Marrying a Virtual Character

November 23, 2009

I don’t know if there is a precedent on this one. Some real-life flesh-and-blood dude actually married a character from a Nintendo DS dating simulator, in a church in Guam. Left for the rest of us to imagine is how they will have t3h s3x and what the babies will look like…

By the way, here is the bride.

Additionaly, it is quite interesting to note the profound tone of some discussions that popped-up after the Kotaku article.

She argued, even if they don’t communicate, the digital coding, on the binary level, in each copy of the game for this girl, is exactly the same; essentially making this girl and every other player of the game who has chosen her an adulterer. -Dallas Peterson

[Edit] And here’s the video report by Lisa Katayama from Boing Boing.

(via Kotaku, more Kotaku and Gizmodo)

I’m tired from the early plane trip back from Athens, mentally exhausted for all the stuff I saw at ACE 2009 and I am also slightly sick to boot.

Given all the above, I am seriously unable to even comment on such shocking news…

“[Baby and Me] takes doll-playing to the next level by incorporating motion control (and balance board support!) into 18 game modes (…). Not only that, this hellspawn will actually cry through the Wiimote’s speaker. You quiet baby down by rocking, burping and teaching him/her/it to walk. There’s even a feeding exercise. I’m sensing a Wiimote breast pump attachment down the line.” – via Kotaku

Couldn’t have said it better.

Thanks to Ricardo Nascimento I came to know of The Fun Theory, an initiative by Volkswagen that aims to show that “something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people’s behaviour for the better”.

My crystal ball tells me that if you have an idea for such a fun and beneficial behaviour-changing project, there might be a 2500€ prize in you future.

Anyone want in with me?

This then leads back to the notion of Persuasive Games. Ian Bogost wrote a whole book on the subject (a book I have yet to read) and became founding partner of the Persuasive Games studio.

Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames

And quite recently Prof. Luca Chittaro posted once again about one of my works. Headbang Hero is attracting a lot of attention and everyone has his/her own view on what this beast really is, it’s intentions towards the player. In Prof. Chittaro’s view,  it’s a persuasive application with two faces: initially it seems to try and make headbanging more fun by awarding points for it and allowing several players to compare their scores; then it seems to try and tame down the players by pointing out the risks they incurred.

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

Ars Electronica 2009

September 29, 2009

Another Summer that ended with me rushing off from somewhere to be present at the Ars Electronica festival – but maybe more importantly, at the Interface Culture exhibition.

This year students pushed hard to organize the Royal Interface Culture Masquerade Ball, which took place at the twin building from Kunstuniversitat – also commonly referred to as the Hitler buildings (1). 😛

Anyway, here’s a video of the opening and of a few projects.

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Anger, what an amazing feeling…

In videogames, anger usually has its roots in stuff like stiff controls, unbalanced game rules, cheap deaths, sparse checkpoints… well if you’re a gamer, you know what I’m talking about. If not, you might have already been witness to angry displays of gamer frustration. These often include cursing and swearing, violent tossing of game controllers, pounding fists – everything at once and much more, if you’re an angry german kid.

But what about a game that feeds off of your anger? A game that cordially invites you to repeatedly pound on a table and – best of all – to literally flip a table as a finishing move?

Japan is full of awesomeness. Nothing so wild as Boon-ga Boon-ga this time (1), but on the same note… a game that invites you to take it all out on it’s tangible interface. While in Boon-ga Boon-ga there was an ass, in Cho Chabudai Gaeshi [via Kotaku] there is a tea table.

[via Kotaku]

(1) which is actually South-Korean in origin, but was a success at Tokyo Game Show 2000

White Shadow, by Team 4040. Commissioned by Ars Electronica Linz.

For three nights now, White Shadow has been serving as a live channel between Mexico City and Linz.

It will be there until July 14. If you live in Linz, please drop by the Hauptplatz after 21:00. If you don’t, you can always check out the live streaming at the Team 4040 website 🙂

If more than a few game controllers were strongly influenced in design by real, industrial human-machine interfaces  (Densha de Go! comes to mind) will the reverse ever happen? 🙂

You have surely seen various examples of using the Wii Remote to perform human-computer interaction. These guys, however, used it to control two very real and quite huge grappling arms. Pretty cool at the very least.

Sony has seemingly filed a patent for a system that allows everyday objects to be used as videogame controllers.

I’m not going to go on and rant about it now. But well… I really have to start promoting my own work. Let’s hope that the reviewers at SIGGRAPH Asia like Noon.

[via Kotaku, Siliconera]


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My next post about game-asset-inspired real objects is being kept in the drafts yet, but I will post it sometime soon. Hmmm, define “soon”

Yesterday Ricardo pointed out this video to me, which seems to be an evolution of the Invisible Train from the Graz University of Technology (TUI). The TUI Graz seems also to be involved into this mobile, augmented zombie goodness. And you can use Skittles. Not any other colored spherical objects, Skittles. Sponsoring deal, anyone?

Without further addue, here is the video of Arhrrrr from the Augmented Environments Lab of Georgia Tech.

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