Media on the Riverfront

A guest tries out a virtual reality game during Bradley's interactive media showcase at Peoria Riverfront Museum. (Photo by Adam Rubinberg)

Matt Hawkins
May 9, 2016

Bradley interactive media students transformed Peoria Riverfront Museum into a universe of fantasy worlds for a day with the department’s annual showcase. The event immersed an event-record 1,500 children and adults in alternate realities designed by students this year.

Museum guests tried virtual reality space-age road races, stepped into a mock museum through augmented reality technology and discovered secrets of the latest digital media entertainment as they mingled with student-creators.

For the first time, students managed the show from concept to execution. Led by executive producer Quentin Young ’17, of Groveland, Illinois, 40 IM majors labored through the school year to bring the show to life. By the day of the show, more than 120 IM students participated in the production, which featured seven signature experiences and a portfolio show with work from all IM majors.

Young, an aspiring producer, said the year confirmed his long-term career goals.

“I’m a fan of trial by fire — unless it’s me,” he quipped. “Even though it’s been a bit challenging to organize details and make everything work, it’s been a great experience watching it come together.”

Young and his leadership team opened roles on signature projects to freshmen and sophomores. As a result, younger students received valuable experience as they contributed ideas and skills to large-scale projects.

“It’s amazing to see people in action,” Young said. “Everyone has grown from this experience and we’ve developed a strong sense of community within the department. Because so many of us will still be here next year, we’ll continue to grow together.”

Signature game experiences ranged from an oversize board game puzzle to an augmented reality mock museum. Virtual reality, an arcade game, a health-focused game app and a green screen also were featured.

The large projects followed similar development paths. The fall semester focused on brainstorming ideas and project scope analysis. Teams brought in additional members to fill knowledge and skill gaps. Development consumed the spring, as teams often needed several attempts to perfect their projects.

“We’ve taken more ownership of our projects this year,” said David Hartsough ‘16, of Princeton, Illinois. “This is something we wouldn’t have been able to work on through our normal college experience, so it’s great to be part of something unique. You can’t go to an arcade and play games like these.”

By reaching out to children, parents and prospective employers in central Illinois, Bradley’s students hoped the showcase would spark the next generation of game designers and build bridges from the Hilltop to the professional world.

“We wanted people to see that interactive media is flourishing and the degree is versatile,” said Young, who recognized his passion for game design at age three. “IM is a degree where you can do what you’re passionate about and have a nice life.”