Presentation

Planned European trip 2017

Last trip of the year planned (still to be confirmed, approved, of course)..

 

 

 

Advertisements
archaeology, Conference, Digital Humanities, Presentation, virtual heritage

Conference paper: Inside Out: Avatars, Agents, Cultural Agents

Paper accepted for Researching Digital Cultural Heritage – International Conference, Manchester UK, Dates: 30/11-1/12/2017 twitter #digheritage17

Keywords:Digitally enabled collaborative, participatory and reflexive approaches in cultural heritage design, research and practice.

If conveying cultural significance is a central aim of virtual heritage projects, can they convey cultural significance effectively without an understanding of the contextual role of cultural knowledge? In this talk I will argue this is very difficult, but even populating virtual environments with others (human-guided or computer-scripted), there are still vital, missing ingredients.

In virtual heritage projects with enough computational power and sophistication to feature intelligent agents, they are primarily used as guides (Bogdanovych et al. 2009). They lead players to important landmarks, or perhaps act as historical guides (revealing past events, conveying situationally appropriate behaviour). Intelligent agents are usually designed for limited forms of conversation and typically help convey social presence rather than cultural presence. For an enhanced “sense of inhabited place”, engaging narrative- related elements, or embodiment, a cultural agent recognizes, adds to, or transmits physically embedded and embodied aspects of culture. They could provide a sense of cultural presence, becoming Aware-Of-Not-Quite-Being-‘There’.

Cultural agents would not be mere conversational agents if they were able to:

  1. Automatically select correct cultural behaviours given specific events or situations.
  2. Recognize in/correct cultural behaviours given specific events, locations, or situations.
  3. Transmit cultural knowledge.
  4. Modify, create, or command artefacts that become cultural knowledge.

To fulfil the above criteria, cultural agents would be culturally constrained. Not just socially constrained; their actions and beliefs would be dependent on role, space, and time. They could understand and point out right from wrong in terms of culturally specific behaviour and understand the history and possibly also the future trajectory of specific cultural movements. In this talk I will discuss three scenarios for cultural agents, their relationship to roles and rituals, and two more missing ingredients. The result? A more situated, reflexive appreciation of cultural significance via virtual heritage.

3D and game editors, archaeology, Conference, digital heritage, heritage, Presentation, virtual heritage

CAA 2017 Mechanics, Mods and Mashups session

Our session of presentations, projects, play-testing, game pitches for CAA2017:
March 14-16, 2017: ATLANTA

Mechanics, Mods and Mashups: Games of the Past for the Future Designed by Archaeologists

“I Don’t Want to Set the World on Fire”: Ruin Interactions and Attitudes in Fallout-Emily Jean Booker

Video games are a popular form of media, with over 155 million gamers in America today, and they thus serve as a unique way to analyze how pop-culture can influence public perceptions of the past. The player’s ability to move through, interact with, and have an effect on virtual environments creates intimate, complicated relationships with virtual materials, including artifacts and ruins, that can have real-world effects. Although aspects of archaeology are often included in video games, the discipline is not always portrayed as scholars would like. However, as problematic as games like Tomb Raider or Uncharted might be, they are quickly becoming a key way in which the public learns about and interacts with archaeology.

This paper will explore the ways the popular 2015 game Fallout 4 shapes ruined landscapes (‘ruinscapes’) for specific thematic purposes that ultimately influence player interactions with ruins in both the virtual and real worlds. To do this, I will create a walkthrough exploring the ruinscapes of Fallout 4 and consider how the game’s strong themes of anti-capitalism and relative morality can create biases and preconceptions of Mid-Century Modern ruins.

Games like Fallout 4 are extremely popular and consumed by millions of gamers worldwide. Video game analysis is an essential element to understanding current public perceptions of ruins and, more generally, archaeology. By considering the representation of virtual ruinscapes and how their thematic underpinnings can affect popular attitudes towards ruins, archaeologists can become better equipped to engage with public audiences.

Sailing with the Gods: Argonauts and Samothracians in an Ancient Sea-Robert C Bryant, Sandra Blakely, Joanna Mundy, Cole Furrh

The goal of the Samothracian sailing simulation is to recreate the ancient social networks of Greece through the lens of the maritime infrastructure as a video game. How did maritime trade affect the societies of the Mediterranean and their interaction? By reconstructing the physical landscape of the ancient Mediterranean in the Unity3D game engine, we can study the behavioral patterns and decision making of contemporary human beings as players when placed under the same stressors and variables as their ancient Greek mariner counterparts. With this data we hope to bolster the existing social network analysis of the area with quantitative human behavior. This data is gleaned by tracking all player interactions of sailing and trading through the simulated environment to search for patterns that help explain ancient analogs. The game also serves as a ludic and pedagogical experience for the players through attached myth and literature that act as the narrative for the world. Currently, we have a working and very functional prototype already tested in a classroom of 60+ students. By the time of this conference, the prototype will be finished with plans for expansion.

