Mixed messages on the Metaverse

Today I attended an event on how industry see and use the Metaverse. The chief scientist’s talk on the Metaverse as an interconnected virtual environment where social and economic elements mirror reality (is that the WEF definition?) ..across devices isn’t quite my definition.

So many questionable issues here, so many lost opportunities, where do I start?!

Time to write something!

For example, if everything just mirrors reality, where is the innovation? Is the reality the realistic simulation or the simulation as an illusion convincing people, that they are “in” reality? And does the mirror affect or impact on reality?

To the pixelated trenches! #metaverse #definitionbattle #XR

But above all, where is culture?

Here is a better definition by the South Australia Microsoft CTO but what exactly does “collective” mean?

“…metaverse is a collective virtual shared space, created by the convergence of virtually enhanced physical and digital reality. It is persistent, providing enhanced immersive experiences, as well as device independent” from Gartner..

https://www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2022-02-07-gartner-predicts-25-percent-of-people-will-spend-at-least-one-hour-per-day-in-the-metaverse-by-2026

Gartner defines a metaverse as a collective virtual shared space, created by the convergence of virtually enhanced physical and digital reality. It is persistent, providing enhanced immersive experiences, as well as device independent and accessible through any type of device, from tablets to head-mounted displays. 

Gartner, February 7, 2022.

Update: At the lunch break I sat down with him and we agreed the definition of collective should be people, content, and technology.

My UniSA Colleague Professor Mark Billinghurst quoted from the Metaverse Roadmap and focused on the less common quadrants.

Screen Tourism and Affective Landscapes

If anyone would like a review/inspection copy of the edited book “Screen Tourism and Affective Landscapes: The Real, the Virtual, and the Cinematic” (out 30.12.2022, cover to come) there is a link on the webpage.

  1. Introduction
  2. Screen Tourism: Marketing the Moods and Myths of Magic Places
  3. Windshield Tourism Goes Viral: On YouTube Scenic Drive Videos of U.S. National Parks
  4. “Forever Bali”: Surf Tourism and Morning of the Earth (1972)
  5. Locating Fellini: Affect, Cinecittà, and the Cinematic Pilgrimage
  6. Walking in Cary Grant’s footsteps: the Looking for Archie walking tour
  7. Vancouver Unmoored: Hollywood North as a Site of Spectres
  8. Always The Desert – Creating Affective Landscapes Through Visual Storytelling In Breaking Bad
  9. Nordic Noir and miserable landscape tourism
  10. Serial Killer Cinema and Dark Tourism: The Affective Contours of Genre and Place
  11. Down the Rabbit Hole: Disneyland Gangs, Affective Spaces, and Covid-19
  12. Immersive Worlds and Sites of Participatory Culture: The Evolution of Screen Tourism and Theme Parks
  13. Hobbiton 2.0, 20 years on: Authenticity and Immersive Themed Space
  14. Swords, Sandals, and Selfies: Videogame-induced Tourism

Escape Room Archaeology

Next project: edited collected chapters (free online): DIY archaeology (history, architectural/art history and heritage) escape rooms children/students can create at home or in class (written and illustrated like cookbook recipes). Now, just how to write up the proposal & find the right designers, writers, & experts! 

Playing with the Past: Into the Future (HCI Series), 2nd ed.

Playing with the Past: Into the Future (Human–Computer Interaction Series), 2nd ed.
from Springer-Nature:

“Dear Prof. Erik Champion, 

Your book “Playing with the Past: Into the Future (Human–Computer Interaction Series), 2nd ed.” is currently planned to be published by 30.10.2022.” 

Assassin’s Creed in the Classroom: History’s Playground or a Stab in the Dark?

I am very close to submitting to a publisher the edited book (with Dr Juan Hiriart, University of Salford, UK) “Assassin’s Creed in the Classroom: History’s Playground or a Stab in the Dark?” with 18 writers from history, archaeology, architecture, art history, classics, game design, and education. Thanks to Maxime Durand and Ubisoft for helping getting the party started.

invited talk

International conference on “World Heritage and Urban-Rural Sustainable Development: Resilience and Innovation” from 15 to 16 November 2022, organised by the World Heritage Institute of Training and Research for the Asia and the Pacific Region under the auspices of UNESCO (WHITRAP) and the College of Architecture and Urban Planning (CAUP, Tongji University, Shanghai China). 

