Night Games

Project Description:
NightGames is a public artwork and mobile app by the artist collective Meud that brings an audience together with the opportunity to collaboratively control an interactive environment using music, visuals and gesture. The players’ choices create the world they occupy through networking their smart phones with advanced technological systems including motion tracking, gesture recognition, interactive lighting, personal and quadraphonic sound. A rich terrain for free form exploration fills the exhibit space rewarding group cooperation, in addition to individual expression.

NightGames encourages players to make sound and enter into an imaginary world under their control. A playspace is defined by four speakers housed in towers at the edges, and a central sculpture illuminated by interactive lighting. In addition, a sculpture made of plexiglass pyramids will be deployed throughout the space, reacting to the players gesture. Beneath the entire sculpture, a steady rhythmic drum beat pulsates acting as a canvas onto which players can layer their sonic input. The speed of the beat and complexity of the canvas reflects the number of players and the relationship of their gestures to each other. The system rewards close collaboration with a richer melodic score and more reactive lighting. Through the sonification and visualization of proximity and social interaction, NightGames brings a conscious awareness to players that individuals impact and form a collective environment.

 

Shots of the game in development:

 








Innovative Nature of the project

This project seeks to further expand the public’s understanding of game play and theatre to include freeform interaction. These physical controllers represent part of a deeper research endeavor to innovate controllers for games that embrace all bodies and abilities. By crafting a playspace that rewards many kinds of interaction, these objects will have affordances for many possible ways of moving. As a person who has struggled on an off with partial disability, Phoenix Perry has passionately been pursuing alternative computational interactions for several years. This installation welcomes players who may have limited mobility or difficulty interacting with traditional forms of digital inputs.

NightGames will exist both as a public artwork and a personal sound/puzzle mobile application. In the public artwork, participants listen to tracks over headphones in an environment dominated by interactive pyramid sculptures. A simple bass line plays in the space, and participants hear their own interaction via their headphones. Like a silent disco, each person can exist in their own sonic and rhythmic space, but as they advance through the game by cooperating and syncing their motions with others, they will hear more lines of audio. The audience also will be able to control the pyramidal lighting sculptures, reinforcing the gameplay and encouraging group behavior.

Research has shown that people moving in synchrony brings people together and builds trust. This project seeks to further expand the public’s understanding of game play and theatre to include freeform interaction. By using smartphones as sensors we will develop embodied controllers for games that embrace all bodies and abilities. Our testing will focus on affect and we will explore the triggers for creating positive emotions with the body during play. By crafting a playspace that rewards many kinds of interaction, our controllers will have affordances for many possible ways of moving. This installation welcomes players who may have limited mobility or difficulty interacting with traditional forms of digital inputs. All research in this project will licensed under Creative Commons.

Exhibitions:
Harvestworks, Manhattan, NY. June 24, 2013. 7-9pm
NYU Games Centre, Brooklyn, NY. June 6, 2014. 6-8.30pm
New York Hall of Science, Queens, NY. June 22, 2013. 4-6.30pm
Come Out and Play, South Street Seaport, New York, NY. July 12, 2013. 7pm – 12am.

MEUD:
Phoenix Perry
Head developer, installation advisor
Phoenix Perry is an Adjunct Professor and games researcher at NYU. From digital arts practitioner to Creative Director, she has extensive experience in new media, design, and user interfaces. A consummate advocate for women in game development, her speaking engagements include The Open Hardware Summit at MIT, Indiecade, Int-inst, Comic Con, Internet Week, Create Tech and NYU Game Center among others. Perry’s creative work spans a large range of disciplines including drawing, generative art, video, games, interfaces and sound. Her projects have been exhibited worldwide at venues and festivals including the GDC, E3, Come out and Play, The New York Hall of Science, Lincoln Center, Transmediale, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, LAMCA, Harvest Works, Babycastles, European Media Arts Festival, GenArt, Seoul Film Festival and Harvestworks. In 2011 she co-authored the book, Meet the Kinect with Sean Kean and Johnathan Hall. She holds a MS from NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering. Finally, she has curated since 1996 in a range of cultural venues, the most recent of which is her own gallery, Devotion Gallery. Devotion is a Williamsburg gallery focused on the intersection of art, science, new media, and design from 2009-2013.

