| A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |



Julian Bleecker, Research Fellow, Annenberg Center for Communication and Assistant Professor, Interactive Media Division

How can mobile games become more than just Tetris on a phone? What approaches to creating mobile play can help create more ludic, engaging and playful experiences without being an all consuming thumb-twitcher? I will present three mobile game projects Balloonr, Clckr! and Small Town that are deliberately drawn from familiar "mobile social practices", indicating a different approach to mobile play that is an alternative to simply porting console games to mobile devices.

Julian Bleecker is a Research Fellow at the Annenberg Center for Communication and Assistant Professor in the Interactive Media Division at the University of Southern California. His areas of expertise include media and entertainment, mobile designed experiences, location-based media, and social software. His background in electrical engineering and computer science, coupled with his work on emerging technology design allows him to provide a unique perspective on the near-future possibilities of technology-based mobile, location-based, social and networked applications, products and services. Many of his emerging technology projects and designs have been exhibited and presented in venues such as SIGGRAPH, Xerox PARC, O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference, Ars Electronica, ACM SIGCHI, Banff New Media Institute, American Museum of the Moving Image, Art Interactive (Boston), Boston Cyberarts Festival, Eyebeam Atelier (New York City), and SK Telecom’s Art Center Nabi (Korea). Bleecker has a BS in Electrical Engineering from Cornell University, an MS Eng from the University of Washington, Seattle, and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Cruz where his dissertation was on technology, entertainment and culture.

Tom Boellstorff, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, UC Irvine

Homo Cyber: Virtual Presence in Second Life

This paper’s analysis originates in the realization that we are on the verge of one of the most massive technological transformations in human history, the creation of societies on the Internet. We are witnessing the birth of a new form of human being—homo cyber—and a new form of human interaction, virtual sociality. Virtual sociality involves the movement online of an increasing percentage of human social life, a movement social inquiry must follow. While many scholars see virtual worlds as marking the emergence of the posthuman, I argue that the forms of selfhood and sociality characterizing virtual worlds are profoundly human. This argument rests partially on the claim that not everything connected to virtual worlds is novel. Therefore, it is imperative that we ascertain precisely what elements are new and in what ways they are new. Ethnography can play a crucial role in pinpointing what is distinctive about virtual worlds. This paper draws from ethnographic research in the virtual world Second Life to address “presence” in virtual worlds. Through ethnographic data, I show how a “mass media” approach to virtual worlds like Second Life is fundamentally flawed, because such virtual worlds do not just mediate between social environments; they are social environments in their own right. Thus, many of the most common terms used in association with virtual worlds—mass media, computer mediated communication, game, play, and others—obviate or misrepresent their most radically novel and consequential characteristic: they are social forms in themselves.

Tom Boellstorff is Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Irvine. His research projects have focused on questions of sexuality, globalization, nationalism, HIV/AIDS, and cybersociality. He is the author of The Gay Archipelago: Sexuality and Nation in Indonesia (Princeton University Press, 2005), winner of the 2005 Ruth Benedict Award from the Society of Lesbian and Gay Anthropologists. He is also co-editor of Speaking in Queer Tongues: Globalization and Gay Language (University of Illinois Press, 2004), and a number of articles, including publications in American Anthropologist, American Ethnologist, Cultural Anthropology, Journal of Asian Studies, Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, Games and Culture, Ethnos, and GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies. He is currently preparing a book manuscript entitled Homo Cyber: Virtual Worlds, Ethnography, and the Human, based upon research in the virtual world Second Life.

Betsy Book, Makena Technologies

Betsy Book is the Director of Product Management at Makena Technologies, creators of the virtual world There. She has participated in, managed and developed a wide range of community focused products over the past 10 years, from text-based message boards and chat rooms to 3D virtual worlds. Over the course of her career, Betsy has developed co-branded web sites for iVillage, served as the VP of Product Development for the ecommerce site Flooz.com, and has managed large-scale moderation and reporting programs for entertainment industry clients such as AOL, MTV, The-N, Showtime, Country Music Television, and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. In 2003, Betsy launched Virtual Worlds Review, a web-based guide to social virtual worlds. She has written several papers about the roles advertising, branding, and tourism play in these spaces.

