Tuesday, October 14, 2014

15 Year Anniversary

Sequoia Studios 15 Year AnniversarySequoia Studios was founded in April 1999 and our initial location was in the Business Park at Richmond Road in Ridgecrest, California in June, 1999.

Business Park at Richmond Road
During the company's first five years, we produced Digital Animation, Serious Games, Web Enterprises, Commercial Video, and Graphic Design.

The company's first digital animation project was "Desert Phoenix" - an 8 minute film for use in a Doron motion ride.  That team included four graduate interns of the Academy of Digital Animation at Cerro Coso College in Ridgecrest.

In October, 2001, Sequoia Studios purchased the South Fork Nursery and Ryckman ranch located on the South Fork of the Wild and Scenic Kern River

Kern River Valley

Over a two year period we converted the nursery buildings into the studios where we work and live today.

Sequoia Studios, Weldon, California

Course Games™ was launched by Sequoia Studios in March, 2004 to focus our abundant energies on the production of Serious Games.  It seems like yesterday, but that was ten years ago.

From 1999-2009 we developed with Virtools as our middleware and we executed a wide range of games during that decade - from short cycle, single level learning games to a full blown MMO from scratch for corporate training and then the Survival Master STEM Epic with 11 single player levels and two multiplayer levels.  As Virtools developers, we enjoyed spectacular support from the Virtools/3DVia team:  Virgile Delporte, Martin St-Germain, Edouard Lorin, Gerald Nacache, Eric Vandermeeren, Lynne Wilson, Xavier Fouger, Cliff Medling, Christine Moses, and HervĂ© Foucher ... just to name a few.

Since 2010, we’ve been powered by Unity.  Amazing, awesome, unlimited … supercool.  The company provides amazing support, the mega community of developers is a treasure trove, and the development road map and 3D party tools is just superb.

All who have worked with me over the last 15 years know that I will probably be the last Softimage animator left on planet earth. From my first work with Softimage 3|D in 1996, I was hooked.  In 1999, instead of jumping on the Maya bandwagon, I choose to continue on with Softimage's complete rewrite - XSI.  I still use Autodesk Softimage every day on our current products.  Alas, Autodesk will no longer be continuing Softimage, so soon I will literally have no choice but to migrate to Maya or 3ds Max.

I was also an early poster child for Macromedia Breeze, and we still rely upon Adobe Connect for our virtual team live meetings.

Jim and Debbie Kiggens
To see what we've been working on recently, please visit  Coursegames.com and check out the portfolio.

To the many clients, collaborators, and friends of Sequoia Studios and Course Games - Thank You!  The first fifteen years has flown by, and we look forward to many new adventures in the years to come.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Gameplay Gender Gap Evaporating

Of the various social media tools, the role of digital games has strong implications for understanding the importance of students’ out of school learning experiences. Foremost, the traditional gender gap between girls and boys in digital game playing has largely evaporated when examining students’ use of tablets and smartphones for games.

Approximately 42 percent of girls in grades 3-5 and 37 percent of girls in grades 6-8 say that they are regularly playing games on tablets; within the same age groupings, 38 percent of boys are using tablets for digital gaming. A similar pattern exists with smartphone-based game playing with slightly more than one quarter of boys and girls in grades 3-5 using this medium for their digital play and 45 percent of middle school girls and boys.

However, participating in massively multi-player online games (MMOGs) is definitely an activity favored by boys, especially middle school boys who self-identify their technology skills as advanced. Amongst that group, 42 percent say they are regularly participating in MMOGs. Even within the group of girls with advanced tech skills, only 26 percent are MMOG players.

A key component of the MMOG play is the social interaction with other players who share a similar passion for the game topic or activities. And while girls are traditionally more interested in group or collaborative projects, a larger percentage of tech-advanced middle school boys (44 percent) than girls (37 percent) see these digital games as a way to learn how to work in teams.
Girls and boys across all grade levels see digital games as having significant learning benefits if employed within a school environment, including greater engagement in learning and making it easier to understand difficult concepts.

While approximately 25 percent of classroom teachers are integrating digital game activities into their instructional plans, some students are already tapping into online games outside of school to support their self?directed interests in academic topics. Approximately one quarter of middle school students have played an online game outside of school on their own, specifically to learn something. The percentage jumps to almost 50 percent amongst boys and girls who consider their technology skills advanced.

“I play games that develop critical thinking skills and analysis of situations. I play strategy games that are involved, complicated, and a real challenge. I learn about things that I am interested in by internet research and I have learned much about what I want to do and what areas I am interested in. I like this learning style because it teaches me about what I want to know and helps to make me more prepared for a job in a field that I am interested in".

(Boy, Grade 9, Jacksonville, Florida)

Read more:

The New Digital Learning Playbook: Understanding the Spectrum of Students’ Activities and Aspirations is the first in a two part series to document the key national findings from Speak Up 2013.

For the past eleven years, Project Tomorrow’s® annual Speak Up National Research Project has provided schools and districts nationwide and throughout the globe with new insights into how today’s students want to leverage digital tools for learning based upon the authentic, unfiltered ideas of students themselves.  With this year’s national report on the views of 325,279 K-12 students representing over 9,000 schools and 2,700 districts nationwide, we focus on getting beyond the anecdotally- driven stereotypes of student technology use to establish a more comprehensive understanding of the myriad of different ways that students are currently personalizing learning using technology.