The 8-Bit Era of Pervasive Games

October 2, 2009

If computer assisted pervasive gaming were to become much more commonplace now, and by comparison to current state-of-the-art videogames, it would still be in the 8-bit era, or even worse.

It seems to me that the major problem in what concerns input/output in what could be a commercial, widely-adopted mobile pervasive game, would be – still comparing with current-gen videogames – realistic output.

I could imagine players walking around with head-mounted displays to provide a (more or less) mobile output channel for mixed reality graphics, or even portable projectors (which don’t work very well in broad daylight). But in a situation where real objects are used in-game and the developers want the game to autonomously affect these objects’ position in space (and other physical properties such as size, color, shape and whatnot) there is still a major problem as far as I can see.

Let’s imagine that I am playing a wizard or telekinetic character of some kind. How would I go about moving real objects with my mind? Maybe my powers can only affect objects from that other dimension or plane – the virtual.

I might not be completely serious about this. But what it tells me is to expect the current design of pervasive games to be much more about metaphors – just like in the times of the Atari 2600 when everything graphics-wise was blocky and you really had to fire up your imagination there for a bit until you could understand what was going on in the screen in front of you.

As a more extreme example, consider the Magnavox Odyssey, which had no sound output whatsoever and came with these transparent overlays which you would stick to the TV screen to define the game-world. Most games didn’t even enforce the rules by themselves so, for instance, you were free to cross a wall with your “avatar” as long as other players didn’t mind.

I think that if you watch the Angry Video Game Nerd’s review of the Odyssey (NSFW) you’ll pretty much get the point. The Odyssey even came with chips, dice and cards, something that would be unthinkable nowadays because computers handle all the logic and representation in videogames.

Oh no, wait, I forgot Eye of Judgment, a PS3 game released only last year. That one uses cards 😛

Anyway, would something like what happens with the Magnavox Odyssey make sense for a pervasive game? To further ponder about this, please do take a look at this article from Wired, which is accompanied as always by witty comments.

Pocket Players: 13 Great Portable Games

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: