The Rickman Effect in VR

I have been in an interesting twitter conversation on the Swayze effect in Virtual Reality (see

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.

Digra 2017 Workshop: Playtesting

This workshop proposal has only been provisionally accepted for Digra2017 international games conference in Melbourne Australia, on 3 July 2017, we need to convince the organisers on how it will run.

What do you suggest? It should be more generic, more hands on? More focused or more open and free-ranging? We’d love our CAA2017 participants to attend, but we’d also be more than happy if those who can’t attend Georgia Atlanta in March can attend this start of July, in Melbourne Australia (not Melbourne Florida!)

Playtesting, Prototyping & Pitching History & Heritage Games

This half-day workshop brings together history and heritage experts, interested game designers, and designers of game prototyping tools. The approach is to playtest each idea presented and provide an avenue for feedback by audience, organisers, and other presenters. It will follow on from a game mechanics workshop run at CAA2017 in Atlanta in March but will aim to extend and polish game prototypes.


Playtesting, pitching, prototyping, archaeology, heritage, history, archaeogaming, serious games.


In March 2017 in Georgia Atlanta for the Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology ( conference, the two workshop organizers will run a session (Mechanics, Mods and Mashups: Games of the Past for the Future Designed by Archaeologists) on the initial topic, how to playtest pitch and present archaeology games. At DiGRA, with some of the initial presenters but also with new presenters, we will focus on how to pitch and prototype to and with game developers and potential clients, as well as how to perform game scenarios to reach new potential audiences and markets. The general field of research has become known as archaeogaming (Reinhard 2013), which “can include, but is in no means limited to: the physical excavation of video-game hardware, the use of archaeological methods within game worlds, the creation of video-games for or about archaeological practices and outcomes or the critical study of how archaeology is represented in video-games.(Wikipedia contributors 2016). There may be specific issues that distinguish heritage (Champion 2015) and history (Chapman 2016) games but there are also common themes, authenticity, accuracy, imagination and how interaction helps learning.

As it is for DiGRA, 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.

Relation to DiGRA themes: Game cultures; games and other cultural forms; communication in game worlds; games criticism; gaming in non-leisure settings; game studies in other domains; hybrid and non-digital games; history of games; game design.

The major objectives and expected outcomes of the workshop

Improved prototypes, enhanced critical discussion and feedback of prototypes, and potential open access book.

Justification for the workshop informed by current trends and research

Despite the increasing range of courses (Schreiber 2009), books (Fullerton 2014) and presentations (Lewis-Evans 2012) on game design prototyping, there is still a paucity of available game design prototype tools (Manker 2012) (Neil 2016, 2015) and 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).

The format and activities planned for the workshop

Presentation and playtesting of games, feedback from audience and one of the other presenters.

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: used to make films (Machinima), roleplaying videos, flowcharts, interactive fiction (like We will provide a fuller list of tools and examples to potential attendees before the workshop.

The duration (half- or full-day) of the workshop

Half-day for 6 presenters.

The anticipated number of participants

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.

How participants will be recruited and selected

Via an online website we will create, and mailing to digital archaeology and heritage and serious games groups.

Publication plans arising from the workshop activities

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.

Citations and References

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.

Ardito, Carmelo, Giuseppe Desolda, and Rosa Lanzilotti. 2013. “Playing on large displays to foster children’s interest in archaeology.” DMS.

Champion, E. 2015. Critical Gaming: Interactive History and Virtual Heritage.

Chapman, A. 2016. Digital Games as History: How Videogames Represent the Past and Offer Access to Historical Practice.

Fullerton, Tracy. 2014. Game design workshop: a playcentric approach to creating innovative games: CRC press.

Lewis-Evans, Ben. 2012. “Introduction to Game Prototyping & research.” Slideshare, Last Modified 16 December 2012, accessed 24 January.

Manker, Jon. 2012. “Designscape–A suggested game design prototyping process tool.” Eludamos. Journal for computer game culture 6 (1):85-98.

Neil, Katharine. 2015. “Game Design Tools: Can They Improve Game Design Practice?” PhD PhD, Signal and Image processing. Conservatoire national des arts et metiers, CNAM.

Neil, Katharine. 2016. How we design games now and why. Gamasutra. Accessed 24 January 2017.

Reinhard, A. 2013. “What is Archaeogaming?” archaeogaming, 24 January.

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.

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.

Wikipedia contributors. 2016. “Archaeogaming.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 24 January.

