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SpelmanXR (extended reality) is a student group within the Innovation Lab that creates, explores, studies and experiments with all aspects of virtual worlds. AR/VR/MR, gaming, simulations, 3D modeling and level design are all areas of exploration for the group. Whether developing for the desktop, mobile platforms or headsets, the group meets twice weekly and works in small teams to tackle the many challenges of virtual world designs. Experts and newbies are all welcome. SpelmanXR offers a wonderful opportunity for artists, technologists, researchers and storytellers to collaborate on a single project.


The group works primarily with the Unity gaming engine, though other technologies (Babylon.js, Blender, Minecraft, UnReal, WebGL) are also explored as needed or requested.


SpelmanXR meetings times will be posted on the Innovation Lab Calendar.

click to animate

Tell Your Story: Game Narrative

Consider the video clip shown.  In this cut scene, our player (the protagonist in the white blouse) is approached by the green character.  Words are exchanged before the antagonist beats a hasty retreat.


What words are exchanged?  Is the protagonist alarmed or enraged?  Is the green character warning the player of danger (a friend) or is she the herald of bad news (an antagonist)?  What happens next?

Once control of the protagonist is transferred to you, what unfolds is co-authored by you (the player) and the game designer.  The story is not linear.  It depends on the rules of the game and the choices made by the player.  In the case shown, the player decided to accost the green character, causing her to retreat.  Another player might have opted to strike her.  Another might have fled.  In each case, the narrative unfolds differently.

As decision points multiply during gameplay in ever increasing world sizes of a modern game, the possible storylines grow rapidly.  Add to that the possible contributions of other AI (artificial intelligence) and human players in networked games, and the narrative options are endless.

So, what's your story?  Is it a historic reconstruction?  Is it a fictional fantasy?  Is it a social commentary on the present times?  Whatever it is, games are an interactive platform for non-linear, interactive and (using VR) immersive storytelling.

Game Art and Visual Narrative

Storytelling in the context of a game is equal part storyline and art.  Consider the playable game scene below.  The scene is deliberately imbued with a cultural identity.  In order to construct such a scene, every asset shown has to be designed by an artist:  the shields, the masks, the fabrics and even the 2 human avatars had to be individually created and assembled.  Further, to be culturally and historically accurate, such assets must to be researched, possibly by an anthropologist or historian.  Many assets are available in various asset stores online.  Few carry assets that celebrate authentic African culture.  Fewer still have representative humanoid assets.  As game developers and storytellers, developing such assets are essential to create culturally relevant narratives.  Doing so responsibly, involves artists and expertise from the humanities.  SpelmanXR explores all of these and invites students from every discipline to participate in the game design process.

Click on the scene.  Then, use your mouse (rotate camera) and keyboard arrow keys (pan camera) to navigate the scene.

Press <ESC> to release the mouse.

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