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CMU Teams With EA To Use  Sims  Resources in Alice

CMU Teams With EA To Use Sims Resources in Alice

March 10, 2006 | By Nich Maragos

Recently, Carnegie Mellon University announced that it would work with major game publisher Electronic Arts on a new version of Alice, an educational simplified programming tool. Now, CMU has released more concrete information on the partnership, as it reveals that Alice 3.0 will feature art assets from The Sims, to augment its graphical object-oriented approach.

"Getting the chance to use the characters and animations from The Sims is like teaching at an art school and having Disney give you Mickey Mouse," said Alice Project director Professor Randy Pausch. "The Sims is EA's 'crown jewel,' and the fact that they are willing to use it for education shows a kind of long-term vision one rarely sees from large corporations."

"EA comes to this with the goal of doing well by doing good," said EA chief creative officer Bing Gordon. "Inspiring next-generation game makers is a primary objective. Alice has already proven to be a powerful tool to engage all kids – most particularly girls. Our hope is to contribute in a way that further accelerates its success. There is no better partner than Dr. Pausch and Carnegie Mellon."

More information on the project is available at the official Alice website, which explains: "The Alice programming language represents a breakthrough in object-oriented computer programming. One of its greatest strengths is making abstract concepts concrete in the eyes of first-time programmers. In Alice , objects appear as 3D characters, animals, furniture, etc. They're controlled by using a drag-and-drop editor that prevents syntax errors and allows students to write code like “move forward one meter” or “rotate left one-quarter turn”. These commands are easily understood by students and the computations are displayed on screen in real-time animations."

The new version of Alice will begin shortly and is scheduled to take from 18 to 24 months in development. The updated software will seek to become the new national standard for teaching software programming at the most basic levels in U.S. middle and high schools.

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