Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tech Tuesday: Augmented Reality

In the past three decades, more and more young people have been turning to videogames for entertainment, for the opportunity to interact with other gamers in a virtual sphere. A recent evolution in gaming promises to pull graphics out of a computer display and integrate them into the real world, a new technology called augmented reality.

Hold on, you’re probably saying. Isn’t that what virtual reality already does?

Not quite, but that question is definitely a fair one.

Mashable defines virtual reality as a technology that replaces the real world with a simulated one, whereas augmented reality occurs in real time and enhances current perception of reality—information about the real world becomes interactive and malleable. With augmented reality, artificial information can be overlaid in the real world.

It almost sounds too good to be true, this idea that a person could use his or her iPhone to overlay a map of downtown Burlington in the late 1800s atop the modern city structure. But it’s happening. And it’s pretty cool, too.

A Business2Community article from early 2012 detailed ten augmented reality campaigns circling the web: one details how consumers can look inside a box before making a purchase where another enhances print media by enabling a reader to use an iPhone app to see the consequences of domestic violence.

Beyond the interesting videos, the Business2Community article expertly illustrates the versatility of augmented reality, that it can be used for advertisements and non-profit promotions, for education and consumerism, not just for videogames. 

In many ways it seems like a concept we would expect Doc and Marty to deal with in a Back to the Future movie, but it will likely be a reality of our digital lives very soon.

How would you like to see consumers using augmented reality?  

Picture: Mashable.com

Written by Jillian Casey '15 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tech Tuesday: The Purpose of Games

When most people think of gaming, they think of SimCity or Halo, games that are primarily designed for recreational use. An older generation of gamers will remember Mario and PacMan, arcade games that are in many ways responsible for the popularity of gaming today.

A lot of people really enjoy playing videogames. But if you ask them why, the answer is usually really simple.

“I like to play videogames. They’re a lot of fun.”

That answer doesn’t satisfy a lot of people, especially adults that aren’t technology natives. They see a generation invested in virtual realities and lament all that videogames are taking from society.

What about all the things gaming gives to society?

Like it or not, we live in a technological world, and that technology has a direct effect on our interactions with one another. Studies have shown that gaming has an overall positive effect on social development, especially in young people with autism- videogames can teach those children how to respond to visual and verbal cues. Many gamers play online with collaborative communities, so they are actively socializing in a new way, connecting with people with similar interests.

Games have been proven to help develop critical thinking skills, as players are tasked with connecting events throughout the game and determining how to move through each level or episode. As a result, gamers are able to concentrate for long periods of time, an essential skill in education and the workforce.

A recent Huffington Post article details how gaming has become a scapegoat for violence when in fact studies have shown that players of violent videogames are aggressive only in relation to the game they are playing. In fact, games are good sources of stress relief and personal escape. They improve hand-eye coordination and various cognitive functions, from multi-tasking to decision making.

Gaming is slowly becoming an avenue for change, with websites like Gaming For a Cause raising money for cancer through gaming. Here at the EMC, we have created games like BREAKAWAY, which addresses the issue of violence against women, and Breath Biofeedback to reach out to children with Cystic Fibrosis and encourage the adoption of breathing exercises. The purpose of gaming is evolving into so much more than what it once was—in many ways it has become a platform for positive change.

What in your mind is the purpose of gaming?

Written by Jillian Casey '15