Category Archives: Reviews

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2014: 5 Games to Learn From

As the year winds to a close, it’s a great time to take a look back at some of the games that stood out in serious and educational gaming. If you’re thinking about picking a new game for a class, keep an eye on the coming game awards season. There are a number of venues that showcase great educational games each year. The Serious Games Showcase & Challenge highlighted several winners this year, including National Geographic’s game The Underground Railroad: Journey to Freedom and University of …

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ProfHacker 2014 Holiday Gift Guide

Round trees at night, lit with holiday lights Why is this post different from all other posts? Because it’s the annual ProfHacker gift guide! If December is a busy time for most people, it’s always seemed that much busier to me since becoming an academic: there’s finals, grades, and all those department parties competing for my attention when what I really need to do is figure out what I should get my wife. That’s where this guide comes in. We’ve got the recommendations you need for the coffee / exercise / tech enthusiast in your life, as …

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Gear Review: UnderwaterAudio Swimbuds Sport Waterproof Headphones

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Several weeks ago, I reviewed the Underwater Audio Waterproof iPod, which I came upon over the course of several weeks of pool time thanks to a metatarsal stress fracture. The waterproof iPod may not have saved my life, but it has definitely saved my sanity, such as it is, over the course of hours of pool running, which if you haven’t had the pleasure, is great exercise, but is also as exciting as watching paint dry.

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by UnderwaterAudio (UA) and asked if I woul…

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Exploring Interactive Texts through IFComp


Every year, a number of game designers and storytellers share new works through an annual Interactive Fiction Competition, IFComp. Interactive fiction is, broadly put, any type of story that allows the user to take a role or control the narrative experience. There are several interfaces for this type of narrative: parser based IF uses verbs and nouns as a way to enter commands, and parses them into action, while hypertextual IF offers links and is often compared to Choose Your Own Adventure boo…

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Digital Distractions: ARGs and Endgame

A new book by James Frey and Nils Johnson-Shelton, Endgame: The Calling, launched earlier this month. The book chronicles twelve players representing ancient cultures who are trying to save their societies with the fate of the world at stake. If you picked it up without knowing the full story, it would seem like a disappointment as a book: the players are presented with clues, but the puzzles and mysteries are left unsolved. This is because Endgame isn’t so much a book as the launching point fo…

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Ello and Academic Social Networks

If you’ve been on Twitter or Facebook lately, you might have seen the first apparent signs of a migration, with users announcing their new account names on the currently invitation-only social network Ello. This isn’t the first time there’s been a new network apparently on the horizon (remember the short-lived exodus to App.net, the still-on-life-support Google Plus, and the decentralized concept of Diaspora pods? Konrad, at least, certainly appreciated Diaspora.), but it’s caught the attention…

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Dancing in the Rain? Underwater Audio Review

10289242945_373324ff29_z Thanks to a stress fracture in my foot, I’ve been spending a lot of time underwater lately. Swimming laps and pool running is the only kind of exercise my injured self can tolerate right now, so it’s what I’m doing. But as some of you know, pool running in particular, is about as exciting as watching paint dry. Upon hearing my complain, one of the other pool regulars suggested that I look into a waterproof iPod, and just like that, my life changed.

Before that day, I didn’t know that there was …

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Games in the Classroom Reading List

 Last week on Twitter, I was asked for some recommendation for critical readings on games and learning. There are lots of enthusiasts for games in the classroom out there (myself included, of course) and tons of great places to start if you’re interested in learning more about bringing games into education. These are only the tip of the iceberg–there’s a particularly rich conversation in game studies surrounding serious and persuasive games, which is decidedly interwoven with educational games.

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Editorial is a Powerful, Flexible iOS App for Text Editing

[This is a guest post by Jason A. Heppler, the Academic Technology Specialist in the Department of History at Stanford University and a Ph.D. candidate in History at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Jason tweets at @jaheppler.]

There are a great many text editors on iOS, the operating system for iPhone and iPad. Just one glance at Brett Terpstra’s list of markdown editors can attest to the range of offerings available on the platform.

Editorial — available in the iOS app store — stands above the rest.

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Select and Click: PopClip Makes Text Manipulation Easy on the Mac

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[This is a guest post by Jim Cracraft, a Language Teaching Specialist and technology coordinator at Vanderbilt University's English Language Center (ELC), which offers English language support to individuals who have a first language other than English. He can be reached through the center's website: http://vanderbilt.edu/elc/ --@JBJ]

As a longtime Mac user who does not own an iOS device, I have been somewhat reluctant to embrace the steady “iOS-ification” of the Mac–you know, the aesthetic and…