30 March 2011
RMIT launches into the future of gaming
A new international research laboratory at RMIT University is set to drive innovation in the games, entertainment and creative media industries across Australia, Asia and Europe.
The GEElab will drive innovation in the games, entertainment and creative media industries.
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The Games and Experimental Entertainment Laboratory (GEElab) within RMIT's School of Media and Communication will invent new visions, products and services while critically reflecting on the role of games and entertainment in our culture.
GEElab Director, Dr Steffen P Walz, said the laboratory would be an applied, creative think and design tank looking towards the immediate future in games and entertainment.
Dr Walz said gaming technologies and business models were changing the entire entertainment landscape, with games firmly embedded at the intersection of networked and increasingly social content.
"As an engine of entertainment, media and internet innovation, the GEElab will focus on next-generation entertainment visions and work closely with industry to model the gaming prototypes of the future," Dr Walz, an inaugural Vice-Chancellor's Research Fellow at RMIT, said.
"Researchers will work to 'gamify' traditionally non-linear media such as TV, film and radio, creating new design strategies, narratives and service prototypes.
"But our research will also push the boundaries of games and entertainment, investigating how they can be used to positively influence and change behaviour.
"While major institutions like the UN are already using gaming technologies to promote social change, this potential is only starting to be tapped - our work will pioneer new approaches for a more peaceful, sustainable - and playful - world."
GEElab's Melbourne headquarters will extend its reach across the region, while a satellite location in Stuttgart, Germany, will foster collaborations in Europe.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation and Vice-President, Professor Daine Alcorn, said researchers would collaborate closely with sponsors from the game and entertainment industry.
"By building on RMIT's strong industry links and our connections with international game research institutions, GEElab will further our efforts to support practical research solutions for transforming the future," Professor Alcorn said.
Professor Stephanie Hemelryk Donald, Dean of the School of Media and Communication, said the laboratory would help concentrate the School's research strengths while fostering cross-disciplinary collaboration across RMIT.
"Practice-oriented game and entertainment media research will be carried out by the way of cross-media experimentation," Professor Hemelryk Donald said.
"Our researchers will be encouraged to think and design differently and speculatively, helping RMIT become the hub of a world-class game and entertainment media research network that is both innovative and sustainable."
GEElab was officially launched this week with a symposium at RMIT's Storey Hall, The Future of Games and Entertainment.
Speakers included Gabe Zichermann, Chair of the Gamification Summit, San Francisco and Professor Dr Zhao Chen Ding, Director of New Medium Research Center, Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology, and Founder of the Milan/Beijing Digital Entertainment Jam.
The symposium also heard from an industry guest panel featuring Antony Reed (Game Developers' Association of Australia), Brad Giblin (Film Victoria), Dr Christy Dena (cross/transmedia designer), Giselle Rosman (IGDA Melbourne) and Kevin Burfitt (former executive producer at Krome game studios) as well as researchers in games and animation at RMIT.
REXplorer, the first location-based city exploration game, was designed by Dr Walz for the UNESCO world heritage city of Regenburg, Bavaria.
GEElab's distinctive approach is exemplified through gamified websites, such as playbe's playce, an award-winning site where visitors navigate the content through playing arcade games.
GEElab Director, Dr Steffen P Walz, at the launch symposium.