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Main Objectives of IMRC

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The Interdisciplinary Media Research Consortium (IMRC - pronounced "immerse") houses a digital laboratory equipped with state-of-the-art hardware and software and staffed with experienced faculty and students from three departments and two colleges at Utah State University. Research and development of professional quality immersive educational games and simulations are the main focus.

The design and production of two distinctly different games establish a creative process and production system for various types of projects that accommodate a variety of educational content from any department or college. The first two games that IMRC has chosen to develop are HEAT (Hazard, Emergency, & Accident Training) and Aristotle's Assassins.


Why Serious Games?


The computer game industry is growing at a rate that surpassed the movie industry three years ago. With gross sales already totaling $100 billion annually, the addition of new platforms and the increasing speed of internet connections can only dramatically increase these sales. Along with the entertainment market, there is an increasing interest in the design, development and use of computer games and simulations for educational purposes.

The most viable reason for this interest is its ability to engage students and to provide additional motivation for exploring information in unique, visually rich environments.

Simulations and games also offer the ability to represent objects, processes and phenomena that are either difficult to experience in the “real world” (i.e. cycles of evaporation and condensation or historical events) or may be too dangerous or costly in other forms (i.e. virtual surgeries and ancient Greek architecture). The trend in building effective instructional tools through games has created opportunities for teachers to engage their students with exciting content through technology and to facilitate learning through enjoyable means. IMRC is at the forefront of this creative educational research.


The IMRC Environment


The IMRC lab is an environment that encourages interdisciplinary research and incorporates the individual strengths of each of the faculty applicants and selected student researchers.

IMRC solicits partnerships with other colleges and departments on campus who have expertise in content areas to expand and add new dimensions in areas related to the development of serious games and other forms of interactive immersive environments. All colleges and departments at Utah State University is encouraged to submit content that could be developed into an educational game or engaging multimedia course.


Commercial Projects and Creative Production “Pipeline”


To examine and understand this new area of educational research, a hands-on approach is being explored through the production of two serious games.  

The first game, titled
Hazard, Emergency, & Accident Training is a computer-based simulation to help train fire and emergency personnel in the practice and protocol of domestic disaster response. This game employs a multi-user 3D environment using cutting edge game engine technology.

The second game, titled Aristotle's Assassins, teaches Ancient Greek art and architecture, philosophy, and politics through an adventure, role-playing environment where students interact with Greek civilization and influence forms of government.

Although commercialization is definitely part of IMRC, the more important principle is the exploration of interactions between faculty and students coming from varying disciplines. The strengths of this diverse group of participants create a stronger, more in-depth look into the various parts and participants in the design of large-scale and complex serious games. Experience gained by this process establishes a production “pipeline” or system that makes the design of future projects more efficient.

 

Educational Benefits



In addition to the commercial revenues that contributes to the self-sustainability of IMRC, there are many educational and academic benefits. IMRC meets the current demand for curricula connected to serious games, computer graphics, and simulations. The hands-on nature of the conceptual and production design process of IMRC gives students the applied training many corporations in this growing industry are asking for.

Innovative curriculum and programs associated with each unit and new cross-disciplinary associations are created based on the discoveries and research that can only be found through the successful implementation of IMRC. The dissemination of the results and creative activities of IMRC help to further USU’s reputation as a liberal arts, education, and technology leader.