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Inria-Gayatech collaboration on an intelligent serious game

Designed by Gayatech, the serious game Les Mystères d’Athéna [The Mysteries of Athena] immerses schoolchildren of the Alpes-Maritimes into an ancient 3D world. In a bid to solve the enigmas proposed by this edutainment adventure, students will be able to use an intelligent search engine, benefiting from the semantic expertise of the Wimmics joint project-team (Inria, I3S (UNS-CNRS)). Fabien Schmitz, CEO of Gayatech and Catherine Faron-Zucker, vice head of the Wimmics project-team, explain.

Can you tell us about this serious game?

Fabien Schmitz: Les Mystères d’Athéna is an immersive educational game in 3D which reconstructs Antipolis, the ancient city of Antibes. It is accessible via the EDUCLOUD06 platform, which stores various information resources. This serious game is hosted on the cloud and therefore designed to run on any device (tablets, smartphones, PC, etc.). The project aims to help secondary school students to discover different subjects (history of art, literature, art, history, geography, musical education, etc.). But it is also designed to be a genuine tool for teachers to use. I am convinced of the educational effectiveness of this kind of solution in this day and age. That's why I created my company – Gayatech – in early 2014.

Why did you decide to call on the expertise of the Wimmics team?

F. S.: On EDUCLOUD06, the user can access a wealth of information, both on the platform and outside it, via the web.A tool is therefore needed to sort through this data. I could have chosen a conventional syntactic search engine, but I wanted a more refined solution capable of understanding what the student is doing and intelligently providing them with information, according to their progress in the game, their weaknesses or their strengths.

Catherine Faron-Zucker : Within the Wimmics team, we are specialised precisely in these data modelling and system user issues. With serious games, it is about enriching them through semantic annotations on the educational resources and elements of the game, by using knowledge extraction algorithms. At the same time we also need to model the users, their actions and interactions and contextualize them. Finally, we develop algorithms that exploit the semantics of our models, the relationships between these different elements, to provide support that is tailored to each user.

How will this partnership work in reality?

C. F.-Z.: From 1st April onwards, we will be hosting a post-doctoral student for a year within the framework of Carnot funding for R&D (see the box below). They will spend four days a week with us, and one day a week at Gayatech. This type of partnership is the ideal formula for technology transfer. Moreover, by comparing our algorithms with existing systems, we are compelled to ask ourselves new research questions: it's a virtuous circle.

F. S.: In our business, you have to be innovative: it is essential to stand out from the crowd. This collaboration with Wimmics allows us to develop the features of our platform and gain credibility to work with educational professionals.

Keywords: Serious game Semantic Web Gayatech E-éducation WIMMICS