GameZombie.tv nominated for grant, introduces ‘Couch’

GameZombie.tv is expanding once again. This time, the YouTube partner and Webby Award winner is a finalist for a $200,000 grant and will introduce a new interview-based show.

This semester the GameZombie.tv team is focusing on the new production “Couch.” The interview-based web series centers around five hosts who interview game developers from around the country. Photo by Daniel Sheldon.

If GameZombie were to win the grant, lecturer and GameZombie creator Spencer Striker would completely change the way students are graded in his GameZombie course.

“Basically, there is a new trend in assessment,” Striker said. “Normally, you take a class and you get a grade based on what you have to do over the course of the semester. Whereas this new mode of badges based assessment is where you’re being assessed on the badges that you earn as you go through the class.”

The new badges grading system may sound confusing, but Striker did his best to break it down using a platform he’s familiar with: video games.

He said the new badges assessment can be compared to Xbox Live achievements. In Xbox games, such as Gears of War 3, you earn achievements by completing different tasks.

The badge system in Striker’s class will work the same way. For instance, if you’re a video editor and you complete your first editing task, you’d earn a badge. The way to obtain badges will range in difficulty, from easy to very challenging.

Striker said he has high hopes that students will fully embrace the badges system.

“After a while, we’ll have an online database and people can sort of measure against one another what badges they’ve earned,” Striker said. “Ideally, just like with Xbox achievements, it becomes a competitive thing. People will take pride in the badges they’ve won and it will motivate them to work harder to get the badges.”

Before Striker can move forward with the changes, GameZombie has to be one of 20 winners chosen from 60 finalists in the Fourth Annual Digital Media and Learning Competition.
Each winning team will receive part of the grant valued at $2 million. The amount awarded will depend on the budget each group submits. The 20 winning teams can receive anywhere between $20,000 and $200,000 to implement the badges system.

The winners will be announced at the Digital Media and Learning Conference in Berkeley, Calif., in early March.

If they win, Striker said he’d like to get the system implemented for the GameZombie class beginning as early as this summer.

For GameZombie, this is another step in a new, creative direction.

“In GameZombie, we have people doing such wild and different things that being able to implement this badges-based assessment strategy would seem to make a lot more sense,” Striker said. “It would really be a perfect fit.”

GameZombie is also introducing a new studio based interview show titled “Couch.” The show features a rotating quintet of hosts who interview game developers from across the country.

“We brought an actual couch into McGraw 127 and built the studio in there,” Striker said. “We did a campus wide search for the hosts and there were so many good applicants, it was really hard to settle on just the five. It became very selective, but in the end, the five that we have we are very happy with.”

Senior Christine Motsinger, the lead writer and producer for GameZombie, has helped guide the new show through a few difficult bumps in the road, including scheduling conflicts.

“We run into people with very busy schedules all the time,” Motsinger said. “It’s very difficult to match our schedules with really busy industry members’ schedules.”

Striker said he is “very appreciative” of all the hard work the GameZombie team has put into “Couch,” especially Motsinger.

“She’s been working her butt off producing it,” Striker said. “Christine is responsible for getting us all of these big name developers to interview. It’s an enormous pain getting those interviews, but I know I can really rely on her for anything.”

“Couch” has a tentative premiere date of Feb. 8.

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