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Games and Virtual Worlds for Serious Applications (VS-GAMES), 2011 Third International Conference on

Date 4-6 May 2011

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  • [Front cover]

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  • [Title page i]

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  • [Title page iii]

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  • [Copyright notice]

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  • Table of contents

    Page(s): v - ix
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  • Preface

    Page(s): x - xi
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  • Committees

    Page(s): xii - xiv
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  • Reviewers

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  • Sponsors

    Page(s): xvii
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  • Metropolis: Multisensory Simulation of a Populated City

    Page(s): 1 - 7
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (6288 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    Creating realistic populated virtual environments is a challenge that many graphics and VR researchers are currently tackling. There are many interesting problems to solve, such as rendering and animating large and varied crowds efficiently and realistically in believable surroundings, and creating plausible behaviours and sounds for the individual inhabitants and their environment. This is the challenge that we are addressing in the Metropolis project, where our aim is to create the sights and sounds of a convincing crowd of humans and traffic in a complex cityscape. Exploring the perception of virtual humans and crowds is also integral to our approach, through psychophysical experiments with human participants. View full abstract»

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  • A New Hybrid Approach to the Animation of Complex Character Interactions in Games

    Page(s): 8 - 15
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    In this paper we discuss a set of well established problems in computer animation and computer games that are difficult to solve using currently available methods. Our approach is based on the idea of hybrid modelling that allows us to combine animated polygonal meshes with function representation (FRep) models. Such a hybrid model consists of an animated polygonal mesh and an approximation of this mesh by an FRep stand-in. The two models can be combined using one of the proposed methods. The motions of both dynamic objects are synchronised through the underlying skeleton used for the definition of the animation. Our method allows us to model interactions between the animated characters and viscoelastic substances with arbitrary time-dependent topology, as well as to model partial or full metamorphosis of animated characters with specified Level of Detail (LOD). Our hybrid modelling technique can be integrated into existing pipelines in an artist-friendly manner. A straightforward implementation of our approach on the GPU makes it attractive to use in real-time applications. View full abstract»

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  • Towards the Development of a 3D Serious Game for Training in Power Network Maintenance

    Page(s): 16 - 23
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    Some activities related to the maintenance of power distribution networks can be performed without interrupting the flow of energy on the line. This kind of activity, referred to as "live line maintenance", imposes risks which have to be taken into account, especially those which may affect human lives. Thus, the training process is crucial to the safety of electricians and to the success of maintenance operations. In order to address these issues, a virtual environment can be used as a mechanism for improving knowledge acquisition and retention, enhancing the quality of the learning process during training. This paper discusses the development of a serious game for training of live line maintenance activities. Aspects of the developed software, its characteristics and functional model, in addition to the interactive devices adopted and technical strategies are presented. The goal is to describe an unprecedented platform which uses devices such as the Nintendo Wii Remote and 3D TV sets to provide a novel model of interaction and navigation. These models are based on some principles of pervasive computing. View full abstract»

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  • PlayLOGO 3D: A 3D Interactive Video Game for Early Programming Education: Let LOGO Be a Game

    Page(s): 24 - 31
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    'PlayLOGO 3D' is a LOGO-like environment to implement Game Based Learning activities especially designed for children aged 6-13 years who learn the very basic instances related to programming. Its educational effectiveness is expected to be shown after school students get involved in formal programming lessons using LOGO or other languages. It is emphasized that students need an introductory level for programming based on their intuitive knowledge before getting involved with algorithmic concepts using formal programming tools. This paper outlines an approach for: A) Using a subset of LOGO language in a 3D environment, B) Propose an alternative method for pre-programming education and C) Design a Serious Games application to address all of the above. Usability evaluation results are discussed in later sections. While the enduser evaluation is still in progress, the Expert Review Method was used for initial evaluation based on a set of heuristics for game usability, game play and educational effectiveness. View full abstract»

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  • Elemental: An Insight into the Development and Evaluation of a Secondary Education Chemistry Game Using XNA

    Page(s): 32 - 39
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (1658 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    This article discusses the creation of an educational game intended for UK GCSE-level content, called Elemental. Elemental, developed using Microsoft's XNA studio and deployed both on the PC and Xbox 360 platforms, addresses the periodic table of elements, a subject with extensions in chemistry, physics and engineering. Through the development process of the game but also the eventual pilot user study with 15 subjects (using a pre and post test method to measure learning using the medium and self-report questions), examples are given on how an educator can, without expert knowledge, utilize modern programming tools to create and test custom-made content for delivering part of a secondary education curriculum. View full abstract»

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  • Virtual and Augmented Reality: Improved User Experience through a Service Oriented Infrastructure

    Page(s): 40 - 46
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    Service Oriented Infrastructures allow for on-demand provision of Information and Communication Technologies assets. What virtual environments require from such infrastructures refers to the offered Quality of Service (QoS) levels, which have direct impact on the end users experience. In this paper, we describe a new approach to improve the user experience, with regard to QoS, of collaborative Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) working sessions. One of the main issues that have to be addressed in such a use case is the requirement for keeping QoS with regards to real-time of the shared multimedia content of the AR. Therefore we adapted our application to a new and innovative real-time enabled framework for service-based infrastructures, implemented within the framework of the IRMOS EU project. This framework provides the necessary guarantees for successful collaborative VR and AR sessions as derived from the desired user experience. We also demonstrate the operation of the implemented framework and evaluate its effectiveness to the collaborative Virtual and Augmented Reality scenario. View full abstract»

