Thursday, April 06, 2006

10 mln euro for game research

Games are a hot subject around Utrecht. So I found myself yesterday in the company of people close to games. And they were very happy. Of course. It does not happen too often that a sector gets 10 million euro from the government to spend on game research. It is even more interesting as the majority of this grant will go into setting up a research institute at Utrecht University.

The 10 million has been dedicated to the GATE research programme (Games research for Training and Entertainment). Besides research money will be devoted to the execution of pilots of serious gaming. GATE will be executed under the umbrella of the Center for Advanced Gaming and Simulation (AGS) of the University of Utrecht, the research institute TNO and the HKU college and is supported by ICTregie.

The gaming sector is seen as part of the digital creative industry. Gaming is seen as a wide concept, ranging from the traditional arcade, drill and shoot-them-up games to interactive marketing games, serious games, social games (for kids and seniors) and simulation. Part of the research will be to see how games and simulation can be applied in the health sector, education, mobility, safety and public service. I heard yesterday someone speak about the combination of news and games, not a memory game, but a game explaining to people a news story. In fact, we are talking here about the combination of digital storytelling and games principles. It is an exciting perspective.

Interesting is the fact that the money is devoted to the GATE programme, which will be executed by the AGS in Utrecht. It looks like government is telling that Utrecht will be the Dutch game city. In the past year several cities have put a claim to fame in this area. It looked like it was becoming part of the city marketing programmes of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Breda. With this grant Utrecht will have fortified its claim to game city NL.

In the city itself the university, the colleges, knowledge institutes, games companies, consulancies and innovation agencies are really working together. The games sector is seen as part of the larger content industry. It looks like the next areas to be focused on are e-learning and eventually content.


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