A plastic guitar or drum set might be an obvious choice for a music-game controller, but not everyone's ready to shell out for one-shot items ultimately destined for landfill. A smarter play might be to design music games for standard controllers instead--the challenge for users here is to squeeze great music out of an unfamiliar instrument.
My brother Joel has started doing some practical R&D towards the goal of "allowing anyone to pick up a game controller and make awesome music with it." A newcomer to game development but an experienced musician and audio engineer, Joel's got a great sense play, a brain for making things work, and a passion for sound. He's posted his first YouTube video. In it, he's using a PS2 controller as a MIDI device (musical instrument), triggering sounds and breakbeats through a combination of audio programs. Wild stuff. Can't wait to follow Joel's adventures in game development, but of course I'm biased :)
Barbie Girls growing at 50k users daily, which is about 15k fewer per day than the 'Zombie' game on Facebook. Just putting it into perspective for you: Zombies are more popular than Barbie. Stuff it, Mattel.
Kzero says "as of May 2007, there were 85," graphing overall brand entry from Aug 2006 onwards. Kzero calls itself "The" metaverse consulting and implementation company, which undermines the data's credibility in my view.
LEGO is no stranger to virtual, 3D space. Its LEGO Digital Designer toolkit was originally launched in 2003, offering not only a way to model easily with virtual bricks, but works as sort of a CAD system for LEGO builders--virtual models can be priced out and their pieces delivered in tangible form. An open LEGO CAD standard (LDraw) has even been developed for Digital Designer and tools like it. This standard could possibly be used as the basis of communication between LEGO CAD tools and Second Life, allowing LEGO creations built in Digital Designer to be automatically imported and recreated in Second Life (increasing the brand presence of LEGO in SL, and adding value for SL LEGO enthusiasts). On the flipside, imagine official LEGO bricks made for use in Second Life, and a system by which the relative positions and types of each brick could be exported in LDraw format, thus turning Second Life into a LEGO CAD tool (creating more business for LEGO, and adding value for SL LEGO enthusiasts). I don't know how feasible these ideas are (they are certainly not impossible), but my intention is to present examples of how LEGO and Second Life could be more meaningfully mashed up.
Electroplankton is not a game, but it can be played on the Nintendo DS handheld game console. At worst, it's a toy, and at best it's a live performance tool. Users can interact with (i.e. "play") digital plankton, each with their own musical abilities and functions. Improvised and generative musical compositions can be created through Performance mode, but not recorded (except through outside means). Generative music can also be appreciated through Audience mode--basically, you can just set up Electroplankton to play crazy electronic music all day.
While I appreciate the well-crafted, intuitive interactivity, colourful, cute graphics and animation, I think Nintendo missed the boat on this title. It's totally overpriced (roughly $50 CAD) for a toy. At the very least, I would have expected compositions to be recorded, but better yet, shared through WiFi. Unfortunately, the audio seems to be comprised of samples rather than chip-based synthesis, resulting in sub-par quality. And my final gripe is that there's no built-in way to broadcast the images from Electroplankton to a video device during a performance, but that's really a fault with the DS.
London-based design shop Schulze & Webb has created a toy-like physical avatar that is intended to indicate the presence of an instant-messaging buddy. Dubbed the "Availabot," the USB-controlled avatar is flaccid when one's IM buddy is not available to chat, and stands at attention when one's buddy is chat-ready. Furthermore, the little critter is customizable, combining standard and rapidly-prototyped body parts. Thanks to currently-available 3D-ripping software and rapid-prototyping tools, creating out a custom Availabot based on one's virtual world avatar or videogame character shouldn't be too difficult.
Realistically, the Availabot less represents consumer-oriented technology than artist-level technology. Most people have too many IM buddies and too few USB ports to make the Availabot a practical tool.
Last weekend I had the opportunity to sit down with a 4 year-old boy in front of a Nintendo 64 game console and observe how he played for several hours. This is the youngest gamer I have ever observed in action, and the findings were useful to me in terms of future design and interactive usability considerations for pre-school users. We spent some time playing Tarzan, Bomberman 64, Banjo Tooie, Hot Wheels Turbo Racing, and A Bug's Life.
This Christmas may be the bloodiest yet if Santa's crazed elves have their way. Luckily, eight mighty reindeer are on hand to stomp the crap out of the wee folk. In the tabletop game Elves Under Hoof, ultra-violent video games have turned Santa's workers into mindless zombies (although if you believe Henry Jenkins, this would never happen in real life).
One can only assume the game demonstrates how Rudolph's red nose glowed bright with burning rage during scenarios such as "Saving Private Reindeer," or "E-Day." Elves Under Hoof involves a hex-based map grid and tiny paper counters representing such essential holiday items as cookies and grenades. It is available as low-cost PDF download through the web site of its maker, Dan Verssen Games.
Live-Action Role-Playing is definitely near the bottom of the nerd-barrel, perhaps floating only slightly higher than Fur-Suits. But swap LARPing's foam swords and fantasy characters for high-tech wristbands and hackers, and suddenly Live-Action Role-Play is for the cool-kids.
Weblog We Make Money Not Artexplains how Spain's Differend Games has used RFID technology and a three-story fun-house to raise location-based role-playing gaming to the level of laser-tag. The game, called Négone, involves escaping from a secure facility: "...each player has a wrist console displaying your score, your character's health and tools obtained in the game...the adrenaline pumps hard as you explore the space - shooting down slides, climbing ladders or diving into a pit of small plastic balls. Every time you see a screen, you place your wrist console beneath it. This activates your helper, one of four pre-recorded characters from a hackers' group."
And if plastic balls aren't enough fun for you, by the end of 2007 the game will reportedly include robots. Hopefully one of the robots will malfunction, resulting in a hilarious real-life killing-spree. Only a real LARPer could possibly survive that.