The Rickman Effect in VR

I have been in an interesting twitter conversation on the Swayze effect in Virtual Reality (see https://www.oculus.com/story-studio/blog/the-swayze-effect/)

Very thought-provoking article and it is a real problem, engagement in VR, but Swayze as ghost actually cares, the VR audience doesn’t..

So I suggest to redefine the Swayze Effect: where one wants to interact in VR but cannot, and to use the term Rickman Effect where one cannot or can only slightly interact but one has no great desire to. Alan Rickman’s character in the movie Truly Madly Deeply is a ghost who returns for his partner, but permanently feels cold and spends most of his time on the sofa aimlessly watching TV. See this youtube clip of Alan Rickman in the movie for more of a visual explanation.

LUDIC PASTS workshop at DiGRA2017 Melbourne

LUDIC PASTS: “Game Simulations of Past Cultures and Places” Workshop

ORGANIZERS:

Erik Champion, Curtin University Australia, email erik.champion@curtin.edu.au
Michael Nitsche, Georgia Institute of Technology, USA, email michael.nitsche@gatech.edu

The fusion of archaeology and gaming has become known as archaeogaming, although this term covers several approaches. For example, Reinhard (Reinhard 2015) wrote: “I had originally thought of Archaeogaming as a framework around studying how archaeology and archaeologists are portrayed by game developers, and how they are received by gamers. I was also curious to see how (or even if) I could apply real-world archaeological methods to virtual spaces, studying the material culture of the immaterial.” However, this is not simply a workshop about archaeogaming, there are other related fields interested in the ludic simulation of past places and past cultures (art history, museum studies, media studies, anthropology, sociology, urban design, geography, to name a few). There may be specific issues that distinguish, say heritage-based games (Champion 2015) from history-based games (Chapman 2016) but there are also common themes, authenticity, accuracy, imagination and how interaction helps learning.

Despite increasing interest in archaeogaming theory, there is little discussion of the field in terms of actual game design. And despite the increasing range and quality of courses (Schreiber 2009), books (Fullerton 2014) and presentations (Lewis-Evans 2012) on game design and game prototyping, there is still a paucity of available game design tools and techniques specifically for capturing and communicating the past (Manker 2012) (Neil 2016, 2015). In addition, we face a lack of venues for archaeogaming developers and related experts to present, pitch, playtest and perform their game prototypes (Ardito, Desolda, and Lanzilotti 2013, Unver and Taylor 2012, Ardito et al. 2009). Hence content experts in history and heritage-related fields often lack the experience or knowledge to test game ideas, and, conversely, game studies scholars may not be aware of discipline-related problems in history, heritage, museum studies and archaeology.

This half-day (4 hour) workshop brings together researchers and designers interested in evaluating and tackling issues in the simulation of past places, events and cultures through computer game interaction. The format will combine the presentations with a discussion centered on the question of how games can support cultural heritage. Each participant will present on a particular theme, challenge or case study.

We invite contributions from any domain, including game analysis, interaction design, digital humanities, play studies, among others. In the second part, we will identify key issues arising from the presentations and in small groups will suggest a game design scenario that could address the issue in an interesting way. We are also interested in theoretical papers that examine and suggest answers for issues in converting history, heritage and general archaeology projects into potential games.

SUBMISSION:

  1. Please email a one page proposal to champion@curtin.edu.au, with the title “DIGRA workshop-LUDIC PASTS-<your surname>”.
  2. Provide a short but descriptive title.
  3. A description of the issue that you wish to present, whether it is a theoretical theme, design challenge or case study
  4. Mention any examples that exist.
  5. Outline any potential solutions or ideas that you wish to discuss.
  6. Is there anything you would like to bring, show or demonstrate?
  7. In one short final paragraph please explain your related background, why this issue is significant to you and which audience would be interested in a potential solution, is it specific to a field or of wider interest and impact in game studies?
  8. Lastly include contact details, your name, job title and any affiliated institute or organization.

 DEADLINES:

  • 6 March 2017                      deadline for papers
  • 10 March 2017                    announce selected authors
  • 3 July 2017                            LUDIC PASTS workshop, DIGRA2017, MELBOURNE (http://digra2017.com/)

WORKSHOP GOALS:

  • Critical discussion from multiple related domains of archaeogaming.
  • Design sketches indicating possible approaches to address them.
  • We will discuss a potential shared book publication about the topic.

THE FORMAT AND ACTIVITIES PLANNED FOR THE WORKSHOP:

  • Individual presentations of key challenges.
  • Identify shared themes and concerns to form small groups developing game sketches for archeogaming and related fields.
  • Presentation of the concepts and conclusion.

