The Phenomenology of Virtual Places (observations)

Just submitted a draft of the above edited book of 14 proposed chapters to Routledge, to their Research in Phenomenology series.

The Phenomenology of Virtual Places is an edited book on the history, implications and usefulness of phenomenology for real places and virtual places, with chapters by philosophers, cultural geographers, architects and archaeologists.

I won’t summarize the chapters right now as the series editors have the right to ask for major subtractions, additions and revisions but I am very happy about the range of disciplines, perspectives and topics.

I do have some observations

  1. One thing very much under-represented is the unconventional, the alternative and the non-Western or not so obviously Western (and I don’t like the term “Western” but what are better options here)?
  2. Also, the connections and distinctions between phenomenology and ethnography are perhaps still to be explored, especially for game and VR evaluation.
  3. Phenomenology deserves even more criticism. It is either obvious, or difficult and subtle, available to all or best practiced by trained phenomenologists (or is that, people trained to detect or extract or train phenomenological accounts).
  4. Writing introductions to edited books can be very difficult.
  5. How HMDs will challenge our notions of embodiment and social presence in VR will be a very big thing.
  6. Locative media raise very interesting research avenues for embodiment and the concept of place.
  7. And on a workflow-related note, if the publisher doesn’t give you a complete, formal template at the start, stick to your own and demand it be used by all authors even if the final template changes. Saves a world of pain.
  8. Also, game and VR companies would save us all trouble by clearly saying which screenshots can be used in academic books or provide a pathway for a quicker permissions/rejections process. If your images are in a book, it is free PR!

For 2018 Curtin Students

Hello Curtin students, if you can do a masters course project (or you are final year undergraduate) you might also be able to build on one of these ideas:




AR/MR case studies and zombies on a dig

Why do we use augmented reality for heritage? To show what is not there, navigate and orient people, to reveal what is created intangibly by our indirect actions, or to reveal our impact on material remains..

But AR/MR/games can reveal archaeological methods along with intrinsic reasons to play games, zombies!

Zombies are slow and can be animated or rendered clumsily; they provide a protagonist on limited AI resources; they are associated with death, decay and the past. We have some experience with zombies and biofeedback or skeletons and archaeology..

  • Example: Library Skills, Archival and archaeology methods
  • Goal: The goal can be serious exploration; but with imaginative constraints and settings.
  • Game mechanic: For example: dig up zombie, match to correct time using dating methods
  • Feedback: If correctly matched to time period, zombies are animated and run amok.
  • Setting: archaeological dig, a mortuary or a library.
  • Affordance: Find artefacts that placate zombies; mortuaries require following correct rituals to rebury zombies; library archives inform player of artefacts of value to zombies-find books of power to protect against zombies.
  • Reward: Videos or machinima augmented glimpses of potential past/individual narratives.
  • Game platform: does it have to be 3D? Could it be designed in minecraft (open source or otherwise), minetest, or terrania? Augmented reality: how could it be involved? Oh I have some ideas but that would be telling and I’d have to charge..


Augmented reality development: ARKit or ARCore?

Augmented reality is both promising and cutting edge, even interaction paradigms may need to change:

There are two new major augmented reality frameworks, one for Apple iOS (see Peter Jackson’s Wingnut Studio Unreal/Apple ARKit example) and ARCore for Google phones..which should you consider, ARKit or ARCore? ( ) see …

OR side-by-side

A good feature list comparison:

The opportunities for archaeology are huge:

I said two options, but there are many, plus there is the more expensive HoloLens option (self contained totally portable mixed reality system with figure gesture recognition) and the new meta HMD, with wider field of view (90 degrees and about a third less in price).

The HoloLens at Curtin1505.jpg




The latest book that isn’t (yet)


The book that isn’t, I just drafted and sent for internal academic/publisher review a book on virtual places. So it may be modified, it may not get finally published (not sure what happens, I signed a contract) but I cannot resist listing some of the issues it tries to cover, hope they are issues for you too..

Continue reading “The latest book that isn’t (yet)”


hardware, software, simple coding

Time for a quick update on recent tech offerings