Reference:
https://scholarblogs.emory.edu/samothraciannetworks/the-game/play-the-game/

How Waterloo was Won-Stuart Eve

The Battle of Waterloo (1815) as well as being the turning point in a huge European struggle has been the subject of a number of computer games. These range from the innovative turn-based mechanics of Mirrorsoft’s Amiga game – Waterloo (1989) to the sophisticated and highly graphically appealing Napoleon: Total War with a vast number in between. However, none of these games allow for a detailed examination of the individual parts of the highly complex battle, mostly focusing on the wider strategy of the day.

The charity Waterloo Uncovered is currently excavating at the battlefield in Belgium and uncovering new information every year about the minute details of the day of the battle. Our current focus is the struggle for Hougoumont Farm and we are discovering how the micro-topography, architectural structures and even the types of plants in the gardens would have affected the soldiers and how they moved and fought on the day. We would like to see how a gaming engine and game mechanics could be used to investigate this – charting the fall of musketballs (and comparing them with the recovered remains), simulating the visual and physical impact of hedges and ditches, and even modelling the build-up of dead bodies on the field and how they would have affected movement, morale and the will to continue the fight.

Blur the lines – Games as tools for archaeological research-Lennart Linde

In the past decade, Agent Based Models (ABM’s) have become a functional part of the archaeologist’s toolbox. Many ABM’s include elements of game theory in their ruleset, which is the foundation of a working model. The line between a purely scientific ABM and a video game from the simulation genre is already thin, but why not blur the line further and blend an ABM into a full-blown game experience?
The use of games as tools of research is the next logical step. Instead of formalizing our theories in a ruleset for an ABM, we could design a game based on them. Where the player makes choices through gameplay and be monitored exploring various strategies!
This talk will investigate the potential of the given approach, based on a fictive open-world game, set in the European Bronze Age. The players will have to manage resources and tackle the spatial organization of a village. They are also bound to make decisions on the social organization of their village. There is no direct interaction with the inhabitants of the game world as they act as agents. The collected datasets will be analyzed with emphasis on the correlation between certain forms of social organization and the rise of warfare, as well as on connections between wealth distribution and tensions within the tribe.
Archaeogaming does not need to be limited to the research of games anymore; we can try to take a step forward and do research through games.

Arpilleras and Ayni: Roleplaying Reciprocity-Natalie Underberg-Goode and Peter Smith

The project is based on the work of Peruvian arpillera (appliqué) artist Flora Zárate, whose three dimensional “story cloths” narrate cultural stories both of people from her native Peru and of immigrants in the United States. Although not created in the ancient past, these works illustrate very old and persistent themes found in Quechua-language (the language of the Incas) mythology and folktales such as the concept of ayni, or reciprocity, expressed in such activities as cooperative labor. In addition to identifying key themes in Andean mythology, we consider how elements of mythic thinking and Andean worldview that figure in Quechua folktales—such as the presence of religious syncretism, the relation between time and space in Andean thought, and the conception of gender complementarity and dependence—could be integrated into the design of the interactive experience based on exploration of an arpillera reimagined as board game prototype. Throughout the game, the main character will have to make choices that relate to Andean culture, including understanding and demonstrating the importance of reciprocity or, “today for me, tomorrow for you.” We will present a paper prototype using materials including paper, blocks, dice, and index cards, identifying the presence of these recurring Andean cultural themes in the arpilleras, addressing how the design is intended to present characters whose roles relate to corresponding knowledge and tasks, and how objects are linked to culturally-relevant potential uses. Participants will be invited to play through the prototype, giving feedback and making design suggestions.

Designing and Using Game Environments as Historical Learning Contexts-Juan Francisco Hiriart

The virtual presentation of landscapes in games, thanks to the exponential increase of representational power of digital technologies, has been progressively challenging the capacity of gaming audiences to distinguish virtual environments from real-world referents. This spectacular growth, however, has not been mirrored by a comparable progress in the simulation of the natural and social processes from real environments. Although highly realistic, game landscapes in most commercial titles still remain as inert theatrical scenery, devoid of any capacity to reflect the effects of human life agency and the inextricable nature of social and natural processes.
In this presentation, I would like to demonstrate a historical game prototype that I have been developing as part of a PhD research, with the purpose of investigating possible design solutions to the problem of creating game environments capable of transmitting the inherent complexity of historical landscapes. The game reconstructs Early Medieval Britain, focusing on the micro-histories of everyday life instead of more stereotypical forms of gameplay centred on the simulation of violent conflicts. Currently in its final version, the game has been iteratively produced in cycles of development and play-testing sessions with the participation of archaeologists, historians, and educators who have given valuable feedback about its design, direction, and potential use.

