07 February 2008

8:30am – 9:00am Opening Speech
The Future of the Digital Environment
Professor Lizbeth Goodman, SMARTlab, Digital Media Centre, University of East London

Session 1: 9:15am – 10:00am
Gaming & Entrepreneurs: A Case Study
Kevin Corti, PIXELearning
PIXELearning’s Business Game was developed specifically as a teaching aid for UK schools that, from 2005, were required to deliver 5 days of enterprise education to 15 and 16 year olds every year. The majority of teachers who had to deliver this part of the school curriculum had no business experience and were struggling to meet the demands placed upon them.

The Enterprise Game is aimed primarily at the business support/start-up/enterprise agency community and designed to foster the development of general business awareness amongst owner managers and staff. Many small companies are established by people with specific industry skills but who often lack broad business acumen.

The Enterprise Game is based on the same underlying simulation code as The Business Game but has been tweaked to be more challenging for adult learners and includes more detail in, for example, finance and marketing. How can Oman’s schools and colleges benefit from serious gaming technology. How do we take serious games to prepare young Omanis for the business world. Indeed, can serious games help foster a new generation of Omani entrepreneurs?

Networking Break: 10:00am – 10:15am

Session 2: 10:15am – 11:45am
Gaming for Culture
Mike Gogan, Blitz Games; Professor Lizbeth Goodman, SMARTlab, Digital Media Centre, University of East London; Professor Bob Stone, Birmingham University (pictured above)

Mike Gogan is one of the world’s leading creators of virtual reality and 3D multimedia content in the Cultural Heritage sector. He has delivered inspiring virtual reality and multimedia interactive products to some of the most iconic heritage sites in the UK and beyond. Indeed, he and his team at Blitz Games are leading the way in exploring the application of serious games technology in the heritage and culture space.

Professor Lizbeth Goodman will focus on the cultural and heritage research projects that are currently being carried out at SMARTlab and their applications to promoting heritage and culture, tourism and creating locally generated web content. What added value can serious games offer Oman’s dynamic set of tangible and intangible cultural assets?

Virtual Heritage - “…the use of computer-based interactive technologies to record, preserve, or recreate artefacts, sites and actors of historic, artistic, religious and cultural significance and to deliver the results openly to a global audience in such a way as to provide formative educational experiences through electronic manipulations of time and space”.
Stone & Ojika (IEEE Multimedia; April-June, 2000)

Ever since the early 1990s, there has been a worldwide interest in the prospect of using virtual environments (VEs) to recreate historic sites and events for such purposes as education, special project commissions, and showcase features at national and World Heritage visitor centres. The power of VE, as described by Nynex researchers Stuart and Thomas in the early 1990s, lies with its ability to open up places not normally accessible to people from all walks of life, to allow them to explore objects and experience events that could not normally be explored without “alterations of scale or time” and to support interaction with remote communities and interaction with virtual (historical) actors. In the context of heritage, VE goes much further, however, in that it offers a means of protecting the fragile state of some sites and can help educate visitors not so much about their history, but in how to explore, interpret, understand and respect those sites. Despite some impressive projects executed during the Virtual Reality era of the 1990s, the limitations imposed by the very costly – and often unreliable – technologies meant that many of the Virtual Heritage demonstrations were committed to digital obscurity. This presentation will look at the resurrection of interest in Virtual Heritage and, using the Virtual Stonehenge and Virtual Scylla (artificial reef) projects (i.e. then and now), how lessons learned from the 1990s should be taken forward to underpin serious games developments in the early 21st Century.

Networking Break: 11:45am – 12noon

Session 3: 12noon – 12:45pm
Private Virtual Worlds: Getting Real about being Virtual
Dick Davies Ambient Performance

Virtual worlds have hit the mainstream. Today they are being used not just for consumer applications, but also for a wide range of serious professional purposes. These purposes range from scenario planning to medical training and from collaborative role play to cross-cultural awareness sessions. This presentation will look at how private virtual worlds are being used now as the basis for serious collaborative activities in a variety of professional domains.

