'The Woz' at TCFF will showcase the future of gaming

Posted on: July 21, 2016

Michigan State University has partnered with the Traverse City Film Festival to facilitate and host its hands-on, interactive showcase called “The Woz.” MSU staff, students and volunteers will be on site to offer out-of-this-world and innovative virtual reality experiences and video games.

A unique addition to this year’s showcase is the new HTC Vive, a virtual reality head-mounted display that transforms gaming and film by placing you inside the game, giving you control of your surroundings and allowing you to interact with the story.

“The Woz” will be located at Hotel Indigo at 263 West Grandview Parkway in Traverse City. Stop by on July 27 to 30 from noon to 9 p.m. and July 31 from noon to 5 p.m.

HTC Vive


In this game, explore the depths of the ocean and the remains of a sunken ship while coming face-to-face with a variety of sea creatures, including an 80-foot whale.

Tilt Brush 

Test your artistic ability with Tilt Brush, a virtual reality painting program which allows you to create 3D, life-size art and be a part of your creation.

Job Simulator  

Find out what job best fits your skillset in this robotic world by living out a day as a mechanic, an office worker or even a short order cook.

Space Pirate Trainer 

Fulfill your childhood fantasies of becoming a space pirate and test your aim on the virtual targets.

Arizona Sunshine 

Jump into the zombie apocalypse in the Grand Canyon state and defend yourself against the living dead while searching for fellow survivors.

The Lab

Experience virtual reality in all forms: adopt a mechanical dog, make repairs to a robot, protect a castle using your archery skills and more.

Party Games

Rocket League and Live eSports Casting 

This game puts a twist on the average soccer game by replacing the athletes with rocket-powered cars. Use your rocket-engines to battle the opposing team and shoot the ball into their goal. Rocket League is taking eSports by storm, so stop by the casting booth and try calling a match!

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes

It’s a race against time as you and your teammates help a trapped player to defuse a bomb. Only the player in the room with the bomb can see it. The rest of the players have the bomb defusal manual. It’s up to teamwork and communication to beat the clock!

Indie Games

That Dragon, Cancer 

That Dragon, Cancer offers a look into the real-life story of the Green family and their experience raising their son Joel, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer at twelve months old, but lived for four more years. The game is designed to make the player feel the emotions and experience the high and low moments of this time in the Green family’s life.  

Her Story 

This game gives the player access to fictional police interviews with a woman about her missing husband. The player has to search the database and review video clips in order to solve the case.

GameDev @ MSU

Several games designed and programmed by students and faculty from the Game Design and Development Program at Michigan State University will also be available at “The Woz”. Come meet the next generation of game developers and play the games that they’ve created!

Rogues Like Us 

Become a rogue, find your weapons and fight your way out of exile.


Rival treasure hunters team up to find and obtain a technological artifact called the Key. Players must fight their way through challenges in order to capture the Key.


In Debris Removal Operation (DROp), the player explores asteroid fields as a space pioneer while removing debris.  

Games for Entertainment and Learning Lab

Discover how games go beyond entertainment with the latest from the Games for Entertainment and Learning Lab.


Search for your missing baby dragon in this children’s adventure game developed in collaboration with Michigan State University Federal Credit Union to help kids learn about finances.

Kerem B’Yavneh 

Your favorite farming, city-building games meet the richness and vibrancy of Jewish ritual, history and thought.

Reach Higher 

In this game, play as your favorite Big Ten mascot: Sparty! Help him reach as many cotton tufts and roses as possible before the big game.

More Information

When you’re ready to exit virtual reality and step back into real life, check out the other opportunities that MSU has to offer at the Traverse City Film Festival! Don’t miss the documentary films produced by students or the work of festival interns from MSU. Learn more about what to expect at the MSU at TCFF website.

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Media & Info Professor Shelia Cotten awarded for Gerontology research, career achievement

Posted on: June 2, 2016

Usage limited to World Wide Web and CMYK offset printing- NO photographic prints- Please email: AranKessler@Earthlink.net to obtain archival prints: 4x6-     $2.50 5x7-     $12.00 8x10-   $22.00 11x14- $35.00 16x20- $60.00 20x24- $80.00 24x36-$100.00

Shelia Cotten, a professor in the Department of Media and Information, has received a lot of good news lately surrounding her research in Gerontology. Cotten was awarded Fellow status in The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) in addition to earning the American Sociological Association’s Communication, Information Technologies, and Media Sociology section (CITAMS) William F. Ogburn Career Achievement Award for her work in discovering how to help the elderly cross the digital divide and utilize technology to enhance their lives.

