By Erin Roberts
The Game Research and Immersive Design (GRID) Lab will move from 5 on Court to a location in Scott Quad near the Scripps Howard Multimedia Lab. The move will allow faculty, administrators and students to access campus resources and further the GRID Lab's mission to conduct serious game research and design.
An initiative of the Scripps College of Communication, the GRID Lab opened in February 2006. Its goal is to serve as an innovative and creative center for undergraduate, graduate, faculty and staff serious game research and project development. It also seeks to provide the Appalachian Ohio region with training, education and an opportunity to develop technical and creative skills through the use of the Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development (WIRED) grant from the U.S Department of Labor and other initiatives.
With assistance from several strategic partners, including the Information Technology Alliance of Appalachian Ohio, Ohio University's Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs and Innovation Center, the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Ohio Board of Regents and Adena Ventures, the GRID Lab has established key relationships, resources and projects to fulfill its mission.
"The recent successes both through external fund-raising and completed project recognition have enabled the GRID Lab to engage faculty and students in cutting-edge research and development that is having an impact on a national scale," said Scripps College of Communication Dean Gregory Shepherd.
Since its establishment, the GRID Lab has worked on a variety of research and development projects. Some of these include:
- Developing first-responder firefighter training devices with Owens Community College in Toledo;
- Creating a video game to help regional third-graders with science and math skills through nutrition education for FoodMASTER;
- And creating digital environments of 30 high-profile Columbus locations for first-responder disaster training for the Columbus Police Department, a multi-million dollar initiative.
"Collaborating with faculty, students, peer institutions and industry professionals has been key to our success thus far," said Ben Schneider, co-director of the GRID Lab. "We have several exciting initiatives in the pipeline, and this move allows us to put all of our focus on those opportunities."
The lab's other co-director, John Bowditch. an instructor in the School of Media Arts and Studies (formerly the School of Telecommunications), said the school's newest major, first offered to incoming students in fall 2005, also plays a role in the GRID Lab's renewed commitment to focus on serious game research and development.
"Because of the new Digital Media: Special Effects and Game Animation, or SEGA, major, the number of applications to the school is increasing," Bowditch said. "The major allows for a pool of specialized students who can now both directly benefit from and contribute to the GRID Lab's serious game research and development projects."
Modern serious games use three-dimensional simulation and virtuality for education, simulation and training purposes. These games are widely used throughout academia, health care and wellness, military, government, and economic and social development. Facilities at the GRID Lab include a studio stocked with the latest development tools in software and hardware for game development, participant-observation research game-play environments and an experiential laboratory with capacity for development and quality-assurance testing.
While the daily operation of the public arcade will cease at the new location, GRID Lab administrators plan to continue special workshops with local organizations such as Kids on Campus and the Athens Association for Gifted Children. Equipment currently being used in the public arcade will be utilized for these functions as well as research and development initiatives. Credits and gift certificates should be used at the GRID Lab arcade prior to its June 15 closing. The GRID Lab will reopen at Scott Quad later this summer.