Corey Bridges

The Multiverse: A New Model for MMOG Production Multiverse is creating a network of online video games and other 3D virtual worlds. Its unique technology platform will change the economics of virtual world development by empowering independent game developers to create high-quality, Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs) and non-game virtual worlds for less money and in less time than ever before. Multiverse solves the prohibitive challenge of game creation by providing developers with a comprehensive, pre-coded client-server infrastructure and tools, a wide range of free content - including a complete game for modification - and a built-in market of consumers. The Multiverse Network will give video game players a single program - the Multiverse Client - that lets them play all of the MMOGs and visit all of the non-game virtual worlds built on the Multiverse platform. www.multiverse.net.

Corey brings development and marketing experience from some of the most innovative companies in the high-tech and entertainment industries, including Zone Labs, Netflix, Netscape, Borland, and The Discovery Channel. He specializes in market creation and growth for new categories of products. Over the years, he has also built and launched a number of world-class technology platforms.

Sheldon Brown, Director, Center for Research in Computing and the Arts, UC San Diego

Brown will discuss an approach to creating new forms of art involving the extension of technological and cultural forms arising from computer gaming and scientific visualization. At UCSD, Brown has created an Experimental Game Lab in which a variety of industrial relationships have been cultivated to create a generative conversation and support model for furthering work that extends the fringes contemporary culture. The work in this lab looks across existing cultural forms for intersections whose recombinations generate revelatory artifacts. This seems to be interesting to some in more typical industries, and it is bewildering to others.

Sheldon Brown is Director of the Center for Research in Computing and the Arts (CRCA) at the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) where he is a Professor of Visual Arts and the founder of the of New Media Arts area for the UC San Diego Division of Calit2. His artwork reconfigures private and public spaces where new forms of mediation proliferate, diversifying geographies and social organizations. This art explores the schismatic junctions of these zones – its edges of coherency – providing glimpses into formative structures, with a view that extends constrained boundaries. Currently, he is developing several interactive environments that cross-fertilize virtual reality and game technologies.


Dr. Steve Cutchin, Manager Visualization Services, San Diego Supercomputer Center

The SDSC Gaming Grid is a hosting environment for the deployment of experimental educational MMOGs. It provides educators who wish to develop and deploy educational games a location where their deployed games can have National reach and access to substantial storage, network and compute resources to provide them the opportunity to deploy games that can host larger communities than by hosting their games directly from within their own lab. The SDSC gaming grid has created its own initial educational MMOG called the Science Exploratorium. The goal of the Science Exploratorium Project is to create a multi-user persistent educational community that is both fun to play-in and educational as well. The initial target audiences are kindergarten through 12th graders. To achieve the project goal, we will be building a Science Exploratorium game world where students can login from the Internet and explore/ play with their friends the many activities designed to simulate educational growth. The success of this project will be measured by the continue play of existing player base and the rate of growth of new players.

Steve Cutchin, Ph.D., is the manager of Visualization Services at the San Diego Supercomputer Center. He has worked as a Sr. Software Engineer at Walt Disney Feature Animation developing software tools to improve animation production onfeature films. He has published articles on Computer Graphics and Visualization, created animations and images for conferences and journals.



Jack Emmert, Creative Director, Cryptic Studios

Jack Emmert is a long time gamer & comic book reader. His first foray into gaming was, of course, Dungeons & Dragons¨. Like many young people, he was baffled by the fact that "Basic D&D" was totally different than "Advanced D&D", but that's a whole other story. His professional career in the hobby game industry started at a local comic book store in the outskirts of Philadelphia, Showcase Comics. And for nearly a decade, Jack pursued a PhD in Greek and Latin. He earned his first Master's degree (ancient history) from the University of Chicago and his second Master's degree from Ohio State University. During that period, Jack wrote supplements for a variety of gaming lines, including Deadlands, Hell On Earth, DC Universe, and Marvel Superheroes. He left academia in July 2000 to co-found Cryptic Studios and design the hit MMP game, City of Heroes. He's currently working on the sequel game, City of Villains.


William Fisher, President, Quicksilver Software, Inc.


