Digital Media Student Projects Showcased at Inaugural Games @ Georgia Tech

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The Inaugural Showcase of Games @ Georgia Tech took place Tuesday, August 27th. Games @ Georgia Tech is an institute-wide initiative to leverage Georgia Tech’s leadership role in video games research and education by bringing together and incubating interdisciplinary games research and academic activities across the campus. The initiative is supported through funding by the GVU Center at Georgia Tech and the Institute for People and Technology.

Many Digital Media project studios and students were able to show off their work during the showcase. It was an excellent opportunity to share their incredible projects to the public.

The Emergent Game Group, or {egg}, is run by DM faculty member Celia Pearce. This group works on creating games the promote emergent and cooperative behavior among players. Two of the games that the {egg} showcased were Ellis Island and Mermaids.

Ellis Island is a massively multiplayer online game about immigration which immerses players in the historical era during which Ellis Island was the main port of entry to the United States. Framed within historical contexts and events, the game is designed to appeal to a multigenerational audience, inspiring families to discuss their own immigrant families.

Mermaids is also an MMOG and is set in an underwater world in which players take the roles of hatchlings coming into life in the ruins of a long-extinct mermaid culture. The overarching goal and storyline is to rebuild the lost Mermaid culture and reclaim their various skills and cultural practices. Mermaids is managed by project manager Fengbo Li, who is a second year Masters student, lead designer AJ Kolenc, first year Masters student., and Erica Penk, who is a third year Masters student. Li, Kolenc, and Penk work together as a management team to hand out assignments to their team to continue to flesh out the world and narrative of Mermaids.

The Experimental Television Lab is another project studio that had work featured in the showcase. eTV is run by Janet Murray, another DM faculty member. eTV showcased Don’t Open That Door, a gesture-based interactive narrative project set in the universe of the TV show Supernatural. The project leverages expectations of the horror genre and fan knowledge of the show to elicit expressive interactions and provide satisfying dramatic responses within a seamless scenario in order to create dramatic agency for the interactor.

The Adaptive Digital Media Lab (ADAM Lab), another Digital Media project studio, which is run by Brian Magerko, also showed off two longterm projects. Living Room Play Environment creates a virtual environment in which humans can engage with an artificial intelligence agent in cooperative play through the Microsoft Kinnect. VAI: Expressive Cybernetic Movement employs contemporary movement theory to create an interactive installation that allows an interactor to gesturally interact with an AI-controlled performer.

A final project worth mentioning is Black Oak Manor, a game created by Digital Media graduate Colton Spross, second MS student Josh Faubel, first year MS student AJ Kolenc, and Computational Media undergraduate Kyle Blevins. The team created the game in VGDev, a video game development club started by MS graduate and current PhD student Chris DeLeon. Black Oak Manor is an asymmetric multiplayer game pitting up to four human investigators against one monster in a classic gothic horror mansion. Procedurally generated haunted houses make the game different every time it is played. Humans must gather weapons, plot with the other players, and vanquish evil before it kills you. The game was submitted to IndieCade 2013.