Integrated Digital Media Spring Show Takes on the Apocalypse, Feng Shui

“It’s like Hoot Suite and TweetDeck, but better,” Phil Wedo, a rising second-year Integrated Digital Media graduate student, said about the app, conNectarine, that he developed with colleague Suping Yu for the class Cross-OS Mobile Applications.

“But better” seemed to capture the overall spirit of the works-in-progress showcased at the Integrated Digital Media Spring Semester Show at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University’s (NYU-Poly) Dibner Building on Monday, May 14. Lined up along a row of tables in the airy hallway, the games, apps, and innovative, interactive digital media exhibited at the Digital Science Fair collectively brightened up the gray evening. 

The exhibits included projects, all in various stages of completion, from classes in Game Development Studio, 3D Graphics Studio, Web Studio and Human Computer Interaction. From a program that helps users design environments according to the principles of Feng Shui to an interactive Space Invader-style computer game controlled by motion and sound, the work offered a glimpse into the future of game and web design, mobile apps and digital culture.

Diverse as the projects were, the “but better” element prevailed as creators described their processes of problem solving and improving on their works to engaged onlookers. 

Reality Check

Han-Chun Yang’s implementation of Feng Shui in the game Minecraft one could easily see coming in useful for interior design and architecture firms, though Yang describes it as appropriate “for anyone interested in Feng Shui.”

Mahmoud Raslan, who was a student in Professor Craig Brown’s Game Development Studio 1, created a 3D racing game based on a storyline set in postapocalyptic Las Vegas. “You compete in death races to get oil,” Raslan said. 

Professor Brown explained of the project’s team, “They got further than usual” for the first of the three game development classes. “Some [of the students] get frustrated because they don’t know about 3D – they learn about 3D which gives them a better competitive advantage for a gaming company.” Brown demonstrated a narrative adventure game called “Adventures of Clawbot,” created in Game Development Studio 2 and based on a concept that, in the future, a robot left in a scrap pile has to fight his way through the game to reach a gem that will save his life.

“A 3D sidescroller rather than 2D offers a richer, more interesting game world,” he explained. Professor Brown’s students make a “collaborative effort” in game design – the classes are set up like a real game studio, with each team member taking on a role—writing, modeling, level design—so students are better prepared for careers in the field. In subsequent Game Development courses, students can further develop their projects.

“The next class, they’ll work out the bugs,” said Brown. 

A Digital Hand in the Tangible World

From the Web Studio classes, projects included a comic book reader app created with Adobe Air for iPad and Android. Users can organize their browsing by comic or superhero. Other assignments completed to fruition for display included “a study of the concepts of order and disorder as design tactics,” “create a digital memorial for yourself,” and “study Stefan Sagmeister’s typography and create a typeface using real world objects.” Zhien Li demonstrated his “Space Invader-type game” controlled by sound and motion: “sound makes it shoot, motion makes it move,” Li explained.

Beside him, Wedo presented his app, conNectarine. In response to the question, “what problem will your app solve?” Wedo and his colleague Yu developed conNectarine to organize the vast amounts of information on social media networks—Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare and others.

“There’s too much information out there,” Wedo said, and conNectarine, created using a clean interface and iterative design philosophy, aggregates multiple social networks on one device—by time, by person, etc. “It will organize what’s already out there. The challenge is getting the APIs [Application Programming Interfaces] to work together.” 

After the Digital Science Fair, participants and guests filed into the Pfizer Auditorium for the second portion of the evening, the PNIFF NYU-Poly Independent Film Festival. PNIFF showcased the documentary and experimental films emerging from the Digital Media Cinema courses. Highlights included a comical introductory video by William Man and short films covering everything from natural products purveyor Brooklyn Flavors at DeKalb Market to protestors at Occupy Wall Street.

Like Sundance and Tribeca…but better.