Tag Archives: Dr Conor Linehan

Outside the box: how to think like games designers

Members of the University of Lincoln’s Performance and Games Network project participated in one of the world’s largest writers’ festivals to help novelists think about how they might be able to create interactive gaming experiences.

Dr Conor Linehan and Dr John Shearer, from the School of Computer Science, were invited to lead a session at the Brisbane Writers Festival, held in September 2014. The event attracts hundreds of writers from all over the world.

Dr Linehan and Dr Shearer together with Dr Kate Sicchio and Richard Wetzel ran a workshop on how to use game design as a way of creating interesting interactive experiences in the real world.

The session focussed on balancing interaction with story, understanding the needs and participation of the audience/user/gamer, and the opportunities to partner with technologists, particularly writers who want to explore the possibilities of games for their creative practice.

Dr Shearer said: “There are lots of different audiences for computer games. We are interested in mixed reality, so what’s happening in both the virtual and real world – where the audience is part of the story. Our purpose at the festival was to talk to novelists about creating new interactive experiences – whether we call them games or not is another matter.”

Writers who joined the team for public talks and panels included Greg Broadmore, an illustrator, writer and conceptual designer for Weta Workshop who has designed for the likes of District 9 and King Kong; and Jeffrey Yohalem, lead writer on Assasin’s Creed: Brotherhood and Far Cry 3.

The visit to Australia was part of the Performance and Games Network project, which is led by the University of Lincoln, and aims to bring together games developers, performance practitioners and academics to explore new concepts in the design and creation of movement-based games.

The project is being sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), as part of a wider initiative to develop the creative industries and put Britain back at the forefront of creative technology. It is also supported by Arts Queensland. For more information on the project go to http://performance-games.lincoln.ac.uk/

Dr Linehan, who also presented a keynote address at the festival, said: “This project is about bringing the disciplines together. We are involved in those cutting-edge conversations about the future of videogames. The project is about exploring how we can make more meaningful and interesting games with more complex narratives.”

Over a series of workshops, performance practitioners and academics will participate directly in the game creation process through a series of workshop activities. This will drive development of new performance-led game mechanics, and playful audience interactions, which will inspire new types of experience in contemporary gaming platforms.

The Brisbane Writers Festival was the second of three inter-disciplinary workshops, with the third taking place on 27th and 28th October at the Mixed Reality Lab in Nottingham.

The Network is now exploring potential collaboration with Film School at Griffith University and Queensland University of Technology, both in Brisbane.

Project will preserve community memories of Lincoln Cathedral

A project involving researchers at the University of Lincoln and the team at Lincoln Cathedral will see members of the public using a new Smartphone application to preserve and share their memories of events associated with local historic sites.

The ‘Crowd-Curated History’ project, being led by academics from Media, Computer Science and History subject areas at the University of Lincoln, UK, will enable visitors to Lincoln Cathedral, and other local historic sites, to contribute their stories to the body of knowledge about exhibits, objects and places.

The research was inspired by conversations with tour guides, who noted that visitors on tours often tell fascinating stories about how places played significant roles in important life events; such as weddings, graduations, first kisses with future spouses, or inspiration for works of art. Often, these stories become incorporated informally in tours of those places, through guides passing the stories on. However, the stories are rarely recorded formally, and when guides leave, the stories are lost.

The project will allow tour guides, in collaboration with members of the public, to be more directly involved in recording and preserving local community history.

It will explore the use of ‘Augmented Reality’ (AR) technology for capturing and sharing these community histories. AR software allows users to see graphics, video and audio data displayed ‘on top of’ their view of the real world, when using the phone’s video camera and display screen. This software will allow visitors to attach text, speech and images as virtual tags to exhibits, items or areas of interest, where subsequent visitors can play them back.

Also included will be additional information, anecdotes and stories passed down from previous generations.

Project lead, Dr Andrew Elliott from the Lincoln School of Media, said: “Our project is designed to capture local history from those who are frequently shut out of the process. Traditionally we learn history through three methods; education, public history such as visiting historical sites and museums, and cultural pursuits such as watching films and reading novels. The problem is that these are typically led by someone who decides what that history means, and then feeds it back to you.

“We will explore a model in which visitors become the co-creators and curators of the local historical narrative.”

The research relies on technical expertise from the University’s School of Computer Science, drawing on Dr John Murray’s research with crowd sourcing platforms, Dr Conor Linehan’s expertise in interaction design and Dr Patrick Dickinson’s work on Augmented Reality technology.

Dr Dickinson said: “The idea is that visitors to a museum or historical site can hold their phone over a specific exhibit to find out additional information, but they will also be given the chance to record their own experiences of the site. This will provide a community oral history linked to the exhibits and artefacts, creating a deeper sense of ownership.”

The Cathedral’s head of fundraising, Anne Irving, added: “This project makes a valuable contribution to the Lincoln Cathedral Connected project, for which we hope to secure Heritage Lottery Funding in May this year. We are delighted to be to working with the University of Lincoln on this innovative and exciting initiative.”

Researchers will initially gather together visitors to the cathedral to discuss their experiences and the relevance of the cathedral to their own lives and history. The software will then be developed in close collaboration with the Cathedral over the summer, and will be evaluated in December 2014.

If you would like to take part in this project please contact Dr Andrew Elliott by e-mailing aelliott@lincoln.co.uk

Lincoln Cathedral
Lincoln Cathedral

First workshop for Performance and Games Network

The first of three workshops for a new research project looking at creating new videogames will take place this week.

Led by the Games Research Group at the University of Lincoln, the Performance and Games Network involves several researchers from Lincoln’s School of Computer Science, including Dr Patrick Dickinson, Dr Duncan Rowland, Dr Conor Linehan, Dr Ben Kirman, Dr John Shearer and Kathrin Gerling, working with Dr Kate Sicchio from the School of Performing Arts and Dr Grethe Mitchell from the School of Media.

The first session, which will bring together games developers, performance practitioners and academics, will be hosted by the University on 25th and 26th March.

Themed around movement and gesture based input devices, the core of the activity will be centred around a “hack” style event in which participants will work in small groups on design and/or prototyping exercises around a number of sub-themes and software.

Some of the sub-themes include mobility impaired performance; physical games in playgrounds; and audience and movement games.

Experts in the field will also be giving special talks. Guests include Ida Toft and Sabine Harrer from Copenhagen Game Collective at IT University, Copenhagen; Nick Burton from Rare Ltd; David Renton from Microsoft; and Matt Watkins from Mudlark.

The research group is also collaborating with Performance and New Media Professor Gabriella Giannachi, from the University of Exeter, and Arts Queensland, based in Brisbane.

The project is being sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) as part of a wider initiative to develop the creative industries and put Britain back at the forefront of creative technology.

There will be two more inter-disciplinary workshops in Nottingham, UK, and Brisbane, Australia, where researchers working in games studies, human computer interaction and technical aspects of game development will continue to work with developers and performance researchers/practitioners to prototype new collaborative game ideas.

Performer on keyboard