ISPR Presence News

Monthly Archives: February 2016

Call: Gamevironments of the Past – Video Games and History (special issue)

CALL FOR PAPERS – Special issue of Gamevironments:
GAMEVIRONMENTS OF THE PAST – Video Games and History.

Guest editors: Derek Fewster ( and Ylva Grufstedt (

The journal invites researchers to submit their work to Gamevironments ( for possible publication in a special issue due December 2016.

A significant portion of video games contain historic elements of some description. In some cases, games exhibit representations of people, places and events of the past. In others, the historic element draws broadly on cultural understandings of concepts such as time, causality, continuity and change. Some games employ a self-reflexive historic discourse in making references to other games or cultural elements in general. In other words, ideas and expressions about the past in video games, range from the traditionally historiographic to historical practices with implications on related topics such as culture, religion, ethics and morality, rites and traditions, as well as intertextuality, education and politics.… read more. “Call: Gamevironments of the Past – Video Games and History (special issue)”

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Using VR and presence to treat depression

[The study reported in this story from the Huffington Post provides new evidence that the ability of presence to give people vivid experiences from different perspectives can produce valuable positive effects. –Matthew]

VR being used to treat depression

[Image: A study participant playing the role of an adult comforting a crying child.]

Virtual Reality Therapy Could Be Used To Treat Depression

The new therapy could one day help improve symptoms by teaching self-compassion.

Carolyn Gregoire, Senior Health & Science Writer, The Huffington Post

Could virtual reality be the next frontier for treating depression?

A new study, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry Open on Monday, suggests that VR therapy could reduce depressive symptoms by boosting feelings of self-compassion and alleviating self-criticism.… read more. “Using VR and presence to treat depression”

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Call: INTERACT Workshop on connecting HCI and HRI research communities

Call for Participation: INTERACT Workshop
Monday 21 March 2016
Sheffield, South Yorkshire, UK

Calling all UK researchers interested in potential links between HCI and HRI:

The University of Sheffield, in conjunction with The University of Nottingham and The University of Hertfordshire cordially invite you to the INTERACT workshop, which aims to connect the UK HCI and HRI research communities, and scope opportunities for future funding and collaboration.

While the fields of Human-Robot Interaction (HRI) and Human-Computer Interface (HCI) share many perspectives, and have similar research goals, there is little cross-fertilisation. We are hosting this EPSRC-sponsored workshop as a first step to ‘working together’, triggered by discussions at their Future Intelligent Technologies consultation held last year.

We hope you can join us to:

  • Shape the future of this area
  • Identify opportunities for inter-disciplinary collaboration
  • Build new links
  • Gauge the interest in establishing a joint and novel community
  • Consider the potential for proposing an EPSRC Network
read more. “Call: INTERACT Workshop on connecting HCI and HRI research communities”
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Will presence make life better or just be an opiate for the masses?

[As the title suggests, this story from Wired considers one of the key ‘big picture’ ethical issues raised by telepresence. It arguably has applied to most previous technologies but the potential of today’s and especially future technology brings it new salience. –Matthew]

Art suggesting limited VR headset view of nature

VR Will Make Life Better—Or Just Be an Opiate for the Masses

Wagner James Au Culture, author of The Making of Second Life (HarperCollins) and writer for the blog New World Notes
February 25, 2016

Virtual reality will dramatically transform movies and gaming, but some see an even loftier goal for the burgeoning technology: Providing the world’s poor and underprivileged with a better life. Palmer Luckey, the founder of Oculus Rift, and his chief technology officer, John Carmack, even speak of a “moral imperative” to bring virtual reality to the masses.

“Everyone wants to have a happy life,” as Luckey likes to say, “but it’s going to be impossible to give everyone everything they want.”… read more. “Will presence make life better or just be an opiate for the masses?”

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Call: VR Post Production – Presented by Visual Effects Society and LA SIGGRAPH

VES Vision and Education Committees with LA SIGGRAPH present

VR Post Production
Saturday, 12 March 2016
Sony’s Ray Harryhausen Theater
Los Angeles

RSVP’s required
Space is filling up – make your reservation now!

Revenues from virtual reality and augmented reality are projected to hit $150 billion by 2020! Visual effects artists are on the front lines to deliver that immersive content. These presentations will cover the latest live action VR post production techniques which are currently being used to realize the dream of VR.

All attendees must register through VES’ page ( Space is limited. You MUST RSVP.


Mariana Acuña Acosta, Media & Production Creative Manager, The Foundry, will describe the latest set of tools that The Foundry is working on to help solve the day to day problems of working with VR.

