GATE: Game Research for Training and Entertainment
It is always difficult to predict the future. But it is clear that the possibilities of gaming will rapidly increase over the coming years. Equipment is getting more powerful all the time. New graphics and physics cards allow for increased visual realism but this must be accompanied by increased behavioral realism of game characters. New interface technology will enable a different, more natural form of communication and control. Gesture recognition, tactile feedback, and possibly even direct brain connections will become possible. Games will also not only happen on a screen but can influence other actuators in the house. And high-speed broadband connections and wireless access leads to new forms of collaboration and to new types of games, like large online game communities and mobile gaming, each with its own research challenges.These developments will have a huge impact on both entertainment games and on training and educational use of gaming and simulation. It is already a reality that people take part of their driving lessons in simulators. Games are used in training safety procedures and crisis management. Similar developments will happen in decision and policy making. In education gaming will offer ample possibilities for personalized learning, long distance learning, and lifelong learning. To advance the state-of-the-art in gaming, to facilitate knowledge transfer to companies, and to show the potential of gaming in public sectors, the government has funded the GATE project with a total budget of 19 million Euros. The project runs from 2007 till 2012 and involved eight partners: Utrecht University, Utrecht School of the Arts, TNO, Twente University, Delft University of Technology, Waag Society, NederlandBreedbandLand and Thales.
The ambition of the GATE project is to develop an international competitive knowledge base with respect to game technology, and to train the talent required to enhance the productivity and competitive edge of small and medium-sized creative industrial companies.
The project will substantially improve the competitiveness of companies producing (tools for) games and simulations by providing direct access to new technology and by technology transfer projects. This will lead to larger companies, encourage the founding of new companies, and attract companies from other countries to the Netherlands.
The project will make people aware of the possibilities of gaming in public sectors such as education, health, and safety by performing pilots in these areas. As a result gaming and simulation will become more commonly applied in these sectors, leading to quality improvements and cost reductions.
The first element of the GATE project is the research program. The goal of the research is to substantially advance the state-of-the-art in gaming, simulation and virtual reality to creating highly effective entertainment products and experience learning systems. In the research program the complementary and multidisciplinary knowledge of the partners is combined. The goal is to increase the international research position by a unique combination of fundamental research and application development and to attract excellence by creating a stimulating environment and a concentration of talent, best students and best professors. There are four research themes:
The theme Modeling the Virtual World focuses on techniques for semi-automatically creating convincing and engaging virtual worlds that can be used in games. The rationale behind this research is that the creation of the worlds has become one of the most costly parts of the construction of games. Also, to create adaptive games it is important that the game world can be created and changed on the fly.
The theme Virtual Characters deals with the creation of realistic behavior for the virtual characters that inhabit the virtual worlds and games. These can be avatar representations of the users or computer-controlled characters. Such realistic behavior is important to increase the immersion of players in the game world.
The third theme deals with Interacting with the World. Here we study novel interaction techniques that will improve the way users can steer their games. For example, we study gesture recognition and brain-machine interfaces.
In the fourth theme Learning with Simulated Worlds we study how games and virtual worlds can best be used for training and education. This should improve the quality and effectiveness of such serious games in the future.
Knowledge Transfer Projects
GATE is not only about academic research into games and game-technology. GATE is also geared towards developing this knowledge further into practical solutions. The mechanism to make that happen is through Knowledge Transfer Projects in which small and medium size enterprises collaborate with research partners. Companies provide knowledge questions and intended applications. The research partners provide new technology. The knowledge transfer projects combine these into practical solutions that make the research results fit-for-use for industry.
Within GATE a number of innovative pilot projects will be carried out. The goal of these pilots is to create awareness of the potential of gaming and simulation in the sectors education, healthcare, and safety. In developing these prototypes we have established collaboration between various disciplines: game designers, creative artists, educational specialists, ICT experts, and domain experts.
For more information about the GATE project, please contact the scientific director Prof.Dr. Remco Veltkamp, Remco.Veltkamp@cs.uu.nl