Lunch: 12:45pm – 1:45pm

Session 4: 1:45pm – 2:30pm
Promoting Leisure & Tourism through Second Life
David Wortley, Serious Games Institute, Coventry University

Tourism Ireland has launched a marketing campaign in Second Life; the first time a real world tourist board has used the Internet-based virtual world to market a real holiday destination. Since its establishment in 2003, Second Life has grown significantly and now has nearly 11 million registered users or "residents", 1.6 million of whom use it regularly.

Dublin in Second Life is a well established destination for live music and DJs – in fact, it occasionally makes the top 10 list of the most popular places to visit in the virtual world. Tourism Ireland's decision was influenced by the fact that 60% of Second Life's users are from Ireland's four biggest tourist markets - Great Britain, the US, Germany and France, and half those are more than 30 - a key demographic for tourism to Ireland.

Experts predict that the web will be three-dimensional in a decade's time and virtual worlds such as Second Life give us some idea of what the web may look like in the future. Second Life is one of the biggest virtual worlds in existence and many major brands, including Coca-Cola, Vodafone, IBM, Toyota, Sony and Adidas already have a presence there. Within the tourism industry, Starwood Hotels have used Second Life to pilot the design of a new series of hotels and Thomas Cook offers customers virtual package tours. What can Second Life offer Oman and its rapidly expanding tourism sector? Should we be spending a larger slice of the country’s marketing budget online?

Session 5: 2:30pm - 4:00pm
Serious Gaming, Mobiles & the Consumer
Moderator: David Wortley, Serious Games Institute, Coventry University
Panel: Raed Dawood, Nawras; Dr. Andreas Liffgarden, Ericsson; & Karim Rahemtulla, Infocomm

Consumers are increasingly using technology to customize the shopping process to their specific needs. In this regard, retailers must understand how consumers are interacting with their brands as this will have a substantial impact on how retail operations will evolve in the future. It is estimated that by 2010, 20 per cent of global Tier 1 retailers will have a marketing presence in online games and virtual worlds.

Virtual worlds are expanding rapidly. To date, Second Life has nearly 11 million registered ‘residents’ who spend in excess of US$1million every 24 hours buying property, items or experiences in-world. Similarly, research suggests that the popularity of online gaming will continue to expand. Indeed, virtual worlds are emerging as places where consumers can shop and retailers need to be ready to respond to this growing demand.

On the mobile front, it is estimated that by 2012, the number of consumers using mobile phones to shop will increase at an average of more than 25 per cent per year. Mobile commerce has been viewed as an emerging new sales channel for retailers for some time now but retail revenue through mobile phones is currently very low, much less than 1 per cent of total sales. However, as mobile phones evolve in form and function, the impact of the mobile phone on retail sales is set to increase.

Through 2010, consumers will use the phone as part of their shopping activities to search, browse, find locations and check stock. Eventually, consumers will use mobile phones to purchase merchandise. So what role will serious games and mobiles play in the marketing and retailing space?

eGames Dinner : 8:00pm - Muscat Inter-Continental Hotel

Day 2

Second Life Workshop: 9:00am – 1:00pm
David Wortley, Coventry University
Dr. Sara de Freitas, Coventry University; Alex Jevremovic, Concepts, Design & Virtualisation; Jude Ower, Digital 2.0; Paul Turner, The Walk In Web Ltd

This half day workshop organised and run by the Serious Games Institute’s Second Life Science City team will provide practical hands-on experience of the development of virtual environments in Second Life for commercial applications and will include :-

o Registration and avatar creation
o Orientation and navigation in virtual worlds
o Exploration of relevant examples of best practice virtual sites
o Virtual meetings and seminars
o Virtual commerce – buying and selling goods and services
o Customisation of avatars and basic construction tools

The workshop will link to remote experts with Second Life and will allow delegates working in small groups to gain hands-on experience from experienced developers. Delegates who are new to Second Life will go away with their own personalised avatar and an understanding of how to get the most from the environment.

04 February 2008

eGames Presenters Announced

David Wortley
David Wortley (pictured) is Director of the Serious Games Institute (SGI) at Coventry University. He is responsible for the development of the Institute as a brand new self-financing initiative to establish a centre of excellence for the emerging serious games application area. Working with academics, regional development agencies and leading computer games companies, David aims to make the SGI a thought leader and focal point for games based learning, simulation and immersive 3D virtual environments.

