Games Put To Good Use

Games Put To Good Use Games Put To Good Use

Computer firm 'Atari' along with development studios 'BioWare' are answering back critics of all that is wrong with computer & video games by boosting the quality of education through West Nottinghamshire College's revolutionary 'Neverwinter Nights' project.

Many students lack the motivation to complete conventional paper based assignments. Gathering evidence for qualifications such as Key Skills and Wider Key Skills has been very difficult.

It has long been noted that learners enjoy playing computer games so Bioware and Atari's Neverwinter Nights game has been used to produce a tailor-made games scenario directly linked to qualifications.

Atari and BioWare have taken the unusual step of teaming up with a further education college in Nottinghamshire to achieve a common goal of improving national standards in education and achievement. Both parties will pool their expertise and resources to fulfill this purpose using the commercialization of the College's Neverwinter Nights program as the catalyst.

Mansfield based West Nottinghamshire College is a large general further education college with 25,000 students of whom 2,700 are full-time. Its vision is 'together we can invent the future for learning', a vision which the exceptional Neverwinter Nights project is certainly living up to!

The project is designed to focus the energies of learners on achieving their goals by making learning exciting and interactive. It has proved to be a massive success within the College, with the number of students achieving a pass in application of number has increased from 90 per cent in 2003 to 100 per cent this year, since the introduction of the game.

Already, it has achieved national recognition from the Association of Colleges, who awarded the initiative with the 2004/05 Becta Beacon Award for The Effective Use of Information Learning Technology to Enhance Teaching and Support Learning. One of the judges commenting: It was a joy to see the innovative approach to learning which West Notts College has developed. This project is imaginative, innovative, creative and exciting.

And thanks to the backing of Atari & Bioware, schools and colleges up and down the country will soon be able to have a slice of the Neverwinter success, when later this year the revolutionary project is set to be produced and distributed to education institutions throughout the country.

1. History of the project

In 2002, a new product called Neverwinter Nights was launched by the software house Bioware. That year Neverwinter Nights became the 2nd most searched for word on the Internet, proving that the game had massive and wide-ranging appeal.

A team of enthusiasts at West Nottinghamshire College were brought together to investigate the possibilities of delivering learning through these new worlds the game offered. They prototyped a scenario that allowed learners to interact in a fantasy setting involving team working and problem solving situations. The prototype was designed to be used for reinforcement and evidence generation in a fun environment. This addresses one of the main problems associated with Key Skills, namely the lack of enthusiasm learners' show when completing their portfolio of evidence.

During the course of 2003/4 the scenarios for Basic Skills, Application of Number and Communications level 1 and were Beta tested with appropriate groups of learners. Their feedback was collected and used to refocus the development of these products and inspire other lines of development.

2. A sample of student feedback

NWN Pretty Cool Game - Played at home and online in free time.

NWN gets you more interested in the subject at hand.

Found Application of Number preferable to text based possibility.

Prefer NWN over text based learning

The Neverwinter Nights franchise has sold more than two million copies worldwide, is translated into ten languages, sold in more than 40 countries, and features one of the largest and most active fan communities in all of gaming at . To date, fans of the franchise, which includes Neverwinter Nights, Neverwinter Nights: Shadows of Undrentide and Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark, have created nearly 4,000 modifications to the original game using the BioWare Aurora Toolset, the groundbreaking software included with the full game that allows players to create their own universes, quests and storylines.

Neverwinter Nights 2 will be developed by Obsidian Entertainment, founded by Feargus Urquhart, who, as the President of Black Isle Studios, was responsible for the publishing of the Baldur's Gate and Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance series and the development of the Icewind Dale and Planescape: Torment franchises, both powered by BioWare Engine Technology, as well as overseeing the creation and development of the Fallout series. BioWare will provide tools, technology, and game assets from the original Neverwinter Nights as well as lend creative input and oversee the development process.

Neverwinter Nights 2 is scheduled for release in 2006. More information about Neverwinter Nights 2 can be found by following the download tab above.