Tag Archives: movement based video games

New academics join team of computer scientists

Two specialists in human-computer interaction have joined the growing team at the University of Lincoln’s School of Computer Science.

Dr John Shearer and Kathrin Gerling will be continuing their research into interactive technologies that have a purpose beyond entertainment.

Ms Gerling is particularly interested in how motion-based interfaces can be used by people with special needs and her award-winning research on wheelchair-based game input has been presented at top international venues.

By modifying a Microsoft Kinect sensor, Ms Gerling demonstrated how gamers in a wheelchair could interact with motion games. The modification that she made to the Kinect meant that the system could take into account the position and movement of the wheelchair.

Ms Gerling, who will teach on the Games and Social Computing programmes, said: “Some wheelchair-bound patients at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities could benefit from the exercise and entertainment provided by gaming. Commercial technologies don’t really think about these user groups but these games could be a lot more inclusive and benefit society as a whole.

“I would like to create games that help people get better at using wheelchairs, particularly those who have suffered disability as a result of an accident. People struggle a lot more to accept their situation and get used to their assistive device if it happens later in life. It’s nice to be able to help to improve people’s quality of life.”

She is now looking to make contact with local groups who provide support for people with disabilities.

Dr Shearer’s work focusses on engaging the public in ‘creative play’ and understanding how people interact with computers.

He has recently revived his interest in live performance through his work on the humanaquarium – a moveable performance space designed to explore the relationship between artist and audience.

The project involved two musicians working with audience members to create an audio-visual performance using a touch sensitive transparent screen. The humanaquarium was designed to be in a public place, so people could discover and explore the installation, encouraging them to share in the experience of creative play.

Dr Shearer, who will teach graphics and games programming, said: “I approach human-computer interaction from a slightly different perspective – that of how people interact with the finished product, not how it is created. I take a more experience-based approach to designing collaborative interactive performance.

“You usually test software in a nice, safe environment such as a laboratory. That alters people’s reaction as it is a very clinical place. You need to put the technology out there in a public space so the understanding and reaction from people is a lot more realistic.”

Dr Shearer is now looking to create more installations in public spaces and is involved with the School of Computer Science’s Videogames Research Network, set up to explore new concepts in the design and creation of movement-based games.

Kathrin Gerling

 

humanaquarium

 

 

Video games and performance art: the future of games development

Performance artists and researchers are joining forces to create a new type of video game, further blurring the boundaries between real and virtual worlds.

The Videogames Research Network has been set up by the Games Research Group at the University of Lincoln, UK.

It involves several researchers from Lincoln’s School of Computer Science, including Dr Patrick Dickinson, Dr Duncan Rowland, Dr Conor Linehan and Dr Ben Kirman, working with Dr Kate Sicchio from the School of Performing Arts and Dr Grethe Mitchell from the School of Media.

Collaborating with Performance and New Media Professor Gabriella Giannachi, from the University of Exeter, the aim is to bring together games developers, performance practitioners and academics to explore new concepts in the design and creation of movement-based games. Arts Queensland, based in Brisbane, is also a project partner.

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.

Dr Dickinson said: “The concept of performance has already become important in games; for example, Microsoft Kinect, Nintendo Wii and Playstation Move are based on direct physical movement rather than pushing buttons on a controller. However, it’s an area of interaction that’s not been fully explored in terms of innovative mechanics in a commercial setting. We want to take a fresh look at from the perspective of performing arts research and practice, and use them to develop new game design ideas. We will also be looking at location-based gaming – games that are situated ‘in the wild’.”

The emergence of movement-based interactions and mixed reality mobile platforms have profoundly changed the types of experiences game designers are able to create.

Project performers 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.

Dr Rowland explained: “The mechanics of video games can now be expressed using naturalistic body movements and behaviours, blurring the boundaries between the real and virtual worlds. We will address this challenge using the perspective of performing arts research and practice, enabling performance practitioners and researchers to engage directly with the game development process. It’s about how concepts of expression through performance could create new and engaging game play mechanics and how the role of audience could create playful interactions and be used to generate competitive and collaborative play.”

Professor Gabriella Giannachi added: “Performance and Audience in Movement-Based Digital Games is an exciting opportunity to collaborate with colleagues in Computer Science and the commercial sector to look into how we can use practices and theories from performance and new media to create game play mechanics in commercial games. The theoretical framework being used is documented in a set of publications, including the MIT book Performing Mixed Reality, written by computer scientist Steve Benford from the University of Nottingham and myself, which documents a series of landmark performances and installations that mix physical and virtual environments, live performance, game mechanics and interactivity.”

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