Alessandro De Gloria – 1955-2023
Alessandro passed away in Genova, Italy, on March 20th, a few days after his 68th birthday. He founded the Serious Games Society and served as its first President, then as Honorary President. He founded also the Games and Learning Alliance Conference, of which he was the first General Chair and Honorary Chair.
Alessandro was Full Professor of Electronic Engineering at the Electrical, Electronics and Telecommunication Engineering and Naval Architecture Department of the University of Genova. He was the founder and leader of the ELIOS Lab research group in Electronic Engineering.
Culminating a prestigious and rapid academic career in the field of digital electronic, computer architecture and embedded systems, Alessandro had the intuition that applications of electronic systems would soon have had a significant impact on our daily lives. Particularly, he committed to study and develop the application of two then early emerging technologies: touch screen and 3D virtual-reality. Serious Games represented a challenging domain for both these technologies, with an aim to build potentially great tools for education and training.
Leading and/or participating to European research projects (particularly, e-Tour, games@large, ELU, Chi:Kho, VitalMind), he and his team designed and implemented applications that now look like early prototypes of smartphones’ apps. The tour guide for the Genoa’s Aquarium and the VeGame territorial game for the city of Venice were developed as demonstrators of such new and widely spreading technologies. The Strada Nuova project, on the other hand, realized a 3D Virtual Reality video clip illustrating the history of the Renaissance “Via Aurea” road that was built as the representative district of the at that time world-powerful Genoise bank families. The clip was exhibited for years in the Museo Rosso, and Ciampi, the Italian President of the Republic, watched it with interest with the 3D glasses.
Based on these and similar experiences he proposed the Games and Learning Alliance (GaLA) project, which was accepted as a Network of Excellence (NoE) (2010-2014). GALA involved thirty partners from all over Europe.
To continue aims of the GALA NoE after the end of the public funding, Alessandro founded the Serious Games Society (SGS) in July 2012. Co-founders were Sylvester Arnab (Coventry University), Jannicke Baalsrud Hauge (BIBA- Bremer Institut fuer Produktion und Logistik), Francesco Bellotti (Università di Genova), Riccardo Berta (Università di Genova), Rosa Maria Bottino (CNR-ITD), Sara De Freitas (Coventry University), Igor Stefan Mayer (Delft University of Technology), Rob Nadolski (Open University of the Netherlands), Johann Riedel (Nottingham University), Wim Westera (Open University of the Netherlands). Alessandro was SGS president from 2012 to 2017, and then Emeritus President.
From the SGS two main high-value initiatives blossomed: the International Journal of Serious Games (IJSG) and the Games and Learning Alliance (GALA) Conference. The IJSG, which Alessandro firmly wanted to be a gold open access publication, with no charges nor for authors nor for readers, has now reached the tenth year of publications. Alessandro was its Editor in Chief since the foundation up to his death. Under his direction, the IJSG has been indexed by Scopus and ESCI Web of Science. GALA Conf will reach its 12th edition in Dublin, November 2023. He was general chair of the first four editions (Genova 2012, which was joint with VS-Games; Paris 2013; Bucharest 2014; Rome 2015). All GALA proceedings are indexed Scopus and Web of Science.
Looking back at these years, with Alessandro strongly committed to the goals of SGS, we can say that these two activities have been fundamental to create a proper science of digital serious games.
We mourn a great friend, and a pioneer researcher and creative teacher, with a broad, constructive vision and outstanding team-building skills. The good he made will remain in time.
The present and past members of the board of the Serious Games Society : Francesco Bellotti, Riccardo Berta, Jannicke Baalsrud Hauge, Manuel Gentile, Johan Jeuring, Iza Marfisi Schottman, Manuel Ninaus, Remco Veltkamp and Vanissa Wanick.