USC's Institute for Creative Technologies connects Hollywood and game-industry expertise with the U.S. military. Quicksilver Software created two major ICT training simulators, Full SpectrumCommand and Full Spectrum Leader.

Full Spectrum Command posed a number of significant challenges: building a company-level training simulation that could run on a standalone desktop PC and be easily used with minimal technical knowhow. No existing game engine was capable of handling the large number of units and detailed terrain together with a full company- level AI subsystem. Quicksilver’s custom engine, based on its past game-industry projects, includes a sophisticated hierarchical AI which can simulate 250 entities in real time. The product also includes a powerful planning interface which allows trainees to set up complex, multi-phase combat plans and watch them execute in real time.

Full Spectrum Leader added a new challenge: creating a first-person command interface which allowed the trainee to give complex orders to subordinate units in real time. The game also required another leap in modeling quality and accuracy, with each bullet's trajectory individually traced, recorded, and made available for later playback.


Bill Fisher wrote his first computer game in 1975 – on punch cards. He has a BS with honors in Mathematics and Computer Science from UCLA, and is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa honor fraternity. His first job was as a programmer and manager at Mattel Electronics.

Bill founded Quicksilver Software in May of 1984. He programmed numerous products, ranging from games and print utilities to circuit simulators. He was the in-house producer for Castles, Castles II, and Conquest of the New World. He now serves primarily as an executive producer, shaping titles such as Star Trek: Starfleet Command, Full Spectrum Command, Full Spectrum Leader, CASHFLOW 101/202, and the company's most recent project, a combat game for Sony PSP and Nintendo DS entitled Star Trek: Tactical Assault.

Bill also acts as a technology consultant for select clients. He is currently overseeing the creation of software for protecting intellectual property and is designing a financial authentication system. Last year, he contributed design and architecture expertise for the DARPA DARWARS project. He also guest-lectures in game design classes at local colleges.

Tracy Fullerton, Assistant Professor of Interactive Media, USC School of Cinema-Television

The Art of Play: Player Centric Design and the Process of Innovation

Creating digital games is an uncommon mixture of art, science, economics and entertainment. Today's game industry is already quite accomplished in terms of innovating new technologies and features, but in order for games to reach their potential as an expressive medium, they must become just as accomplished in terms of innovating new areas of game play and emotional experience. This talk will focus on the creative and process issues involved in exploring these types new game designs and outline a method for innovation and risk-taking that involves the player in every step of the design process. Example projects from the EA Game Innovation Lab at USC.

Tracy Fullerton is Assistant Professor at the Electronic Arts Interactive Entertainment Program at the USC School of Cinema-Television where she co-directs the EA Game Innovation Lab. She is also a freelance game designer and the co-author of Game Design Workshop: Designing, Prototyping and Playtesting Games (CMP Publishing, 2004). In addition to numerous game design credits, she has also held creative director/designer/producer roles at R/GA Interactive, Interfilm, and Synapse Technologies, as well as Founder and President of Spiderdance. Her work has received industry honors to numerous to list. She holds a MFA from the USC School of Cinema-Television. She is also a co-founder of Ludica women’s game collective.



Robin Harper, VP Community Development and Support, Linden Lab, creators of Second Life

Bill Gates writes: "In today's emerging information society, the critical natural resources are human intelligence, skill and leadership. Every region of the world has these in abundance, which promises to make the next chapter of human history particularly interesting." Second Life is a unique digital world, created completely by its residents: over 150,000 individuals from around the world. Hosted on a grid of nearly 2000 computers, these virtual pioneers are using powerful built-in tools for collaborative creation. They transcend the magic circle, as their wealth and products flow back and forth between the virtual and the real. While many of these people came to Second Life to play, they are in fact creating a new economic power unfettered by the usual constraints that shape economic growth. As the false dichotomy of 'play' versus 'work' breaks down, how will this technically adept, international and online work force affect society and culture? What new forms of diplomacy, business and education will appear as international groups collaborate in this environment generally identified as a 'game'?

