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  Wii Controller as Performance Tool  
Posted 2006-06-06 by Tony Walsh
Game designer Patrick Curry posted a great concept for a performance-oriented game as part of his ongoing one-idea-per-week frenzy. Entitled "Puppet Show," the game would involve the design and construction of digital characters and sets. Characters would be operated live (and collaboratively, optionally), for one-shot performances or for recording. Curry speculates that the game would be playable on the Sony PS3 and the Nintendo Wii, but I see the latter as the vastly superior option. The Wii's controller seems to have a much greater range of motion-detection.

Blogger Brian Stokes is rooting for the use of the Wii in puppetry, too. "This thing could make a great virtual rod control," he writes. "Imagine four of these per box, which would be connected to other performers on the Net, performing in the same scene, or watching and providing virtual applause!" Being an audience of a digital environment, viewers could become participants, ideally able to watch from any angle, switch views with ease, record their own version of the show for later viewing or remixing or re-broadcast. Puppetcasting, anyone?
  ‘Warcraft’ Live-Action Movie:  Will Anyone Care?  
Posted 2006-05-09 by Tony Walsh
A live-action movie based on the massively-successful 'Warcraft' series of games is in development, according to the series maker Blizzard Entertainment. Legendary Pictures has acquired the movie rights to the Blizzard's Warcraft universe. The California-based production company is a partner of Warner Bros. Pictures, and is reponsible for the superhero films Batman Begins (2005) and Superman Returns (to be released this summer). Future flicks include M. Night Shymalan's Lady in the Water, and Roland Emmerich's 10,000 B.C.

With millions of World of Warcraft players across the globe, I'm sure neither Blizzard nor Legendary Pictures can see how a Warcraft movie could be a financial failure. But I'm wondering if we're all just a little tired of Tolkeinesque big-screen battles involving elves, orcs, dwarves, and humans. Middle-Earth fatigue aside: Will World of Warcraft still be popular by the time the film is completed?
  Street Games to Invade Manhattan This Fall  
Posted 2006-05-03 by Tony Walsh
The Come Out & Play Festival plans to bring new public game forms to Manhattan's streets from September 22-24 this year. According to the organizers, the fest will feature about 15 events throughout New York City at a variety of locations and times. "Come Out & Play will enable artists and game designers to exchange ideas and work in front of and with a diverse audience. During the three-day festival, New Yorkers will engage with playful art pieces and games, discovering meaningful and emergent ways to interact in the public spaces of New York City. This festival will provide a unique opportunity for artists and game designers to meet and create engaging experiences for the public."

The organizers are looking for games to run (including ARGs) during the event, so if you're looking to submit a proposal, "make sure your game sounds fun and interesting," and get it in by June 30, 2006.
  ‘Darkon’: The Movie  
Posted 2006-04-29 by Tony Walsh
Last night I attended the Canadian premiere of Darkon, a documentary that explores the live-action role playing game of the same name. The film bridged the game world of Darkon and the real lives of the game's players, shifting back and forth between fiction and reality. I was particularly struck by the respect the filmmakers had for their subjects, and by the willingness of the participants to expose their hobby to a mainstream audience.

Covering Darkon from a positive angle (apparently no negative commentators could be found), the filmmakers spotlighted the productive aspects of live-action gaming, such as the development of social skills and improvement of self-image. As a former live-action gamer (LARPer) myself, I've seen certain players blossom from meek to self-assured by being able to push their personal limits in a supportive environment. There's a reason psychologists and social workers use role-playing techniques in therapy--it really works.

Continue reading: ‘Darkon’: The Movie
  Live-Action ‘Spy Game’ Trains Corporate Teams  
Posted 2006-04-20 by Tony Walsh
Some lucky corporate drones get to play spy as a team-building exercise, reports CNET's Daniel Terdiman. "The Spy Game" exists in a space somewhere between live-action role-playing and alternate reality games. Created by developer The Go Game, players are armed with a video-capable camera and camera phone before carrying out missions in pedestrian-exclusive locations such as a hotel or resort.

