GUEST EDITORS' INTRODUCTION


by Tiffany Barnes and L. Miguel Encarnação

March 2009 — SERIOUS GAMES

Serious games use video game technologies to simulate realistic situations, providing valuable experience that can support discovery and exploration while saving money and lives. Serious games have been used for many purposes, including flight and vehicle simulation, scientific simulation and visualization, industrial and military training, medical and health training, education, and geographic information systems, as well as to raise public awareness and spur policy change. The articles in this month’s theme look at serious games and related technologies from a variety of perspectives.

In "Making Them Remember—Emotional Virtual Characters with Memory," Zerrin Kasap, Maher Ben Moussa, Parag Chaudhuri, and Nadia Magnenat-Thalmann introduce techniques for having virtual characters "remember" interactions with player-learners, enabling serious games to tap into emotions to connect with and motivate players. They also introduce techniques for augmented reality (AR), an exciting new area for serious games that lets us use real-world artifacts in simulated situations. Advances in the use of emotion and AR can make serious games more immersive, intelligent, and believable, and expand the domains they can address.

New interfaces for virtual reality and interaction have made their way into games for exercise (exergames), which are being tapped as tools for researching physical health. Ben Sawyer's "From Cells to Cell Processors: The Integration of Health and Video Games" showcases many of the ways in which health and games can be integrated. In "Using a Virtual Body to Aid in Exergaming System Development," Jeff Sinclair, Philip Hingston, Martin Masek, and Ken Nosaka present a way to simulate physical exertion that will help reduce the time it takes to test and develop exergames. Their innovation is a simulated model of physiological performance metrics such as heart rate. Using this model, the playtester can make gameplay decisions without having to strenuously perform the required physical activities.

Serious games have great potential for providing scalable, repeatable training, especially for cultural and social skills and understanding. In "Culture, Models, and Games: Incorporating Warfare's Human Dimension," S.K. Numrich explores the new need to understand the roles that culture and the "human dimension" play in modern conflicts and other domains. Expressing the richness of place, culture, and society in simulation and training is becoming critical for business and political commerce.

Another way serious games enable cultural exploration is through location-based games at significant places, such as those in "Experiencing the Past through the Senses: An M-Learning Game at Archaeological Parks." Authors Carmelo Ardito, Paolo Buono, Maria F. Costabile, Rosa Lanzilotti, Thomas Pederson, and Antonio Piccinno use a mobile-phone-based game with local sound effects to engage children in exploring ruins and information about the past while playing the role of a character out of history.

While serious games offer venues for new experiences, there is a need to continually evaluate the effectiveness of game approaches for their intended purposes. In "To Game or Not to Game?" Christiane Gresse von Wangenheim and Forrest Shull present a meta-review of games used for teaching software engineering. They find that out of 21 studies in this area, just a few of them were conducted using rigorous experimental methods, but many were used to teach the "soft" skills related to project management.

More on Serious Games >>

Tiffany BarnesTiffany Barnes is an assistant professor of computer science at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Contact her at tbarnes2@uncc.edu.

L. Miguel EncarnacaoL. Miguel Encarnação is the Director for Emerging Technology Applications at Humana's Innovation Center. Contact him at lme@computer.org.

Theme — SERIOUS GAMES

Making Them Remember—Emotional Virtual Characters with Memory
by Zerrin Kasap, Maher Ben Moussa, Parag Chaudhuri, and Nadia Magnenat-Thalmann
IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications, March/April 2009, pp. 20–29

Research on virtual characters has been ongoing for the past 20 years. Early efforts focused mostly on making the characters move and speak—that is, on body and facial animation.

 

From Cells to Cell Processors: The Integration of Health and Video Games
by Ben Sawyer
IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications, November/December 2008, pp. 83–85

Too often, conventional wisdom states that video and computer games offer no educational benefit, waste time, and, worst of all, are inherently unhealthy.

 

Using a Virtual Body to Aid in Exergaming System Development
by Jeff Sinclair, Philip Hingston, Martin Masek, and Ken Nosaka
IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications, March/April 2009, pp. 39–48

Interest in exergaming—emerging exercise equipment with video games—is surging.

