure of attending his session, The Magic of Learning and the Learning of Magic. Together with Ken Bellemare, Tracy Tagliati, and Raja Thiagarajan, we learned how to incorporate easy-to-do and ready-to-use magic effects in learning, otherwise known as the “art of astonishment.”

And the fun didn’t stop there. If you think the NASAGA Conference is just another series of talking-head presentations, you’re wrong. One of the best things about the NASAGA Conference is that its members practice what they preach – every day is filled with engaging exercises, great energy, and active learning.

Pirates and Parrots

Brian Remer, Creative Learning Director of The Firefly Group, treated us to Pirates and Parrots. Arggh! It was all hands on deck for a lesson in communication and the importance of relationships, trust, listening, and patience as we searched for a buried treasure.

Did you know that gaming is also an effective way to build community? Scott Nicholson, an associate professor at Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies, and Pauline Shostack, an associate professor at Onondaga Community College presented Community Building Through Games in Libraries. Using a version of the board game Wits and Wagers, we learned how games can be used to break down social barriers and strengthen the bonds between public libraries and the communities they serve.

All of this and we’re only halfway through the first day! Are you in town for the NASAGA conference? If so, we’d love to hear about your experiences. Stay tuned…

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