Gawain Lilliard, VFX Supervisor, The Mill and his team, will present the methodology and techniques they used to deliver the Google Spotlight live action VR project “Help”, directed Justin Lin, of “Fast and Furious” fame.… read more. “Call: VR Post Production – Presented by Visual Effects Society and LA SIGGRAPH”

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Opinion: The power of VR will be in the hands

[This blog post from the Huffington Post argues that the transformative power of VR (and thus implicitly presence) is not in visual displays like Oculus but in “VR for the hands.” –Matthew]

Woman using cardboard VR headset

What Nobody Will Tell You About Virtual Reality

Steven Schkolne, Caltech VR PhD, internationally renown artist, and 3dSunshine founder

There’s a lot of hype about virtual reality these days, and most of it is wrong. Science fiction films and books have created a hunger for Oculus-style, head-mounted displays (HMDs) and “immersive” experiences, but does wearing a pair of goggles really have more power to transport us? Based on my 10 years of experience in the field I don’t think so.

The VR revolution will not be experiential, but rather enabling. VR is a feast for our hands, not our eyes. Curious? Read on.

The flagship of today’s VR craze is the Oculus Rift, which is a stereoscopic, wide field of view, head-tracking device that blocks out the world just like the movies promise.… read more. “Opinion: The power of VR will be in the hands”

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Call: Creative Technologies and Innovation: Health and Wellbeing – Digital Creativity special issue

Digital Creativity 27:3
Creative Technologies and Innovation: Health and Wellbeing

Guest Editors:
Ted Krueger (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)
Louise Poissant (Université du Québec à Montréal)
Diana Domingues (University of Brasilia)

Abstracts deadline: February 29, 2016

Radical changes to ecological, environmental, social, and biological conditions are turning some artists from traditionally defined practices towards new approaches that reinvent their engagement with life, health, and wellbeing. Their practices, while not new, are increasingly relevant for culture and health. These transformative changes to the nature of practice have put those trained in the arts, their insights and methods, in contact with those of other disciplines such as ecology, medicine and healthcare.

We look for papers concerned with the ways in which artists and designers actively work towards innovative solutions to issues of the health and wellbeing of individuals, communities, and environments as the principal product of their artistic activity.… read more. “Call: Creative Technologies and Innovation: Health and Wellbeing – Digital Creativity special issue”

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Virtual reality’s fragile magic ingredient: Presence

[The professionals who design and create mediated experiences are increasingly recognizing the importance of presence; unlike many stories we’d recognize as being about presence phenomena, this story from CNET focuses directly and explicitly on the concept. The original includes both videos and more images. –Matthew]

Samsung Gear VR

Virtual reality’s fragile magic ingredient

Pioneers of the new wave of VR reveal how they immerse you in other worlds, but “presence” doesn’t come easily. “It’s like a small bird you can very easily kill,” one filmmaker says.

February 19, 2016
By Richard Trenholm

One moment I’m in a room full of people, the next I’m in the sun-scorched Australian Outback. But it takes more than the fancy graphics of the Samsung Gear VR virtual-reality headset I’ve just lowered over my head to convince me I’m really hanging out with aborigines.

What it takes, says Richard Marks of Sony’s VR arm, PlayStation Magic Lab, is something virtual-reality pros call “presence.”… read more. “Virtual reality’s fragile magic ingredient: Presence”

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Call: 10th European Conference on Games Based Learning (ECGBL 2016)

ECGBL 2016
10th European Conference on Games Based Learning
6 – 7th October 2016, Paisley, Scotland
The University of the West of Scotland, Paisley, Scotland


The European Conference on Games Based Learning was established 9 years ago. It has been held in Scotland, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Greece, Norway to mention only some of the countries who have hosted it. ECGBL is generally attended by participants from more than 40 countries and attracts an interesting combination of academic scholars, practitioners, game designers and individuals who are engaged in various aspects of games-based learning and serious games. Among other journals, the Electronic Journal of e-Learning publishes a special edition of the best papers presented at this conference.

The conference is also host to The 4th International Educational Games Competition.

ECGBL 2016 is being held at the University of the West of Scotland on 6-7 October and the Conference Chair is Dr Thomas Connolly.… read more. “Call: 10th European Conference on Games Based Learning (ECGBL 2016)”

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Chicago Art Institute re-creates Van Gogh’s bedroom to rent on Airbnb

[An art exhibit recreates a famous painting of a real space and lets people live in the recreation (and experience a sense of presence) for a night. This story is from the Chicago Tribune and more coverage is available in a separate Tribune story. For more information including two videos see the Art Institute of Chicago’s website; the Airbnb listing is here.–Matthew]

Van Gogh Bedroom by Art Institute of Chicago

Art Institute re-creates Van Gogh’s bedroom to rent on Airbnb

By Corilyn Shropshire, Chicago Tribune
February 11, 2016

Now you can sleep in Vincent Van Gogh’s bedroom. Well, sort of.

As part of the Art Institute of Chicago‘s new exhibit, “Van Gogh’s Bedrooms,” a replica has been created of the famous artist’s bedroom featured in his paintings. For $10, members of the public can reserve a night’s stay on the popular home-sharing website Airbnb.

The bedroom of a one-bedroom apartment in River North has been transformed (down to the brushstroke) to look just like the bedroom in the Yellow House in Arles, France, that Van Gogh so adored in the late 19th century.… read more. “Chicago Art Institute re-creates Van Gogh’s bedroom to rent on Airbnb”

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