Invited to present virtually on Nov 16, in the session Topic 4: New Visions/New Technologies in Heritage Conservation..

Related activities are:

  • the WHITRAP Shanghai World Heritage Dialogues, organised from 11 June to 16 November 2022;
  • the International Conference World Heritage and Urban-Rural Sustainable Development: Resilience and Innovation, organised from 15 to 16 November 2022;
  • the Public Exhibition World Heritage Cities: Past, Present and Future, organised from 16 to 30 November 2022.

Trundling through writing

I submitted the second edition of Playing With The Past: Into The Future to Springer, now working on submitting two edited books in next week or so, then far too many book chapters, then hopefully a long break. I promise, most of it I was asked to do. And then I want to take a long break from academic writing, maybe some design projects!

  1. Champion, E., Lee, C., Stadler, J. and Peaslee, R. (Ed). (2022: in progress). Screen Tourism and Affective Landscapes. Routledge. Contracted.
  2. Champion, E., & Hiriart, J. (Eds.). (2022: in progress). Assassin’s Creed in the Classroom: History’s Playground or a Stab in the Dark? De Gruyter: Video games and the Humanities series.
  3. Champion, E. Playing with The Past: Into the Future. 2nd edition. (2022: in progress). Springer. Contracted.

Book Chapters in press (13)

  1. Champion, E., Nurmikko-Fuller, T., & Grant, K. (2023: invited. In press). Chapter 12 Alchemy and Archives, Swords, Spells, and Castles: Medieval-modding Skyrim. In R. Houghton (Ed.), Games for Teaching, Impact, and Research UK: De Gruyter. Invited. Chapter sent.
  2. Champion, E., & Hiriart, J. (2022: invited. In press). Workshopping Board Games for Space Place and Culture. In M. Lasansky & C. Randl (Eds.), Playing Place: Board Games, Architecture, Space, and Heritage. Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA: MIT Press. Chapter sent.
  3. Champion, E. (2023: invited). Not Quite Virtual: Techné between Text and World. In B. Mauer & A. Salter (Eds.), Reimagining the Humanities. Anderson, South Carolina, USA: Parlor Press. Chapter sent.
  4. Champion, E. (2023: invited). Reflective Experiences with Immersive Heritage: A Theoretical Design-Based Framework. In A. Benardou & A. M. Droumpouki (Eds.), Difficult Pasts and Immersive Experiences. London, UK: Routledge. Chapter sent.
  5. Champion, E. M. (2023: invited). Virtual Heritage: How Could It Be Ethical?? In A. Pantazatos, T. Ireland, J. Schofield, & R. Zhang (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Heritage Ethics: Routledge. Workshop planned at Cambridge Heritage Research Centre, UK, 2022. Chapter sent.
  6. Champion, E. (2023). Swords Sandals and Selfies: Videogame Tourism. In E. Champion, C. Lee, J. Stadler, & R. Peaslee. (Ed). (2023). Screen Tourism and Affective Landscapes. Routledge.
  7. Champion, E. (2023: invited). Caught between a Rock and a Ludic Place: Geography for Non-Geographers via Games. Invited. Games and Geography. Germany, Springer-Nature. Abstract accepted. May have missed deadline for full paper.
  8. Champion, E. (2023: Pending). Architect’s Creed: Robustness, Immersivity, and Delight. In E. Champion & J. Hiriart (Eds.), Assassin’s Creed in the Classroom: History’s Playground or a Stab in the Dark? De Gruyter: Video games and the Humanities series.
  9. Champion, E. (2023: invited). Title to be advised. Mobile Heritage: Practices, Interventions, Politics. Edited by Ana-Maria Herman, Key Issues in Cultural Heritage (KICH), Routledge. Abstract due 31st July 2022.
  10. Champion, E., & Emery, S. (2023: invited). Gamification of Cultural Heritage as a resource for the GLAM sector. In J. Nichols & B. Mehra (Eds.), Data Curation and Information Systems Design from Australasia: Implications for Cataloguing of Indigenous Knowledge in Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums. Emerald Publishing. Chapter due 8 August 2022.
  11. Champion, E. (2023: invited). DH-XR: Extended Reality’s Relevance to the Digital Humanities. Routledge
  12. Encyclopedia of Technology and the Humanities. Routledge (Contracted). Edited by Chan Sin-wai & Wing Lok Yeung. Routledge. Chapter due 15 September 2022.
  13. Champion, E. (2023: invited). Title to be advised. Gaming and Gamers in Times of Pandemic. Edited by Piotr Siuda, Jakub Majewski & Krzysztof Chmielewski, MIT Press. Chapter due 31 October 2022.