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  • A Classification of Scripting Systems for Entertainment and Serious Computer Games

    Page(s): 47 - 54
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (1121 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    The technology base for modern computer games is usually provided by a game engine. Many game engines have built-in dedicated scripting languages that allow the development of complete games that are built using those engines, as well as extensive modification of existing games through scripting alone. While some of these game engines implement proprietary languages, others use existing scripting systems that have been modified according to the game engine's requirements. Scripting languages generally provide a very high level of abstraction method for syntactically controlling the behaviour of their host applications and different types of scripting system allow different types of modification of their underlying host application. In this paper we propose a simple classification for scripting systems used in computer games for entertainment and serious purposes. View full abstract»

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  • Approximate Visibility Grids for Interactive Indirect Illumination

    Page(s): 55 - 62
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (15529 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    The computation of indirect illumination is fundamental to simulate lighting within a virtual scene correctly and is critical when creating interactive applications, such as games for serious applications. The computation of such illumination is typically prohibitive for interactive or real-time performance if the visibility aspect of the indirect illumination is to be maintained. This paper presents a global illumination system which uses a structure termed the Approximate Visibility Grid (AVG) which enables interactive frame rates for multiple bounce indirect illumination for fully dynamic scenes on the GPU. The AVG is constructed each frame by making efficient use of the rasterisation pipeline. The AVG is then used to compute the visibility aspects of the light transport. We show how the AVG is used to traverse virtual point light sources in the context of instant radiosity, and demonstrate how our novel method enables interactive rendering of virtual scenes that require indirect illumination. View full abstract»

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  • Using a Criteria-Based User Model for Facilitating Flow in Serious Games

    Page(s): 63 - 69
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    Flow is a highly desirable state that is characterised by absorption in an activity, and it is one of the principal reasons people play games. Three key conditions are necessary for a person to experience flow: clear goals, immediate feedback, and a balance between challenges and a person's perception of his/her skills. Most games adequately meet the clear goal and feedback conditions, but the balancing of challenges and skills is often lacking. For a player to maintain flow throughout a game, he must be continually learning. However, in a serious game, unlike a game for entertainment, in-game goals cannot simply be any goals that balance the challenges and skills - they must be chosen so that the particular learning outcomes of the game will be achieved. We propose an approach whose aim is to enable the player to experience flow most of the time, as he progresses towards the required standard of the learning outcomes of the game. This approach employs a user model that represents a player's perception of his/her skills and an index of the learning outcomes required for in-game goals to predict to some degree whether the player will go into flow. Moreover, it uses criteria based ssessment and shows how this is well suited to modifying the challenge of in-game goals, in order to make it more likely that the challenges and skills are balanced so that a player experiences flow. We describe a serious game currently being developed for learning software development, which incorporates this approach. View full abstract»

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  • Ageing Well and Learning through Online Immersive Participation Using a Multi-user Web 3D Environment

    Page(s): 70 - 75
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    The Second Life (SL) multi-user virtual environment offers researcher opportunities to experiment with its rich communication, virtual collaboration, and 3-D content creation integrated tools. The SL synthetic world has already revealed great potential for heritage, education and learning but much of the existing applications made have focused on engagement with digital native audiences. The contribution of this paper identifies the importance of developing and designing tailored virtual places which older members of society can utilize easily and safely within this context, with a focused application of addressing social isolation, enabling well being and lifelong learning. In this paper we also discuss our experiences of introducing SL to an elderly community and imparting to them the skills required to interact within the 3D environment and the resources that we developed to support their induction and training. This paper explores the impact of this approach and signposts next steps in experimenting with the use of SL as a domesticated digital technology tool that offers potential to support Ageing Well in our Information Society. We believe that we are the first researchers to conduct a small scaled pilot study of this kind with two elder members of society both aged over 75. View full abstract»

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  • Building Social Commmunities around Alternate Reality Games

    Page(s): 76 - 83
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    In recent years, alternate reality games have entered the mainstream as a new form of entertainment. The Living Stories project is the first alternate reality game in the UK, which addresses environmental issues. Living Stories combines social networking sites such as Face book and Twitter with Second Life, to create a platform, which allows social networking to feed into content creation within a virtual world, and facilitate and encourage real-world behaviour through virtual rewards. The project is funded by Interactive Digital Media IDM, as part of an ongoing collaboration with the Eden Project, Coventry University Serious Games Institute and PlayGen Ltd. The aim of this project is twofold: firstly to engage new visitors and to extend the Eden experience beyond the actual visits, and secondly to increase user participation amongst groups that do not traditionally visit Eden Project. In this paper we describe the unique technical and pedagogic challenges addressed when creating this platform and consider how the state-of-the-art in alternate reality gaming can be applied in an educational ('serious') context. View full abstract»

