As my fifth Semester Project I developed ‘Lichtspiel’, an portable installation that combines traditional board gaming with computer games. I wanted to bring computer games from the screen to your table and by that combine the social experience of traditional board games together with the dynamic medium of modern computer technology.
During my research I found a couple of interesting papers that target the problem many computer games suffer and inspired me further to work on this idea. Here are some short excerpts from these papers:
“While computer technolgogies have provided exciting directions for game design and play, they have also tended to eliminate many of the social aspect of ‘traditional’ game play” – (A Model To Support The Design Of Multiplayer Games, Dr. Jose P. Zagal, 2000).
“When players gather together around these consoles the players generally sit side-by-side and interact with the screen, not directly with each other.” – (False Prophets: Exploring Hybrid Board/Video Games, Regan L. Mandryk, Diego S. Maranan, 2002)
“Lindley et al.’s research comparing Donkey Konga bongos (a natural interface) with a standard controller found that the natural interface increased the amount of social interaction behaviors (speech, instrumental gestures, empathi c gestures)” – ‘Stirring up experience through movement in game play: effects on engagement and social behaviour’ , 2008, Lindley, S. E., James Le Couteur, and Nadia L. Berthouze
The natural interaction with tokens that can be grabbed and moved enhance the experience of the game. It also takes away issues like having to learn controls that hinder me playing the game and learn the rules.
With ‘Lichtspiel’ I used a projected solution over a screen so anyone in the same room can easily see what’s going on and participate while still keeping the setup lightweight and easily portable. This way ‘Lichtspiel’ can be setup within minutes and can be carried around and brought to friends like any traditional board game.
The setup is very lightweight and simple to install as it mainly consists of a pico projector, an usb camera and a stand (gooseneck). This connects via usb to your laptop with a custom written software program installed. The prototype uses optical tracking (opencv by Greg Borenstein) to recognize your gaming tokens and analyze the current gaming status.
Here is another video of an earlier Prototype (the framerate is low because it is not optimized at this stage). It shows two games: The classic Minesweeper Game and a two player spaceshooter where one player controls the spaceship while the other player controls the aiming.