The Performance and Games Workshop@Nottingham took place on 27th and 28th October 2014 at the Mixed Reality Lab, University of Nottingham. The session was intended to generate design-ideas for mixed-reality games in an interdisciplinary setting.
Working in teams of 5 or 6, participants used sets of ideation cards and themes, provided by Richard Wetzel of MRL, to generate initial design ideas (Richard’s blog post). Initial concepts were refined during the first day of the workshop. The second day was spent developing initial prototypes and demonstrators for the games, which were presented at the end of the workshop.
Ben Kirman has produced the following short video (thanks Ben!) which presents the game prototypes developed during the workshop. This is followed by a short text description of each concept.
Grand Push Auto (Joe Marshall, Frank Loesche, Bruno Martelli, Daniel Johnson, Kieran Hicks, Conor Linehan)
For years, people have been nudged by governments and health experts towards adopting habits that lead to a healthier and more active life. People are advised to walk up the stairs rather than take the lift, to stand at their desk, and to get off the bus one or two stops early and walk the remainder of their journey home. Unfortunately, up until now, car drivers have not been able to avail themselves of the “get out early and walk” advice.
Grand Push Auto is a game that encourages you to get out of your car and push it over short distances. This results in an extremely intensive aerobic and anaerobic workout, as well as saving on greenhouse gas emissions. More importantly, it’s a lot of fun, and to passersby you appear incredibly strong and athletic.
You need a car, a smartphone, a friend to take the steering wheel, and a 3.5mm audio cable
1.Players download and install the app on their phone.
2. The phone is secured in a cradle on the windscreen
3. The audio cable connects the phone to the car stereo (the louder the stereo the better).
4. Your friend sits in the car controlling the steering and braking while you push it.
How it works
Each level in the game challenges players to push the car to a given speed. On the first level, for example, the game challenges players to push the car to 3km/h. The cars stereo is used to give feedback to the player. Pump-up music is played to encourage the player to “put it in” when they are pushing the car up to speed. A power rock crescendo plays when the speed has been reached – signaling to the player that they can stop pushing. After 6-8 seconds, relaxing music is played. At this point, the driver slams on the brakes, bringing the car back to a full stop. There is a rest period of 30 seconds before a new (normally more difficult) challenge is set and the pump-up music plays again.
The game draws on games research themes related to “brute force” exergaming. It is a reaction to the ill considered types of Nintendo Wii / Microsoft Kinect exergames that encourage you to do little more than wave your arms around in your living room. Grand Push Auto provides an explosive interval-based workout. Playing it with friends creates a fantastic opportunity for camaraderie, encouragement and feelings of accomplishment – features more commonly seen in violent team sports than in exergames.
Every Dog has Its Faraday (Gavin Wood, Kate Eltham, Michael Straeubig, James Munro, Patrick Dickinson)
This game idea stemmed from a specific set of ideation cards describing “exploration”, “unusual places”, “low-tech”, and the theme of “Game City”…
The players are dogs who have escaped from and evil experimentation lab. Starting from some predetermined point, they need to reach the safety of “home” (another point) as quickly as possible. However, they have been fitted with tracking devices which enable the evil scientists to find and re-capture them. Players need to safely find their way home by minimizing their exposure to location-based signals (Wifi, GPS, Bluetooth). The game leverages players’ knowledge of existing technological infrastructure (knowledge of blackspots, for example), and scoring is based on time taken to get home, and exposure to signals, during that time.
Project C (James Brown, Mike Kalyn, Andreas Taske, Ida Toft and Sabine Harrer)
The idea of Project C, or the Immersive Coffin Experience (ICE), stemmed from an initial thinking to make an uncomfortable but cooperative game. It is meant to make you uncomfortable and immersed in both the virtual and physical worlds, the idea was helped with some of the idea cards, such as “exploration”, “virtual reality” and “unusual places”. The game uses an Oculus Rift and a cardboard box in its most basic implementation so that the player will feel rather boxed in on all sides.
The gameplay stems from the fact you’re in a coffin and you need to get out, fortunately whoever put you in it has given you a chance to get out. There are clues plastered around the inside of the coffin that the player must decipher, in conjunction with that there is also a phone in the coffin. It is on a call to a phone which is in some kind of public place, be it a park, town square etc. The player will need to figure out there is a phone there by the background noise coming from it, then they can shout to get someone’s attention. That someone could be a passer-by or a prearranged player, this person takes the phone and starts talking to the coffin player and they together try to work out what the clues in the coffin mean.
These clues could be an abstract map of the area the outside player is in which leads them to various clues to the final location to “win” the game. There are other clues such as scrawled writing that suggest courses of action, “Remember to find the key”. Once the players have worked together the outside one will “find” where the other is buried and the game master in control of the Oculus Rift will let the player out of the coffin when they can confirm the game is complete.
From the tests we did with the game the players in the coffin where very immersed in the coffin experience and didn’t really want to leave for some time, as they seemed to enjoy the uncomfortable experience, which laying in a cardboard box really is.
Restaurant Phone Thief
Stick based Games #1: Restickulous
This game emerged logically and fully formed from a set of ideation cards describing “Low tech”, “Seamful design”, and “Augmented reality” and the theme “Game City”
This is a game inspired by that most revolutionary example of recent social technology – the selfie stick. In this game, the selfie stick is appropriated by the game player as a means for playfully addressing people who are taking selfies. The player fixes an image of famous world architecture (in our example, the Eiffel tower) to a stick and surreptitiously introduces it in to the background of the selfie being taken by the unsuspecting stranger. The challenge is to do so without being spotted by the selfie taker, so that their holiday photos of Nottingham, for example, include a photograph with the Eiffel tower. A hashtag is included in the image, so that selfie takers can share their photos with the wider restickulous community via Twitter if they wish.
Apart from an incredibly fun game, this project also reacts against the increasingly isolationist design features of social and mobile technology in general, and personal photography in particular. In the past we asked other people to take photos of us and at least this provided some human interaction with local people. Now we only take photos of ourselves. Restickulous is an intervention that draws attention away from the self and onto the surrounding human environment.
And it makes a cool noise.
Stick based Games #2: the highly recursive “Stick or Snake” (Conor Linehan, John Shearer, Kate Sicchio, Sue Swinburne and Richard Wetzel)
Stick or Snake is an Entertainment-Safety* app that answers the age old question: “Is it a STICK or is it a SNAKE?” When encountering a STICK|SNAKE the user takes a photo which is then analyzed by the app. As a result, the app promptly informs the user of the best course of action.
* does not provide actual safety