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Falmouth University Games Academy Visit - Software Cornwall

You might have heard about the VR Open Day at Falmouth Uni Games Academy in late December. ‘Hi’, I’m Abby, one of the small group who attended.

As you’ve probably guessed, a group of us spent the day experiencing Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). If you think along the spectrum of reality – with the real world we typically see at one end and the fully-immersed virtual reality at the other with AR sitting somewhere near the middle. All three are amazing – and really fun – in their own rights, but AR was my favourite!

Throughout the day, we talked with experts and university students about the technologies: their development up to today and where they’re likely to go in the future. The possibilities are amazing – and not just for gaming!

The first piece of actual tech we tried out was the first iteration Microsoft Hololens. I absolutely loved it. Whilst the headset was a bit heavy after a while, the experience was well worth it. We were shown the ‘bloom’ gesture for bringing up the main menu, as well as how to hold your hand to click much like how we do with a mouse. It was easy to get the hang of, even though I’ve never used anything like it. Then we got to play RoboWars. And it’s completely convincing – you’re fully tricked into believing that the aliens are genuinely there, trying to kill you. It’s marginally terrifying. Though brilliant nonetheless. With the Hololens connected to the TV, everyone else could also see the players perspective on screen. It made you look a little less silly at least.

One of the next things we did was Duck Hunter. It sounds basic I know, but with VR and a Vive tracked cardboard tube (or bazooka, in-game) it was really entertaining. And later we were to expand on that, but like I said: later.

We spent a while going ‘round the warehouse (though with all the computers and beautiful wall art, it feels like blasphemy to call it that) and talking with some of the uni students. It was enlightening to say the least; it really made me think.

Now, I should probably explain: I was fairly convinced I wanted an apprenticeship this time a week or so ago. Not anything to do with University at all. But now I had reason to pause: the energy, the buzz of the Games Academy was… inspiring. Invigorating. And I’m fairly convinced that a majority of the computing industry is like that, but to get to experience it was brilliant! So now, I’m debating doing an apprenticeship and then going on to uni. It’s a conundrum…
But anyway! Enough about me.

After discussing some of the students’ projects with them, we went off to eat lunch (even the entranced get hungry!) During that, we talked more with one student in particular: Alex. He was about to hand in a finished game the next day, and we got to beta-test it. Using VR, we were in space, surrounded by asteroids and enemies. We found them, then shot them. Simple but effective. And good fun.

The last part of the day was to adapt a whole new concept for Duck Hunter (see, I said we’d expand on it!) Using Google Poly, we searched for graphics and built up a basic idea. The five of us came up with independent games, then – with Alcwyn’s input – combined them into one: using a flamethrower that shoots phoenixes, you must defeat the giant scorpions and protect your pig. Then your pig must be sacrificed to the dragon so you can survive. Ta-da!
Yes, it’s wacky, I know. But, hey, it was an original, interesting concept.

Anyway, that was a brief view into our VR Open Day at Falmouth Uni. A simply amazing day – full of fun; thought-provoking. My recommendation for anyone who has the chance to go!

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This post was written by Abby, one of the participants of Software Cornwalls Digital Gurus initiative. Find out more about the Digital Guru program and our other education outreach activities.

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