GSA, with over 500 Fellows, is the largest organization focused on studying older adults with a focus on trying to proactively improve their health and well-being.

“Most of the work I do is thinking about: How can we use technology to enhance people’s lives? Are there existing technologies that could be beneficial, or technologies that need to be modified or created that could enhance older adults lives?” Cotten said.  

Cotten and her research team have recently conducted focus groups with older adults around the state of Michigan. She looks at how older adults benefit from technology and what is most useful to them and their needs. Tablets are increasingly being used by this demographic, but some of these individuals still don’t see the device as the right fit for them.

“A lot of times older adults don’t want to use (tablets or other technologies) because they don’t see the relevance of them for their lives. If you can help them see the relevance then they’ll be more likely to learn to use the technology,” said Cotten. “Showing them how they can communicate and find information can be really powerful for them.”

The American Sociological Association's CITAMS William F. Ogburn Career Achievement Award is given to scholars with outstanding research that has contributed “to the advancement of knowledge in the area of sociology of communication, media, and/or information technology.”

Cotten, who has studied technology for nearly 20 years, said that the Career Achievement Award recognizes the larger body of her work with technology-use over the life course and, specifically, how we approach the idea of the digital divide.

“They’re both wonderful organizations and I feel very fortunate to be a part of both of those organizations,” said Cotten. “I hope I’m not done yet and have more to contribute to enhance people’s lives through the use of technology."

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GEL Lab collaborates with MSUFCU on new game Saving Draggy

Posted on: May 26, 2016

Saving Draggy

The Games for Entertainment and Learning (GEL) Lab at MSU, part of the Media and Information (M&I) department in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences (ComArtSci), recently completed a new game sponsored by the Michigan State University Federal Credit Union (MSUFCU) called Saving Draggy.

Targeted to kids aged 5 -10, Saving Draggy focuses on increasing their cognition and understanding of basic financial concepts as they engage in an epic quest to save Draggy – their baby dragon. All graphics, music, code, script, story and game design were created by undergraduate M & I and computer science students in conjunction with Associate Professor Brian Winn.

So far, the game is a hit. At least that’s what Winn told us after performing a few rounds of user testing with kids aged 5-10, “(The) kids had a very positive response to the game. They were excited about the theme (saving your baby dragon in an epic adventure game) and really liked the mini games embedded within the larger adventure game.”

This isn’t the first time the GEL Lab and MSUFCU have partnered on a gaming project. In fact, Saving Draggy is the fourth financial literacy game MSU has created with the credit union. Past games include Spartan Villa (ages 17+), Saving Magic (ages 10-13) and Saving with Piggy (ages 2-5). The GEL Lab is currently working on the fifth game for MSUFCU, geared for ages 13-16.

Saving Draggy is available on the web, Apple iOS and Android. It is 100% free to download and play.

By Nikki W. O'Meara

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Media Sandbox Creative Challenge Focuses on Issues Facing College Students

Posted on: February 5, 2016

Media Sandbox Challenge 2016 posterThis year’s Media Sandbox Creative Challenge is to choose an issue facing college students, such as binge drinking, sexual assault or depression, and craft a unique, creative message that will help MSU students deal with that issue.

“This year the challenge is more personal,” said Karl Gude, Media Sandbox faculty member and Graphics Editor in Residence for the School of Journalism. “It deals with how to help students handle some of the problems they face in college. I hope that the groups will find creative and workable solutions that will help students heal and deal with these issues.”

The Media Sandbox Creative Challenge is in it’s fifth year and there are no limits to what students may create. This is the first year the Media Sandbox is not dictating what students have to produce.

“It’s up to them to create a media campaign that will get the job done,” Gude said.

The challenge theme was chosen because Media Sandbox faculty wanted students to use their communication skills to help each other, rather than have them work on a corporate- or college-focused theme, as they have in the past.

Students who participate may do so alone or as a team and will need to choose one of the following topics:

  • binge drinking
  • sexual assault
  • depression
  • anorexia
  • anxiety
  • obesity
  • racism
  • suicide

They then must craft a unique, creative message to help their fellow students with this issue.

Although plenty of students have entered previous competitions, “the challenge for them is finishing it,” Gude said. “This year, however, we will have set a series of completion goals throughout the semester that will help students stay on task.”

