(Institute for Digital Intermedia Arts / IDIA Lab, Ball State University, Muncie IN, USA)

The Virtual Middletown Project brings to life the 1929 and 1937 Lynd Study of Middletown America through the virtual world of Blue Mars which uses the CryEngine. This prototype recreates elements of industrial life from that period, specifically the Ball Glass Factory. The project incorporates various modes of learning and interaction – while maintaining the immersive experience.

The Virtual Middletown LIving Museum project in Blue Mars is a simulation of the Ball Glass factory from early 20th century Muncie, Indiana. Life and conditions in the factory were one of the key elements of the Middletown Studies by Robert S. and Helen Merrell Lynd in their landmark studies Middletown (1929) and Middletown in Transition (1937). These in-depth accounts of life in Muncie, Indiana, became classic sociological studies and established the community as a barometer of social trends in the United States. In the years since, scholars in a variety of fields have returned to Muncie to follow up on the Lynds’ work, making this small city among the most studied communities in the nation. The center continues this tradition by sponsoring and promoting research on Muncie as Middletown, on small cities generally, and on the themes and issues the Lynds explored.