Serious Applications of Games Technologies

Thursday 27 January 2011

6.30pm for 7.00pm

Auditorium, Langstone Technology Park, Langstone Road, Havant, PO9 1SA

Professor Bob Stone

Joint with the BCS Hampshire Branch, BCS Animation and Games Development SG organised by IET Solent Network.

This event is sponsored by Advanced Resource Managers Limited

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This event is free, but registration is essential, both for security access and as numbers are limited.

Professor Bob Stone is the Director of the Human Interface Technologies Team at the University of Birmingham, a Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor in Integrated Systems Design at the University of Plymouth and an Academician of the Russian Higher Education Academy of Sciences.

About the event

The last twenty years have witnessed a revolution in simulation technologies, from the emergence of graphics supercomputing in the 1990s, through a decade marked by a preoccupation to deliver the ultimate in so-called “immersive” Virtual Reality (VR) experiences, to the emergence of “serious gaming” over the past 5 years or so. Much has been written about serious games, particularly with regard to the future of gaming in simulation and training.

It is generally accepted that they are games with “a purpose”- games that go beyond entertainment to deliver engaging learning experiences across a wide range of sectors. It is fair to say that, whilst serious games still have some way to go before conclusive statements can be made as to their training efficacy (promoting positive skills or knowledge transfer and minimising skill fade, for example), their appearance on the technology-based training stage in many countries has, in the main, met with surprisingly positive receptions.

This is despite the fact that the term “serious games” seems to have attracted as many opponents as proponents and there still exists a good population of sceptics who are still recovering from premature investment in the costly, unreliable and over-hyped “immersive” display and supercomputing technologies of the VR “era”.

The UK’s Human Factors Integration Defence Technology Centre (HFI DTC), in close collaboration with Dstl, has been involved in the development and subsequent evaluation of numerous projects, including:

  • SubSafe - a project based on an interactive 3D model of a Trafalgar Class submarine, the aim of which is to foster enhanced spatial awareness skills relating to onboard safety-critical systems.  “Spin-Outs” from SubSafe include submarine rescue and the 3D animation of the HMS Tireless oxygen generator explosion of March 2007, presented during the 2009 Coroner’s Court of Inquiry.
  • EODSim - a training tool to aid planning in support of the deployment of resources (both human and telerobotic) in support of EOD/IED search and disposal.
  • Medical simulation - including the UK’s Interactive Trauma Trainer, the US Pulse!! Virtual Healthcare project and VRET (Virtual Restorative Environment Therapy), exploiting virtual “natural” environments for psychological rehabilitation.
  • Helicopter Brownout - evaluating the capability of current games engines to simulate dust and particle effects during helicopter landing.
  • Virtual Scylla - a project that investigated how artificial life concepts can be used to simulate the evolution of British coastal marine flora and fauna communities on and around the former Royal Navy Leander Class Frigate. Spin-outs from this project are now being exploited in the development of visualisation tools for subsea bathymetric visualisation and situational awareness.

These and many other DTC projects have been designed primarily to emphasise the importance of integrating human factors knowledge into the early stages of the design of games-based simulation systems in order to avoid the problems witnessed in the 1990s, where “technology push” overshadowed “human pull”.  Unfortunately, it is still evident that many of today’s defence simulation projects fail to address key human factors issues, delivering instead destined-to-fail solutions based on innovative, but unproven, immature and often inappropriate (or "unfit for purpose") interactive technologies.
“Hands-On” Demonstrations of some of the projects presented during the talk will also be provided.