The prizes are $5,000 for first place, $2,500 for second and $1,000 for third.

Judges for this year’s competition will include highly successful alumni from the College of Communication Arts and Sciences, chosen by faculty and administrators.

For more information on the competition, including deadlines and progressive goals, see the Media Sandbox Creative Challenge web page.

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Register Now for 2016 Media Summer Camps

Posted on: February 4, 2016

media-summer-camp-20150709-v12 copy

Each summer, the Department of Media and Information offers media camps for middle and high school students. These camps are pre-college exposure programs for students interested in media and technology topics, including game design, 3D animation, web design, digital cinema and TV production.

Each camp includes five full days of interactive and intensive instruction with MSU faculty and staff, resulting with a showcase of student work on the last day.

Program Director Luke Kane says that more than 80 percent of students who participate say they have an increased interest and proficiency in technology as a result of the camps.

During the three weeks of camp in 2015, the Department of Media and Information hosted 231 students in 12 different courses.

media-summer-camp-20150717-007 copyRegistration for Summer 2016 is now open. For the early bird discount, register before Feb. 29.

This summer, a new Audio Programming course will be offered to the high school level to teach students how to compose their own digital music and audio.

Students may participate in day-only instruction or choose to stay overnight as a visiting residential student.

The day-only camp includes all instruction, instructional materials, computer facilities, all daytime activities and supervision. Students will receive a lunch meal plan through university cafeteria services. Camp hours run 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

The Overnight/Residential option includes all the features of the day camp and more. Overnight lodging for five nights (Sunday-Thursday) as well as breakfast, lunch and dinner meals throughout the week are included. There will be night recreational activities and overnight chaperone supervision.

Media Camps kick off in July and run for three weeks:


  • Beginner Game Design
  • Digital Cinema
  • Game Design with Minecraft
  • Intro to Programming using MInecraft


  • 3D Animation
  • Beginner Game Design
  • Mobile Game Design
  • Miss Media Michigan Girls Tech Camp


  • 3D Animation
  • Advanced Game Design
  • Audio Programming
  • Beginner Game Design
  • Digital Cinema

For more information, including informational videos, or to register, visit the Media Summer Camps web page.

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Students to Help Companies with New Tech Projects

Posted on: January 19, 2016

More than 15 teams of Michigan State University undergraduates are ready and waiting to help mid-Michigan businesses and nonprofits solve their complex digital problems.

As part of their final course in the ITMS-WP1Information Technology minor, students are required to work in cross-functional teams on a real-world IT (information technology) project.

They just need a few more “clients.”

“The students are capable of taking on a wide range of technology-related projects, because each team will comprise of students majoring in business, media and information, and computer science and engineering,” say Professors Constantinos K. Coursaris and Wietske van Osch, who are teaching the course through MSU’s Department of Media and Information.

In past semesters, students have developed websites and content management systems as well as database and workflow systems. They have produced promotional videos and developed social media strategies and online membership databases for various companies.

Proposals are now being accepted from area organizations for student teams to take on projects for the spring 2016 academic semester, starting in January and ending April 30. The ideal project is "hands-on" with a well-defined outcome that can be achieved by three to four students in 8-10 weeks.

To submit a project for consideration, please contact Dr. Coursaris via email by January 25, 2016, at coursari@msu.edu.

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Van Osch Presents Research at World Usability Day Event

Posted on: November 24, 2015

Van Osch main

In 2011, Wietske Van Osch, Assistant Professor in the Department of Media and Information started looking at how companies were using social media. A year later, she began a partnership with Steelcase, a furniture company based out of Grand Rapids.

"Many companies view Steelcase as innovative. People are interested to hear more about their strategy and how they have used social media technologies to boost their innovation capacity,” Van Osch said.

Van OschDuring a World Usability Day event on Nov. 12 at Michigan State, Van Osch presented her research on innovation in enterprise social media. She spoke about the value of enterprise social media and its role in creating a shared work culture and breaking down hierarchical barriers.

"Currently four out of five companies are using some form of enterprise social media," Van Osch said. Although there is a range in the complexity of platforms, once many companies begin using this type of technology, it leads to exploration of more options as they recognize the value.

Steelcase uses Jive Software, which creates a customizable platform specifically for Steelcase. Employees are able to form groups and share ideas and projects they are developing. Other companies like HP and T-Mobile also use Jive software.