Professor Lizbeth Goodman
Professor Lizbeth Goodman joined the University of East London as the new Chair of Creative Technology Innovation in 2005. She is also Founder & Director of the SMARTlab Digital Media Institute & the MAGIC Multimedia & Games Innovation Centre, Gamelab and PLAYroom.

She has also been awarded a Microsoft Community Affairs Senior Research Fellowship for her work on a new series of books on Digital Culture and real people: the Emergenc(i)es series with MIT Press.

New labs, development studios and an expanded Practice-based PhD Programme have just been launched in the Knowledge Dock, UEL, in the Thames Gateway, with major collaborative projects underway, and with major internatioal projects soon to roll out, from a range of digital media disciplines across the spectrum of ‘gaming for non-gamers’. . .

Professor Goodman directs studies for a group of professional new media artists and technology developers from SME, industry and the creative industry sectors. SMARTlab's customised live and online Practice-based PhD programme is noted as one of the world’s largest and most successful cross-disciplinary cohorts of higher level researchers, grounded in community need and creative industry theory and practice.

SMARTlab is an agency for social change, operating a core research unit and two wings, spanning the non-profit and creative industries sectors, with partners and funders in major NGO and Industry companies worldwide.

SMARTlab is the UK base for the MAGICbox Accessible tech programme, and for the Microsoft Clubtech Programme, which Professor Goodman has led in its critical review stages (as the largest project providing game and educational technology tools to over 4.3 million under-privileged young people worldwide).

Lizbeth is also known as a professional performer and presenter, with many years of experience in live and telematic writing, improvisation, performance and direction. She has worked extensively in comedy and theatre and television/convergent media entertainment, and has recently won commissions to create a new style of empowering online and live performance game. As a professional TV presenter for the BBC of many years’ experience, Lizbeth is a much sought after public speaker for keynote lectures and main stage platforms, as well as for broadcasts.

Much of SMARTlab’s work focuses on application of Universal Design methods to the domain of community inclusion and empowerment. As head of the SPIRITLEVEL consortium- a group that has worked across national borders and disciplines to create bio-sensor and live performance experiences for children and adults in need of physical therapy and rehabilitation. One of the first major UK experimental biotech movement projects, premiered at the SMARTclub in 2002, is now known as Flutterfugue, wherein Lizbeth dances with real and animated butterflies (in wheelchairs and in the air) worldwide, to an original responsive score composed by Nick Ryan of BBC Imagineering. New Projects called HOPE (Hospitals Online for Persistent/Pedeatric Environments) and TRUST (a bespoke role play game for children collaborating online, written by Lizbeth) will soon be launched on hospital networks around the world, each linked to a live performance. TRUST is currently funded by NESTA and creating new games and expressive forms for children at the Stephen Hawking School, East London.

Lizbeth was previously Director of the SMARTlab Centre at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design, and before that, founded and led the INMPR at the University of Surrey, following on from eight years leading the BBC Open University's multimedia research teams in Shakespeare, Drama, Gender Studies and Literature. She has worked extensively for the BBC as a researcher, writer and presenter of Learning and Arts/Media Programmes.

She is a regular reviewer/validator for many independent courses and broadcast programmes and for publishers of print and online packages, and for major funding bodies and award panels internationally. She currently chairs the SciArt Committee Awards Panel for the Wellcome Trust, and serves on the steering groups and funding panels of the EC (SaferInternet Plus and Digicult DGs), the Canadian Innovation Fund, et al.

Lizbeth is the author and editor of some 13 books including a range of titles on women and theatre, the arts, representation and creativity. She has also written and produced a wide range of multimedia programmes ranging from educational CD ROMs and video/media packs to more experimental online performance events, including the Extended Body Project.

She has served as the Principal Investigator of the SMARTshell Project (creating innovative tools for synchronous and asynchronous online/integrated performance and learning), and of the Virtual Interactive Puppetry Project, the British Council's Cultural and Media Studies development programmes in North Africa, and the European Commission's RADICAL project (Research Agendas Developed in Creative Arts Labs). She collaborated on the dramaturgical elements of the EC and Telefilm Code Zebra Project in the UK (for which SMARTlab held the European Commission Culture 2002 Award), working with international partners at the BNMI, BBC, V2, UCLA, et al.