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:

PRESENCE: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments
An MIT Press Science & Technology Journal
Visit us at

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

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

Manuscripts should conform to the journal’s submission guidelines:

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

Dr. Eugene Ch’ng, Director, NVIDIA Joint-Lab on Mixed Reality, University of Nottingham (China Campus). Email:

Further information:

Curtin Cultural Makathon

Hack/slash/cut/bash/scrape/mod/mash – it’s a culture thing

Join the School of Media, Culture and Creative Arts and Curtin Library Makerspace to hack cultural datasets and heritage information.

Use government and institutional research data, gallery, library, archive and museum information as data sources. Experiment with data for a research project or proposal; create something accessible, beautiful and/or useful using craft, games, augmented or virtual reality, apps or something else: it’s up to you.

Date:    Thursday 10 November 2016 (afternoon) & Friday 11 November 2016 (9am – 5pm)

Location: Makerspace, level two, Robertson Library (building 105), Curtin University,  Kent Street, Bentley

Registration: Free via Eventbrite

For more information visit the Curtin Cultural Makathon website.

To volunteer to assist with data or to sponsor a prize please contact Dr Lise Summers or Dr Karen Miller.

Curtin Cultural Makathon is funded by a MCCA strategic grant. For more details on the project contact Professor Erik Champion.

Research Fellow Opportunity

UNESCO Research Fellow in Cultural Heritage & Visualisation, Curtin University.

Direct Link here or at the Curtin University Vacancies, Perth, Western Australia.

The role starts in 2016.

Position Title: UNESCO Research Fellow in Cultural Heritage & Visualisation
Position Number: 3553170
Tenure: Full-time, fixed term until 1 September 2020
Salary Range: $97,076 – $115,277 (ALB)
Location: Bentley
Description: Do you have experience with digital archaeology and a passion to join the School of Media, Culture and Creative Arts?

Curtin University has, in cooperation with UNESCO, established a Chair in Cultural Heritage and Visualisation. The purpose of the Chair is to promote an integrated system of research, training, information and documentation on virtual heritage sites and facilitate collaboration between high-level, internationally-recognized researchers and teaching staff of the University and other institutions in Australia, Europe and North America and in other regions of the world.

As a Research Fellow, you will work with the UNESCO Chair on a project which aims to survey and promote guidelines, tutorials and open access tools for the design, preservation and teaching of 3D models and landscapes of UNESCO heritage sites, particularly in Australia. You will be expected to contribute to grant writing and research publications.

Along with a relevant doctoral qualification, the ideal candidate would have experience in aspects of digital archaeology, architectural computing, or databases and related programming (especially in the creation and maintenance of online repositories). Evidence of quality research outputs and interpersonal skills are also essential.

Benefits and Remuneration: The salary ranges presented are those which are contained within the University’s Enterprise Agreements; as are the employee benefits which include employer superannuation contribution at the rate of the current Government Superannuation Guarantee amount up to 17 percent, study assistance, a comprehensive salary packaging and wellness programs and flexible and family friendly work practices.
Contact Person: Professor Erik Champion
Contact Email:
Valuing Diversity and Affirmative Action: Curtin University embraces diversity and inclusion and invites applications from women, men and intersex individuals who share the University’s values, ethics, international outlook, value diversity and have an informed respect for indigenous people. We are committed to making reasonable adjustments to provide a positive, barrier-free recruitment process and supportive workplace, therefore, if you have any support or access requirements, we encourage you to advise us at time of application. We will then work with you to identify the best way to assist you through the recruitment process. All personal information will be kept confidential in compliance with relevant privacy legislation.
Submit Application: To submit an application, click on the Apply Now button.
Disclaimer: Curtin reserves the right at its sole discretion to withdraw from the recruitment process, not to make an appointment, or to appoint by invitation, at anytime.
Applications Close: 5 pm, Monday 24 October 2016 (AWST)

How do you create past-ness through place?

I remember walking though Berlin once. I didn’t know the exact history of where I was but I could ‘feel’ it. That night I researched where I had been and the associated events. I was right, I had been in very ‘dark’ places which now just appeared to be civic areas.
My little blog post isn’t about Berlin though. It is about those places you visit where you feel there is ‘history’ there, a past-ness.
Totally subjective, misguided? Perhaps. But I am sure I am not the only one who occasionally encounters this sensation.
And if some or many people encounter this experience, how can we also encounter it in virtual worlds? Or is that impossible? I was wondering if I could find thoughts on this from exhibition designers, amusement park builders, neo-ancient architects.
I know E.G. Asplund of Sweden (1885-1940)  used techniques to make the buildings seem older but I’ll also have to find others.
So much to think upon.Figure1-Asplund_WoodlandCrematorim.jpg