WORKSHOP SCHEDULE (4 hour workshop, 240 minutes total):

  1. 160 minutes: 8 presentations, each a maximum of 20 minutes long (including questions).
  2. 60 minutes: work on game scenarios (scene) in one of 4 groups.
  3. 20 minutes: summarize and report findings to all attending.

POTENTIAL TOOLS:

Whiteboard, pen and paper. If there is a video projector or large screen, then digital game scenarios/sketches could be shown as well.

 AUDIENCE

  • Of interest to content experts in history and heritage-related fields, game studies scholars, game designers and developers.
  • Ideal size of audience: up to 32 not including the 8 speakers

PUBLICATION

We will discuss approaching 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.

 If you are interested in submitting a chapter, but cannot attend the workshop, please email the organizers a proposal similar to the 1 page workshop proposal outlined above.

CITATIONS AND REFERENCES

  1. Ardito, Carmelo, Paolo Buono, Maria Francesca Costabile, Rosa Lanzilotti, and Antonio Piccinno. 2009. “Enabling Interactive Exploration of Cultural Heritage: An Experience of Designing Systems for Mobile Devices.” Knowledge, Technology & Policy 22 (1):79-86. DOI: 10.1007/s12130-009-9079-7.
  2. Ardito, Carmelo, Giuseppe Desolda, and Rosa Lanzilotti. 2013. “Playing on large displays to foster children’s interest in archaeology.” DMS.
  3. Champion, E. 2015. Critical Gaming: Interactive History and Virtual Heritage.
  4. Chapman, A. 2016. Digital Games as History: How Videogames Represent the Past and Offer Access to Historical Practice.
  5. Fullerton, Tracy. 2014. Game design workshop: a playcentric approach to creating innovative games: CRC press.
  6. Lewis-Evans, Ben. 2012. “Introduction to Game Prototyping & research.” Slideshare, Last Modified 16 December 2012, accessed 24 January. http://www.slideshare.net/Gortag/game-prototyping-and-research.
  7. Manker, Jon. 2012. “Designscape–A suggested game design prototyping process tool.” Eludamos. Journal for computer game culture 6 (1):85-98.
  8. Neil, Katharine. 2015. “Game Design Tools: Can They Improve Game Design Practice?” PhD, Signal and Image processing. Conservatoire national des arts et metiers, CNAM.
  9. Neil, Katharine. 2016. How we design games now and why. Gamasutra. Accessed 24 January 2017.
  10. Reinhard, A., 2015. Excavating Atari: Where the Media was the Archaeology. Journal of Contemporary Archaeology, 2(1), pp.86-93.
  11. Schreiber, Ian. 2009. ““I just found this blog, what do I do?”.” Game Design Concepts – An experiment in game design and teaching, 9 September 2009. https://gamedesignconcepts.wordpress.com/2009/07/02/level-2-game-design-iteration-and-rapid-prototyping/.
  12. Unver, Ertu, and Andrew Taylor. 2012. “Virtual Stonehenge Reconstruction.” In Progress in Cultural Heritage Preservation: 4th International Conference, EuroMed 2012, Limassol, Cyprus, October 29 – November 3, 2012. Proceedings, edited by Marinos Ioannides, Dieter Fritsch, Johanna Leissner, Rob Davies, Fabio Remondino and Rossella Caffo, 449-460. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

TO CONTACT THE ORGANIZERS

Erik Champion, Curtin University Australia, email erik.champion@curtin.edu.au
Michael Nitsche, Georgia Institute of Technology, USA, email michael.nitsche@gatech.edu

 

Draft schematic program for next 3+ years

  • 2017 Involvement in World Wide Web 2017 conference, Web3D conference, DiGRA conference, possibly host a workshop on Heritage Interfaces
  • 2018 Workshop on Virtual heritage tools
  • 2019 Workshop on Virtual heritage databases and portals
  • 2020 Workshop on Virtual heritage infrastructure/scholarly ecosytems

Longterm objectives

  1. Develop 3D database for eBook and journal
  2. Write tutorials and pathways for Game Engines (include Augmented Reality)
  3. Connect 3D models to library data
  4. Improve workflows between Geotools/GIS and 3D environments
  5. Create exemplars for digital heritage projects

A 3D Pedagogical Heritage Tool Using Game Technology

Just published an Open Access article in the International Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology & Archaeometry!

