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IU-Developed Massive Alternate Reality Game Showcased at 2014 Indy PopCon

Project Leads: Chauncey Frend, UITS Research Technologies

Advanced Visualization Lab, Visualization and Analytics, UITS Research Technologies

Attendees around IQ-Tilt
Figure 1. A photo inside the Return of Aetheria Booth inside the Indy Convention Center’s 150,000-square-foot exhibition hall. Attendees gathered around the IQ-Tilt are playing the game.

The School of Informatics and Computing (SOIC) faculty, staff, and students collaborated with Advanced Visualization Lab staff to create and showcase the massive multiplayer alternate reality fantasy game Return of Aetheria at the 2014 Indy PopCon entertainment convention.

The School of Informatics and Computing cultivates a community of talented students who strive for advanced skillsets in digital artistry and technical computational ability. Thirty students guided by five SOIC faculty designed and developed this game with system support from the Advanced Visualization Lab (AVL) and SOIC staff. The centerpiece of the game installation was the AVL’s IQ-Tilt system, with a 94-table touch screen in 4K resolution. Two hundred forty-five attendees to Indy PopCon registered and played Return of Aetheria with six winners at the end of the three-day convention. The overall convention attracted 10,000+ attendees, which meant near-constant foot traffic through the SOIC booth where they could learn about what the students created, play the game, or talk to SOIC recruiters for more information about enrolling in SOIC degree programs.

Indy PopCon ( describes itself as “a celebration of Pop Culture with a focus on comics, video games, internet culture, and independent artists, publishers, writers, authors, podcasters, etc.” and involves “a dedicated effort to bring in people who are finding success by publishing their own content. We want to find, help, and promote the people who are working hard at their craft and their passion, and are using new publishing means to do it.” The three-day event was held in the Indiana Convention Center, May 30-June 1.

IU's Advanced Visualization Lab is funded through the Office of the Vice President for Information Technology; is a unit of UITS Research Technologies; and is affiliated with the Pervasive Technology Institute. For questions about this project or to request a consultation, please contact

NSF GSS Codes:

Primary Field: Multidisciplinary Studies (980) - Science, Technology, and Society

Secondary Field: Computer Science (401) - Information Science/Studies