Locative Lab

researching locative media

Ubiquitous games


Introduction

Weiser’s vision of ubiquitous computing included the notion that technology in the future would be designed to fit into the natural human environment, and that is should be as easy to interact with computers as with everyday objects in the physical world. Weiser argued that computers would be embedded into everyday objects looking like jewellery, clothing and walls, but that these objects would communicate with each other and adapt their behaviour to different users, locations and situations. A key point of the vision was not only to have ever-present objects that are always accessible, but also have them be aware of our context. In contrast to traditional computing humans are able to sense context naturally and use it in their actions. However with the introduction of sensible technologies, networked computers, and a software support infrastructure, technology can be programmed to ‘sense’ aspects of a user’s context.

Ubiquitous games

The advances made in the research area of ubiquitous computing have strong implications for the idea of ubiquitous play. The use of context-awareness, readily available computing and ever-present connectivity can yield exciting advances in ubiquitous gaming and play. And natural there have already been several research projects dealing with the area of ubiquitous gaming. I’ve gathered and read as many papers of these as possible and have concluded that ubiquitous games can be subdivided into the following four categories.
Categories of ubiquitous games:
Virtual reality, augmented and mixed reality games
Context-aware games
Location-aware games
Pervasive games

1. Virtual reality, augmented and mixed reality games

The keywords of this category are:
– virtual or augmented reality.
– high-precision body tracking.
– high computational requirements

Examples:
Mindwarping, AR2 hockey, AquaGauntlet, RV Border Guards

2. Context-aware games

The keywords of this category are:
– The system holds context-aware information.
E.g. knowledge of the location of the user, his activity, his temperature, speed, direction, voice, height etc.
– Uses contextual information to provide task-relevant functionality

The context-aware games can further be subdivided into the following four subcategories:
2a. Board and card games

The keywords of this category are:
– computational realization of classical games.
– adds such elements as complex simulation, evolving environments, impartial judging, suspension of disbelief and the ability to save the state of game into conventional games.

Examples:
Triangles, False Prophets, Multi Monster Mania, Smart Playing Cards.

2b. Athletics games

The keywords of this category are:
– computational realization of physical-based games and sports.
– adds such elements as complex simulation, evolving environments, impartial judging, suspension of disbelief and the ability to save the state of game into games..

Examples:
PingPongPlus, Dance Dance Revolution, Electronic dart.

2c. Vision games

The keywords of this category are:
– render interactive games onto the real world.
– uses vision technology; projectors, cameras, boards, etc.
– player interacts with/through visual presentation.
– lightweight version of augmented/mixed reality games.

Examples:
Fro…og!, Eye Toy (for PS2).

The keywords of this category are:
– render interactive games onto the real world.
– uses vision technology; projectors, cameras, boards, etc.
– player interacts with/through visual presentation.
– lightweight version of augmented/mixed reality games.

Examples:
Fro…og!, Eye Toy (for PS2).
2d. Biofeedback games

The keywords of this category are:
– the body is critical element of the game.
– uses input from biosensors.
– the events in the game are based on the measurements.

Examples:
Brainball, Relax-to-win.

The keywords of this category are:
– render interactive games onto the real world.
– uses vision technology; projectors, cameras, boards, etc.
– player interacts with/through visual presentation.
– lightweight version of augmented/mixed reality games.

Examples:
Fro…og!, Eye Toy (for PS2).
2d. Biofeedback games

The keywords of this category are:
– the body is critical element of the game.
– uses input from biosensors.
– the events in the game are based on the measurements.

Examples:
Brainball, Relax-to-win.

3. Location-aware games

The keywords of this category are:
– use physical location of player to enhance games.
– often large-scale playing ground due to imprecise position information.
– often role play scenarios using PDAs.

Examples:
Can you see me now?, Pirates!, Pervasive Clue.

4. Pervasive games

The keywords of this category are:
– always present, available to the player.
– often location-aware.
– phones, PDAs, fax, SMS, e-mail, voice-recordings, etc.

Examples:
Majestic, BotFighter, Nokia Game, The Guild.

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About

Cityscape LocativeLab.org is Ronald Lenz's research website on locative & mobile media. This is mostly an archive of blogposts I find inspiring and interesting and an overview of my work. I'm a strategist, technologist and researcher in the field of Location-Based Mobile Services and work at Waag Society, a medialab in Amsterdam, The Netherlands where I head the Locative Media research program and at 7scenes, a platform for GPS games and tours as creative director. Picture 4 Find me at Twitter, LinkedIn or via ronald [at] waag [dot] org.

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