I'm Not Stupid, I'm a Digital Ghost

Ever played Tron? Live? In 3D? In a city? I just read an article titled Intelligente Experimente stating "mobile games don't have to be stupid!" It's German, but I'll translate it for you. :-) Coz this is cool, listen to that:

Starting August 2006, the south-west German city of Regensburg (that's near Munich) offers her tourists a new treat: The pervasive exploration game REXplorer invites visitors to discover the city's history with the aid of a mobile phone. Worldwide, this is the first mobile game of its kind that will be permanently installed in a city. The game was developed by scientists from two technical universities, RWTH Aachen (Germany) und ETH Zürich (Switzerland) in cooperation with Nokia.

Explorers are equipped with an artificially intelligent device, a modified GPS mobile phone. Their mission: Assist local scientists in researching mysterious phenomena in Regenburg's Old Town! The device guides them to interesting locations and lets them get in touch with local spirits. [I'm not kidding you, that's what it says.] RWTH's Tico Ballagas, who was responsible for the game's implementation, explains: "When an explorer arrives at certain locations, the mobile device displays an increasing heart beat. Making certain gestures gets the explorer in contact with a local spirit. The spirit speaks via the mobile's loudspeakers to tell a story about the history of this location, and asks the visitors to perform a task for him."

The device may for example lead players to an old tower, where the ghost of a Jewish merchant tells his story. The spirit asks them to go to the synagogue for him and bring him a photograph. In search of the synagogue however, the visitors learn it was destroyed decades ago. There's nothing else to do than taking a picture of the memorial that was raised in the synagogue's place. The quest is solved (and the ghost can rest again) as soon as they upload the photograph to their team's blog. The team with the most mysteries solved wins. At the end of the day, the blog remains as a personal souvenir.

Some pervasive games are already available for free, others can be downloaded for a small fee, or are pre-installed on modified mobiles that are lent to tourists. Mobile games of this kind often need a mobile device equipped with a camera, a wide display, and GPS. The fly catching game Skeeter uses the built-in camera to interpret the player's gestures as game moves. In the 3D game Tron, the GPS locates the player in the real world, and walking through the city leaves lines on the map on the mobile's display — cross another player's line during the game and you lose...

LOL. Isn't this great? And now the best thing -- It happens to be the case I need to buy a new cell phone... (My old one is dual-band only, which would be sub-optimal for staying in contact during NetBeans Day and JavaOne). Of course, my new one will support MIDP 2.0... And just by chance I happen to know where I can get a nice Mobility Pack... ;-) I'm not gonna start right away with the GPS stuff, ;-) but I suddenly feel very tempted to write something, anything, myself that I can run on the new phone... Stay t00ned for the first episode of "I crashed my cell with tetris but it was worth it" (hopefully) soon on this channel!

Comments:

Hmm...appears to be the Normal Person's (TM) version of this game: http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/14.03/lafuga.html. Although, come to think of you, most Normal Persons probably wouldn't run through a city guided by a RPG on their mobile ;-)

Posted by Sebastian on May 10, 2006 at 10:49 AM CEST #

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NetBeans IDE, Java SE and ME, 3D Games, Linux, Mac, Cocoa, Prague, Linguistics.

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