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Imagine being able to view an exhibit at London’s National Gallery, or The Louvre in Paris, go back in time to tour Ancient Rome, board the International Space Station, or experience the majesty of the Titanic — all from the comfort of your living room. Becker 2014 graduate Scott Tongue is working to make this new age of discovery possible.
Tongue discovered Becker in 2010, while attending PAX East in Boston. Here, he found the place to pursue his dream of earning a bachelor’s degree in game design. While earning a degree might seem like a typical thing, it was not so easy for this 22-year-old who had been diagnosed with autism at age eight. With an insatiable curiosity for all electronics, he spent countless hours disassembling and reassembling gaming systems and other electronic items. As his innate problem-solving and technical-thinking skills began to emerge, so did his passion for gaming and game design. In the mid-1990s Tongue got his first personal computer and began “modding maps”—creating new levels for store-bought video games like Quake, where players navigate their way through maze-like medieval environments. After graduating from Shoreham-Wading River High School, in Shoreham, N.Y., he earned an associate’s degree in network administration from Briarcliffe College in Long Island City.
During the spring semester of his junior year at Becker, Tongue enrolled in an Unreal Development Kit course, and in conjunction with an employee of the Worcester Art Museum, the two developed a virtual version of the first floor of the museum. Meanwhile, Tongue was given the opportunity to work with an Oculus Rift Development Kit. Oculus Rift, at the time, was a non-commercial virtual reality headset designed for immersive gaming using custom tracking technology to provide ultra-low latency 360-degree head tracking, allowing users to seamlessly look around a virtual world. Every subtle head movement is tracked in real time, creating a natural and intuitive experience. (Oculus Rift has since been acquired by Facebook.)
Tongue returned to PAX East in 2014, this time to demonstrate his museum project, and eager gamers lined up to view the tour on the Oculus Rift. With the virtual tour, the Worcester Art Museum can be viewed virtually through a simple, lightweight headset, similar to wearing ski goggles. Suddenly, the user is transported inside the museum, able to virtually tour room after room through the use of hand controls. Delicate pieces of artwork can be viewed remotely, with life-like details.
As a student, Tongue was industrious, always making the most of his time. He added game credits to his resume (Game of Thrones Ascent, Natural Selection II), served as a teaching assistant, and he was recognized by the Game Developers Conference (GDC) Game Narrative Summit Advisory Board as a Gold-level winner in the GDC Game Narrative Review Program. As a result, he was invited to submit a poster of his work for display and to present at a poster session at the 2014 GDC.
Today, Tongue is continuing to work in virtual reality in the Long Island University (LIU) digital gaming master’s program. He is completing his second museum virtual tour and expects it to be on display at LIU later this year. He is also using the Oculus Rift and his programming expertise to improve the performance frame rate of a platform game and reduce the hardware necessary to run the game. He also works as a playtester for two companies: Faultline Games and Unknown Worlds Entertainment.