Talk in Iceland, June 16.

I wish! (Well, hopefully next year)… but anyway, I will give a 20-25 minute talk by Zoom, on Thursday June 16. The PHIVE conference (PROMOTING HERITAGE IN VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENTS) is kicked off by the President of Iceland, a noted Professor of History, and a few months older than me (so I still have time to become a head of state).

Title

Into the Heritage-Verse

Abstract

Proponents of virtual reality, extended reality, and the “Metaverse’ suggest the digital future of multiple entertainment and education worlds is imminent. And the field of virtual heritage (virtual reality and related technologies) is arguably over three decades old already.

If this is true, and given that we are saturated by phone-media, apps, and games, why is it so hard to find example of virtual heritage? What is stopping the uptake of these new technologies? And how can we use these new, imminent, and hyped devices and platforms for the benefit of digital heritage, or are there conceptual challenges still to be resolved?

Virtual travel interview

It looks like I am being (ZOOM) interviewed this week on the future of virtual travel by RMITV show The Cutting Room “Our show explores issues and topics in the world of screen media, and this week’s episode is themed around Virtual Reality.”

If all goes to plan I think the episode will be on C31 (Melbourne community TV) and then straight to RMITV’s YouTube channel next Monday (6 June).

Swords Sandals and Selfies

An abstract from a draft chapter. I have written the chapter but hope to revise it further. It is for a book entitled Screen Tourism and Affective Landscapes, out, I hope, early 2023.

The prospect and potential of videogame-induced tourism has only recently been discussed in academic publications. I will examine three possible reasons why, I will provide evidence to the contrary, and suggest new developments that may accelerate the impact of videogames on tourism (and the related experiencing of affective landscapes). My main case study will be Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey. This 2019 game draws the player into the exploration of idyllic and war-torn historic and mythic landscapes of Athens and Sparta, via questing and simulated violence. It also features a non-violent “Discovery” mode, photographical functions, and a Story Creator mode allowing quests (and in-game photos) to be designed and shared with other players. Beyond violent gameplay, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey allows the exploration of idyllic historic landscapes and heritage sites. Given the company employs both high-quality designers and professional historians (and archaeologists), we can employ such sandbox games as both a pre-visitation visualisation tool and as a hybrid fictional and yet also factual learning environment.

Virtual Heritage: How Could It Be Ethical?

Abstract

Draft of latest book chapter (before revisions) by the editors. Now onto the next book chapter!

Ranging from modified adaption of commercial games (game mods) to multi-million-dollar 3D visualizations and web-based projects, virtual heritage projects have showcased cutting-edge technology and provided insight into understanding past cultures. Virtual heritage has the potential to safeguard unique cultural treasures from the ravages of war and neglect, with interaction techniques to communicate knowledge across time and linguistic divides.

Despite these advantages, at its core, Virtual Heritage (virtual reality and related immersive and interactive digital technology applied to cultural heritage) implies something not real, but an illusion simulated or artificially projected. It typically relies on highly specialized capture, rending and hosting technology created by highly trained individuals, running on high-powered equipment manufactured at great environmental cost. And the original material it simulates can be sacred, stolen, or contested. There are consequences and ethical implications for this illusory but expensive medium of cultural heritage (and, typically, “cultural heritage” means other peoples’ cultures), whether complicitly generated or not. While the research field of virtual heritage is several decades old, its specific ethical issues have not been extensively addressed (Hepworth and Church, 2018, de Broglie, 2018, Frischer, 2019), and specific challenges are not often covered by, say, digital archaeological ethics discussion (Dennis, 2021, Dennis, 2020).

To provide an overview of these ethical issues, four issues will be discussed in this chapter. Who determines the content, cultural ownership and overall decision-making; how both the depiction of personal or sacred assets and traces of people no longer with us, obsessions with photorealism rather than the complex topic of authenticity, and the dangerous allure of gamification; what needs to be preserved and related environmental issues; where and when the audience should be involved, motivated, and their feedback fed back into current and future projects.

