15 February 2017

Inspiring results of Game Research Seed Money Projects 2015

In October 2015 the focus area Game Research awarded its first seed money grants to ten interdisciplinary teams with a total budget of 73.000 €. Researchers were encouraged to apply for funding of initiatives that integrated and intensified activities of Game Research in three directions:
 

  • the strengthening of interdisciplinary research,
  • the expansion of our research volume,
  • and the increasing of our research impact.

The results were diverse and spread along the three directions from the initial call.

New technology

Several projects used the money to develop new technology. Take for example the project I make you smile: Using facial expression to detect and tackle depression. Within this project Prof. dr. Claudi Bockting and Dr. Alishia Williams from the Department of Clinical psychology, worked together with Dr. Ronald Poppe from the Department of Information and Computing Sciences. The aim of the project was to develop a fully computerized and personalized serious game for depression by facial detection with a targeted automated feedback strategy to improve mood.

“Through discussions on experimental setup, validation mechanisms and the use of technology, we have been able to align our research and to ensure that our work is partly complementary yet geared towards a common goal. We have identified and overcome differences inherent to the respective fields in which we work.”

Poster presentation at the Games for Health conference 2016, Utrecht University
Poster presentation at the Games for Health conference 2016, Utrecht University

Direct outcomes and activities of the project include a proof of concept, new technology and  collected data. Within the intended follow-up is the writing of a joint publication and the set-up of an international network to submit a H2020 grant on the topic.

Other projects used the seed money for similar goals, to develop a simulation or to enhance existing games for new application areas and software development.

The Virtual Supermarket from dr. Tanja Nijboer (UU/ UMCU)
The Virtual Supermarket from dr. Tanja Nijboer (UU/ UMCU)

Tanja Nijboer: “The general aim of this research was to develop a simulation that provides the user group with an intuitive VR environment and practitioners with an easy to use tool, which –ultimately- generates the precise data that neuropsychologists need.”

Prototype and new collaborations

In the project Autonomous gaze animation for socially interactive virtual humans during multi-party interactions, the money was used to build a prototype. This project was a collaboration between Zerrin Yumak and Arjan Egges from the Department of Information and Computing Sciences and Manasa Kandula, dr Dennis Hofman and Prof. Chris Dijkerman from Social and Behavioral Sciences.

 “The funding helped us to attract external collaborators and increased our visibility. That was through the remuneration of a student programmer to create a working prototype of our research outputs. As a result, we set up multiple new collaborations.”

Prototype of Autonomous gaze animation for socially interactive virtual humans during multi-party interactions
Prototype of Autonomous gaze animation for socially interactive virtual humans during multi-party interactions

Literature reviews, submission of papers and building (inter)national networks.

Further results that can be listed are literature reviews and the submission of papers, for example in the project Exploring the possibilities of intergenerational digital game design, a collaboration between Prof. dr. Eugène Loos, REBO, Utrecht University School of Governance (USG), dr. Monique Simons, Geosciences and Postdoc Teresa de la Hera, Humanities.

“In this project, we focus on intergenerational digital games that can be played by older and younger persons, such as grandparents and their grandchildren, to enhance their mental, physical and social well-being and to promote their social bonding.”

The seed money supported building an (inter)national research network. To this cause the main applicant organized an invited session Silver Gaming at HCII 2016, Human Aspects of IT for the Aged Population, Toronto, July 17-22, 2016.

The setting up of (inter)national research networks were also, for example, pointed out within The Playful City: a people-centric perspective of the smart city, a collaboration between dr. Michiel de Lange, Department of Media and Cultures Studies, Prof.  Albert Meijer, Utrecht University School of Governance and dr. Joske Houtkamp from the department of Information and Computing Sciences.

“The seed money helped to set up an international research network, to organize (inter)national meetings, write a larger research proposal and pay a research assistant. It thus helped to contribute to an emerging field of research.”

Collaboration on research proposals

Within several projects the collaboration between departments and external partners lead to the writing of research project proposals. 

More information

More information on all of the awarded projects can be found on the Game Research website.

In January 2016 they presented themselves to each other and the public.