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.


Facebook Facepalm

October 16, 2009

Guess who also has a profile on Facebook now?

Tiago Martins | Create Your Badge

I had to eventually end up there, like everyone else.

Now let’s see how to integrate both Facebook and WordPress without destroying something in the process.

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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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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Zeemote? Seriously…

June 4, 2009

In late 2006 I began working on the Gauntlet. I remember when, back then, I came to know about the upcoming Nintendo Revolution controller – nowadays known to children, adults, seniors, hardcore and casual gamers alike as the Wiimote.

I still have to accept the fact that I will never beat the Japanese to a great idea, although I get to be constantly reminded of that fact. For instance, by Ichiro Katsumoto’s Amagatana. But hey, this seriously rocks! I can say at the very least that I was happy to play with it and to say hi to the man himself. As I will hopefully be when wielding a sword in Red Steel 2 using the Wii Motion Plus, when it comes out later this year.

Amagatana by Yuichiro Katsumoto

Amagatana by Yuichiro Katsumoto

Red Steel 2 swordplay using Wii Motion Plus, via IGN

Red Steel 2 swordplay using Wii Motion Plus, via IGN

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Guitar… Regular Guy?

January 11, 2009

With so many people bashing Guitar Hero and Rock Band for not actually teaching to play real instruments, it would be inevitable that developers would attempt at making a version using real instruments. Video: The Holy Grail of Music Gaming

There is also LittleBigStar, with the premise to “play games with music instruments / make music by gaming”.

And then there is the Tomy Air Guitar Pro, which I acquired in Japan. It deserves a post all of itself, but here is an interesting one nevertheless.

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Denimcode can be put basically as a concept of using 2D barcodes in clothing, more precisely jeans. As far as I can tell it has no apparent innovation in the sense that the interaction and flow of information is basically what has been done so far: you take a picture of one such mark with your mobile device, which links it to media content remotely hosted.

But what’s really funny is… well, look at the picture. Just look at it.

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