Digital Humanities, Presentation

Supporting digital scholarship in the humanities

31 August, I was part of a panel in Curtin’s research week to discuss digital scholarship. And from my notes I was asked to email here are some of my suggestions that might be of some interest and not just for library makerspaces..

In my brief chat I said when I was the project leader of Dighumlab for 4 universities (and now 2 libraries) in Denmark, I asked myself the following questions (abridged):

  • What is a research infrastructure?
  • What do we mean by a laboratory – is there only one?
  • What kind of databases do we have?
  • What about funding?
  • Who is the audience?
  • What should we deliver and when?
  • What are the goals for success after the 5 year period (our contract period) and how do we measure it?

I suggested that genuine infrastructures invest and support not just equipment but also people, skills, training, exchanges, enthusiasm.
Most DH centres are resource based or centre-based, few are distributed. But the most important thing is to work out who you want to work for and with and what resources and profile you hope to focus around.
For our discussion in research week I was not sure if people are talking about a cluster, centre, lab, and for learning, scholarship or support. Perhaps all three but I suggest to focus on one or two but ensure knowledge is carried on past individuals and some of the research aims to evaluate maintain and improve the quality or quantity of that information (it should not just be a pipeline, the pipeline itself should also be an area of research).
I did say some form of meeting space is important (like Curtin Library Makerspace!), archives are important (our Library has that but perhaps it needs to start looking at new more public focussed ones as well), and there are related degrees. So you could tackle any one of those three areas I mentioned, learning, scholarship and support.

For example with this UNESCO chair I have 3 years of workshop funding and 4 years of visiting fellowship funding. Rather than invite people who arrive talk and leave I think it best for me to build it around the makings a 3D archive, invite experts* in the first year to help us survey and build best practice, invite people to help us build it, invite experts in year 3 to help us evaluate it with local communities etc.. AND build a summer workshop or senior class around the visiting experts and workshop funding.

*With DIGHUMAB in 2012 I organised a 1 day conference, invited 4 experts from Nordic/UK countries and 2 infrastructure leaders (CLARIN and DARIAH), in areas we wanted to learn more about or connect with, to come and talk.
What did we get out of that? DARIAH helped DIGHUMLAB academics find partners for an EU project application and asked to host a meeting in Copenhagen, CLARIAH received ERIC EU status with a strong Danish leadership component, Sweden (HUMLAB) invited two of us to their conference; Oslo invited me for a talk and so did Aalto U (Finland), and Lorna Hughes helped bring NeDiMAH people to Copenhagen in 2013 for a conference on cultural heritage tools and archives, and a book (Cultural Heritage Digital Tools and Infrastructures, Routlege 2017 or 2018, google books?) will come out of that. All from a one day conference with just 6 invited and 4 local speakers! Oh, breakout time helps.

See also

 

 

 

 

Presentation

Public talk, 12 October, Valetta Malta

Image By Frank Vincentz – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31999344

Title: Talk on Game Design, Virtual Heritage and Digital History by Professor Erik Champion

Time: 18:00-19:00, Wednesday, 12 October.

Location: Studio 8, National Centre of Creativity, Fondazzjoni Kreattività – Spazju Kreattiv, St James Cavalier, Valletta, VLT 1060, Malta

Abstract:
Professor Erik Champion of Curtin University, Australia, will discuss fundamental challenges and promises of computer game design and interactive media when designed to help the communication and preservation of digital heritage, focusing particularly on examples of built heritage. He will examine serious games designed for history and heritage, definitions and challenges of ‘virtual heritage’ and possible technical and imaginative solutions.

archaeology, infrastructure, Presentation, respositories

Presentations, GCH2016, Genoa

Time: 15:45 – 17:15 (session) , Wednesday 5 October.

Location: Area della Ricerca di Genova, Via De Marini 6, 16149 Genova (Genoa), Italy.

Title: The Missing Scholarship Behind Virtual Heritage Infrastructure

This theoretical position paper outlines four key issues blocking the development of effective 3D models that would be suitable for the aims and objectives of virtual heritage infrastructures. It suggests that a real-time game environment which composes levels at runtime from streaming multimédia components would offer advantages in terms of editing, customisation and personalisation. The paper concludes with three recommendations for virtual heritage infrastructures.

Time: 11:00 – 12:00 (short paper, session) , Thursday 6 October.

Location: Area della Ricerca di Genova, Via De Marini 6, 16149 Genova (Genoa), Italy.