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  • Using Virtual Environments to Tell the Story: "The Battle of Thermopylae"

    Page(s): 84 - 91
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    Virtual environments have been valued as being extremely motivating for learners and therefore are employed as an innovative, more accessible framework to deliver education and entertainment to the public. Recent advances in creating videogame applications imbedded with effective learning principles, along with the evolution of human computer interfaces performed within the entertainment industry, suggests that a combination of successful practices in these areas could potentially transform virtual environments to a significant educational tool that could facilitate the learning process. This paper describes a virtual reality exhibit implemented for the museum of Thermopylae located at the site of the original battle, near the city of Lamia in Greece. We utilized storytelling techniques and principles of modern videogames to disseminate historical knowledge about the battle and the associated legends. After describing the hardware and software components comprising this installation we elaborate over the educational techniques designed to reinforce the strength of virtual reality technology as a mean of designing educational experiences in the context of historical events. View full abstract»

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  • The Use of Live Virtual Guides in Educational Applications

    Page(s): 92 - 97
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    Serious games are becoming increasingly popular in education, science, medicine, religion, engineering, and some other fields. Additionally, serious heritage games, including virtual reconstructions and museums, provide a good environment for a synthesis of serious games and cultural heritage. This may be used for education in the form of edutainment, comprising various techniques, such as storytelling, visual expression of information, interactivity and entertainment. This paper demonstrates a new concept of using live virtual guides in a Flash environment for cultural heritage virtual reconstruction. A pilot user study compares another approach using the X3D environment, highlighting the advantages and disadvantages of our concept. The introduced results can be easily adopted for serious games development. View full abstract»

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  • Evaluation of Usefulness of the Elinor Console for Home-Based Stroke Rehabilitation

    Page(s): 98 - 103
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    Virtual rehabilitation has emerged as a promising tool over the last decade. However the field is diverse and there is no unified understanding of the concept and in which situations it should be used. The most common usage context is a rehabilitation clinic but there is an urge to offer motivating virtual rehabilitation to be used in the homes of patients. The main drive for using such systems is to enhance motivation by introducing an interesting challenge and an element of fun. This paper describes and evaluates the feasibility of Elinor, a game-based system for stroke rehabilitation in the home. The Elinor prototype has been positively evaluated with respect to its usability, user acceptance and motivational factors. This paper reports on the initial findings concerning the rehabilitation effect of Elinor. No persons suffered any serious adverse effects from training. We had positive results with respect to the assessment of motor and process skills (AMPS). Even though these improvements were not significant they are still positive enough to motivate future work. The self-reported improvements in the motor activity logs (MAL) also motivate future work. View full abstract»

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  • Assessment of ADHD through a Computer Game: An Experiment with a Sample of Students

    Page(s): 104 - 111
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    In this paper we argue that through a computer game named Supermarket Game it is possible to perform a test that can aid in the diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the predictive capability of the game to detect ADHD cases through the analysis of its data by data mining techniques. METHOD: Eighty children, classified by teachers according to the DSM-IV symptoms, participated in a playing session with the Supermarket Game. The game captured a features set from each player: Gender, age, points (from eighteen stages) and time (from eighteen stages). Two data mining algorithms were used to classify the data produced by the game according to the disorder: naive Bayes and decision tree. Four hypotheses about the best data configuration were proposed: Numerical attributes with four classes, categorical attributes with four classes, categorical attributes with two classes and attribute selection. The performance metrics used to evaluate the prediction models were sensitivity and specificity. RESULTS: The data analysis with numerical attributes doesn't produce good results. With categorical attributes, an improvement in the decision tree performance was observed. With two classes (i.e. without considering ADHD subtypes) both algorithms achieve good results. The best results were obtained by the attribute selection technique, although this approach should be considered with caution. CONCLUSION: The Supermarket Game seems to be sensitive in the task of identifying children classified as ADHD positive by the teacher, although its capability to classify the disorder subtypes is weak. In future works, other samples of individuals (including from other age groups), and other data mining algorithms should be considered in order to validate this approach. View full abstract»

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  • An Exploratory Study of Problem-Based Learning in Virtual Worlds

    Page(s): 112 - 119
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    Research on the educational value of Virtual Worlds (VWs) has revealed their potential as future learning platforms. However, further studies are needed in order to assess their effectiveness in constructivist and collaborative learning paradigms. Problem-based learning (PBL) is an educational approach, in which students learn by addressing problems and reflecting on their experiences. The paper investigates the suitability of VWs as a platform for hosting PBL activities and explores their strengths and difficulties in terms of collaboration support and learning effectiveness. We have set up an educational VW, developed a number of in-world supporting tools, and ran a complete PBL activity in the area of User Interface Design. We performed a thorough summative evaluation of the learning activity using questionnaires, in-world observation, dialogue analysis, tutors' assessment of the process and outcome, and follow up interviews. The results revealed several findings about collaboration and PBL via VWs, and led to a series of recommendations about supporting tools and functionality issues. View full abstract»

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