NU-Q virtual reality game receives MacArthur grant

A new virtual reality game by NU-Q and The Media Majlis has received funding for development from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, one of America’s largest independent foundations. 

The game, set to appear in the 2019-20 programming of The Media Majlis, will allow players to become journalists covering Middle East events, transporting audiences to a place and time in the region’s history, and task them with capturing events with their smartphones. 

Outside the virtual reality environment, participants will be able to access their documented footage for editing, viewing, and analysis. 

The game project is managed by Eric Espig, digital media specialist at The Media Majlis, collaborating with Northwestern University School of Communication Professor Chaz Evans, a former visiting professor at NU-Q and director of exhibitions and programs at Chicago’s Video Game Art Gallery. “We see the game being used as a teaching and evaluation tool in addition to serving as a means for audiences to examine the media world and actively engage with it,” said Espig.  

The project will be produced in part by NU-Q’s Media Innovation Lab, where designers, developers, students, and educators experiment with ideas and technology to push journalism, communications, and pedagogy into new areas of technology. 

The Media Majlis will open its doors in Spring 2019 with two exhibitions that will examine the use of media in the Arab world as a vehicle of expression. The department will oversee development of the game and implement public programming in both Doha and Chicago.