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Monthly Archives: March 2015

Call: The Borders of Digital Art

The Borders of Digital Art
The Digital Arts Project

Tuesday 15th September – Thursday 17th September 2015
Mansfield College, Oxford, United Kingdom

Call for Presentations:

The digital arts are constantly developing with an ever growing number of new branches (i.e. hybrid art, digital musics, interactive art, animation/FX, game production, curating creative communities, urban gaming, application design, bioart, hacktivism, generic architecture, urban hacking, big data visualisation, etc.). Many of these enter and change the entertainment and media industry and often promote the exploration of various aspects of human life, philosophical issues, anthropological, social, political and judicial problems. Consequently they are strongly connected with the processes around the merging of boundaries between the humanities, sciences (biotechnology, genetics, physics, chemistry, product fabrication, engineering, robotics, neurosciences etc.) and technology. The influence of information and telecommunication technologies and computer mediated communication on various aspects of our everyday life and resulting problems are often presented in aesthetically appealing, shocking or hardly understandable form in digital artworks. Thus the digital arts can be seen as the field of particular interest and investigation for specific conditions and concerns of the 21st century. The project then stems from the idea of the inseparability of science, the arts and technology and lies in deep hope that the interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary discussions concerning the problems of the forms of individual perception, history of creative tools, social impact, political meaning and cultural contexts of art and technology as well as educational, institutional and economic aspects of digital arts and entertainment are essential for understanding the contemporary problems of humanity.

This interdisciplinary project aims to explore various contexts of the digital arts and entertainment creation, production and reception. We invite participants with various areas of interest (media studies, game studies, literary studies, cultural studies, philosophy, anthropology, sociology, psychology, museology, pedagogics, economy, law to name just a few) and professional backgrounds: theoreticians, practitioners, artists, scientists, professionals working for the creative industry, cultural institutions or business. Our goal is to examine, explore and engage with the many issues created by the massive exploitation of digital technologies for inter-human communication in respect to the arts, technology, media and history.

Proposals, presentations, workshops, performances and reports are invited on any of the following themes: Read more on Call: The Borders of Digital Art…

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Experiencing ‘Deep,’ the VR game that relieves anxiety attacks

[Most of the coverage of the anxiety-treatment VR experience Deep refers to this story from VICE, which includes other images. For more information, including many more images and videos, be sure to visit Owen Harris’ website. –Matthew]

Deep screenshot

Experiencing ‘Deep,’ the Virtual Reality Game That Relieves Anxiety Attacks

March 24, 2015
By Joe Donnelly

From the column ‘VICE Vs Video Games’

I remember the first time I realized my anxiety had become a problem. I was with friends in a popular Glasgow bar watching Sunday afternoon soccer. It was quiet, and alongside our table stood three vacant chairs: two with sturdy wooden panels fixed to the space between the top of the backrest and the cushion, and one without. I was sat closest to the seat missing the support and could see that, although otherwise identical to the others, there were no screw holes or any obvious signs that this chair ever had a support panel, or was supposed to have one attached at all.

Why was this, I wondered. Why was this chair missing part of its intended structure? Why had the support not been fitted? Or why was it taken off? Where was the missing support now? How could someone have noticed this defect and not have fixed it? I became entranced and angry. My blood boiled and my palms began to sweat. One eye on the soccer, one on the ill-fitted chair. I eventually went outside to catch some fresh air and to calm down.

I was being irrational, but I couldn’t help it. When you suffer from anxiety it’s not uncommon for people to doubt your condition. Some folk don’t get it, assuming those who exhibit anxiety are seeking attention, or should simply calm down, or chill out. Some of you reading this might scoff at how an inanimate object got me so riled up, whereas some of you might recognize what I’m talking about. Even those who sympathize I find, at times, struggle to accept the condition, given how difficult it can be dealing with someone who’s always whining or worrying. I might be a general pain in the ass, but I’m not lacking in insight.

Medication helps me govern my now-diagnosed nervous disposition, but for many in a similar position the thought of consulting a doctor and seeking remedial treatment can be a daunting prospect. For long enough it was for me.

