Diamond Tree

UT Austin Digital Media Institute: Educational Game Platform

Peter Elam, Co-founder of Diamond Tree

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Background

This is a project I directed as the Program Manager of the Digital Media Institute at the University of Texas at Austin. I submitted a proposal to the very selective Longhorn Innovation Fund for Technology (LIFT) program, and was awarded the grant.

The project was to develop an educational game platform that allowed students to learn complex concepts through simulation games.

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Design

I was the project lead, but was supported by my very talented team of designers and developers at the Digital Media Institute (DMI). I sketched out the initial design concepts, and these were further developed by designers on staff at DMI.

Throughout the development process there were many iterations of both the user interface and the game design.

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Development

The project was developed on the Unity 3D game platform so that it could both be played over the web and easily ported to mobile devices.

Just like the design, the development was an iterative process, and we improved upon the functionality and architecture of the system as the project progressed.

Evolution

The project was initially designed as single game that allowed the player to make a series of complex decision to manage the environment and economy of the future earth (game trailer).

However, as the project progressed it became clear that instead of a single game, the system could serve as a simulation game platform. So the single game evolved into a platform that allows non-technical educators to easily develop simulation games based on the subject matter that they teach.

Although I moved on from the University of Texas to start Diamond Tree, the platform is still under active development, and I am very proud of the project and the entire DMI team.