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SMALLab Brings Motion-Capture Gaming to the Classroom

We dropped by New York City's Quest 2 Learn school to check out Parsons the New School for Design's SMALLab-New York initiative. Institute of Play director and Parsons professor Katie Salen, known for her animation work in Richard Linklater's 'Waking Life,' is the project's capable captain, and we also spoke with Mike Edwards, co-instructor of Parsons' Exploding SMALLab course.

Similar to special effects shops for film and television, the Situated Multimedia Art Learning Lab (SMALLab) combines surround sound audio with projected video -- all responding in real time to players' actions. The interactive learning program was originally designed by Arizona State University's David Birchfield. Students, equipped with wireless controllers, play games while being tracked in real-time 3-D via 12 infrared sensors.

Founded on the idea that learning doesn't have to follow the traditional "four walls with desks" setup, the SMALLab game designers (students in Parsons' MFA Design + Technology program) are proving that collaborating via mixed media can be just as educational as using textbooks, chalkboards, and school desks.

Tags: david birchfield, DavidBirchfield, features, katie salen, KatieSalen, parsons the new school for design, ParsonsTheNewSchoolForDesign, small lab, smallab, SmallLab, switchedvideo, top