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Under Ball State’s terms of agreement with Avatar Reality, the university will begin to fully operate Blue Mars for non-commercial purposes, expand upon the source code, increase its research and academic initiatives, and enhance the community of Blue Mars. In addition, Ball State will continue to deliver original content on Blue Mars as it has done in the past.

“I am really excited about the future,” Phil Repp, Ball State’s vice president for information technology, said. “Through our division of Hybrid Design Technologies, Ball State will further our position as a national leader in hybrid worlds and their applications to mediated learning technologies. Our reputation in this discipline is such a perfect fit to our institutional history of innovation in teaching and learning.”

The Blue Mars platform, valued at $10 million in research and development, will be used by Ball State University for 3D simulation and research projects beyond the world of gaming.

Since 2009, Ball State’s IDIA has been a leading developer for Blue Mars, employing the virtual platform on projects such as digital laser scans of a centuries-old Buddha and the creation of the Virtual Middletown Project. The project, which ushers visitors via their computers into the world of the early 20th-century Ball Brothers Glass Manufacturing Co., is one example of the cultural heritage work possible with Blue Mars. Another is IDIA’s simulation of the 1915 World’s Fair in San Francisco.

It isn’t clear what founding company Avatar Reality Inc will be doing, with less than a dozen staff members left, I imagine that the company will be subsisting on licensing fees, or working on mobile projects.

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