Our Summer of Project Progress

Written by: Gillianne Ross ‘22

It has been a busy summer here at the Emergent Media Center (EMC). While our summer group worked remotely this session, the twenty students who participated in select projects continued to put forth equal effort and enthusiasm for their work. Projects and design challenge teams for this summer session took part in creating a virtual fish tank community, Tank It Easy, for Champlain College, while another proposed ways to share information and news in a post Covid-19 world. In this newly evolving work environment, the EMC is pleased with the progress made by groups this summer as we prepare to enter the Fall semester.

A still from project E.G.G.

The two experimental teams continued to move forward over the past few months and have come out of the summer session with game prototypes that are in their final stages. Project E.G.G. has an active website which provides information about the game itself and the creators. E.G.G. is an in-browser game that allows for players to observe multi-generational impacts on the environment and enables the players to act in either descriptive or protective measures for the in-game world. The E.G.G. team is hopeful to build a collaborative relationship with the Champlain College EcoReps to drive community testing and continue to raise awareness about environmental impacts while taking the project further and allowing for future adjustments.

A pet from the DigiPets Game as seen on their website

DigiPets offers those interested in owning a pet a trial run to see the steps and responsibility involved in conscious pet ownership. “Through Augmented Reality interactions with a digital pet… these interactions will facilitate growth and learning related to pet ownership and care.” At this stage, the DigiPets group is ready to receive feedback to guide their next steps with the game. The team has created a website to provide information about the project, the team’s intent, and allow for feedback. The website offers a download for the game prototype (currently for Android devices only), a page for player support, and profiles of the creators. In order to get the game into the public’s view the team intends to reach out to the Chittenden County Humane Society to gather their perspective. 

Summer team members for project E.G.G and DigiPets

The Summer Design Challenge team was tasked with the subject of Covid-19 and how to process information sharing during this period, both during and after the global pandemic. Miranda Rodriguez, ‘21 Visual Communication, gathered information from the community concerning how they perceived media coverage and specific aspects of the pandemic such as masks. Overall, Rodriguez found that people are looking toward social media to gather information, and that 27% of those who answered the survey think media coverage of Covid-19 has been exaggerated. The goal of the Design Challenge team was to provide unbiased and factual information to a wider community.

Conceptual Covid-19 poster that makes use of individualism

One concept offered was by Leah Peterson ‘22 Game Art, who explored the use of wartime propaganda tactics in spreading awareness about Covid-19 and how people can aid in the effort to “secure the homefront.” This tactic makes use of both individualism and collectivism as they apply to the fight against Covid-19 for public health through calls to action. Multiple virtual platforms where this could occur were shared.

Another concept was focused on the adjustments that have been made, and continue to develop, concerning sports. Colin Duane ‘23 Game Design, offered his idea of an extension/app that would function similarly to the platform Letterboxd that shares user reviews/rating and would allow for sports fans to continue to interact with each other from a safe distance. In relation to this concept of a browser extension, Shea Cunha ‘22 Communications, pitched the concept of fact checker extension for news sources. A display would be present on the browser bar, representing if the information is mostly true or false on a gradient scale. The extension could also be modified to offer suggested articles that cover the same topic though with a different perspective.

Summer Design Challenge creative newsletter mock-ups

Brenna Anderson ‘21 Visual Communications, offered her vision for a virtual newsletter that could take the form of an email or a story via either Facebook or Instagram that would update the Champlain community on current events with unbiased information. This idea evolved into the concept of a creative newsletter that uses art from Champlain College students and faculty that deal with subjects that relate to current events. Overall, the Summer Design Challenge team developed multiple concepts for how to deal with the informational challenges presented with Covid-19 and how the Champlain community could potentially tackle this issue.

Tank It Easy is another project that continued to develop throughout the summer session. Originally started in the Spring 2020 semester through a Game Production course, the team was eager to continue developing this interactive fish tank for the Champlain College community. Tank It Easy is a virtual fish tank where users create their own digital fish using the templates provided and then drop that fish into the Champlain community fish tank to interact with other users’ fish in a thriving ecosystem.

The Tank It Easy Fish Creation Board

The team has arrived at four different types of fish that a player can choose from, along with various patterns and textures for each type of fish. When a player creates a fish, they will select a size, diet, fear level, sociability, and temper which will correlate with how their fish interacts with other player’s fish in the tank. The sociability level will be a key factor in how fish interact with each other and the environment surrounding them. Animation for the fish movements has been added, along with a feature that enables tapping the virtual tank. When a person from the community taps the large tank display, location on campus to be determined, the fish will react to this action based on their fear level. More interactive elements are included in future iterations.

We here at the EMC are pleased to share the student achievements made throughout the summer. While the way the Center will operate this Fall may be different from our normal operations in the past, we are confident in the skills, knowledge, and commitment our students and teams carry with them as we continue to navigate through Covid-19 and what comes next. We look forward to the projects that will unfold with the upcoming months.

If you are interested in collaborating with the EMC, please read this intake information and complete the following form.