I went to the undergraduate symposium part of A Day of DH in The Five Colleges. This part of the digital humanities exhibition gave undergraduates a space to present the products of their hard work. There was a game created to represent the interconnectivity of “zines”, artistic representations of hip-hop culture through new technologies, a presentation on a student-created company that allows Five-College students to develop videogames, and even a partial thesis embedded in a videogame (Elder Scrolls) through a modification. What grasped me the most was the use of videogame hardware for the purpose of bringing a greater level of immersion into student’s projects.
Eunice Esomonu utilized the Microsoft Kinect to create an artistic display of ‘breaking’, a mode of dancing that from hip-hop culture. A dancer was breaking in front of the Kinect, which caused the visual representation to burst into a multicolored flow of her body. The Kinect is a camera that connects to Microsoft’s Xbox One system and allows the full body to participate in certain videogames through the camera and motion sensors (http://www.ign.com/articles/2014/11/27/xbox-one-with-kinect-review). (Kinect 2.0)
The advancement of videogame hardware enabled Ms. Esomonu to represent breaking through digitally illustrating real-time breaking. These technologies offer a new level of immersion for gamers, but in this case it enabled Ms. Esomonu to develop an artistic display.
This new level of immersion was shown in the games that Isaiah Mann’s Glowlime Games helped produce. One such game was a maze that used a mathematical function to change shape as each movement was made within the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. Oculus Rift is a gaming headset that immerses viewers into 3D virtual worlds that participants can actually move and function within (http://www.ign.com/articles/2016/03/31/oculus-rift-review).
Mr. Mann’s presentation was about videogames, so he presented some of the games that Glowlime produced with students. However, the Rift has the same potential as the Kinect for utilization outside of gaming.
The impetus of gaming and technology companies to develop greater immersion in gaming has also created more avenues for immersion outside of gaming. Whether it is the use of the body to create a digital, artistic masterpiece, or a digital world created by a student to represent some mathematical principle, immersive technologies are opening new opportunities for everyone, not just gamers.