Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/gc-2021-17
https://doi.org/10.5194/gc-2021-17

  23 Jun 2021

23 Jun 2021

Review status: a revised version of this preprint was accepted for the journal GC and is expected to appear here in due course.

Virtual field experiences in a web-based videogame environment: Open-ended examples of existing and fictional field sites

Mattathias D. Needle1, Juliet G. Crider1, Jacky Mooc2, and John F. Akers2 Mattathias D. Needle et al.
  • 1Department of Earth & Space Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, USA
  • 2UW Reality Lab, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, University of Washington, Seattle, USA

Abstract. We present two original, videogame-style field-geology experiences designed to allow flexible, open-ended exploration for geologic mapping and structural geology. One simulation features the Whaleback anticline, a site in central Pennsylvania (USA) with three-dimensional exposure of a 30-m-high fold, based on a terrain model that was acquired through structure-from-motion photogrammetry. The second example is a fictional location with simplified geology, built with digital modeling software and inspired by the geology of northwestern Washington. Users move through the terrain, as if in the field, selecting where to make observations of the geologic structure. Additionally, these virtual field experiences provide novel visualization opportunities through tools like a geodetic compass that instantly plots data to a stereonet, and a jetpack simulation which allows the user to interrogate geologic surfaces in hard-to-reach locations. We designed the virtual field experiences in a widely-used videogame-creation software and published the field simulations for access via the internet and common web browsers, so that no special hardware or software is required to play. We implemented these field simulations to partially replace field and lab exercises in two different courses offered remotely through the University of Washington Department of Earth and Space Sciences, with assignments that address many of the learning goals of traditional in-person exercises. Because the virtual field experiences are open-ended, other instructors can design different exercises to meet different learning goals. While this game environment currently serves as an enhancement to remote education, this format can also augment traditional educational experiences, overcoming several challenges to accessing the field or particular outcrops and thereby broadening opportunities for participation and scientific collaboration.

Mattathias D. Needle et al.

Status: closed

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on gc-2021-17', Anonymous Referee #1, 21 Jul 2021
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC1', Mattathias Needle, 18 Aug 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on gc-2021-17', Anonymous Referee #2, 23 Jul 2021
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC2', Mattathias Needle, 18 Aug 2021

Status: closed

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on gc-2021-17', Anonymous Referee #1, 21 Jul 2021
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC1', Mattathias Needle, 18 Aug 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on gc-2021-17', Anonymous Referee #2, 23 Jul 2021
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC2', Mattathias Needle, 18 Aug 2021

Mattathias D. Needle et al.

Mattathias D. Needle et al.

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Short summary
We designed interactive, open-ended video games that simulate field geology to address the learning goals of traditional, in-person exercises for geology students. When these simulations were implemented in college courses, students used virtual versions of standard geology measuring tools to collect data but could also visualize and collect data in new ways, with a jetpack and instantaneous graphing tools. The games were for remote learning, but the tools can also enhance in-person instruction.
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