History Education and Virtual Reality

My project would be a combination of History education and virtual reality.   With the release of the Oculus Rift and Gear VR and soon to be released PlayStation VR and HTC Vive, virtual reality is a real possibility.  While the gaming industry is the first to embrace this technology, many diverse companies are coming on board; including the medical industry and the military, spending millions on the creation of simulation learning technologies.  I believe the same can be done with history education.  I plan to partner with historians, artist, archivists, and game designers to recreate virtual open world history set pieces. Within these open worlds, users would be able to experience living open worlds with Non-playable Characters or NPC’s, populating these set pieces with period clothing and coded to a way that they act like their real world counterparts.  Imagine stepping back thousands of years experiencing the sights and sounds of the Roman Senate in a fully interactive environment, in which students could ask NPC’s questions and learn about the world around them.  This concept is not limited to History though; I could see many other subjects coming on board as well.  Imagine seeing one of Shakespeare’s plays being performed in front of you with a full period virtual make-over or having kids experience a virtual construction site see how math impacts the building of structures.  I’m not the only one thinking about implementing this new type of technology either, there have been many tech blogs predicting such technology such as  http://techcrunch.com/2016/01/23/when-virtual-reality-meets-education/.  In addition, there are a number of grants available to start-up companies willing to experiment with Virtual Reality, especially those that impact education. Some of these grants come from https://delta.ncsu.edu/deltawire/delta-grants-make-vr-reality/  and http://uploadvr.com/these-are-the-companies-enabling-vr-content-creators-2?.

I realize what I present is a lofty goal and with the $40,000 limit I will likely have to cut material.  That is why I have decided to focus on the creating a prototype build to present my base concept and gain investor support. After I have a base concept to work off of and investor support I will feel more comfortable going forward with the full vison of my project.  My prototype concept will focus on an indoor virtual environment because there would be less coding than trying to produce an outdoor environment.  In addition, I would only program around ten NPC’s with a limited number of dialog options to begin with to cut down time coding artificial intelligences.  I would most likely pick the Roman Senate like I mentioned before because of its relatively small indoor quarter’s it provides.  This would also allow me to focus on key figures and history and not require much interruption on the historians part because of the vast availability of Roman Senate meeting documents.  In addition, the close environment and basic geography associated with that of the Roman Senate would make the recreating of the 3D space much easier on artists.  Ultimately I would want to work up to a fully interactive Rome that users could explore and learn at their leisure however that could take months to years and millions of dollars of investment.

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