It’s timely that I just found out about the ePawn, which looks to connect the digital and tactile realms of gaming in a cohesive experience. From their site:
Real objects Get back to real feelings, touch real objects and use them as the most natural interface with a system.
Instead of having 3D screens, have real objects on a screen: is there any better 3D than real 3D? Real Time
ePawn’s tracking solution is fast.
Objects are seamlessly tracked by the system and they can even be used as devices for action games
Check it out in action:
ePawn is looking for a release in the second half of 2012 and until then all we can do is speculate. There are so many questions I have for ePawn, well I’ll just have to wait. So it goes.
I was surprised to find out that they aren’t using RFID and have created their own propriety system of unit detection and placement.
Do you need a little extra cash and are good at playing video games? Here’s the job for you: be a gun for hire on Battlefield 3.
Some enterprising individuals are posting on Craigslist to provide protection for you and help you play online FPS games. Modern day guns for hire!
Under the heading “I will take bullets for you for half an hour for £5,” Smith summarized how his service works:
“I will be by your side the entire time and will fight for you, keeping enemies away from you, protecting you when you snipe, even SACRIFICING MY LIFE to save yours,” he wrote.
“Essentially,” Smith tells me, “I become the client’s buddy in the game. I won’t go for kills of my own, only when necessary to stop the client’s ‘life’ being cut short.”
And Smith was good to his word. Earlier this month I hired the teen to escort me through 30 minutes of Battlefield 3 online matches on the Xbox 360. We met up online and appeared together on the battlefield.
Smith took plenty of bullets for me, becoming a sort of human shield during the many times I wasn’t observant enough to notice an enemy drawing a bead on me. He was even more useful as an in-game guide. He was a sort of Battlefield 3 golf pro, suggesting weapons, equipment and play styles to me over headphones as we played.
One of the main draws of playing board games is the interaction with other people in the same room as you. The game itself is as important as where you are playing it (and equally who you are playing it with), but what happens when tablets like the iPad can provide a similar experience to a board game?
In class one day we had some people play on a physical board game and had others play on an iPad (all local) and the results were interesting. The people playing on the iPad found the game to be not nearly as engaging as the people who played on the physical board.
I think there are a couple reasons for this:
Learning a table top game can be a hurdle, let’s be honest, it’s the least fun part of playing a board game. Learning with a board in front of the players may make the process easier as everything is there and presented to them. On the other hand, digital version of board games tell the player how to play they tend to focus on one mechanic at a time and usually not in context of the entire play space.
Waiting for your turn is boring for the average player regardless of the platform. However, when you play on a board you can see the person think and act, and you can think about your strategy as the other players take the turn. On the iPad this is not the case, you have to pass-and-play; meaning you can’t see what the other person is doing until you get to your turn.
The connection to the game when played on a table remain, but in when playing on the iPad the connection is severed.
Pace and shared experiences
Playing on the iPad was notable faster when players got the hang of it, but this in itself is not inherently a good thing. The fact that the board game takes longer means players have a chance to talk about the game itself as it’s unraveling. You can motion to and identify things collectively on the board because you can all see it at the same time.
Because there is the common touch point for all the players it seems that the players then share more information and analysis with one another. Perhaps the physical manifestation of the board itself encourages the players to acknowledge the board and the state of the game. On the iPad when it’s not your turn all you see is sleek aluminium being held in your opponent’s hand.
I still think that there is an argument to be made for tactile experiences in themselves and I wonder if the very act of manipulating real world objects brings the players closer to the game in ways a digital version cannot. This may be the weakest and most tangental concern that I have.
The game in question? Ticket to Ride (iPad app link,Amazon link). This is not to pick on Ticket to Ride, indeed, I think that the above issues apply to all digital pass-and-play games on the iPad. I also really like Ticket to Ride and play it on my iPad too
So how do we translate existing board games to the tablet era? Well there are many options and ways to do this (to be covered in a different post), and as an industry we’re only starting to explore what works and what fails. This issue can only get more interesting!
On a related note, Dominic Crapuchettes provides his insights into the evolving world of board games and technology and a TEDx talk:
Cracked has a list of the seven dumbest video gaming innovations and I must say that some of them look pretty nifty. I think the author of the post is missing the point that some of these innovations are meant just to be experiments that push boundaries.
That, or the author does get it and is just writing for a humour site.
Here’s one game from the list that I think I’d actually like to play:
#2. Kiss Controller — Turn French Kissing into Bowling
Bowling video games probably reached their zenith with Nintendo’s Wii Sports mini-game — once you are able to play by performing an actual throwing-ball swinging motion, where else can you go? Well, artist Hye Yeon Nam found the next innovation: kiss bowling.
Imagine all the awkward kissing you could experience! Sure they look like they are munching on each other instead of having a good time, but a kiss-based game could be tons of fun.
Besides, I can think of at least one couple that could’ve benefited from playing a kissing game:
People complain that video games are ruining the kids or society or whatever. I’d like to point out to people that think that way that there are far worse things that ruin children. Among those things are a toy tazer: