UCI to launch first-of-its-kind official e-sports initiative in the Fall

UC Irvine is launching an official e-sports initiative this fall, the first of its kind at a public research university. A state-of-the-art arena equipped with high-end gaming PCs, a stage for League of Legends competitions and a live webcasting studio will be constructed at the Student Center, and as many as 10 academic scholarships will be offered to students on the team. “UCI eSports will be built on four pillars: competition, academics, entertainment and community,” said Thomas Parham, vice chancellor for student affairs. “We hope to attract the best gamers from around the world, and our academic programs in computer gaming science, digital arts, computer science, engineering, anthropology, law, medicine, neuroscience and behavior create a strong foundation for research and inquiry related to gaming.”

Faculty from IVECG are serving as advisors to this eSports initiative.

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So long #GGJ16, and thanks for all the fun!

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As the world uploads their last bits and bytes of games, we are thrilled to announce that Global Game Jam 2016 has concluded! Over 36,000 jammers across 93 countries have created almost 6800 games – making 2016 the biggest year for Global Game Jam yet!

Jammers from all corners of the globe created games inspired by a single theme – RITUAL – and 23 optional jam diversifiers. The resulting games spanned thousands of interpretations and executions – and they’re all available to play now!

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Kids from around the world find community, learn English through poetry

Under the bright lights of the auditorium of John Muir Middle School, dozens of students are on stage rehearsing for a big poetry performance.

Standing in a row with her classmates, Jwail Alnamh, a Syrian immigrant, recites her line: “I remember home when my country was all good and my grandma could take me everywhere.”

“I dream about seeing my friends once again and jumping rope and laughing,” said Fima Kaoumi, who is also from Syria.

These students are 48 of the students enrolled in English Language Development classes at the Burbank middle school. Like many recent immigrants, they’re slowly mastering a language they didn’t grow up speaking. To help them cope — linguistically and emotionally — teachers have designed a unit that uses poetry and performance to help English learners improve their language skills.

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The Surprising Health Benefit of Playing Video Games

Playing 3-D video games can improve your ability to form memories and may benefit your brain as you age, researchers report.

“It’s often suggested that an active, engaged lifestyle can be a real factor in stemming cognitive [mental] aging. While we can’t all travel the world on vacation, we can do many other things to keep us cognitively engaged and active. Video games may be a nice, viable route,” study co-author Craig Stark, from the Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory at the University of California, Irvine, said in a university news release.

The researchers tracked non-gamer college students who played either a 2-D or 3-D video game 30 minutes a day for two weeks.

Before and after the two-week period, the students were given a memory test designed to engage the hippocampus, the region of the brain associated with complex learning and memory. Those who played the 3-D game showed improvement on the memory test, while those who played the 2-D game did not, the investigators found.

Memory performance among those who played the 3-D game improved about 12 percent, the same amount it normally declines between ages 45 and 70, according to the study authors.

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OpenSim Community Conference in a virtual world was a great success!

15567297708_37cee7fb9b_zAbout 450 people the 2014 OpenSim Community Conference on 8-9 November 2014, hosted on OpenSim servers residing at UCI. The OSCC is the largest international research conference held exclusively within a persistent, online virtual world. The OSCC had a peak of 159 simultaneous participants during Philip Rosedale’s keynote address, which he delivered simultaneously logged in at the conference and at his new virtual world platform, High Fidelity. Prof. Steve LaValle from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and Oculus VR Inc., also attracted a large crowd, about 120 people. The UCI OpenSim server, under the direction of Prof. Crista Lopes, performed flawlessly, even during a weird “intervention” from some machine in Moscow at some point, which was promptly blocked.

The sessions were also recorded on streaming video, and are all available at ustream:
http://www.ustream.tv/channel/oscc3 (main track)
http://www.ustream.tv/channel/oscc1
http://www.ustream.tv/channel/oscc2
http://www.ustream.tv/channel/oscc4
http://www.ustream.tv/channel/oscc5

So if you are new to virtual worlds in general, or to OpenSim in particular, consider browsing one or more of the videos to see what a virtual conference looks like, how it works, and how its similar or different from conferences you have attended.

Last, it was also noted that the carbon footprint for the OSCC in total is much smaller than compared to having 450 people engage in air and land-based transportation to get from their global homes to a specific international conference destination. Some people also enjoyed flying around within the virtual conference site too, without requiring airline reservations, flight delays, or travel reimbursement processes.