An Iola native has helped to create an innovated digital game lab at the University of Wisconsin-Stout.
The lab is for more than playing games, according to Andrew Williams, a 1999 graduate of Iola-Scandinavia High School and the son of Keith and Pat Williams, of Iola.
He is an assistant professor in the UW-Stout School of Art and Design and one of three people who created the lab.
“This is a space designed to do more than play,” Williams said. “We want to encourage students to better understand the medium and its potential for new, innovative applications.”
With classic consoles such as the 1977 Atari 2600 and 1988 Sega Genesis and 250 games, it might be difficult to envision the new Gaming and Digital Innovation Lab as more than a place to hang out.
Located in the Robert S. Swanson Library and Learning Center, the lab is expected to be a popular place for students to play video games on one of four retro-style TV sets.
Playing video games, however, will be just ‘Level One.’ The lab also has an ‘Expert Level’ because it’s been designed as an applied learning and creative space where students and professors can do research on and teach about all things video-game related.
Along with TVs, games and game consoles, some dating to the dawn of the video game industry 40 years ago, the lab has four high-end computers with 27-inch LED monitors. The computers have special productivity software that gives students the capability of creating more complex projects than they could on their university-issued laptop computers.
“It’s a high-end immersive digital media space. It’s all interactive,” Williams said. “The possibilities are almost unlimited.”
The idea for the lab grew out of a small grant Williams received from the university to collect early video games for the History of Interactive Media class. When the game collection kept growing, Williams and his colleagues decided “there was greater potential for the collection’s use in a specialized lab.”
The lab has more creative and interactive features than similar gaming labs at other universities, Williams said.
“Most of our students were born in 1993 or 1994. They’ve been living in the gaming world. In the lab you can look at it, take it apart and study it in its original context,” he said.
If some students only use the lab to play video games, that’s OK, Williams says.
“We’re fostering a good sense of community. Maybe they’ll be more interested in university life in general,” he said.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.uwstout.edu/news/articles/New-campus-lab-offers-place-to-play-and-research-video-games.cfm.
(Courtesy UW-Stout News Bureau)