Disney shutters LucasArts Studios!

This is sad, but not unexpected, news. LucasArts made some of my favorite 1990s games: "The Secret of Monkey Island" made me fall in love with adventure games, "Full Throttle" turned me into a motorcycle and metal dilettante, "Day of the Tentacle" almost made me asphyxiate because of laughter, "The Dig" and "Loom" began a lifelong interest in videogame music in addition to delivering great sci-fi stories, "Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis" put me in Indy's boots (now literally!) for a great adventure equaled only by "Last Crusade," "X-Wing" and "TIE Fighter" were unparallelled experiences, and "Grim Fandango" was a swan song to the great genre of adventure gaming.

Thanks for being such a integral part of my formative years, LucasArts developers: I'm forever indebted to you for giving me a love of videogaming. I am a better person because of your art.

Thankfully, LucasArts alumni have embarked on extraordinary new enterprises: Tim Schafer's revolutionary Kickstarter-funded adventure game (!) is, for example, a proverbial Phoenix in my gaming life; And many LucasArts developers have migrated to TellTale Games, where they are developing innovative games like the widely acclaimed "Walking Dead" episodic series.

And the gaming ecosystem has never been richer: independent developers and major studios are creating phenomenal works of art that are highly engaging and entertaining. Recent obsessions of mine? "FTL," "Journey," and "X-COM: Enemy Unknown." It's a good time to rock the QWERTY and mouse.

Oh, and next year is the year of "THE LONGEST JOURNEY!"

R.I.P. Gold Guy. (And Sierra Online while I'm here.)

Interwebz: Tell me about the games that mean the most to you!

Update: Rock, Paper, Shotgun has published a beautiful eulogy.

R.I.P. Gold Guy...

R.I.P. Gold Guy...

David Malki ! On Having Ideas and Making Things

David Malki !, who recently raised more than $500,000 dollars (and blew past ALL stretch goals, funny and serious) for his exciting new card game Machine of Death: The Game of Creative Assassination, just posted a video reflection on the process that profoundly moved me. Here is a distillation of three minutes of joyous, empowered speech: "I think a lot of things in my life that have proven to be significant have come about because I took some sort of a risk... If I have any piece of advice or authority as a guy who just somehow raised a half-million dollars, it is to say: To Do Stuff, to put stuff out there, to not let yourself get wrapped up in what this could be or should be as long as it's something you're confident in or you feel like is an honest expression of yourself personally--that's good enough."

Navigating the Waters of Rapid Technological Development in Higher Ed

Keeping up with the great pace of technological change is a perennial problem for Instructional Technologists in Higher Education. If I may generalize, Liberal Arts colleges, such as the one at which I'm employed, tend to judiciously evaluate technology and applying it thoughtfully with a lot of consensus and buy-in. This is as much an effort to navigate the waters of rapid technological development in a mature, sustainable way as it is an effort to reduce costs.  Though the pace of technological change seems overwhelming ("We don't even have TIME to do this?" is a common reaction,) I'm reminded of advice I once received from Andrea Nixon at Carleton: "Just start. Do something. Anything. Just. Do."

Evaluation of technology usually costs little more than staff time (which isn't an inconsiderable expense) so it's usually not difficult to evaluate a variety of technologies for eventual use on campus without committing to some broad rollout. This also permits us to examine more and different tools. (I think you'll also find that solutions become easier to evaluate over time because you arrive at a conceptual understanding of what classes of tools do, so it's easier to spot differences and similarities.)  Indeed, I believe it's part of our job as Instructional Technologists to evaluate technologies and think about how they can be used in a variety of contexts on campus. To make this possible, I think it important for IT organizations to emphasize the importance of such evaluations in Instructional Technologists' workloads and to give them time and money to do so. Also, to give them a forum for reporting out the results and having broader conversations with people who would be affected by or who would use the technology if it's adopted.

But I do think any DEPLOYMENT of technology should be done judiciously, especially if the deployment of said technology will occur across an entire campus. Here are some things I attempt to do to make such deployments successful: 1) Whenever possible, I try to build bridges and partnerships across campus to create a more broad adoption of a tool (e.g. a videoconferencing suite that teachers, career center staff, alumni staff, and Help Desk support personnel can use), 2) I try to get peers to talk to each other about the technology (e.g. a teacher demonstrating a technology used successfully in their classroom to another teacher), 3) Articulate exactly why the tool will be beneficial and add unique value to a variety of contexts on campus and who else believes the same, and 4) work with support personnel to evaluate the impact the deployment of the technology will have on their work and get their buy-in (or heed their advice and reject the tech if support would be unsustainable. Or, if demand is high enough, ask if we can change our environment to accommodate the tech.)