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Singapore-MIT collaboration aims to spur gaming sector

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The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Singapore Media Development Authority have announced an agreement to establish the Singapore-MIT International Game Lab (SMIGL). The pioneering collaboration aims to further digital game research globally, develop world-class academic programs in game technology, and establish Singapore as a vital node in the international game industry.

The directors of MIT's Comparative Media Studies Program (CMS) -- Henry Jenkins, DeFlorez Professor of Humanities, and William Uricchio, professor of comparative media studies -- will co-direct SMIGL, which will have offices both in Singapore and at MIT. Jenkins and Uricchio will serve as the leading principal investigators in the collaboration.

In announcing the SMIGL collaboration, Uricchio, a specialist in trans-national media distribution and reception, said, "We are excited by this collaboration with colleagues in Singapore and the opportunity to push game research and the industry in new directions, and we very much look forward to initiating an international dialogue among leading scholars, designers, students and gamers."

Uricchio described SMIGL as a "unique chance to reflect on games and to push them in new and unexpected directions, whether in terms of emerging technologies and interfaces, diverse cultural vocabularies, or important niches that have simply been neglected in the rush to seize the largest market share."

Jenkins researches media and the way people incorporate it into their lives. "The Singapore-MIT International Game Lab collaboration will provide a strong catalyst for innovation by bringing together students, industry leaders and faculty from very different cultures and backgrounds to work together and to conduct research that could have a great impact on the international game industry," he said.

The SMIGL initiative will enable students and researchers from Singapore to collaborate with MIT researchers and game industry professionals in international research projects. Beyond technology development, SMIGL will also conduct research on the artistic, creative, business and social aspects of games. The new initiative will also provide Singapore game researchers and professionals with access to cutting-edge technologies, the latest conceptual developments and links to international game development and research communities.

Michael Yap, executive director of the Interactive & Digital Media R&D Programme Office, said, "Over the next five years, we expect some 300 of our best talents from the industry and academia to take advantage of this unique opportunity to work closely with the best research minds at MIT.

"We are delighted to collaborate with MIT, one of the world's leading technology and research institutes. The Singapore-MIT International Game Lab will initiate and produce groundbreaking research in games, which is rapidly emerging as a global research focus. At the same time, the collaboration will further equip our industry-bound students to make a significant impact on the local game industry," Yap said.

Outcomes planned for SMIGL's initial period include development of both an academic and a high-impact research program, publication of peer-reviewed research papers and production of publicly distributable digital games.

The research resulting from the SMIGL collaboration will expand the ways in which the Singapore game industry can build and develop future products, and will aim to identify unique genres and aesthetics that are relevant to the Singapore game industry. In addition, according to the Media Development Authority, it will enhance the country's competitive advantage in areas such as education and tourism.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 18, 2006 (download PDF).

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