 

Culture, Models, and Games: Incorporating Warfare's Human Dimension
by S.K. Numrich
IEEE Intelligent Systems, July/August 2008, pp. 58–61

As the Cold War fades into history, the notion of military conflict as two heavily armed forces engaging on a battlefield has been replaced by concepts involving urban warfare, security and stability operations, and countering insurgencies.

 

Experiencing the Past through the Senses: An M-Learning Game at Archaeological Parks
by Carmelo Ardito, Paolo Buono, Maria F. Costabile, Rosa Lanzilotti, Thomas Pederson, and Antonio Piccinno
IEEE MultiMedia, October–December 2008, pp. 76–81

M-learning—the combination of e-learning with mobile technologies—captures the very nature of e-learning by providing users with independence from the constraints of time and location.

 

To Game or Not to Game?
by Christiane Gresse von Wangenheim and Forrest Shull
IEEE Software, March/April 2009, pp. 92–94

One challenge in software engineering education is to give students sufficient hands-on experience in actually building software.

 

What's New

Compute? No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You To Die
by Charles Day
Computing in Science & Engineering, March/April 2009, p. 88

Columnist Charles Day describes the history of computing as presented in the James Bond movie series.

 

Designing with an Agile Attitude
by Rebecca J. Wirfs-Brock
IEEE Software, March/April 2009, pp. 68–69

This article looks at the attitudes and practices of successful agile software designers.

 

The Booze Cruise: Impaired Driving in Virtual Spaces
by James R. Parker, Nathan Sorenson, Nooshin Esmaeili, Ronan Sicre, Phillipa Gil, Vishal Kochlar, Lori Shyba, and John Heerema
IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications, March/April 2009, pp. 6–10

For Canada’s first course in serious game development, students designed the Booze Cruise, a game that shows how difficult it is to drive while impaired.

 

Data Mining for Crooks
by Mark Ingebretsen
IEEE Intelligent Systems, March/Apri 2009, pp. 4–6

This column addresses the use of AI techniques to analyze criminal activities to identify suspects and their methods of operation.

 

IT Challenges for 2009: Fixing the IT Infrastructure
by Thomas Jepsen
IT Professional, January/February 2009, pp. 4–5

With a new administration in Washington, the US needs to focus attention on its IT infrastructure if it wants to remain competitive in the global economy.

 

Analyzing Voice Quality in Popular VoIP Applications
by Batu Sat and Benjamin W. Wah
IEEE MultiMedia, January-March 2009, pp. 46-57

This article presents a technique for comparing the speech quality of VoIP systems on networks suffering from congestion.

 

Curricula Development for e-Science: Meeting the Challenges
by Malcolm Atkinson, David Fergusson, and Elizabeth Vander Meer
Computing Now Online Only from IEEE Intelligent Systems, March 2009

What's the state of curricula for e-Science, and how can we improve on existing content and delivery?

 

Symptoms of Healthy Innovativeness
by Shane Greenstein
IEEE Micro, January/February 2009, pp. 3–5

In the midst of an economic downturn, Shane Greenstein takes a look at symptoms of health in an innovative industry.

 

Reading (with) the Enemy
by Marc Donner
IEEE Security & Privacy, January/February 2009, p. 3

Is it wrong to read the writings of so-called security "bad guys"? An associate editor in chief of IEEE Security & Privacy says "not at all," provided they have something useful to say.

 

Scanning the Horizon
by David Alan Grier
Computer, February 2009, pp. 8–11

In addition to reducing the time it took to pay for purchases, bar codes and scanners provided a system that would track inventory, reduce theft, and provide data to help merchants understand how their goods were purchased.

 

Welcome to "The Functional Web"
by Steve Vinoski
IEEE Internet Computing, March/April 2009, p. 102–104

The first installment of Steve Vinoski's new column, "The Functional Web," focuses on using functional languages for RESTful Web service application development.

 

IEEE Std 1500 Enables Modular SoC Testing
by Erik Jan Marinissen and Yervant Zorian
IEEE Design & Test of Computers, January/February 2009, pp. 816

This article provides a brief tutorial on the standard and illustrates its usage through two application case studies.

 

War of the Mobile Browsers
Edwin A. Hernandez
IEEE Pervasive Computing, January–March 2009, pp. 82–85

Mobile Web is the next step up for wireless, and carriers are using various mobile browser approaches to deliver mobile content.