In her presentation, Van Osch shared the findings of data compiled over four years of research on Steelcase, including 656 project teams and more than 6,500 discussion threads, 2,000 blogs and 1,500 ideas.

“The goal of this research is to create an innovation dashboard that uses near real-time data from social media and gives continuous feedback to project managers on the success of the team's innovation processes,” she said. “Right now, innovation is like a car without a fuel meter, you don’t know when to pull over and fill up.”

World Usability DayWorld Usability Day was founded to explore ways to ensure that the services and products important to life are easy to access and simple to use. It is the largest gathering of industry professionals, academics, government leaders and students facilitating the progression of usability, user experience and user-centered design. Each year, the World Usability Day community holds more than 150 events in more than 40 countries. Michigan State University’s event draws speakers and attendees from all parts of North America representing industry, government and academia.

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GEL Lab Helps Design Video Game to Draw Kids to Science

Posted on: November 19, 2015


So you have particle, zooming through a particle accelerator at nearly half the speed of light. Your job: To keep it on track so it collides with a target. The collision provides information about such things as how the elements were formed.

While that sounds like a job for a scientist who has spent a lifetime studying such heady matters, it’s actually the object of a new digital game designed in part by the Department of Media and Information's Games for Entertainment and Learning (GEL) Lab.

Called Isotopolis, the game is a joint venture of the (GEL) Lab and the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (NSCL) at MSU.

The goal: To get the public, including children as young as middle schoolers, interested in science.

“We need to be able to reach out to kids and get them excited about science,” said Zachary Constan, NSCL Outreach Director who helped design the game. “The game is very accessible, something they can do on their own. It’s going to get to them in a way I can’t.”

GEL Labe game 2With Isotopolis, a player guides a particle along a track, representing the accelerator used in real experiments, working to avoid various obstacles that arise. “They keep it on track by touching the left or right side of the screen,” said Andrew Dennis, Instructor in the Department of Media and Information, who helped design the game.

The more obstacles that are avoided, the faster the player’s particle gets, until it slams into the target, creating a new isotope, or an “atomic flavor of an element.”

“It represents, step by step, what we do in the NSCL, and what will eventually be done at the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams when it is complete,” Constan said. “First there is an acceleration phase, followed by a phase where you actually hit the target and select the isotope of interest.”

In a real experiment, these collisions create isotopes that can exist on Earth for less than a second, but often can tell many tales, like providing information on how our universe was shaped and how stars generate the elements that we find on Earth.

“Science is something that people are intrinsically motivated to know more about,” Dennis said. “This gives them access to it in a way that they can really grab onto.”

The game can be downloaded on an iPad for free from the App Store.

Isotopolis is funded by a grant from the American Physical Society. Additional support was provided by MSU’s College of Communications Arts and Sciences, NSCL, the Office of the MSU Vice President for Research, MSU Graduate Studies, MSU University Outreach and Engagement, the Office of the MSU Vice President for Information Technology, MSU Department of Physics and Astronomy, the Joint Institute for Nuclear Astrophysics, and the National Science Foundation.

Gel Lab game 3

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Alumnus Helps Speed Up Detroit's Downtown Resurgence

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Marc Hudson Rocket Fiber main

One College of Communication Arts and Sciences alumnus is helping lead the effort to bring the fastest Internet available to Detroit.

Attuned to fiber optics and how high-speed connectivity is transforming U.S. cities, Media and Communication Technology alumnus Marc Hudson formulated an idea to bring similar capabilities to Detroit. While working as an engineer with Quicken Loans, Hudson pitched his concept to Quicken leadership, suggesting they add an ultrafast fiber optic company to Dan Gilbert's family of companies.

Quicken embraced the idea of an Internet service that is 1,000 times faster than average and agreed to finance Rocket Fiber through Rock Ventures. The company launched in 2014 with Hudson as Co-Founder and CEO.

Rocket Fiber Service Goes Live

Within the first year, the company installed 5.5 miles of fiber optic cable throughout Detroit's central business district then turned its focus to installing connecting cables to individual buildings. Just last week, Rocket Fiber debuted the service at its downtown Detroit headquarters and began activating customers in two apartment complexes in Capitol Park.

Marc Hudson Rocket Fiber 2Initially targeting downtown and Midtown, Rocket Fiber has so far laid 17 miles of fiber in the city, with about 20 office buildings connected to the network. Thousands of residential and business customers are scheduled to "go live" in the first few months of 2016, and plans are in place to bring the one-gigabyte-a-second connectivity to Midtown and other parts of Detroit in the coming year.

