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Educational Games

BeadLoom Game

BeadLoom Game is an online educational puzzle game and community site designed to teach specific STEM concepts through game play, creativity, and competition. It was originally created in order to augment an existing educational tool called the Virtual Bead Loom (VBL), a work by Ron Eglash in 2006. This tool was designed to teach Cartesian coordinates, geometry, and iteration through the free-play creation of custom native American bead art. Using the tool in local outreach we found that while the tool was effective at teaching Cartesian coordinates and basic geometry, the game provided no internal motivation to explore the concept of iteration.


BOTS is a programming puzzle game designed to teach fundamental concepts of coding to novice programmers. In the game, players write code in a drag-and-drop programming language. The object of the game is to move a robot around mazes, solving puzzles and clearing obstacles. Our research focus is on how player-generated content can be used in educational games. With BOTS, we are testing several different designs for level creation tools to see which results in the highest quality levels and the best experience for the creators. Try it Out

Code Breaker

CodeBreaker is a game for 6th graders to learn how to solve pre-algebraic expressions. This object of the game is to crack the code and break open the high-tech locks by solving the pre-algebraic expressions by calculating the output with the given input and expression. CodeBreaker is underdevelopment in its early stages so does not yet have a demo but will soon be available online and on tablet.

CSI Adventure

CSI Adventure is a first person forensics game where players navigate various crime scenes, collecting evidence along the way. Once the player has collected enough evidence they can head back towards the lab where they analyze evidence using techniques from science. The goal of this game is to engage players and raise their interest in taking science and math courses. This game was originally developed for Shaw University, an HBCU under an STEM Infusion NSF grant.

Dance Tool

This is a culturally situated design tool (CSDT) developed to teach students simple programming concepts with a youth-culturally oriented environment. This project incorporates dance and music to appeal to middle school students and the younger generation. It was designed to teach iteration and conditional statements through using the same concepts found in dance and music theory. By leveraging the atmosphere of dance and music, middle school students are more likely to find learning the programming concepts more fun and exciting.

Wu's Castle

Wu's Castle is a simple game that was developed using Game Maker, starting back in 2007 and is one of our successful educational games. In Wu's Castle players must navigate a path way, following the behavior of nested loops. By completing this path, and in the order dictated by the variables of the loop, students get to see first hand and experience the behavior of nested loops. In the next level students work with the loop itself to build an army of snowmen, changing the loop variables to build an appropriate snowmen army. Now students get a chance to apply what they have learned in the previous level. Just as level design scaffolds the player's experience, Wu's Castle scaffolds the learning experience to the student.

Social Games


Astrojumper is a game aimed at improving interaction and development for children with Autism. Additionally Astrojumper is a successful exercise-based video game which requires players to exert themselves physically. Astrojumper was developed in collaboration with members of the UNC-Charlotte VisCenter and members of the Future Computing Laboratory. One of Astrojumper's most unique characteristics is that it was developed for a cave, 3 giant screens with projectors, and a head mounted tracking system as well as stereoscopy, i.e. 3D images.

Nutri Ninja

NutraNinja is an educational exercise game for the Xbox Kinect designed to help kids add in exercise to their day in a fun and interactive way. The player catches healthy food as it falls and avoids unhealthy food. In some levels, players are able to grab the food and put the good food in a basket and the bad food in a trashcan, to help teach kids some common healthy and unhealthy food choices.


Snag'em is a large group networking game that is essentially a human scavenger hunt. Snag'em is a web-based game using that allows players to create their online profile and forge connections with other users. In this social networking game, players create a list of facts about themselves, called tags, which are then randomly presented to other players as missions. Missions are presented in the format,SNAG someone who works in the Game2Learn lab, and can only be completed by interacting with a person who fit this qualification. This game is particularly effective for fostering connections between first time conference goers and undergrads. Visit: Snagemgame.com


A cooperative, 2 to 6, player game built for the iPhone platform. Players need to work together and communicate with one another in order to move a ball to the designated goal. This game makes use of iPhone's accelerometer to understand the orientation of the device, and the game-ball rolls around on the screen based on the angle of the phone. However traps are also placed randomly about so the game requires finesse as players try to work together and score as many goals as possible within a set period of time, while also avoiding the unwanted traps.

World of Workout

World of Workout - World of Workout is an iPhone application that serves as a game-based pedometer. Like a standard pedometer, World of Workout counts the user's steps to determine the distance traveled in a given time period. However, World of Workout uses Role-Playing Game (RPG) elements to provide motivation to the players through quests, level-able characters, and in-game items. These addtions go beyond the standard pedometer hardware and work with the intrinsic motivation found in highly successful, commercial games (such as World of Warcraft) to provide a motivational fitness tracker.

Cultural Education Games


Emigre is a prototype game to teach the history of immigration to the United States. The game currently follows Hind, and Lebanese immigrant at the turn of the 20th century, making here way from Mount Lebanon, through Beirut, Marseilles, and eventually Ellis Island to reach the United States. Along the way, she encounters challenges and friends, reflecting the real-life stories of similar immigrants who have made the journey. The game focuses on narrative to tell Hind's story, but weaves in resource management, exploration and random events to keep the game interesting. The game is currently in a prototype phase, and follows Hind only though the end of Beirut.

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Journey highlights the decision-making gameplay that will eventually comprise the game. As in Emigre, the player follows Hind's journey to the United States, but in this version the focus is on balancing the economic and social decisions that have historically faced immigrants. This game represents an artifact that a student might be able to create with the planned story editor.

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Being is a game developed in collaboration with the Khayrallah Program for Lebanese-American Studies, which is a rhythm game teaching traditional Lebanese dances using the Microsoft Kinect. Players dance along to the music, following the recorded performance as well as graphical cues, and are scored based on how accurately they follow the dance.

Data Analytics Tools


EDM Vis stands for Educational Data Mining Visualization and is a portion of Dr. Barnes' NSF career award project. The purpose of EDM Vis is to help educators and researchers alike be able to explore and analyze user data that is generated from software logs. A student uses either an educational game, an Intelligent Tutoring System, or even just plays a game, and that software logs the interactions that the student is performing. Afterwards we collect all the log-data and load it into EDM Vis, so that we can explore, analyze and understand how a particular student, or even a class of students may have used the tool. That way we can get a better understanding of how a software tool was used, so that we can either improve the tool, or see where students are learning, or what aspects of the tool were the most effective at achieving the desired goal.


InVis is a tool for the analysis of student-system interaction data collected from Intelligent Tutoring Systems or other educational tools. InVis 1 provided a graphical workbench that allowed users to load existing system logs, construct interaction networks, and to identify frequently used paths and other features. InVis 2, currently under construction, will provide for the programmatic construction of interaction networks, the automatic evaluation of those networks, their export in standard formats, and the calculation of value iteration for hint extraction via the Hint Factory algorithms.

Broadening Participatin in Computing

IIM-REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates)

The Intelligent and Interactive Media and Games REU Site at NC State University immerses a diverse group of undergraduates in a vibrant research community working on cutting-edge interactive and intelligent media including serious games and game technologies, interfaces, visual experiences, and natural language dialogue. The IIM REU at NC State recruits broadly, but focuses on providing opportunities for students from underrepresented groups, and from colleges and universities with limited research opportunities, reaching students not typically exposed to research.

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