Thursday, January 16, 2014

UNCG Libraries Open New Gaming Lab in the Digital Media Commons (DMC)



Video games – how do they affect us and what can we learn from them?  That’s the question being explored in the newest feature in the Digital Media Commons in UNCG’s Jackson Library.

Students and faculty are invited to see for themselves what the buzz is about on February 7 at 3 pm in the Digital Media Commons to explore the new Gaming Lab, which opened December 3.  While there, we invite you to see the new MakerBot printer now being installed.

The Gaming Lab project was spearheaded by Associate Professor Gregory Grieve, and coordinated by Beth Filar Williams, Interim Head of the Digital Media Commons (DMC). Support from Lindsay Sabatino, Director of the Digital ACT Studio housed in the DMC along with the financial support College of Arts and Sciences, Lloyd International Honors College, Undergraduate Studies, and University Libraries made the lab possible.  
  
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With the opening of the Gaming Lab, UNCG is following scholar­ship and a general curriculum trend around the country. As outlined in The Chronicle of Higher Education:  “Games are now used in English classes studying interactive narratives, media-studies classes looking at the cultural impact of violent games, as well as courses in game design offered at about 300 colleges.”  As Beth Filar Williams said, “We are not just building the lab because it is trendy.  The Game Lab follows the core mission of the University Libraries, to provide and support innovative, interdisciplinary, learning environments needed for faculty and student success.”

Often video games are viewed as little more than niche entertainment.  Yet, as Gregory Grieve, said, “Sixty-seven percent of US households play video games.  Without critical examination, our students run the risk of consuming problematic portrayals of history, other cultures, gender and depictions of violence.”  Unlike other types of popular culture, such as films and television, as Grieve went on to say, “games require that players interact with them, that they have the controllers in their hands.  If you want students to study something, you have to have it in front of them.” 

Makerbot
3D printing is the process of making a physical object from a digital file - enabling rapid prototyping of design concepts and functional, working models.  Makerbots are appearing all across the country, and Filar-Williams says it makes sense to have one in a central facility on campus in the DMC that everyone can use.


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