As VP Community Development and Support, Robin Harper is responsible for shaping the evolution of the rapidly growing community of Second Life users. This includes facilitating communication at all levels, interfacing between users and Linden Lab on issues of social mores and technical development, and ensuring inspired creativity never veers into total anarchy.




Yasmin Kafai, Associate Professor, Graduate School of Education and Information Sciences, UCLA

Whyville & WhyPox

The focus of our presentation is a virtual world community called Whyville.net with more than 1.5 million registered users, mostly between the ages of 8-14. It attracts 25,000 unique visitors and 1000 new registrants daily, generating 40-50 million page views a month. The players visit the site to participate in science, math, and other educational activities, chat with each other, as well as sell, purchase, and trade avatar parts. Occasionally, players experience the outbreak of a virtual epidemic, dubbed WhyPox. To learn about WhyPox, players visit the Whyville "CDC" and use simulations to learn about the spread of infectious diseases. In 2003, the parent company of Whyville Numedeon, Inc. and UCLA submitted a proposal to the National Science Foundation (NSF) to investigate science learning around WhyPox. WhyPox epidemics were introduced into the Whyville community twice during the study with different infection mechanisms. Simulation tools were redesigned to provide better feedback for the players. The collaboration provided UCLA researchers unprecedented access to survey and track consenting online players in schools, after school programs, and homes.

Yasmin Kafai, an associate professor at UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies, has conducted extensive studies on childrenÕs learning as designers and players of educational software and games. Her research has been published in Minds in Play: Computer Game Design as a Context for ChildrenÕs Learning (Lawrence Erlbaum Publishers, 1995) and in Constructionism in Practice: Designing, Thinking and Learning in a Digital World which she co-edited with Mitchel Resnick (Lawrence Erlbaum Publishers, 1996). She produced the report Under the Microscope: A Decade of Gender Equity Interventions in the Sciences for the Educational Foundation of the American Association of University Women (2004) and participated in the report Tech-Savvy: Educating Girls in the Computer Age (AAUW, 2000) and many research papers on educational games and learning. She currently has two NSF-funded studies pertaining to the workshop: (1) a study of a multi-player online science site for children and (2) a development of a media-rich design environment for underprivileged youth.


Antoinette LaFarge, Associate Professor of Digital Media, Studio Art Department UC Irvine

In games, the one who plays is not the same as the player. In RPGs especially, the player must perform in order to keep the play going, and this performance creates something that is a society, a fiction, and a history at the same time. These characteristics serves to align games in interesting ways with other forms: the case histories of psychology, dreams, ritual, among others. This in turn points to the importance of deliteralizing moves within games, contrary to a strong tendency to normalize game play and bring it more into line with the conventions of RL.

Antoinette LaFarge is a digital media artist whose research focuses on networked performance, computer games, and the intersection between fiction and art. Recent mixed-reality performance works include "Demotic" (2004), The Roman Forum Project" (2003), and "Reading Frankenstein" (2003); a new version of "Demotic" will be produced later this year at The Baltimore Theater Project. Currently, she is working on a book due out this spring entitled "Searching for Sebald" about the German writer W.G. Sebald, whose novels uniquely integrate text and photographs. She has co-curated two groundbreaking exhibitions related to computer games: the 2004 ALT+CTRL, a festival of alternative and independent games, and the 2000 SHIFT-CTRL, an exhibition on computer games and art, both at UC Irvine's Beall Center for Art and Technology. She is the founder of the Plaintext Players, an Internet performance group, and the director of the virtual Museum of Forgery.


Ron Meiners, Community Management Consultant

Successful online community is driven by the formation of genuine bonds between users, and by the communities that grow up around those bonds. The essential parts of a successful online community are 1) tools that enable the members to interact and create meaningful content, and 2) understanding and support of the formation of those bonds by the host site, and incorporation of that dynamic in business goals and methods. The design and management of a successful online community site must include the encouragement of discovery of mutual characteristics - such as appreciation of the "Myst" series - as well as technologies that enable the formation of long-term relationships and, ideally, emergent creative behavior that contributes new content to the community. The opportunities of collaboration with such an energized community can be very powerful for the host company, but the company needs to relate with the community in a consistently supportive manner.

