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Wednesday, February 8, 2006
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Ohio University GRID Lab celebrates grand opening

ATHENS, Ohio (Feb. 8, 2006) -- The Game Research and Immersive Design (GRID) Lab, an initiative of the College of Communication at Ohio University, opened on Feb. 8, at "5 on Court Street" in Athens. Though the research aspect of the lab has been functional since September 2005, today marks the opening of the state-of-the-art arcade, which is open to Ohio University students and the community.

Photo by Rick FaticaThe goal of the GRID Lab is to provide the Appalachian Ohio region with training, education, and an opportunity to develop technical and creative skills through the use of interactive digital game technology, according to College of Communication Dean Greg Shepherd. The GRID Lab also serves as an innovative and creative center for undergraduate, graduate, faculty and staff research and project development.

"We intend to make the College of Communication at Ohio University a leader in the area of interactive digital technology, both in curriculum and in research," Shepherd said. "The GRID Lab will showcase this leadership for us."

The primary focus of the facility is on "serious games" and three-dimensional simulation and virtuality. Serious games are those created for education, simulation and training purposes. These games are widely used throughout academia, healthcare and wellness, military, government, and economic and social development. The GRID Lab provides Ohio University with the resources and tools to create such interactive digital media and technologies.

"The GRID Lab will contribute to the field in ways that do not respond to but instead introduce major technological innovations and research," said GRID Lab Director Karen Riggs. "These contributions will be powered by partnerships on and off campus. We can collaborate with the Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine and Health and Human Services, for example, to do path-breaking projects in medical and physiological simulation. The GRID Lab can create new knowledge through collaboration with all units on campus."

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 alpha- and beta-testing.

Already the GRID Lab has acquired a number of research and development projects that include a partnership with the Smithsonian Institution to develop interactive multimedia displays for its 2008 "Year of the Image," the development of a first responder enhancement system with Owens Community College in Toledo, Ohio, and a strategic collaboration with serious games developer Tabula Digita.

"The types of projects we're working on show that the GRID Lab is going to be a trailblazer in the field, as none of these have been done successfully in the past," said GRID Lab Associate Director John Bowditch. "The challenge of these projects is what excites us. Our location here at Ohio University is a real asset, as we are surrounded by creative, innovative people. The University makes for a compelling work environment and makes the GRID Lab stand out in its ability to tackle difficult research and development projects."

The long-term goal of the GRID Lab is to make Athens the "new media and technology center" of the Midwest. Through the planning and development of strategies involving industry research, community outreach and entrepreneurial development, the GRID Lab intends to create a model for new world communication expansion.

The GRID Lab's strategic partners include the IT Alliance of Appalachian Ohio, Ohio University's Voinovich Center and Innovation Center, Adena Ventures and Tabula Digita and Cyberlore Studios, serious game development companies.

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Media Contact: GRID Lab Director Karen Riggs, (740) 590-4012 or riggsk@ohio.edu, or Media Specialist Jack Jeffery, (740) 597-1793 or jefferyj@ohio.edu

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