 

Concept Sketch for Future Development:

Sketch of game-01

Adelle Lin:
Project coordinator, installation producer, co-developer
Adelle Lin focuses on user experiences and the gameful activation of spaces and place, exploring ways of creating unique experiences that integrate digital elements and physical spaces in playful ways. Adelle has taught spatial design studios at undergraduate level at the architecture and design school, RMIT in Melbourne and is a practicing architectural and interior designer. With a business background, her own transpatial practice combines knowledge of financial modelling, organisation, and systems design with spatial planning, physical building, short film making and strategic design thinking. Adelle is an active member of the New York independent game design community, an associate-producer of the Freeplay Festival arcade and is a researcher at the Games and Experiential Entertainment Lab at RMIT.
http://adelle.ninja/

Sophie Kravitz
Hardware advisor, part-time developer
Sophi Kravitz has been creating interactive works since the completion of her first animatronic project in 2004. Sophi is a formally trained electrical engineer whose first career was in Special FX makeup for film and theater. It was then, while creating works that were seen on small screens or large, that she realized the great fun in creating experience works that can easily satisfy an audience or group of participants. Although her pieces have a technical aspect, such as electronics or code, they are simply interacted with by participants as beautiful playthings. She has exhibited her interactive pieces at Burning Man, Maker Faire, FITC Toronto and the O+ festival.
http://mix-engineering.com/

Colin Snyder:
Art Direction, Project Development, Game Design, Graphic Design, User Interface, paper prototyping
Colin Snyder is a videogame & graphic designer, illustrator, and writer. Having been on the front lines of videogame retail, to the headquarters of Rockstar Games, and now on the frontier of indie games. He’s a member of Babycastles, New York City’s first independent arcade community and fledgling cultural institution. With Babycastles, he has produced events, installations, games, and videos. He founded Gameifesto, a forthcoming social network where aspiring videogame developers can meet and congregate to build their own communities and games. He’s currently working on his own games while writing for Vice Magazine’s Motherboard about videogame design and gaming culture.
http://www.scallopdelion.com/

Margaret Schedel:
Sound advisor, event manager on the day
Margaret Schedel is a composer and cellist specializing in the creation and performance of ferociously interactive media. She is a joint author of Cambridge Press’s Electronic Music and recently edited on an issue of Organised Sound on sonification. Her research focuses on gesture in music, and the sustainability of technology in art. As an Assistant Professor of Music at Stony Brook University, she serves as Co-Director of Computer Music and is a core faculty member of cDACT.

Emi Spicer
Documentation, game design
Emi Spicer is a freelance photographer best known for her documentation of video game and nerd culture events, as well as chiptune and general concert photography. She has been published on websites including CNN, Kotaku, The Verge (One, Two, Three), and Vice’s Motherboard (One, Two,Three).

Past Collaborators:
David Last:
Prototype Music, Ableton Live
David Last is a musician and visual artist living in Brooklyn New York. With Sasha Kaline (Alka Rex), he is a founder of the Konque label and music project. Tracks range from electronic dance music to cinematic orchestral ambience depending on the setting. This is not surprising, as he has been creating music for a variety of venues; the dancefloor, Imax film, video installation, childrens’ animation, and albums. As a result of a broad curiosity about music, each project is considered anew as its own sonic world.

Sasha Richter:
Fashion Design, Instrument prototyping, Costume Design
Sasha K. Richter works as a Costume Designer, Milliner, and Installation Artist in New York City. She received her BFA in Costume Design from Boston University. Her previous costume work includes, La Boheme at the Huntington Theatre Company, The Weavers at the Boston Center for the Arts, The Maids at Fourth Street Theatre, as well as Alcina with the Boston Opera Collaborative. Sasha is also co-founder of Tin Can Phone Inc., a collaborative installation group. While designing for various theatres and galleries, she is also working on her fourth season as the Milliner for HBO’s Boardwalk Empire.

Future Collaborators:
David Kanaga
Sound Design, Interaction Design, Instrument development
David Kanaga is a composer & music designer. His work can be heard & played in the award-winning videogames Proteus and Dyad. He is currently working on Panoramical, an ‘album’ of morphing 18-dimensional music landscapes and researching time-structural relations between parts and wholes in playspaces broadly, from non-digital games and music improv spaces to free-scaling/pseudo-fractal drawings in Infinite Sketchpad, to lines of sight/ attention/drift in books, etc. Further materials can be found at http://davidkanaga.com/