Ron Meiners has worked in a wide range of online community applications, from casual games to virtual worlds, from HearMe.com and Uru Live to a volunteer position as the Online Community Advocate for the Burning Man organization. He is passionate about the potential for online communities to foster relationships between participants and to open the range of experiences to collaborative creativity, transformative experiences, and the evolution of social organization. He is committed to the exploration of new forms of interaction and collaboration online. His recent projects include There.com (speech enabled virtual social world), Multiverse.net (platform for independant MMOG creation), and Dogster.com (community of passion for pet owners).

Clarinda Merripen, Vice Pres of Operations, Cryptic Studios

Ms. Merripen coordinates finance, IT needs, human resources and facilities at Cryptic Studios by providing a creative, enjoyable and productive workplace. Her specialty is incorporating strategic influences into everyday activities. Additionally, she is an active member of the game industry focusing on two issues: business operations and increasing the female market share. For the last four years she has spoken at the Game Developers Conference as well as the World Science Fiction Convention in Boston, and Austin Women's Developer's conference. She strongly believes in mentoring, she has been an active participant in IGDA Scholarship program. She is a regular columnist and contributor to Game Developer Magazine. As an active member of the IGDA, she sits on the committees for Business, and Quality of Life as well as participating in the Women in Game Development and co-founding the Human Resource Special Interest Group.

Bob Moore, Sociologist, PlayOn Group, Palo Alto Research Center

Designing for Sociability in Virtual Game Worlds

Perhaps the most compelling feature of massively multiplayer online worlds is the fact that they enable a new kind of "sociability" (i.e., the inherent satisfaction derived from the company of others). Millions of people worldwide are spending significant portions of their lives collaborating, competing, trading, learning and socializing together in entertainment-oriented virtual worlds. Compared to the physical world, virtual worlds are much more malleable, and virtual communities are much younger than their real-life equivalents. Consequently, developers and players alike continually struggle with the basic question: How do you design for sociability in virtual game worlds? The PARC PlayOn project has been exploring this question by studying a variety of game worlds from different angles. On the one hand, sociability is impacted by the very medium through which players interact with each other (e.g., avatars and text chat). On the other hand, sociability in virtual worlds is also impacted by the design of their public spaces. By understanding the organization of embodied interaction and public spaces in current game worlds and in real life, developers and players alike can design richer online social experiences.

Bob Moore is a sociologist in the Computing Science Laboratory at PARC and a member of the PlayOn project team (www.parc.com/playon). He specializes in the micro-analysis of social interaction and practice in virtual worlds and in real life. In the area of online game research, he examines the mechanics of avatar-mediated interaction as well as shared player practices through screen-capture-video analysis and virtual ethnography. Bob has conducted video-based ethnographies in a variety of settings including massively multiplayer online games, copy shops, automobile assembly plants, and survey research call centers. He obtained his Ph.D. in sociology in 1999 from Indiana University, Bloomington, where he was trained in ethnomethodology and conversation analysis.

Jacki Morie, Associate Director, Creative Development, Institute for Creative Technologies, USC

Jacki Morie is a long standing artist using traditional and digital techniques. Pioneering digital work started in 1980. Her first artistic immersive virtual worlds work "Virtopia" (Done with partner Mike Goslin) premiered at the Florida Film Festival in 1993 and was designed to provoke emotional responses in visitors, taking VR out of its cold, technical focus. She currently holds a position at the University of Southern California’s Institute for Creative Technologies, where she continues her work in emotionally evocative virtual worlds. She is listed in the latest TED 1000 book of the most creative people in the world. Jacki is also a co-founder of Ludica, and a member of the Executive Board of SIGGRAPH.


Bonnie Nardi, Associate Professor of Informatics, UC Irvine

I will discuss collaboration among strangers and friends in World of Warcraft, analyzing how varied forms of collaboration affect players' enjoyment and learning of the game. I will suggest topics for future research on WoW and other massively multiplayer online games.

Bonnie Nardi is a faculty member in the Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences at UC Irvine. An anthropologist, she is interested in innovative social uses of the Internet. She has studied instant messaging, blogging, and other forms of computer-mediated communication, as well as face to face communication. She is the author of three books, an edited collection and many articles. Her latest book, Acting with Technology: Activity Theory and Interaction Design, will be available from MIT Press in September. Her current research involves an ethnographic study of World of Warcraft.

