The Collaboration for Humane Technologies project was proposed to foster arts driven research by faculty and students that engages interdisciplinary collaboration to take action on grand challenges that impact life and livability in the 21st century. The core of our work was two Pop-Up Collaborations that were supported and extended by curricular offerings that engage a broad range of students as well as high profile public events, documentation and dissemination. The focus for the first round of Pop-Ups was Humane Technologies, exploring what it might be like to work, to play, to share and to think in more dynamic mediums that access our full multi-sensory human capacities. "Physical Scroller" was created during the first one-week Pop-Up.
Over the course of five days, I led a team to design a game built upon the
concepts of inclusion, embodiment, connection, livability, and collaboration. Following our 'Humane Technologies' prompt, I reached into the intersection of digital and analog space to maximize the affordances of play as a physical activity. Like all of my games, "Physical Scroller" was designed to be played in person and not alone; it requires that its players be present and physically collaborate; and that it must be played in a shared physical space rather than online. Achieving this hybridization of digital/analog play required that our team utilize multiuser-enabling technologies that have the capacity to receive and/or transmit physical and positional data. These technologies include the Microsoft Kinect, Processing, UDP, and projection mapping.
Early in the week, we were able to get the Kinect's depth sensing to recognize multiple players in its field of view and project a red ball onto the floor at their median position. Because 'depth' was measured at a specific height off the ground, players were also able to move in and out of its range by ducking low to the ground. This provided me with a set of technical constraints that I could design rules and game mechanics around.
In "Physical Scroller", players are tasked with navigating a projected ball through a field of scrolling obstacles. Because the red ball is projected at the players' median position, they must work together to avoid the oncoming threat. Players can also duck down to effectively pass the ball to the other player, or stretch out their arms and increase their area of influence to bias the ball in their direction. These rules and game mechanics provided players with a decision tree that was designed to magnify the experience of inclusion, embodiment, connection, livability, and collaboration between them.
Day 1 - One of several design boards spent brainstorming ideas.
Day 2 - A deeper dive into themes of inclusion, embodiment, and connection while exploring elements of risk in our gameplay.
Day 3 - Continued refining the goals of our game and exploring how its spatial qualities could better serve collaborative play.
Day 4 - Began defining level design and how our mechanics could be more inclusive.
Day 5 - Two players playing "Physical Scroller" in the Motion Lab at The Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design at Ohio State.