Title: 3D in-world Telepresence With Camera-Tracked Gestural Interaction

While many education institutes use Skype, Google Chat or other commercial video-conferencing applications, these applications are not suitable for presenting architectural or urban design or archaeological information, as they don’t integrate the presenter with interactive 3D media. Nor do they allow spatial or component-based interaction controlled by the presenter in a natural and intuitive manner, without needing to sit or stoop over a mouse or keyboard. A third feature that would be very useful is to mirror the presenter’s gestures and actions so that the presenter does not have to try to face both audience and screen.

To meet these demands we developed a prototype camera-tracking application using a Kinect camera sensor and multi-camera Unity windows for teleconferencing that required the presentation of interactive 3D content along with the speaker (or an avatar that mirrored the gestures of the speaker). Cheaply available commercial software and hardware but coupled with a large display screen (in this case an 8 meter wide curved screen) allows participants to have their gestures, movements and group behavior fed into the virtual environment either directly or indirectly. Allowing speakers to present 3D virtual worlds remotely located audiences while appearing to be inside virtual worlds has immediate practical uses for teaching and long-distance collaboration.

Conference URL: http://gch2016.ge.imati.cnr.it/index.php/technical-program

Announcements, archaeology, digital heritage, heritage, Presentation, Symposium, virtual heritage, visualisation

CAA 2017 Other session “Mechanics, Mods and Mashups” ACCEPTED!

My proposal to the 2017 Computer Applications and Quantitive Methods in Archaeology (CAA) international conference, March 14th and 16th, 2017 at Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA, USA) has been accepted.The below will be updated when I speak to the co-organisers but we are thinking of a morning presentation and (possible) game pitch, and an aftertoon work on key ideas..

CAA2017 Atlanta: Other Session

Mechanics, Mods and Mashups: Games of the Past for the Future Designed by Archaeologists
Organizers: Erik Champion, Michael Nitsche, Natalie Underberg-Goode

Are you a fan of Assassin’s Creed but upset over how it could have made history exciting without having to employ and manipulate central historical characters? Love Lara Croft: Tomb Raider if only the tomb-raiding (stealing) mechanics could be replaced by something more meaningful? Wish that the Total War Series allowed you to employ agent modeling to test competing archaeological theories of migration, colonization and invasion or just to improve its historical accuracy? Dream you could use the language, graphic vision and immersion of Far Cry Primal in the classroom to explain (through engaging interaction) the Mesolithic rather than primarily use it as a backstage to fight semi- believable creatures? Then this workshop is for you. Correction. This workshop is BY you.

Archaeologists and people of a historical persuasion:

  • Either take a game with an inspiring concept, technique or mechanic..
  • OR extrapolate a current or past game to a game or simulation of the future
  • OR they share their vision of a game or simulation that reveals, expresses or augments their own research.At the workshop the writers will either:
  • Bring their own designs, video cut-scenes, and illustrations and media depicting what this new vision would look like
  • OR have some form of play-testing demonstration, cards, or illustrations or physical play-throughs (preferably involving the CAA workshop audience) revealing how this new level, mod or gameplay episode COULD be experienced or how it could be revealed.The writers will:
    Ask the audience to play through or role-play the actions that would be in the creative piece.

    The audience will:
    Give the writers feedback ideas and nominate the best presentation in terms of fun and engagement, imaginative ideas, and archaeological relevance (in promoting archaeology, teaching archaeology or extending archaeological scholarship).

    Potential tools:
    Gameplay cards, game prototyping tools, scenes or videos from a 3D editor or game editor (Unity, Unreal, Blender), board games as prototypes, playing cards, physical artifacts that are role-played by the presenter, illustrations, slideshows, game editors (like the SIMS: https://www.thesims.com/en_GB) used to make films (Machinima), roleplaying videos, flowcharts, interactive fiction (like https://twinery.org/). We will provide a fuller list of tools and examples to potential attendees before the workshop.

    Equipment:
    PC with sound and display, some floor space to move around in for physical re-enactments. Tables or some form of desk to provide written or graphical feedback.

    Length:
    Participants: 26 maximum (ideally) where 6 present. We require half an hour a presenter so three hours for 6 presenters, 6 hours a whole day if we want to go to 12 presenters.
    Ideally the non-presenting audience is not too large, preferably up to 20.

    Outcome:
    We will approach a creative publisher (Liquid Books, University of Michigan Press or other) to provide an online or printable output of the demonstrations and the audience feedback.
    We would also like to invite presenters – if they can make it – to a workshop at DIGRA2017 Melbourne Australia to test out their demonstrations and play-throughs to game academics.

    References
    Champion, E. (2012) Game Mods: Design, Theory and Criticism. Entertainment Technology Centre Press.