29 January 2024

Abertay University hosts cross-cultural game jam with South Korean partners

Students tasked with developing games which foster cultural exchange between Scotland and South Korea

Students and staff from two of South Korea’s top higher education institutions have travelled to Dundee to collaborate with Abertay University students on an innovative digital design project. 

During a two-day visit, a delegation from Chonnam National University and Dong-Ah Institute of Media and Arts collaborated with their counterparts in Abertay's School of Design and Informatics to create games promoting cultural exchange. 

Building upon a partnership established last April, the visit marks the ongoing commitment among the three institutions to collaborate on research and teaching in the areas of applied computer science, games technology, and digital arts. 

Dr Jung In Jung, a lecturer in the Division of Games Technology and Mathematics who organised the visit, said:  

It has been a pleasure hosting students and staff from South Korea in recent days. The game jam showcased how creativity and digital design can foster an understanding of diverse cultural ideas, demonstrating that games technology, especially immersive 3D models and digital twin data, extends beyond entertainment to serve many purposes. I hope that this experience has allowed our students to learn from one another, fostering a rich exchange of ideas. Moreover, I believe that visits like these are instrumental in deepening our global outlook, promoting cross-cultural understanding, and creating lasting connections among students from different parts of the world.

Ahead of the visit, the South Korean students developed three prototype “analog games” - non-digital games that rely on physical components, such as cards, dice, game boards and other tangible elements. The games were developed with Tissue Office, a games company based in Seoul.   

Each of the three games integrated elements of Korean culture. These games featured a narrative where participants shared childhood memories, building a town, and delving into the workplace cultures of South Korea.  

In the subsequent game jam, known as ITS KISMET, in Dundee, the students teamed up with their Abertay counterparts to "digitise" the games, essentially redeveloping them into a digital format.  

After the game jam concluded, the prototypes were showcased to the group, and "MZ Contractors Office" was declared the winner. The game centres on the growth and operations of a construction company as players work to acquire and develop new facilities. It features iconic buildings and landmarks from South Korea and Scotland as key elements. This inclusion is a deliberate nod to the diverse expertise and cultural influences of the team members involved in crafting the game.

Sun Hyung Kim, Professor of Architecture at Chonnam National University, said: 

It's truly remarkable to witness students from diverse countries and cultures effortlessly collaborate. Within just an hour, they come together, engage in conversations, and overcome language barriers. Despite these challenges, they seamlessly navigate various topics and innovations, all within the framework of the game jam theme.

The two-day visit also included a trip to the V&A Dundee, Scotland’s design museum, and a tour of Abertay’s state-of-the-art Visual Production Research Environment (ViPRE). The facility, the only one in the UK, is at the forefront of cutting-edge movie production, enabling the University to film real-time scenes shot hundreds of miles apart – a feat never accomplished before. 

Quewon Chin, student at Dong-Ah Institute of Media and Arts, said:  

Everyone has been great at collaborating and getting their ideas out there. The Korean students have been working on the physical versions of the games for two weeks, so we're genuinely invested in bringing our visions to life. I really enjoyed my time on this visit; Dundee is a very nice place, and the warm welcome from everyone has been great. Abertay is a great place to be!

After they visited Dundee, the South Korean delegation, accompanied by Abertay academics, travelled to London for a meeting with Arup. Arup is a global professional services firm renowned for its comprehensive offerings in design, engineering, architecture, planning, and advisory services across all facets of the built environment. Notably, the company plays a crucial role in supporting the Goldsmiths, University of London’s Insight and Foresight Unit (IFU) as part of the CoSTAR programme.  

During the meeting, the delegation discussed exploring potential collaboration opportunities, particularly in the fields of digital twins and Net Zero design. 

Professor Jim Bown, Interim Dean of Abertay’s School of Design and Informatics, said:  

Although the partnership among the three institutions is still in its infancy, I'm confident that it will go from strength to strength in the years ahead. This collaboration not only enhances the global perspective of staff and students here in Dundee, but also cultivates a rich environment for collaborative learning, pushing the boundaries of innovation and knowledge exchange on a global scale. I look forward to working with our partners and exploring opportunities for further research and teaching activities in the future.

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