Abstract:

This paper will propose and address issues that contribute to a serious challenge for virtual heritage: that there are few successful, accessible and durable examples of computer game technology and genres applied to heritage. Secondly, it will argue that the true potential of computers for heritage has not been fully lever- aged and it will provide a case study of a game engine technology not used explicitly as a game but as a serious pedagogical tool for 3D digital heritage environments.

Citation:

Champion, E. (2016: in press). A 3D PEDAGOGICAL HERITAGE TOOL USING GAME TECHNOLOGY. International Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology & Archaeometry, (special issue, selection of VAMCT2015 conference papers). International Journal MAA (ISI Arts & Humanities Citation Index, Thomson Reuters, USA; Scopus) Vol.16, No.5, pp. 63-72.URL: http://maajournal.com/Issues2016e.php DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.204967

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.

CFP: PRESENCE Call for Papers – “VR/AR in Culture and Heritage” (deadline March 2017)

A new Call for Papers:

This special issue will be highly interdisciplinary in nature, and submissions which promote collaboration between science and engineering and arts and humanities will be welcomed. The Call is attached in .pdf fom, and is also accessible from the PRESENCE home page:

http://www.mitpressjournals.org/loi/pres

PRESENCE: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments
An MIT Press Science & Technology Journal
Visit us at mitpressjournals.org/loi/pres

==========
Scope and Topics
Virtual heritage is a testament to the impact of digital transformation in the arts and humanities, and a driving force for technological innovation generated through the arts and humanities’ increasing appetite for digital technology. In this special issue, we aim to examine present trends in culture and heritage within the context of virtual reality and augmented reality. The scope of the special issue includes the following topics:

• New approaches in culture and heritage applications and interpretations
• Responsive, adaptive and evolvable behaviors in immersive virtual environments that capture culture and tangible and intangible heritage
• Multiuser virtual environments
• Mixed reality and the experience of real and virtual environments
• Presence and phenomenology in culture and heritage applications
• High definition imaging, stereoscopic displays, interactive cinema
• Intelligent and High Performance Computing for Virtual Cultural Heritage
• Ubiquitous computing and new forms of culture and heritage representations via VR and AR
• VR and AR in Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums
• Interactive Exhibits in Public Spaces
• Digital Transformations of Museums with Immersive & Interactive Time Machines
• VR and AR as a narrative
• Education in culture and heritage via VR and AR
• Tools, techniques, frameworks and methodologies
• Virtual environments case studies

Schedule
• Manuscript submission deadline: March 1, 2017
• Final revisions: September 1, 2017
• Planned publication: PRESENCE 27-1 (Early 2018)

Submissions
Manuscripts should conform to the journal’s submission guidelines:
http://www.mitpressjournals.org/page/sub/pres

Authors, please note that audio and video files can be hosted as supplementary onlinematerial accompanying published articles. For more information about multimedia file formats and submission guidelines, please contact presence@mit.edu.

Contact
Dr. Eugene Ch’ng, Director, NVIDIA Joint-Lab on Mixed Reality, University of Nottingham (China Campus). Email: eugene.chng@nottingham.edu.cn

Further information: http://www.mitpressjournals.org/loi/pres
==========

What are the Big (not only Grand) Challenges in Virtual Heritage?

Seems to me we leave this sort of topic to keynote speakers who almost accidentally argue for a field/issue/method/tool that they themselves (research centre, department) and associates are currently working on.
Human nature. But if people who are currently not working on defined projects/tools/applications/sites met and discussed the issues what would they say? I’ll stick my neck out and say

1 Impossible to find, access and use/re-use the models, tools, paradata.
2 No consistant, standard framework.
3 No best practices, prizes*, competitions (but plenty of surveys and state of the art papers-only they read to me more as literature reviews).
4 Interaction is not saved ( not just user data but the game mechanics and interactive tools and techniques).

How would this lead to challenges?

  • Are there tools or portals that can scrape the web and auto-retrieve not just 3D models but 3D heritage models?
  • Are the aims, objectives, paradata clearly available and could we create metadata wizards that coax this into the project?
  • What incentives are needed to convince content creators to link to, record or even deposit their models and related assets?
  • Can grant agencies (with their increased focus on data management) convince applications to deposit the models and provide ranked, hierarchical, freemium levels of access and reuse?
  • Can community tools and web portals (Mediawiki, Sketchfab, Archivematica) be sharpened as kit sets for communities?

*Best of heritage? I had high hopes but I met an organiser who told me this is not primarily what Best of heritage does. It isn’t a ranking/rating/critical appraisal system but a communication of what is happening in the (museum) field.