“I’ve had anxiety problems for as long as I can remember,”explains Irish developer Owen Harris as he showcases his Oculus Rift VR game Deep at EGX Rezzed, an expo for indie games held in London in early March. Using a virtual reality headset, headphones, and a custom-built self-calibrating belt that matches the player’s breathing patterns with on-screen movements, Deep is in essence a digital version of a diaphragmatic exercise. By breathing deeply, a reticule in the center of the screen expands and contracts causing the player to ascend and descend respectively around a beautifully rendered underwater expanse full of magnificent cliffs and glittering coral. Read more on Experiencing ‘Deep,’ the VR game that relieves anxiety attacks…

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Call: The Videogame Cultures Project: 7th Global Meeting

The Videogame Cultures Project: 7th Global Meeting

Friday 11th September – Sunday 13th September 2015
Mansfield College, Oxford, United Kingdom

Call for Presentations:

Videogames have probably become one of the most progressive mediums in the 21st century. The videogame genres and sub-genres are rapidly diverging and many concepts are merging with those from other media and even with the environment of the ‘real’ world (alternate reality games). Consequently the scope of the project is not limited to videogame studies only, but many other disciplines such as philosophy, psychology, sociology, economics, information science, criminology, military studies or ethology, to name but a few. All have found play, game, game-model, player behaviour, game design and players’ relation to the virtual environment as a high priority within their own fields of research. The result of all these influences is that the discourse on videogame cultures is constantly evolving giving it an ever wider range of influence and an increasingly a inter-, multi-, and trans-disciplinary character.

This year’s Videogame Cultures will be devoted to exploring the various ways in which videogame culture and genres develop within the framework of five thematic tracks. Because of the complexity and variety of videogame culture and the overlapping of issues across themes, we are inviting participants of various and all backgrounds (academic, developer, producer, player, etc.) to submit proposals on several topics of interest to them. Presenters are additionally encouraged to think broadly within and across thematic tracks; we encourage submissions addressing research questions such as (though not limited to) those listed here below.

1) Videogames and their Players:

Gender and Gameplay: How are changing the players demographies? How to solve the situation of gender inequality and sexual harassment in the videogaming environments (Gamer Gate controversy). To what extent is it really possible to study videogame fan cultures? What ethical issues are related to the study of videogame culture?

2) Serious Games and Simulations:

New technologies developed for a future generation of virtual environments as Oculus Rift and Sony Project Morpheus are about to hit the market. Game developers and experience designers are currently developing new forms of gameplay. What principles do govern current game design? What strategies exist for creating believable simulations? What services to be established with virtual reality reborn technology? What visual formats will bring the post-photorealistic era?

3) Gamification/Ludification:

Models of play have an impact in the research areas beyond videogame studies. Playful elements and functional models are built in many applications in economics and social sciences. We would like to explore how playful elements have changed the interaction between the user and applications. What trends in a gamified application design are emerging in mobile and online banking, tele-sports or tele-health?

Other topics with these areas include: Read more on Call: The Videogame Cultures Project: 7th Global Meeting…

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Occipital’s mobile 3D scanning sensor enhances mobile mixed reality

[This looks like another step toward effective mobile/wearable augmented reality (I like the heading “Mixing Virtual Reality and Reality Reality”)… The article is from ReadWrite, where there’s a 0:41 minute video; more coverage, including more videos, is available from 3D Printing Industry. –Matthew]

Star Ops 3D game for Structure sensor on iPad


Here’s A New Way To Step Into A Virtual World

Occipital’s mobile 3D-scanning sensor goes virtual.

Signe Brewster
Mar 27, 2015

When you strap on an Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset, you’re free to look up, down and around. But as soon as you try to explore the virtual world further, you’re stuck. You can’t interact with your surroundings or walk across the room.

New controllers and sensors hitting the market are built to solve this problem, whether by tracking the precise location of your fingers so you can grab that virtual gun or giving you a simple joystick so you can “walk” from place to place. The HTC Vive, one of the highest-profile new headsets, lets you move around a real room and incorporates your motion into VR.

The startup Occipital thinks there’s a simpler way. Up until today, its candy-bar-shaped Structure Sensor, an accessory for mobile devices, has mostly been used for 3D scanning of physical objects—for instance, in order to create 3D-printable virtual models. Now, though, Occipital wants to expand into virtual and augmented reality by giving its sensor the ability to map entire rooms and incorporate a user’s actual movement onto a screen, and thus into a virtual world. Read more on Occipital’s mobile 3D scanning sensor enhances mobile mixed reality…

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Call: HaPoC 3: Third International Conference for the History and Philosophy of Computing

Call For Papers

HaPoC 3: Third International Conference for the History and Philosophy of Computing
8-11 October, 2015, Pisa

The DHST commission for the history and philosophy of computing ( is happy to announce the third HAPOC conference. The series aims at creating an interdisciplinary focus on computing, stimulating a dialogue between the historical and philosophical viewpoints. To this end, the conference hopes to bring together researchers interested in the historical developments of computing, as well as those reflecting on the sociological and philosophical issues springing from the rise and ubiquity of computing machines in the contemporary landscape. In the past editions, the conference has successfully presented a variety of voices, contributing to the creation of a fruitful dialogue between researchers with different backgrounds and sensibilities.

