The Institute for Virtual Environments and Computer Games (IVECG) seeks to advance UC Irvine’s strengths as a national leader in research and education activities that are revolutionizing how we teach and learn, conduct business and commerce, provide health care, and interact and behave in society.

Research scope of the Institute for Virtual Environments and Computer Games is based on the following three areas:

  • Technology and Design focuses on how to create virtual environments and games — the tools used, the best practices followed, and the spark of creativity that breathes life into a game or an environment. Creation requires such computer science disciplines as computer graphics, networking and artificial intelligence, along with mechanical engineering, digital art (e.g., modeling and animation), music, sound design and writing.
  • Society and Culture is the area in which scholars analyze the interaction between the world of the virtual and the world of the physical — people, societies, organizations and cultures. New cultures are arising within and among virtual environments and game arenas. Games and virtual environments are transforming the world in ways that we are only beginning to understand; therefore, law, humanities and social sciences are invaluable components of the Institute’s research. Essential components of analysis include historical perspectives on game and virtual environments, interpretation of spaces and artifacts in terms of law and policy, and cultural and aesthetic evaluation.
  • Applications and Education includes the many ways to use virtual environments and computer games in health, education, training and entertainment. Harnessing the full power of digital technology to improve lives requires innovation and domain experts who, in the words of computer science pioneer Alan Kay, have the vision to predict the future by inventing it. Some research by Institute faculty members is inspired by the challenges that arise from designing, implementing, and deploying games and virtual environments for non-traditional gaming domains.


The power of virtual environments and computer games cannot be understated in its ability to inspire, attract and empower. Virtual environments and computer games comprise the primary manifestation of digital technology in the lives of millions of people: This is how many learn, communicate, understand, relax and even give meaning to their lives.

Games are characterized by rules, explicit goals, and carefully crafted combinations of play, challenge, and achievement. No longer the exclusive province of teenage boys, computer games have expanded in:

  • platform (e.g., mobile phones and social media)
  • audience (surveys show 69 percent of all heads of households play computer and video games, 40 percent of all gamers are women, and one out of four gamers is over the age of 50)
  • purpose (games to promote health, education and social change are skyrocketing in popularity)

Virtual environments are persistent, interactive, shared spaces enabled by software, computers and high-speed networks. They are becoming important venues for interaction in education, business, science and medicine, as well as entertainment, gaming and social bonding. Virtual environments, although commonly used for social interactions, are distinct from social networks and news groups. Virtual environments typically have visual structures, an “avatar” that represents the user and is able to move around and perform actions in the visual structure, and a sense of persistent existence that continues when any one user is logged out.


Janet Ko
IVECG Administrator
ICS 2, Room 240
(949) 824-9979

The Institute for Virtual Environments and Computer Games is located in ICS2 (building #304 on the campus map), Room 275.