Much of our research in the Department of Computer Science deals either directly with creating games or with the knowledge and skills needed in game development.
Our department is well known for its research in graphics and rendering. Subjects such as physically-based simulation, crowd simulation, sound simulation and interactive ray tracing all provide a strong basis for various areas of gaming. Research in distributed collaborative systems and real-time systems also provide a foundation for game development. We also do research in virtual environments and tracking.
Serious games is a growing area of research. Currently one member of our faculty is working on an ongoing project in collaboration with the School of Medicine to build a game to help pre-teens with chronic kidney disease meet others like them and learn the skills needed to transition to adult care. Research is also being done in the field of enabling technology, to provide accessible educational and entertainment games to people with disabilities.
Since its inception, the online game industry has been plagued by cheating of numerous types, in some cases with financial repercussions to the game operator. "Age of Empires" and "America's Army" are examples of online games that suffered substantial player loss due to cheating, and for subscription games, player loss translates directly to a reduction in operator revenues. Computer security researchers in the Department of Computer Science at UNC have launched an effort to develop novel and innovative cheat defenses for multiplayer online games. For example, they have recently developed an approach to detect any type of cheating that causes the client to exhibit behavior, as seen by the game server, that is inconsistent with the sanctioned client software and the game state as known at the server.