TGC 2009: Bringing Games to Life - Literally

TGC 2009: Bringing Games to Life - Literally

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Robert Rice, CEO of Neogence, thinks that within five years, we'll have "something really darn close" to Star Trek's Holodeck - in fact, most of the technology already exists.

"Games are going to move out of the PC and the console and into the world around you," Rice said as he began his panel at Triangle Games Conference 2009, and pointed to the trend in mobile phones. First, the phones were just that - phones, and nothing else. Now, with the "Smart Phone" generation like the Blackberry and iPhone, you have devices that are still primarily mobile phones, but also surf the Internet. By 2012, Rice predicts that people will be buying Mobile Internet Devices: Wearable technology that allow users to interface with the Internet - oh, and they also make telephone calls, but that's secondary.

In 2012, Rice estimates that the average MID will have a 1GHz processor, a 20-megapixel HD camera, a hi-def screen, and a wireless broadband connection of 100 Mb/s - or more. Through these MIDs, people will be able to link data to objects: an "Internet of things," so to speak. He pointed to the TED tech demo of Pattie Maes's wearable "Sixth Sense of Information," where a projector directly displayed information about an object in question.

Maes has the right idea, Rice thinks, but not the right implementation. The projector needs to go - the real wave will be putting the information on transparent wearable displays like sunglasses: "This is where everything changes." Furthermore, the interface needs to evolve to the point where it's more intuitive and doesn't require any sort of real-life "markers," to where it's as simple as just pointing: "The first thing you learn as a child is to point at things to interface with the world."

A workable interface is crucial to the survivability of Augmented Reality as the genuine next step of media, argues Rice. Intuitive interfaces are the key - if you don't have an intuitive interface, the tech doesn't matter, because no one will adopt it. The real danger, Rice thinks, is for Augmented Reality to go the way of Virtual Reality and be seen as purely novelty tech. "[VR] was adopted way too early, with way too many problems. Hollywood got a hold of it, and it lost all credibility."

As for the Holodeck? Well, it won't have the force feedback, but Rice thinks the technology is "80% there." He envisions a world of gaming where a small MID - in, say, a gamer's belt buckle - wirelessly transmits to a visual device that is transparent (like a pair of sunglasses), displaying information on the screen. GPS technology and triangulation calculates the gamer's exact position, and tells him that there are four other people within a mile also logged in and playing the game. If he sees one of them, the display would, say, overlay the image with that of an enemy soldier: Games of Counterstrike could be "played in parking lots."

It isn't just gaming, either. "What if my kids could have Spongebob Squarepants in the living room?" Or what if the technology could be used by teachers to help an autistic student - who responds to learning by textures and colors better than normal teaching methods?

Up until now, Rice says, games have been a destination: You go to WoW to play, you game inside Fallout 3. Augmented Reality changes the destination - now, the destination is the gamer.

It isn't even a matter of thinking outside the box, Rice believes. "Reinvent the box. We need to think differently - all the rules are changing."

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Please be right, 5 years till holodeck. AWESOME!

There's a great deal of difference between an ARG and a holodeck. (Still, the sort of ARG he's talking about here could be good too. Just not as good as a holodeck.)

Nice to see the faint traces of real advancement in the realm of science and technology. I can't wait to see what they do with this!

Heh, Scanners in 3 years, holodeck in 5 years? Does this mean we'll have phasers in 6?

OMG, i totaly call Captain. Jinx. 12345. infinity.

D: My brain turned into juice while reading that.

"What if my kids could have Spongebob Squarepants in the living room?"

For some reason, that idea kind of scares me.

We all know that this new technology will be harnessed for adult reason before anything else...

I think the bigger hurdle is not the technology but the user. Wearing a full suit to play a game looks like a serious commitment in the eyes of the average person and might be too nerdy or something. I think that's why the Wiimote is an object you hold, not one you wear like the Power Glove, clothing seems more personal, not something that can be shared with others (which is a big part to social gaming and important to people who aren't misanthropic nerds whose only friends are online). Plus covering yourself means you can't get out of the game quickly (can't even look away from it without removing the helmet) which adds to the nerdyness. The room-like holodeck has space problems, you just can't fit those into a regular house easily and I don't think people will want to go to an arcade for something whose first use will be teledildonics.

True virtual reality would be so damn awesome, and a step closer to Matrix style gaming. Try playing Gears of War or L4D in virtual reality, how cool would that be? Holodeck FTW!

DamienHell:
Please be right, 5 years till holodeck. AWESOME!

I knew I saved my Magic cards for something..

Trivun:
True virtual reality would be so damn awesome, and a step closer to Matrix style gaming. Try playing Gears of War or L4D in virtual reality, how cool would that be? Holodeck FTW!

Not virtual reality, augmented reality :)

KDR_11k:
I think the bigger hurdle is not the technology but the user. Wearing a full suit to play a game looks like a serious commitment in the eyes of the average person and might be too nerdy or something. I think that's why the Wiimote is an object you hold, not one you wear like the Power Glove, clothing seems more personal, not something that can be shared with others (which is a big part to social gaming and important to people who aren't misanthropic nerds whose only friends are online). Plus covering yourself means you can't get out of the game quickly (can't even look away from it without removing the helmet) which adds to the nerdyness. The room-like holodeck has space problems, you just can't fit those into a regular house easily and I don't think people will want to go to an arcade for something whose first use will be teledildonics.

That was actually his point. It needs to be small and unobtrusive - like, say, sunglasses. If you're wearing sunglasses that can overlay the augmented reality but then just shut off and function as regular shades when not playing, it doesn't require, say, a bodysuit.

Miral:
There's a great deal of difference between an ARG and a holodeck. (Still, the sort of ARG he's talking about here could be good too. Just not as good as a holodeck.)

Of course. But think about it - if you can create an augmented reality game designed for use outside without set markers, what happens if you can build a room WITH all those set markers in place, so that the player sees a landscape instead of a room? That's getting closer to the holodeck.

The reality in 5 years might be even better than they expect.
I think they could easily incorporate force feedback with a setup like that using acupressure.

 

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