Thursday, October 21, 2004

Serious Games – Augmented Reality Games: Integrating Computer Games with Physical Environments 

All presentation slideshows will be available online within a few days at http://www.seriousgamessummit.com/.

Steffen Walz, Eric Klopfer

AR being relatively unknown, a definition is always a good start. Here is Klopfer’s:

Augmenting real environments with location specific information…

The next step of a good start, the “why”
- Anytime, anywhere
- Using real time and real space
- Planning across real time and space
- Fostering special learning
- Motivating kinesthetic learners

There are degrees of reality augmentation, basically form light to heavy. Light augmentations can consist of using PDAs while heavy augmentation can consist of using a helmet coupled with a GPS system. The differentiator here is the quantity of information used for the augmentation.

Walz also has his own definition:

…immersion until it gets undistinguishable from reality. No computers anymore but a high number of “augmented” physical artifacts.

Some of Walz’ projects:
- Pong on a cell phone
- Carplication
- MAD Countdown

MAD Countdown is interesting because it pinpointed an unexpected issue. The game was taking place in a 5-storey building. Participants, equipped with wireless PDAs, had to gather clues about where a nuclear bomb was hidden in the building and on how to turn it off. The experience seemed so immersive to some participants that they didn’t hesitate to break through doors and tear posters apart in the hope of finding additional clues. The augmentation led those people to pose act that they would never had done in a normal situation.

Walz agreed with my comment:
Since reality is only a perception, altering people’s perception of their environment corresponds in fact to creating a new reality. It will become very hard at one point to differentiate the real from the virtual. That obviously creates an ethical issue in AR projects.

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