Keywords: Cultural heritage, virtual heritage, virtual reality, serious games.

PhD scholarship available

A Framework for Developing Educational Games in and with Australian Museums

This PhD project focuses on reviewing challenges and successes in Australian museums (MOD, National Maritime Museum and the South Australian Museum) with the aim to develop a participatory open-ended game framework to encourage greater engagement, wider audiences, and increased visitation, as well as reuse of content, data, and related media.

The successful candidate will focus on either the evaluation and framework based on interviews, surveys and workshops with museum experts, or on developing overall game mechanics examples (game prototypes) showcasing best practice game techniques for showcasing Australian museum content, promoting reuse.

This project is funded for reasonable research expenses. Additionally, a living allowance scholarship of $28,854 per annum is available to Australian and New Zealand citizens, and permanent residents of Australia, including permanent humanitarian visa holders. A fee-offset or waiver for the standard term of the program is also included. For full terms and benefits of the scholarship please refer to our scholarship information.

URL here.

The slippery-sloped artistry of Transmedia

An author for a volume I have been recently editing asked us to agree on a definition of transmedia used by the author of another chapter. I can understand the concern, it is used in a variety of ways that may differ across fields.

But when you compare definitions across the two or so decades gaps and disjunctures appear. Consider this example:

Transmedia is commonly defined as a narrative or project that combines multiple media forms. A transmedia project may combine many different types of prints or prose text, graphics and animation, or work across multiple platforms, such as different types of social media platforms, interactive websites or advertising outlets.

What Does Transmedia Mean?

Then I went back to this 2007 post defining transmedia by Henry Jenkins, thinking, oh, this is more elastic, powerful, but also amorphous, than recent definitions. Henry Jenkins, in a 2007 post recounted how he described it in class notes, gives ten criteria, but are these ten all necessary and sufficient?(https://techopedia.com/definition/30425/transmedia…)..

Did Jenkins deliberately conflate authorial intention and success in creating transmedia with how effectively and creatively it is/was taken up by an engaged, contributing audience?

Take (the American tv series) LOST (his example). My understanding is the script changed and the series extended because they did not fully plan for its success or continuation (at least as a tv series). Be that as it may…

  1. Did LOST really, creatively, deliberately leverage a message or narrative across media or did audience extend it of their own accord? In other words, does transmedia allow for both an auteur-centric definition (it is directed by an individual or singular team) or must transmedia be extended by an audience (more than normal media)?
  2. Must the reception of transmedia be all carefully planned and the narrative orchestrated across various media, with content for each media form specifically designed to leverage its strengths?
  3. If a franchise is developed for one medium then new media are deployed, must there be a pre-mediated plan?
  4. Must the narrative require the audience to experience each of the separate media forms?
  5. Given transmedia franchises can be shared between companies, individuals, and even between and over generations of writers, artists, and designers, does transmedia have to have a central home or most authentic/authoritative origin?

I like these notes on transmedia, I just think they could be strengthened and separated, or the term should be broken up in relation to whether it is open and interactive, premeditated and authorial, or multiversal (designed to have overlapping but not always harmonious multiverse narrative “worlds”).

Old ideas

On cleaning up old email I found these cursory ideas in 2013 when I was invited to Curtin.

Here are notes I jotted down as part of a sketch for a Centre of Excellence idea but here I am only listing the (then) resources

WE HAD (in 2013)…

  • Specialties in Film Screen Journalism Architecture Media Internet Studies Library and Information Studies..
  • Access to GLAM (*Galleries Libraries Archives Museums•an onsite Gallery)
  • A Library that wants to develop a research field
  • New Visualisation Facilities and iVEC partnership (all 4 WA universities)
  • A new Visualisation Degree/Connective Media area /Curtin Data Visualisation Facility (one display installed already.)

