PicNic Talk: pervasive gaming and pets

This morning, Julian Bleecker, Fabien Girardin, Dennis Crowley and myself participated in a panel called The Near Future of Pervasive Media Experience. Here is the annotated version of my slides from the PicNic talk (pdf, 9.5Mb):

The talk entitled "new interaction partners: perspectives on the pervasive media world for pets" was basically the proposition of bringing "new interaction partners" in the pervasive game model. A problem in that field is that designers actually took the technologies from ubicomp as well as the assumptions coming from that field: seamlessness, technology that is “pervasive” (everywhere, every moment)... BUT, and yes there’s a “but”, the world is not like that. The reality is a bit more like a pig farm: it’s dirty, messy, accidents happened, technology sometimes fails, interoperability fails, etc. and above all: there are other beings that humans and technological artifacts. If we think about with whom we have most of our playful interactions, it’s simple: the environment (parks, sport areas, etc) and animals. My previous work has focused on the environment, I am now interested in animals as a way to renew the visions of pervasive gaming. What about having “new interaction partners”, i.e. including new beings such as pets?

I then presented various examples that I already blogged here such as Augmented Animals by Auger-Loizeau, Wim van Eck's pacman with cockroaches, etc. as well as two projects I am doing with Julian Bleecker:

  • we have a dwarf on World of Warcraft that is played by a dog (sensors track its physical activities). So this little character is running around and it has a very basic grammar of interactions in the game. What is interesting here is to study the implications for participants. There will be a new type of characters, which won’t be played by a human nor by and Artificial Intelligence (Non-Playable Character)
  • A raddish toy meant to be employed by cats: when the cat touches the raddish, it sends a message on Twitter, when the owner sees it there, he/she ca reply and the toy would vibrate or glow. A two way relationship of some sort.

This talk was a little bit provocative and funny... meant to show that other sensations or desire could be mediated in a pervasive game. It’s not only about pets or even plants but also the weather, the environment, data feeds extracted from contextual events. The point is that to be rich and playful, pervasive gaming should benefit from other things than just human or computers actions.