She is currently PI of the major InterFACES Project- putting a human face on new technology.
She also holds current major awards to head teams funded by the BBC, Nesta, and Microsoft.

While she has been known in the learning and e-learning communities as an expert in mediated and connected learning methods (since her award winning, best selling work with the Open University and BBC in the 1990s), Lizbeth is now known equally as a scholar of new media practices that cut across learning, gaming, performance and social responsibility. Lizbeth is currently completing her own new book, which will kick off her new series for MIT Press on EMERGENC(i)es: new concepts and practices in media, technology and culture.

Dr. Sara de Freitas
Sara has recently taken up a new role as Director of Research at the Serious Games Institute at the University of Coventry where she leads an applied research team working closely with industry. The Institute is the first of its kind in the UK and it is envisaged that it will play a leading role in future developments of game-based learning. Formerly Sara worked as Lab Manager, Project Manager on development programmes and Senior Research Fellow at the London Knowledge Lab. The Lab is a collaborative venture between Birkbeck College and the Institute of Education, University of London focusing upon technology assisted learning. Sara continues to hold a visiting senior research fellowship at the Lab.

Sara also works with the UK Joint Information Systems Committee e-Learning Development Programme in the Innovation strand, exploring the applications and developments of innovative technologies upon post-16 learning. Sara’s recent report Learning in Immersive Worlds reviews the uses of game-based learning and presents a set of case studies of practice. Sara is also working with TruSim (Blitz Games), the Vega Group PLC and the Universities of Birmingham and Sheffield on a £2 million UK Department of Trade and Industry co-funded Serious Games research and development project which will develop highly immersive learning games to solve business training needs.

In 2003 Sara founded the UK Lab Group, which brings the research and development community together to create stronger links between industrial and academic research through supporting collaborative programmes and for showcasing innovative R&D solutions for the knowledge economy. Sara publishes in the areas of: pedagogy and e-learning; change management and strategy development for implementing e-learning systems and educational games and electronic simulations for supporting post-16 training and learning. Sara also works as a consultant through her recently established partnership company: Innovatech llp.

Relevant links:
The JISC Innovation Strand: www.jisc.ac.uk/
The Lab Group: http://www.labgroup.org.uk/
The London Knowledge Lab: http://www.lkl.ac.uk/
The MyPlan project: www.lkl.ac.uk/research/myplan/
The Serious Games project: http://www.lkl.ac.uk/graphics/projectsheets/sg.pdf
Learning in Immersive worlds report:
The Serious Games Institute: http://www.seriousgames.org.uk/

Mike Gogan
Mike Gogan is one of the world’s leading creators of virtual reality and 3D multimedia content in the Cultural Heritage sector. He has delivered inspiring virtual reality and multimedia interactive products to some of the most iconic heritage sites in the UK and beyond. Indeed, he and his team at Blitz Games are leading the way in exploring the application of serious games technology in the heritage and culture space.

Dick Davies
Dick Davies is the Executive Producer at Ambient Performance where he manages the design, development and deployment of private virtual worlds for collaborative serious gaming in a range of domains. Ambient are the European service partners for the Forterra OLIVE virtual world platform, the worlds leading private virtual world developer.