MAIN MISSION

  • Integrating Humanities research with new tools and new ways of communicating and sharing with audiences
  • Creating tools and case studies to show humanities scholars and organiSations how to make convincing visual arguments
  • Developing, maintaining analysing and advising how these tools methods and projects are best used/taught/deployed

AREA

  • Developing tools and methods to help scholars make visual arguments
  • Train curators and visualisation specialists in contextual technical and humanistic skills and competencies
  • Evaluate whether tools and content best suits specialist and generalist audiences
  • Provide single entry point for interested industry and NGOs to contract projects and employ staff

OPPORTUNITIES

  • New intellectual precinct Curtin town
  • New science museum, expansion of Perth and entertainment industry
  • Urban visualisation and idea prototyping, digital humanities
  • New forms of curation and collaborative technologies
  • New low-cost means of design prototyping and production, community hosting, online and on demand printing and creation, the internet of things, multimedia and creative archives..

LOOKING BACK

Now 9-10 years later, after a UNESCO chair (first for the University), involvement in the Computation Institute, grants, talks, workshops, involvement in other research centres and institutes, and a fairly long list of publications, completed PhD theses, grants, and some key projects (camera tracking in 3D, photogrammetry, mixed and augmented reality, Linked Open Data, GIS apps and systems, serious games and virtual environments), I look back at this and think about what happened in the end , my part, what didn’t eventuate, and why. The ideas aren’t useful any more (at least in their original form) but the reasons why some of them were not developed is worth pondering a bit further, maybe in a new post.

PhD scholarship at UniSA on games in Australian museums

A Framework for Developing Educational Games in and with Australian Museums

The University of South Australia in Adelaide has graciously offered us (myself, and Drs Susannah Emery and Julie Nichols) a UniSA scholarship, (Enterprise Research Scholarship ERS), alongside a fee-waiver, to examine the above research area, with the help of 3 museum partners. I am sorry, I think it has to be an Australian or NZ citizen or permanent resident, but I will confirm it.

Summary:

… work on developing an overview of the challenges and successes of developing educational games in and with Australian museums … examine how 3D online models could be more effectively used with museum-based learning activities and the student could review the educational limitations, successes and failures of past 3D digitalisation exercises in terms of how effectively they can be incorporated with museum learning objectives as well as possibly outline a future framework linking 3D heritage model repositories and museum education strategies.

More details to come.

Immersive Challenges for Museums & Heritage Sites

I will give a talk tonight via Zoom to UniSA IVE colleagues on the above topic.

Time: 4PM

2022 IVE Research Seminar Series

Please join our next IVE Seminar.

Presenter:


Prof. Erik Champion

Enterprise Fellow, UniSA Creative


Title:

Immersive Challenges for Museums and Heritage Sites


Abstract:

This talk will cover recent and persistent challenges facing museums, practical issues with the implementation of virtual reality, games and gamification, and some case studies exploring potential solutions, particularly in the area of cultural heritage.

Bio:

Erik Champion is currently Enterprise Fellow (Architecture, Creative) at the University of South Australia; Emeritus Professor at Curtin University; Honorary Research Professor at ANU; and Honorary Research Fellow at UWA. He was recently a chief investigator on 4 Australian Research Council grants, Curtin University’s first UNESCO Chair (of Cultural Visualisation and Heritage) and Visualisation theme leader and Steering Committee member of the Curtin Institute for Computation. 

https://people.unisa.edu.au/Erik.Champion

Date & Time: 5 April 2022 (Tuesday) 4pm (Adelaide ACST — Australian Central Standard Time UMT +9 hours 30 minutes)

Where: Zoom

One Aspect of Place is Missing?

I enjoyed reading through the recent “Geographies of Place in Digital Art History” written by people I know (and one I have worked with and written papers with). But as an intellectual exercise, do you see anything missing from the concept of place as stated in the article?

Geographies of Place in Digital Art History

Sarah Middle, Ryan Horne, David A. McMeekin, Chiara Zuanni, and Alex Butterworth International Journal of Humanities and Arts Computing 2022 16:1, 94-109

theory of change – a better way for museums to think about impact

Paul Bowers posted this “Theory of Change” for museums, I greatly like it, I do wonder if museum people agree with it or are even doing it already.

Museums today describe their impact in overreaching isolationist terms. This exhibition will create science literacy. This gallery will create artistic excellence…

The basic logic is really simple; working backwards to define the conditions in which the goal you seek will simply ‘be’

Define your end goal — what is the eventual outcome you’re trying to achieve?

Write down the pre-requisites for this occurring

Write down the pre-requisites for these occurring

Continue until your organisation / project appears.

https://paulrbowers.medium.com/theory-of-change-a-better-way-for-museums-to-think-about-impact-becf04dac12a