This NEH Summer Institute for Advanced Topics in the Digital Humanities will take place from June 17, 2013 – July 6, 2013. The three-week institute will be hosted by the Center for Digital Initiatives (CDI) at Arkansas State University (ASU), Jonesboro campus in northeast Arkansas in the Mississippi Delta region, and the Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies (CAST) at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville (UAF), located in northwest Arkansas. The first two weeks of the institute will be held at the CDI at Arkansas State University Jonesboro, AR campus. Participants will then travel as a group to the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, AR for the last week of the institute.
This summer institute brings together twenty scholars working in the humanities who have research or teaching projects that would benefit from real-time visualization in a game engine, published as standalone applications, web players, or on mobile devices. In a three-week institute, participants will be provided with a conceptual roadmap to the difficult but intellectually productive issues that surround the academic use of game engines, including the balance of immersion with accuracy and strategies for storytelling and graphical user interfaces (GUIs) in “serious” games while grounding institute participants in the intellectual issues that arise at the intersection of gaming and academic visualization. Participants will also receive hands-on training in the digital toolbox for creating game engine content, a basic workflow that they would be able to use in their own projects and bring back to their home institutions learning how to use a broad range of tools including Unity 3D, online multi-user virtual environments, Google SketchUp, Maya, as well as a broad range of open-source programs. No prior knowledge or experience in 3D modeling will be assumed.
A unique feature of this institute is the incorporation of cultural content drawn from the Mississipi Delta region and ASU Heritage Sites that have been modeled by the CDI, including the Lakeport Plantation in Lake Village, the boyhood home of Johnny Cash in Dyess, the Hemingway-Pfeiffer house and studio in Piggott, and the Japanese-American internment camp in Rohwer. In bringing together an impressive group of lecturers who specialize in the use of 3D visualization and game engines as research tools in the digital humanities, the institute creates an important resource in the form of a community of scholars—which allows for future collaborations between individuals and universities. The institute focuses on theoretical and practical applications of visualization tools, so participants will receive hands-on training in the digital toolbox for creating game engine content and a basic workflow that they will be able to use in their own projects and bring back to their home institutions.