"I love being in this city and being part of something meaningful that's more than just about myself," Hudson said. "All the people down here are doing more than working a day job where they punch in and punch out. It's great to know that everything you do is impacting the economy and helping the city get back on its feet."

A Switch in Majors

Originally drawn to study Landscape and Nursery Management at Michigan State University, Hudson switched to software and computer engineering after designing a website for a local landscaper.

"I just fell in love with web design and programming," Hudson said. "I knew right then it was what I wanted to do."

Hudson quickly dug around for his next major and landed on Media and Communication Technology through the College of Communication Arts and Sciences. It was a program, he says, that provided a perfect hybrid of studies and internship opportunities in areas like web design, social computing and networking.

Marc Hudson 4Hudson graduated with his bachelor's and started his own web company in Michigan, close to his hometown of Novi. Before long, he sensed the energy of Detroit's downtown revitalization and wanted to join in.

"My parents and grandparents had always told me stories about Detroit's glory days," Hudson said. "I felt it important to be part of the generation that helps Detroit get back on its feet and be the great American city it has been."

Hudson recently was among the up-and-coming entrepreneurs, corporate executives and nonprofit visionaries named to the 2015 class of Detroit's "20 in their 20s" by Crain's Detroit Business.

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Symposium Gives Students Opportunity to Present Research

Posted on: November 18, 2015

The MIS PhD symposium gives Media & Information Studies PhD students the opportunity to share their research with a wider audience.

The fourth annual Media and Information Studies (MIS) Ph.D. Research Symposium brought together 12 Ph.D. students last Friday, Nov. 6, to present their most resent work in front of a diverse panel of judges.

The event awards an overall prize and a junior prize based on the quality of research and the quality of presentation. This year, the overall prize was split between two students: Syed Ali Hussain and Wonkyung Kim. The junior prize was awarded to Ruth Shillair.

“It’s good to share my research with colleagues and the symposium allowed me to make contacts with other professors and researchers,” Hussain said.

The panel of judges included Nora Rifon, Professor in the Department of Advertising + Public Relations; Casey O’Donnell, Associate Professor in the Department of Media and Information; and Bruno Takahashi, Assistant Professor with a joint appointment in the School of Journalism and Department of Communication.

The MIS Ph.D. Research Symposium is a joint project between Associate Professor Rick Wash and Assistant Professor and AT&T Scholar Emilee Rader and supported by the MIS Ph.D. program and AT&T Endowment.

“I often present my research at specialized forums where everyone is interested in a specific topic or discipline,” “The MIS Ph.D. Symposium was a unique opportunity to share my research to a group of scholars with a diverse range of interests,” Shillair said. “And it was a wonderful opportunity to hear what my peers are doing in their research projects.”

Overall Prize Winners

Syed Ali Hussain, “Historical Thinking of Communication Theories and Concepts”

“Nostalgia allows people to recreate memories of better times in their mind. Advertisers use this to evoke emotion in people, to help sell their products. My study looks at how we can use nostalgia in health communication,” Hussain said. “Health communication is not selling a product, it’s selling a behavior. I looked at how using nostalgia could help send a more positive message to smokers about quitting. I created a commercial and tested it on smokers.”

Wonkyung Kim, “Understanding the Impact of Negative Electronic Word-of-Mouth on Consumer: The Role of Emotional Intensity and Tie-Strength”

“We encounter a lot of complaints in social media, from lots of different sources. Sometimes we see complaint tweets from mere acquaintances or total strangers, and sometimes from very close friends,” Kim said. “My study investigated the role of the emotional intensity of negative electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM) and the tie strength between source and receiver, on consumer response to eWOM.

“I found a very interesting result that an angry tweet did not have a powerful impact unless it was from a close friend.”

Junior Prize Winner

Ruth Shillair, “Primed for Taking Risks: Previous Experiences with Online Security Breaches and Attitudinal Differences”

“Cyber safety is an area of increasing importance, and many individuals have personally experienced the results of a cyber threat,” said Shillair, Media and Information Ph.D. student. “My study looked at how experiences with a wide variety of online threats affected users attitudes and beliefs in protecting themselves. My hope is that we can design communication that will teach and motivate individuals to have good digital hygiene habits.”

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