For HaPoC 2015 we welcome contributions from historians and philosophers of computing as well as from philosophically aware computer scientists and mathematicians. Topics include but are not limited to

  • History and Philosophy of Computation (interpretation of the Church-Turing thesis; models of computation; logical/mathematical foundations of computer science; information theory…)
  • History and Philosophy of Programming (classes of programming languages; philosophical status of programming…)
  • History and Philosophy of the Computer (from calculating machines to the future of the computer; user interfaces; abstract architectures…)
  • History and Epistemology of the use of Computing in the sciences (simulation vs. modelisation; computer-assisted proofs; linguistics…)
  • Computing and the Arts: historical and conceptual issues (temporality in digital art; narration in interactive art work…)
  • Social, ethical and pedagogical aspects of Computing (pedagogy of computer science; algorithms and copyright; Internet, culture, society…)

Our invited speakers are Nicola Angius (Università di Sassari, IT), Lenore Blum (Carnagie Mellon University, USA), David Allan Grier (IEEE & George Washington University, USA), Furio Honsell (Università di Udine, IT), Pierre Mounier-Kuhn (CNRS & Université Paris-Sorbonne, F), and Franck Varenne (Université de Rouen, F).

We cordially invite researchers working in a field relevant to the topics of the conference to submit a short abstract of approximately 200 words and an extended abstract of at most a 1000 words (references included) to Read more on Call: HaPoC 3: Third International Conference for the History and Philosophy of Computing…

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Virtual noses keep real-world VR sickness at bay

[As a commenter notes, it’s surprising this hasn’t been investigated sooner; the story is from Ars Technica and more information, including the article abstract, is available from Purdue University’s coverage. –Matthew]

Simulator with virtual nose

Virtual noses keep real-world VR sickness at bay

Simulation sickness solution may have been sitting right in front of our faces.

by Kyle Orland – Mar 25, 2015

As the new wave of virtual reality headsets barrel ever closer to consumer reality, the effects of “simulator sickness” on a significant portion of the population remain a concern. A group of researchers at Purdue University say they’ve found an easy way to mitigate this effect by adding one bit of reality that most VR simulations leave out: a virtual nose sitting persistently at the corners of your vision. Read more on Virtual noses keep real-world VR sickness at bay…

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Call: Designs on eLearning (DeL) 2015: Technology, Culture, Practice

Call for Papers

Designs on eLearning (DeL) 2015: Technology, Culture, Practice
16-17 September 2015

Application deadline: 15 April 2015
Accepted applicants will be notified by late May

The DeL 2015 conference is now accepting applications for panel discussions, workshops or short paper presentations on the following themes (see below):

  • Cross-disciplinarity
  • Understanding practice & culture
  • Engaging students in digital spaces
  • Digital identity
  • Digital scholarship

As digital technologies continue to transform the creative and pedagogic landscape, we face exciting possibilities and new challenges for the future of education. Titled “Technology, Culture, Practice,” DeL 2015 aims to explore forms of learning that take place in digital contexts within and beyond HE institutions. Read more on Call: Designs on eLearning (DeL) 2015: Technology, Culture, Practice…

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Walk through the belly of a tornado in virtual reality

[As the second headline in this story from Popular Science suggests, we could recreate the experiences of, and learn about and prepare for, a variety of natural disasters using presence-evoking technology. You can watch the Weather Channel segment on MSNBC’s website and read detailed information about the tornado recreation in Virginia Tech’s coverage. –Matthew]

Read more on Walk through the belly of a tornado in virtual reality…

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Call: Examining the Evolution of Gaming and Its Impact on Social, Cultural, and Political Perspectives (Book chapters)

Call for Chapters: Examining the Evolution of Gaming and Its Impact on Social, Cultural, and Political Perspectives


Dr. Keri Duncan Valentine (West Virginia University)
Lucas John Jensen (The University of Georgia)

Proposals Submission Deadline: March 30, 2015
Full Chapters Due: June 30, 2015


The maturing field of video games offers unparalleled narrative complexity, experimentation with new game mechanics, and avenues for in-game creativity. Can the interactive nature of video games shift a player’s perspective on sociopolitical and cultural topics by placing them in unique and challenging situations, characters, and/or points of view?

