Three papers were recently shown to me and I read over the relevant portions:
The first paper’s title was Art and Technology of Entertainment Computing and Communication. (The link is to the section directly that I read over).
The point made is that tabletop games can fall into a few categories, and while they often switch between many categories during different moments of gameplay, they can lean more towards one or the other. Our idea, of an air hockey hybrid would fall into the competitive category. It puts players against each other instead of encouraging players to collaborate. It’s also live action as opposed to turn based. The puck is moving in real-time and the players are both reacting simultaneously.
In the Entertainment section of this publication they describe a case study but it involves a large wall mounted system that’s pretty bulky and certainly not in any way portable. Before I read this article I actually sketched a little version of what a networked system could look like, but then I realized a problem.
This is a huge installation, so it could only exist in places like arcades where it could be setup and then never broken down. But if you’re in an arcade, why wouldn’t you just play an actual air hockey table with your friends? You can already see them in person, so you’d just have that experience. My only thought is that maybe in a setting like a Dave and Busters, it could be cool to play against another person at a completely different place around the country. But otherwise, there’s no real reason for it. No one will want this in their house.
Back to the article. Their first case study deals with a Carnegie Mellon created game called Jam-O-World. This was a collaborative game where all players were in the same local space. That immediately removes the need to face the question we’re attempting to ask. Our problem is with a networked table!
The next text was Human Computer Interaction: The Agency Perspective. My theory that no one has solved this problem in any way is continuing to evolve as I read this article. Their current solution to creating a user-friendly experience on a table top digital game is to use augmented reality. Now the focus of this article was specifically targeting games to the elderly. But, demographic aside, there were some relevant points. For example, I love this quote, because it’s basically my whole thought on this. “[…]PC games do not allow for personal face-to-face contact, an aspect that is crucial in traditional games” (113). Well, at least we aren’t the only one’s who are wondering how this translates. Unfortunately, their solution was also just an augmented reality solution with a localized table using both digital and virtual objects.
On to the next book: Intelligent Technologies for Interactive Entertainment.
Here they faced something like what we’re doing, having multiple competitive users on the same surface. Now, obviously our end game is to have multiple users on different surfaces, but at least this is a competitive game and not a collaborative one since the interactions are pretty different. Their problem was, how do we distinguish between the multiple users on a single surface? If we limit the user’s space to a certain part of the table it not only limits their creative field, but it limits the design area for the developer as well, so this isn’t really a good solution. Now, it’s not really the question we’re asking, so while it’s an interesting question, it’s not one I’m going to delve any deeper into.
That’s my basic thoughts on the three articles I read. We’re getting somewhere more specific on this topic, just not to a solution yet.
More to follow.