Innovative Use of Contemporary Games Technologies

Computer game experiences have changed dramatically with developments in the associated technologies. Experiences have become much more immersive, from both the perspective of how content is delivered and also how it is interacted with. Along with that, the development of more sophisticated algorithms and complex problem solving techniques has meant that more “intelligent” systems can be created for the user to interact with. As a consequence, this opens up possibilities for not only more advanced gaming experiences, but also opportunity to create new experiences outside of traditional gaming contexts.

There are a number of domains in which traditionally computer game based technologies and techniques are proving to have significant impact. For example:

  • Virtual Reality technology is being explored as to how it can deliver stories and experiences that generate greater empathy with different communities
  • Game engines such as Unity are being used to create simulations to explore the effects of global warming on communities
  • New interface technologies are allowing players to interact with games in increasingly physical ways, through motion sensors and haptic devices

This project offers students the ability to explore the application of these and other emerging game design techniques and technologies in innovative ways through a practical application and accompanying exegesis. This research project could seek to address significant research questions relating to topics such as:

  • The creation of unique user experiences in game worlds
  • Innovations in human computer interaction
  • Immersion in narrative and environment
  • Use of game technologies and design practices in innovative contexts outside of traditional gaming

Such a project would suit students who are looking to apply their understanding of game design and experience with computer game technologies into unique contexts. Candidates should have experience with contemporary computer game development technologies relevant to the interests of the project. This could include experience with development tools such as Unity or Unreal, understanding of complex algorithmic concepts, or any other skill set that can be further explored in this project.

Example Project: Interacting With Virtual Worlds Through Personal Bio-Signals

One area of computer game development that has seen considerable advance in the past few years is the way in which the player interacts with the game world. Motion sensors in game controllers began to provide the player with new ways to control characters in a game world, while motion sensing technologies such as the Microsoft Kinect facilitated whole body movement.

With the arrival of Virtual Reality, where a player is unable to see physical objects within the real world (they may see virtual representations), it is crucial to explore new means of human computer interaction within game worlds. Players may benefit from the use of technologies that do not require them to see the location of control sticks or buttons. The emergence of low-cost sensor technologies along with microcontroller kits such as the Arduino may facilitate the creation of new interaction devices.

These technologies have the ability to move away from traditional modes of interaction, even away from body movement, and look toward other sensing technologies, such as those that read brain activity, heart rates, and other personal bio-signals. An example of such interaction can be seen in the sensiLab “Hive Mind” project.

Project Supervisors: Matt Butler

For more information, please contact Matt Butler