Q&A with Video Game Curator for UM Libraries, Bobby Green

 

Bobby Green,  M.M. in Media Writing and Production, next to the collection he helped create.

This past school year, UM Libraries debuted its new game video game collection.  This collection was the collaborative work of members from the UM Libraries, The School of Music and School of Communication. When it came time to select the titles for the collection, the library relied heavily on the work of Robert “Bobby” Green, a Long Island, NY resident, graduate music student, and aspiring video game music composer.

Early on, Bobby created a list of essential video games that the library should purchase. Others in the group added to the list, but Bobby’s recommendations were thorough enough that the current collection is nearly half based on his picks and half based on donations. Bobby may have graduated this semester, but he’s left his mark at the University and as the library acquires different video game consoles, we will continue to make purchases from his initial list.

We sat down with Bobby to talk about his work with the video game collection in the following Question & Answer session.

What interested you in working with the UM Libraries to build this collection?

When I first came to UM in August 2015, I wanted to work in the University’s library system. I have a long-held appreciation for libraries as an institution that provides people with access to information and culture. Before coming to UM, I had noticed that most libraries held works from creative mediums in some form or another. Literature, music, visual arts, and motion pictures were all represented. The most glaring omission, from my perspective, was video games. Video games, while being a very new creative medium, have matured to the point where I believe they belong in libraries, especially in academic institutions such as this one where many students may go on to work in the growing video game industry. Shortly after starting my work as a graduate assistant in the libraries, I was given the opportunity to help start a video game collection, and I was eager to help due to my lifelong passion for video games and other creative mediums.

How did you choose the video games you recommended for the library?

Because this is a university library collection, the collection needed to be curated based on attributes of academic merit. For that reason, I chose games based on their cultural significance, their influence on video games as a creative medium, and the presence of “artistic” aspects which could warrant serious academic inquiry. With that set of criteria in mind, I started with games I was immediately familiar with, and then grew my list by talking to gamers and reading “best game” lists, reviews, and game award lists. I made sure to carefully research each game and sorted them into “tiers” based on how well they matched the established criteria.

How would you describe the role of music in video games?

The most important role of music, not just in video games but any visual medium, is to communicate emotion. Music tells a viewer or player how they’re supposed to feel about what’s happening, ideally in a way that is unobtrusive. It can create feelings of suspense, excitement, and triumph, and can emphasize emotions such as sadness, anger, and joy in the context of the game’s narrative (provided there is one). Game music differs from scores for other forms of visual media not so much in the role it plays, but more in how it fills this role. Where other forms of visual media are generally linear, with a consistent timeline to be scored, video games are a uniquely non-linear medium. The timing of events varies heavily based on the player’s actions, and so instead of scoring action, game music must create a general mood which serves as a backdrop for the gameplay. With the advent of adaptive music tools, musical elements can be triggered by gameplay events, which adds an extra dimension to the role of music in games; however, these elements must still be flexible rather than specific the way scoring is for other visual media.

What’s your favorite thing about gaming?

My favorite aspect of video games as a creative medium would have to be immersion. In other mediums, the consumer is generally restricted to the role of a passive observer; you listen to music, you watch a film, you read a book. All of these activities can be deeply immersive, but I think being given a controller and becoming a participant, rather than just an observer, adds an extra layer of immersion. Although I enjoy a variety of games, I have always been particularly fond of story-driven video games and have found getting to be part of a game’s story to be particularly engaging.

Where do you see the video game industry in the future?

The video game industry is currently growing, and I believe that it will continue to do so as the technology is improved upon and innovated. Virtual reality will undoubtedly be important, though the technology has a long way to go before becoming the standard. There has been an increasing trend towards “cinematic” style games which blur the line between film and video games, and I believe that that line will be blurred a great deal more in the future.

More Information

The video game collection is located in the Digital Media Lab, First floor Richter Library.  Check out our video game website for a list of games and policies.

If you are interested in contacting Robert Green, please visit his LinkedIn Page.



Visit the New Galapagos Exhibit

Kevin Reagan is a graduating senior at the University of Miami studying Marine Science and Biology. As part of the UGalapagos program with Study Abroad, Kevin spent August-November 2017 living on the island of Isabela, the largest island in the archipelago.  An exhibit of images from his time on there is on display in the lab for the Spring 2017 semester.  View the entire exhibition in the Digital Media Lab or on our online gallery.

Read what Kevin has to say in the following Question & Answer session.

What motivated you to do UGalapagos?
I initially found out about the program during my first year here at UM, and I knew after one info session that no matter what, I was going to go there during my undergraduate career. There was something extremely alluring about the opportunity to go to the very same islands where Charles Darwin was inspired to think of natural selection and evolution.  I tailored my class schedule over my first three years at UM to ensure that I would be able to go my senior year.

What most surprised you about the experience?
The scenery was not at all what I expected; I had a vision in my head of lush green forests teeming with wildlife, but found that most of the islands were closer to deserts than rainforests. The highlands offered me the lush green experience I was looking for, but in the lowlands it was all lava fields and cactii.

What part of the trip was the most exciting for you?
There was a field trip that we took to the western side of Isabela Island that was an all-day journey. It took about three hours to get to our destination, which was a small inlet in a completely uninhabited part of the island, where we had the opportunity to snorkel and photograph some of the wildlife. The water was freezing, but the snorkeling was beautiful, and when we made it to the second destination (an inlet only about 10-15 minutes away from the first), we caught a serra mackerel and made fresh ceviche right there on the boat. The best part was the return trip back home. I was sitting on top of the boat speaking with the guide and looking down at the water when I saw a manta ray about a foot underneath the surface. I got excited, as it was the first one I had seen, and pointed it out to the guide, who told me “Just wait.” Two minutes later, we were completely surrounded by feeding, jumping manta rays, who can grow as large as 20 feet in width (wingspan). It was by far one of the most exciting experiences of the trip, as well as my life.