Players are tasked with locating objects or messages hidden in public places, identifying a hidden character, or performing a team-based creative task such as shooting a commercial or re-enacting a movie scene. The Go Game's co-founder Ian Fraser told Terdiman that the players are "...asked to do stuff they've never been asked to do before as a group...Like being asked to go into a Starbucks and start asking everyone if they support general revolution." I have a hunch that Starbucks is the last place you're going to find revolutionaries, but maybe that's part of the puzzle.
  ‘Secret Wars’ Re-Enactment  
Posted 2006-04-18 by Tony Walsh
I've learned a lot from live action role-playing games... most importantly how low on the nerd totem pole LARPers reside. Historical re-enactment is, in my opinion, a form of proto-LARP, and I think this isn't lost on the filmmakers behind Secret Wars Re-Enactment Society. The short film (below) is one of the funniest spoofs of re-enactments (and, by extension, LARPing) I've ever seen. And it's funny because it could easily be true. Thanks for the link, Jos.

  Live-Action ‘Toronto Game’ Coming This Summer  
Posted 2006-03-26 by Tony Walsh
A plot-based live-action game involving the landscape and geography of Toronto is planned to take place this August. The anonymous makers of The Toronto Game hope it will be fun, challenging, intense, and accessible to players of varying skill levels: "The primary distinguishing factors of this game are the emphasis on exploring public spaces, and our goal of accommodating casual players."

The cross-media game will involve live events, location-based puzzles, and online content, and is currently in the planning stages. The Toronto Game's makers are looking for volunteers to fill a number of positions, including Story Designer, Puzzle Designer, Publicist, Writer and Artist. This seems to be a good opportunity for anyone interested in developing or practicing skills related to Alternate Reality Games.
  RealKart:  An Immodest Proposal  
Posted 2006-03-17 by Tony Walsh
Inspired by video of a remote-controlled Red Shell (scroll down) from the Mario series of Nintendo games, and a recent round of RealFrogger, I've illustrated thorough and foolproof plans for re-enacting Kart-style video games in real life. Warning: Do not actually attempt!

Continue reading: RealKart:  An Immodest Proposal
  RealFrogger Invades Texas  
Posted 2006-03-16 by Tony Walsh
RealFrogger Invades Texas
Poor RealFrogger. I hardly knew ye. Photo credit: Mark Wallace
I was fortunate enough to bear witness to the historical launch of RealFrogger in downtown Austin, Texas, during the early hours of March 15, 2006. The classic arcade game Frogger was re-enacted with a frog-costumed Roomba in live traffic, thanks to the techno-creative powers of Phillip Torrone and Limor Fried. Our beloved green hero dodged cars, trucks, trikes, and bikes, until finally meeting its inevitable, crushing demise.

Possibly the most interesting aspect of this event was that the RealFrogger robot was instantly recognizable to average drunken Austinites, who stood dumbfounded on the curb, pointing to the green Roomba and bellowing "It's frogger! Frogger!"

Detailed coverage of this memorable event can be found on the Second Life Herald, and via Daniel Terdiman at
  SXSW- Looking Back on March 14  
Posted 2006-03-15 by Tony Walsh
Yesterday was the first and only day at Austin's SXSW fest where I was functionally impaired due to a champagne-and-tequila-induced hangover. As a result, I managed to liveblog only the panel entitled "How to Be a Virtual World Entrepreneur. My notes were apparently the source of a shitstorm in the Second Life community over casual remarks made by Reuben Steiger of Linden Lab (maker of Second Life. I felt compelled to respond to the situation after learning of the controversy at around 3am local time. I'm torn over the issue: On the one hand, I feel I have every right to publish panel notes publicly, even if the notes are not an accurate verbatim transcription and were never presented that way; on the other hand, part of what has exacerbated the controversy was that I wasn't able to capture some comments from panelist Peter Ludlow that might have softened reaction to Steiger's remarks. The beauty of liveblogging is that a rough sketch of a live event can be published immediately. The downside, I have discovered, is that a sketch leaves too much to the imagination.

Continue reading: SXSW- Looking Back on March 14
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