Professor Robert J. Stone
Professor Bob Stone holds a Chair in Interactive Multimedia Systems within the School of Engineering at the University of Birmingham, where he also directs the Human Interface Technologies (HIT) Team and is Head of the Applied Computing Research Centre. He is also an Academician of the Russian Higher Education Academy of Sciences and a Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor in Integrated Systems Design at the University of Plymouth. A Chartered Psychologist and Fellow of the Ergonomics Society, Bob joined academia in 2003, after a long and successful career in defence, robotics and Virtual Reality (VR). After 9 years of ergonomics research at British Aerospace in Bristol, where he specialised in military human factors and remotely operated systems (conducting applied research for the Department of Energy, the nuclear industry and the European Space Agency), Bob was involved in the launch of the UK’s National Advanced Robotics Research Centre (NARRC), funded by the Department of Trade & Industry. Having been one of the first Europeans to experience the NASA VIEW VR system in 1987, he established the UK’s first industrial VR team at the NARRC and, over a number of years undertook numerous consultancy and research projects for commercial and government clients, enabling the group to be launched as VR Solutions Ltd in the mid-1990s. As well as projects in the engineering, aerospace, defence and medical sectors, Bob’s team also pioneered early developments in Virtual Heritage, notably Virtual Stonehenge (1996), complete with the world’s first virtual sunrise! This and other cultural heritage projects supported Bob and colleagues from the US and Japan to launch the international Virtual Systems & Multi-Media organisation (VSMM) in 1995 and virtualheritage.net in 1997, the oldest and largest repository of documents, news and information relating to heritage and technology. Bob is also a Trustee of the US Institute for the Visualization of History (www.vizin.org). Today, as well as his academic positions, Bob’s work has received numerous awards, most recently the 2006/2007 Ergonomics Society’s Sir Frederic Bartlett Award, the highest award given by that Society to an individual. A founding member of the UK’s Serious Games Alliance and the UK Government’s Simulation & Synthetic Environments National Advisory Committee (SSENAC), Bob lectures across the world on the subject of VR, serious games and human factors.

Jude Ower
Jude Ower, is founder and owner of Digital 2.0, a Serious Games consultancy. Jude has over 6 years experience within the Serious Games market working at all stages of development from research, creating a solution for an issue, requirements gathering, game design, project management, testing and deployment. Current projects include; development of an internal game for the companies first large global corporate Oil and Gas client, development of a Creative Industries game with PIXELearning and New Media Partner, project management of a European wide project for PIXELearning, management of a Second Life island to support and grow the Digital Media industry in the UK and a publicly funded project with the Serious Games Industry to grow and support the Serious Games and Interactive Digital Media industry.

Paul Turner
Paul Turner is the Managing Director of The Walk In Web Ltd, Second Life content creators. Paul feels that Virtual Worlds are the new Internet and believes that an increasing number of businesses and other organisations will find ways of exploiting this exciting new technology. ‘Those businesses that failed to recognise the potential of the World Wide Web ten years ago found themselves regretting it as others moved in and took the initiative. Those who ignore virtual worlds will do so at their peril’

Kevin Corti
Kevin Corti is CEO, PIXELearning and has been working in the technology-based learning space for over a decade as an entrepreneur and in a Plc environment. In 2002 he co-founded PIXELearning which specialises in applying games and simulations for business education and corporate training. PIXELearning has since turned over close to US$3 million, has several blue chip clients, including KPMG, Coca Cola, 3M and a major US retail banking chain and has developed LearningBeans® an immersive learning simulation engine. The company is now in the process of raising significant investment in order to expand its custom development services and off-the-shelf products and to further expand operations into key international markets.

Alex Jevremovic
Alex Jevremovic is an artist and designer from Coventry, UK. He has been involved in art and design all his life but has also spent time working as an engineer, teacher and a lecturer.

Alex is now Director of his own small company; Concepts, Design & Virtualisation, which specialises in transferring real world locations, people and artefacts into virtual worlds for a variety of applications including serious games, culture, heritage and history.

He is currently developing a major project which involves totally recreating Coventry city centre using advanced computer modelling techniques in conjunction with the original architectural drawings with the aims of producing a city template to which any number of simulations can be applied including disaster management and emergency planning.

Aside from the work in virtual worlds Alex has enjoyed a varied career in which has included exhibiting artwork at the Venice Biennale, and producing visual effects for the BBC.

03 February 2008

eGames Second Life Workshop

This half day workshop organised and run by the Serious Games Institute’s Second Life Science City team will provide practical hands-on experience of the development of virtual environments in Second Life for commercial applications and will include:

1). Registration and avatar creation
2). Orientation and navigation in virtual worlds
3). Exploration of relevant examples of best practice virtual sites
4). Virtual meetings and seminars
5). Virtual commerce – buying and selling goods and services
6). Customisation of avatars and basic construction tools

The workshop will link to remote experts with Second Life and will allow delegates working in small groups to gain hands-on experience from experienced developers. Delegates who are new to Second Life will go away with their own personalised avatar and an understanding of how to get the most from the environment.