President's Blog

Serious games, serious tech transfer

I had the opportunity to tour the Virginia Serious Games Institute again yesterday.  Located in our Science and Technology Campus, VSGI helps students, faculty and other entrepreneurs advance gaming technology, develop prototypes and create products with commercial value to help tackle real-world problems.

It’s remarkable how much VSGI has accomplished in its less than two years of existence.  Here are some examples.

  • Catlilli Games.  Neuroscientist Catherine Swanwick is bringing her years of research experience (five of them at NIH) to the design of games that can turn learning into a fun experience for children.  She started off with board games and is now about to launch the smartphone app version of Crazy Cats (a genetics learning game!).
  • Professions Quest and the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy have developing MIMYCX, a multi-player learning game to train healthcare delivery professionals from various disciplines to work in teams and collaborate. We know that good healthcare is not just about technical competence, but about empathy and interpersonal skill. Now we have a way to learn just that!
  • Flight simulators are common in aviation training but surprisingly not in unmanned aviation. Cobb UAS thinks there’s a better, less dangerous and cheaper way to learn to fly a drone.  Their solution is droneSimPro.
  • Little Arms Studio makes a similar argument in the training of firefighters. Their solution, IVIS, is an incredibly realistic firefighting simulation that is already available for purchase or subscription.

There’s much, much more coming out of VSGI, including the Mason Game & Technology Academy that has introduced dozens of children of all ages to the art and technology of game design through Mason’s Potomac Arts Academy.

VSGI is a great example of interdisciplinary collaboration, of how a university can be a driver of innovation and entrepreneurship in its immediate community, and of what university-led tech transfer is quickly becoming. Congrats to Prof. Scott Martin and the rest of the team!