What inspired you to photograph your experience?
I have always enjoyed photography. When I had the opportunity to travel to such a unique place that has things and animals found nowhere else in the world, I knew I had to document the experience and bring those photographs back to people that may never have the opportunity to travel there themselves. That’s why I am grateful for this photo exhibition; it allows me to bring the place to the people.

What do you look for in a great picture?
The general rule that I follow for myself is that if something catches my eye, I photograph it. Not only is it likely that it will catch someone else’s eye as well, but at the end of the day, you photograph to document your life and your experience. In other words, you’re photographing for yourself, not everyone else. You don’t have to follow the rule of thirds and have the perfect aperture and shutter speed all of the time. A photograph can be technically bad, but if it is a snapshot of a memory that means something to you, it doesn’t matter.

Could you share some advice for other students who want to do travel photography?
If you’re blessed with the opportunity to not only travel but to travel and photograph, seize that opportunity and do not let go. Once you’re there, photograph everything. You may end up with several thousand photographs, but I can guarantee that in that large number are a smaller number of fantastic photographs. Don’t ever second guess yourself; with phone cameras what they are today, anyone can be a photographer. There’s never an excuse to not take a photo if you have the chance.



Make 3D Models from Photos

Ever since we introduced 3D printers into the lab, the most common question we are always asked is, “How do you make a model for 3D printing?” Normally we point people to free software like Tinkerkad and 123D Design, which are easier for beginners. The second most common question is about 3D scanning.

Last semester we tried using the Xbox 360 Kinect for scanning. It had a lot of limitations, and is more for fun than anything practical. This semester we are testing Autodesk ReMake which uses photographs to make a 3D model. Autodesk ReMake is available to download for free for education purposes. You can learn more about downloading on the UMIT webpage: it.miami.edu/a-z-listing/autodesk

To make a 3D model, you would photograph the item you want to model and then upload the images into ReMake. ReMake then stitches the images together to make a 3D model. This process can take over an hour, but ReMake will email you when the file is complete. Using ReMake, you can do some basic editing of the model they send you and then 3D print it if you wish. You can also export the file to use in more advanced 3D software.

We’ve created a video that shows our testing process with Autodesk ReMake. We’ll continue to run some tests throughout the semester. Please feel free to come by the lab and discuss ReMake and get some tips on best practices.

 

 



Get Your Game On

by Robert Green, Graduate Student, School of Music
and Vanessa Rodriguez, E-Learning & Emerging Technologies Librarian

videogames

 

Video games have come to the libraries!

We are proud to announce the opening of a video game collection with games for Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo, PlayStation, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox, Xbox 360, GameCube and Nintendo Wii.

The collection was carefully curated based on criteria of artistic achievement, cultural significance, and historical significance, and should provide useful study material for any students looking to enter the video game industry or related fields.

But video games are not just for those who want to enter the field, or those who want to relax for a bit. Would you be interested in researching the accuracies and inaccuracies of historical portrayals in media (like in Assassin’s Creed?). Are you interested in sumi-e style art? Then perhaps you would be interested in Okami. Or maybe you’d like to play Journey and hear the Grammy award nominated music the way the composer intended. Video games have developed into a unique medium of creative expression and a vibrant new art form.

Richter’s collection can be found in the Digital Media Lab alcove, with consoles available for use in the library. Simply find the game you want to play on the shelf and bring it over to a DML staff person for check-out. We have a station with a TV and HD monitor and headphone jacks to facilitate their use. You can check out newer games (PS3, Xbox 360, Wii) for use on your own console!

The video game collection is an addition to the board games and role-playing manuals in Richter Library as well as the video game music soundtracks and scores in the Music Library that were made available last year. If you have any suggestions of game materials that the library should purchase, please fill out the library’s Suggest a Purchase form.

Special thanks to Clay Ewing in the Interactive Media department in the School of Communications for donating half of the consoles as well as Mark Buchholz, Robert Green, Bill Jacobs, and Vanessa Rodriguez for their own donations.



TNT: Trying New Technology

microOrange 010716top-i-1024x677

The DML has a few new toys at the lab this year and we’d love to show them off.  We have new 3D printers, a single lens 360 camera, Virtual Reality Goggles with an iPod to view 3D videos, a 3D scanner, and a 3D pen.  Attend our TNT (Trying New Technology) workshop series to learn more about and test our new technology available in the lab, including 3D printing and virtual reality tools. Each workshops focuses on a new particular technology. We’ll discuss how the technology works, what people are using it for, and give you a hands on demo on how to operate it.

This semester we have the following new items you can learn more about and test for yourself:

Click here for the TNT website : Learn more and register for a workshop(s) you are interested in. All attendees are then eligible to reserve these items for check-out, or in the case of the 3D printer, reserve time to print.



Welcome!

Welcome to the Digital Media Lab blog where we will be posting all news worthy events and notices to the lab.  As you can see, we’re just starting out on this post, but for a long time we in the lab have wanted a medium to be able to communicate to everyone all about the lab.  Want to know when we get some new equipment in? Want to know about an event or workshop we are hosting? Want to see what other students are working on? This blog will include all of that and more.

For the Fall 2016 semester we are testing new equipment: M3D printer, 360fly camera, Xbox Kinect Scanner, 3D pen, and video games/consoles. Help us explore by coming to one of our demo/workshop events for these products. Check back here for more information including how to follow us on the social media outlets we are currently setting-up.

Thanks for stopping by!