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Accepted Paper:

Game-engines as research environments. interdisciplinary encounter in virtual experimental setups  
Jens Fehrenbacher (Universität Bonn)

Short abstract:

This contribution observes the implications of the wide use of videogame-engines for research in the contexts of mixed-reality and digital twinning. The problematic legacy of its original use-case will be reflected as well as the characteristics of a new stage for interdisciplinary negotiation.

Long abstract:

With the rise of so-called mixed-reality and digital twins of bodies, machines or architectures interdisciplinary research (including e.g. engineering, IT, psychology, arts) goes through a surprising repurposing of media environments of a completely different genre: game-engines. They are the hubs of videogame development where graphical models (2D or 3D), sounds, text etc. are assembled and combined with scripts in common programming languages to enable real-time interaction and non-linear dramaturgies.

Now these game-engines are widely used in disparate fields of development and research. They offer presets for an easy start, a huge number of online tutorials and a what-you-see-is-what-you-get (implying) interface. So also non-IT-experts can arrange virtual objects, change input data and hit the ‚play‘-button to test the setup. Through additional libraries many inputs and datatypes (like mixed-reality devices, sensors or complex datasets) can be included so they promise an accessible multi-purpose tool.

Still, it is worth taking a closer look at the implication of this repurposing of a multilayered environment far from its original use-case. Many metaphors and functionalities are still rooted in gaming culture. From a media studies perspective in a research project on digital twins of humans and virtual-reality I also want to consider in how far these interfaces and environments demand and enable interdisciplinary dialogue. They offer different levels of insight in and interference with otherwise black boxed procedures for diverse researchers while still constituting a dependency on IT-experts which can lead to a negotiation of language, functionalities and also representation and aesthetics in interdisciplinary research projects.

Traditional Open Panel P261
Transforming data practices in the humanities: virtual research environments revisited
  Session 1 Wednesday 17 July, 2024, -