Friday, June 1, 2007

The Atlanta Game Development Meetup Group March Meetup

I attended the Atlanta Game Development Meetup at Fellini's pizza tonight. It was really cool to meet so many people involved in the production and development of video games. Here is a rundown of what I can recall from the meeting:

Virtual Auschwitz / Birkenau Museum
James is developing a virtual museum to memorialize the victims of the concentration camps at Auschwitz / Birkenau. Most of us have heard of these places. When I was in high school we learned about them, but honestly, are we ever going to get to physically visit them? Most likely not. The idea behind the virtual museum will be to capture an immersive experience that people can "enter into" much the same way they do in immersive 3D video games devoted to war and mayhem. The difference here is that this experience will be showcasing real victims of a horrible period of human history. Cheers to James for undertaking this important effort to commemorate a time in history that should never be forgotten and should always serve as a reminder that we should be ever on-guard against racism and racially motivated elitism and genocide. He made a case-in-point that someone built a virtual Auschwitz in Second Life, but it was a white-supremacist group that built it, so the Lindens took it down.
If you are unfamiliar with Auschwitz / Birkenau, start with Wikipedia:

Related Aside
I was profoundly effected when my grandmother Aldrich took me to see Schindler's List when I was a teenager. It has always stuck with me the scene when Liam Neeson, playing Schindler, lamented that he could have saved one more person if he gave up his remaining wealth. (Interestingly, I read now on wikipedia that this scene did not appear in the book:'s_List)
Sharon told us about a program they are developing programs for teaching kids about the United States through writing and video games. See The goal is to create a video game the depicts real-life places so as to inspire kids and their families to attend these little known national treasures throughout the country. Sharon told us about her four grandkids and told stories about her grandparents and their interesting history and hard work, including her grandfather's rise from entry level work to the chief executive of a steel company!
This company builds video games that are used by the United States Air Force for training pilots and weapons operators for controlling Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and other combat simulations. According to Ed, a developer for the company, developing these games requires a lot of math knowledge about matrices in particular, but the games allow you to "see" and experience the math and physics on screen. Ed reminded us of the perseverance needed in all forms of product development, whether it be a business system or a virtual reality war-game simulation: all work requires attention to detail and care.
Brad, the organizer of the meetup, works for Cartoon Network and develops Flash-based games. His team recently developed Loco Motion, a game that uses a web cam! Trying it now...

This is COOL! You have to wave your hands around to make the character on the screen move! Wow! At first I was clicking buttons and things because I didn't read the instructions, then I came back and read them. Very cool!

I am worn out now!

I remember playing a river-rafting game at Dave and Busters with my brother a couple years ago that was physical-virtual like this, but I had not see one like this that used the webcam like this.

Go try this game now if you have a webcam! If you don't, then buy a webcam. They are cheap.

OZ Magazine

This is a business to business magazine focused on visual communications and media technologies. They are interested in the Georgia Economic Development Initiative's push for making the gaming industry a top market contender in the Atlanta area. Another guy named James was there interviewing folks for an article to appear in OZ magazine about the gaming industry in Atlanta. He and I discussed many ideas for Second Life, like virtual sports hall-of-fame museums for the Braves and Falcons and other professional sports teams.

Father and Son Research Team
There was a father and son there researching the gaming industry. The father was interested to find resources about the industry and the son, 18, is very interested in designing video games. He is attending Kennesaw State University.

My Projects and Related Interests
I gave people the following links related to my activities and interests revolving around Second Life and metaverse technologies: : my new portal about Second Life and the Atlanta area. : The GA Tech Virtual Worlds III symposium about gaming technology for social change. : My great grandmother's virtual art gallery in Second Life

I also talked about my desire to help teach video-game production and development skills to students in high school as a way of expanding their understanding of this industry whose products they adore.

best regards,

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