Robert F. Nideffer, Director of the Game Culture and Technology Lab

Robert F. Nideffer researches, teaches, and publishes in the areas of virtual environments and behavior, interface theory and design, technology and culture, and contemporary social theory. He holds an MFA in Computer Arts, and a Ph.D. in Sociology, and is an Associate Professor in Studio Art and Informatics at UC Irvine, where he serves as an Affiliated Faculty in the Visual Studies Program, and as Co-Director for the Art, Computation and Engineering (ACE) Program. He is also directing the UC Irvine Game Culture & Technology Lab, and a related academic "Concentration in Game Culture and Technology." Robert has participated in a number of national and international online and offline exhibitions, speaking engagements and panels for a variety of professional conferences.Between 1997 and 1999, Robert was employed by the Departments of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of California Santa Barbara where he led the User Interface Design and Implementation group of the Alexandria Digital Library project. While there he was responsible for developing distributed, peer-to-peer digital library architectures and production-ready software components supporting organization, publication, discovery, and use of geospatial and other types of strongly structured scientific data.



Celia Pearce, Senior Research Associate, Game Culture & Technology Lab/Institute for Software Research, UCI

Celia Pearce is an award-winning game designer, artist, researcher, teacher and author of The Interactive Book: A Guide to the Interactive Revolution (1997, Macmillan), and numerous other articles on game design and culture. She currently holds an appointment as Sr. Research Associate for the Game Culture & Technology Lab, University of California Irvine, and is a lecturer at the Interactive Media Progam at University of Southern California, where she worked previously as Interim Director and Visiting Scholar. She was creative director for Iwerks and Evans & Sutherland's Virtual Adventures: The Loch Ness Expedition, a 24-player virtual reality attraction, and has curated or co-curated exhibitions, most recently ALT+CTRL, a festival of alternative and independent games (with Robert Nideffer and Antoinette LaFarge.) She is a co-founder of Ludica women’s game collective.




Walt Scacchi, Acting Director of the Institute for Software Research and Associate Director of the Game Culture & technology Lab

Walt Scacchi is acting Director, senior research scientist and research faculty member in the Institute for Software Research. He is also the associate director for research at the Computer Game Culture and Technology Laboratory, both at UC Irvine. He received a Ph.D. in Information and Computer Science at University of California, Irvine in 1981. On joining the faculty at the University of Southern California in 1981, he created and directed the USC System Factory Project until 1991.This was the first software factory research project in a U.S. university. During the 1990's, Dr. Scacchi founded and directed the USC ATRIUM Laboratory, focused on investigating the organizational and technological processes of system development, with emphasis on software engineering and electronic commerce. Dr. Scacchi left USC and returned to UC Irvine in 1999. His research interests include open source software development, computer game culture and technology, knowledge-based systems for modeling and simulating complex engineering and business processes, developing decentralized heterogeneous information systems, software acquisition and electronic commerce/business, and organizational analysis of system development projects. Dr. Scacchi is a member of ACM, IEEE, AAAI, and the Software Process Association (SPA). He is an active researcher with more than 100 research publications. He has directed 45 externally funded research projects. He also has had numerous consulting and visiting scientist postions.

Michael Steele, Vice President/Evangelist, Emergent Game Technologies

As Emergent's "Evangelist," Michael's role is to work closely with game development teams to understand, analyze, and influence current and future Emergent technologies and tools. Michael speaks frequently at industry events on technology trends, concepts, directions and vision, and participates actively in the developer community through travel meetings, newsletters, blogs, videos, and community gatherings.

Prior to joining Emergent, Michael was the founder of a research and consulting firm for publishers of massively multiplayer online services which specialized in the practical analysis of online games, identifying and leveraging the business effects of emergent phenomena. He served as Director of Operations for Ubi.com, UbisoftÕs online division in Montreal, building the online operations infrastructure for ubi.com (Shadowbane, Uru: The Ages Beyond Myst). His other roles have included: Vice President of Technology for Turbine Entertainment (Asherons' Call); Director of Software Development for Hasbro/Microprose; and Director of Engineering for Disney Online. Michael has been making games professionally since 1989.