As video games grow in popularity, ambition, scope, and technological prowess, they also mature as an art form, shedding old definitions tethered to video games as competitive exercises with simple sets of mechanics. Over the last four decades, video games have made great narrative strides, from the rather simple days of Pong and Mario Bros. to the branching narratives of the Mass Effect series. In fact, those who view videogames as an art form often point to game narrative and storytelling as a place where videogames have not only matured, but have offered something different than other narrative experiences like literature or film. Greater technological capabilities, in addition to years of experimentation and maturation, have expanded the ability of games to tell different kinds of stories, offering branching paths.

The question of “what makes a game a game?” looms larger than ever in this expansive era of video game storytelling. As plots and characters grow, branch, and develop, so, too, expand the boundaries of storytelling provided by video games. Simply put, video games can do more stuff than they could before, and the notion that games are competitive exercises first and foremost has been subsumed by the possibility of video games as a new type of storytelling medium. In traditional definitions of gaming, a set of rules and a victory condition/win scenario were essential elements to a game. Because of this, most video game definitions have followed, focusing on the rules and winning as the things that made video games “games.” This debate is not a new one, but a recent growth in boundary-pushing and experimental game mechanics, precipitated in no small part by easier game development tools and an explosion in indie game developers.

Traditional definitions of “video games” rely heavily on the notion that games are competitive exercises. This book will examine their power to change perspectives in any number of dimensions, including the social, artistic, cultural, political, and scientific.


This book will survey the current landscape of video games and summarize recent trends in video game narrative, transformative changes, and emergent gaming that are broadening the definition of “video games” and causing perspective shifts – whether aesthetic, cultural, social, political, scientific, or even mathematical – by forcing players to embody different personas or engage with perspectives they might not normally encounter. How do video games, with their integration of interactivity, storytelling, and aesthetics, cause players to shift perspectives?

We are interested in tracing the development of games as transformative art and media. New video game types have emerged that challenge the notion of games as exercises in fun escapism. An explosion in independent games has led to games about topics as serious and diverse as living with depression (e.g. Depression Quest), LGBT issues and family dysfunction (Gone Home), the drudgery of bureaucratic work (I Get This Call All the Time), or working in an autocracy (Papers, Please). By placing players in these unique points of view, these games might shift player perspective on these issues. Similarly, technological prowess has allowed games to offer worlds with physics and dimensions that are not accessible through other media, exhibited in games such as Portal, Fez, and Monument Valley, where playing with perspective itself is the central mechanic. Finally, we hope discuss some implications that perspective shifts from games might have on the use of video games in educational settings, whether formal or informal. Read more on Call: Examining the Evolution of Gaming and Its Impact on Social, Cultural, and Political Perspectives (Book chapters)…

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Immersive Telepresence: New systems for a declining market

[This informed view of the market for high-end telepresence systems is from NoJitter, where the story includes the mentioned video and two more images. –Matthew ]

Cisco IX 5000 at Cisco Collaboration Summit 2014

[Image: Rowan Trollope’s IX 5000 demo at Cisco Collaboration Summit 2014]

Immersive Telepresence: New Systems for a Declining Market

Super big video conferencing systems may only serve a niche in the enterprise, but that hasn’t stopped ongoing development from Cisco, Polycom, and Huawei.

Brian Riggs | March 02, 2015

When it comes to video conferencing these days, virtual meeting rooms, mobile and desktop clients, cost-effective cloud services, and similarly democratizing solutions are in. Super big systems that deliver a super quality experience at super crazy prices are out. Or are they?

If you go by the numbers, things look pretty gloomy for immersive telepresence solutions, those high-end systems that use HD video, life-size images, just-so lighting, and custom furniture to create the illusion that all participants are in the same conference room. While Ovum doesn’t do forecasts of communications systems, some of my friends at rival analyst firms do. IDC analyst Rich Costello, for instance, said in December 2014 that multicodec telepresence equipment revenue was down nearly 16% year over year. Earlier in 2014 the numbers were even less kind, with the estimated year-over-year decline ranging from just over 26% to nearly 35% depending at which quarter you look.

Moreover, the market for immersive telepresence systems is only about one-tenth the size of that for regular room-based systems — $34 million compared with $347 million, again according to IDC. But that’s revenue for just one quarter. There’s about $130 million to be made annually from immersive systems, and even if the figure is dwindling that’s still a big chunk of change. This is at least in part why we’re seeing not just continued development on and incremental upgrades to immersive telepresence systems but vendors releasing entirely new generations of their systems. Read more on Immersive Telepresence: New systems for a declining market…

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