The people behind CLICKNL: Wim Westera

Who are the people who enthusiastically commit themselves every day to strengthening the creative industry and driving meaningful innovations? What do they see as the major challenges for the creative industry and what are their personal motives? This time: Wim Westera, professor of Learning Media at the Welten Institute and coordinator of the new DGA Gaming Fieldlab. “Games are innovation accelerators.”

Why did there have to be a gaming field lab?
“The game industry could benefit much more from collaboration with researchers. They do a lot of groundbreaking work but do not always have an eye for what is going on and what is needed in the industry. In turn, game companies do not always have good access to the latest developments and technologies. Of course, that's a shame. That's one of the things that we want to do something about, together with Field lab. For example, we will support a number of research projects and organize meetings where researchers and professionals exchange ideas about game research. We also want to show concrete results. We not only want to show how the industry can use research results but also how they can influence research themes". “Our games often act as a kind of innovation accelerator, so it makes sense to invest in this. On the one hand, games are complex digital media in which all kinds of technologies can find their place. You can think of sensors such as robotics, AI, VR, AR and IoT: very suitable for trying out new things. That's why it's important that all kinds of current concepts and technologies from research find their way to games. On the other hand, games are increasingly being used as a solution in various fields such as education and care. So they play a central role between advanced technology on the one hand and application areas on the other."

The game industry could benefit much more from collaboration with researchers

In addition, a first call was recently launched from the fieldlab. Can you tell us more about that?
“With this first call, we want to focus on game software and tools that developers can use to improve the process of game design and development. The focus is on two current themes. In the first place on artificial intelligence (Artificial Intelligence, or AI): we want to go for smart applications that lead to smarter, better games. The second theme is software reuse. Programmers often want to make everything by themselves, while it takes a lot of time to reinvent the wheel over and over again. It would be nice to have a library with all sorts of ready-made software elements that developers can use immediately.”

The attention and development of serious games seem to be on the rise in recent years. Is your focus on this?
“Yes, serious games are rising but we don't focus purely on serious games only, because technically speaking, the difference with entertainment games is not that big. The fieldlab is there for the entire game industry."

Where does your personal motivation come from to commit yourself to the game industry?
“I find games very interesting as a medium because of the complexity. So many different technologies and disciplines come together. I find it fascinating to be busy with technology and modelling, and to investigate how a game should be designed to create a certain effect. I also support the objective of games to get people active and to let them learn things. That's why I think it's so important to take the development of the gaming industry to a higher level and to ensure that researchers and companies are able to find each other.”

Wim Westera
Wim Westera