Jen Sun, President, Numedeon, Inc.

Whyville & WhyPox

The focus of our presentation is a virtual world community called Whyville.net with more than 1.5 million registered users, mostly between the ages of 8-14. It attracts 25,000 unique visitors and 1000 new registrants daily, generating 40-50 million page views a month. The players visit the site to participate in science, math, and other educational activities, chat with each other, as well as sell, purchase, and trade avatar parts. Occasionally, players experience the outbreak of a virtual epidemic, dubbed WhyPox. To learn about WhyPox, players visit the Whyville "CDC" and use simulations to learn about the spread of infectious diseases. In 2003, the parent company of Whyville Numedeon, Inc. and UCLA submitted a proposal to the National Science Foundation (NSF) to investigate science learning around WhyPox. WhyPox epidemics were introduced into the Whyville community twice during the study with different infection mechanisms. Simulation tools were redesigned to provide better feedback for the players. The collaboration provided UCLA researchers unprecedented access to survey and track consenting online players in schools, after school programs, and homes.

Numedeon, Inc., founded by faculty and alumni of the Caltech, specializes in creating virtual worlds for the purpose of engagement and education. Launched in 1999, Whyville is the company's flagship product and is supported through revenue from sponsors ranging from the J Paul Getty Trust to Toyota Scion. Numedeon, Inc.'s virtual world engine has three patents pending and, aside from Whyville, is used to support customized virtual worlds for clients, including a virtual campus for professional collaboration at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA).

Jen Sun is President and one of the founders of Numedeon, Inc, the company that launched Whyville.net. Whyville is an educational virtual world targeted at children ages 8 to 14 with 1.3 million registrants and 25,000 unique visitors daily, two-thirds of which are girls. NSF has funded two research studies on Whyville. She holds a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Caltech and has published in Nature and Neuroscience on visual perception. Prior to Numedeon, she was a founder of Learning.net and the director of educational development at Electric SchoolHouse.


Bill Tomlinson, Assistant Professor of Informatics and Drama, UC Irvine

The EcoRaft Project:
A Multi-Device Interactive Simulation of Restoration Ecology
Prof. Tomlinson will discuss the EcoRaft Project, an interactive museum exhibit that his research group created in collaboration with Professor Lynn Carpenter and her students. This project is a multi-device exhibit designed to enable participants to learn about the science of restoration ecology. The primary audience is 8-12 year old children and their families. In the exhibit, several computer monitors are inhabited by ecosystems of animated animals and plants. People carry Tablet PCs around the installation space; these tablets serve as “virtual collecting boxes” that can be used to help species disperse from one island to another. When a person carries one of the tablets up to an island, one of the animals or plants jumps wirelessly from the island onto the tablet. The person can then carry that organism to a different island, where it jumps off the tablet and spreads that species to the island. By letting people experiment with the movement of species between islands, the project lets participants examine the impact of new species on existing ecosystems and work together to restore island ecosystems that have been damaged. Prof. Tomlinson will discuss the design, implementation and evaluation of this project.

Bill Tomlinson is an Assistant Professor of Informatics and Drama at the University of California, Irvine, where he teaches in the ACE (Arts Computation Engineering) graduate program. He is a researcher and animator working with autonomous agents, and a designer of human-computer interaction paradigms that enable people to engage with these agents. Previous interactive projects have been shown at ACM SIGGRAPH, ACM CHI, Ars Electronica, the Game Developers Conference, the ZKM Future Cinema exhibition and other venues, and have been reviewed by CNN, the Wall Street Journal, Sculpture Magazine, Scientific American Frontiers, the LA Times, Wired.com and the BBC. In addition his animated film, Shaft of Light, screened at the Sundance Film Festival and was distributed by the Anti-Defamation League in its Anti-Bias/Diversity Catalog. He holds an A.B. in Biology from Harvard College, an M.F.A. in Experimental Animation from CalArts, and S.M. and Ph.D. degrees from the MIT Media Lab.