Did you notice? I did it several weeks ago, when the colors and some other things changed (more on that later). Don't worry, my feelings are only a little bit hurt. But, seriously, I did it for a reason.
My view of the intersection of new technologies and workplace learning and productivity has expanded. In the first place, the shifting sands of new and emerging technology have blurred the boundaries between games, virtual worlds, social networking, 3D simulations, and other immersive technologies. As a result, I'm socializing an ür-term to embrace it all: immersive environments.
Secondly, organizations that adopt immersive environments do so to facilitate work and enhance productivity. This is equally the focus of learning design professionals, not to mention business managers and decision-makers.
And so, "serious thoughts about immersive environments for learning and productivity".
As a teenager, I visited Williamsburg. It was quite an interesting experience to see the town and townspeople trying to convey an impression of life in 17th-century colonial America. And I did learn quite a bit - mostly about how I would never want to wear those clothes in heat and humidity, and about how small and tall rooms were back then, and about perpetual grime and grubbiness. But, it was a weird and off-putting culture clash as all of us 20th-c. visitors went to gawk at the faux-17th-c. residents as though they were a zoo exhibit. For me, not the immersive experience the designers imagined.
In the mid-80's, Oregon Trail was the quintessential example of a computer-based learning game. It was wholly different from Williamsburg, in that it had a compelling storyline, the activities were fun - and instructive, and I learned more about the journey those gutsy pioneers took than I ever did in grade school social studies. I was hooked - on the power of the medium to:
create an engaging environment that I could be a part of
tell a story that captured my imagination and curiosity
engage me in an experiential way that would otherwise have been impossible to achieve
show me how my decisions would play out
make me want to learn more
I sure wasn't alone in my admiration of Oregon Trail. It has gotten a lot of wistful ink and pixels in the last two decades.
Now, there is good news for Oregon Trail fans. Gameloft is preparing an iPhone version of the game. No release date, no price, no additional information, except some screenshots.
Keep watching the iTunes appstore for updates. And, of course, I'll pass on any more news I get.