AUDIOGAMES: AN INTANGIBLE AND INVISIBLE INTERFACE
Abstract: We build, in PlayLab the first prototype of an interactive sound installation that, as a game, allows users to experience and try to cope with this world exclusively through the sense of hearing. The main idea of this installation is to work outside the omnipresent framework of our vision-oriented culture, and try to experiment with sound. This allows us to experiment with an intangible and invisible interface, in a different environment than that we are accustomed to.
We consider important to experiment with technological interfaces that go beyond classical, sight oriented ones, not just in order to include blind people as users, but to allow other users to have new experiences and develop their perception of sound as well as the vision-sound synaesthesia.
We find it an interesting field of experimentation that can lead to a new relationship with space and technology.
Keywords: Audiogames, synesthesia, technology, interface, sound.
1. History: The first prototype we worked out during Playlab was an interactive sound space developed by Euridice Cabañes Martinez, Luca Carrubba, Oscar Martin, Carlos Padial, Jaume Castells. The concept was to create a playground in which hearing skill was the focus. Moving in a 3x3m spaces player interact with a 3d sound space in real time in which all the represented (sound) objects have a specific mass and position. Depending on the current level, players have to run away or catch them all.
Recently AudioGames scores a Special Mention in the grants for digital creation section of Telenoika 2010.
From this beginning as an interactive installation, the project is now developed as a platform for video game experimentation focused on sound. We want to organize different workshops about videogames in which sound interaction is prominent.
Audiogames is now a I+D area project of ARSGAMES coordinated by Eurídice Cabañes y Luca Carrubba.
2. Desciption of the game: In our daily life we are used to coping with reality using primarily the sense of sight to learn and interact with it. AudioGames proposes a different relation with space where sight is irrelevant and sound and ear skills are the only way to extract information about the installation space. In Audiogames playground objects we interact with are intangible, insofar as they are sound objects. In this way, Audiogames players will experience the immersion in a sound world through an invisible and intangible interface.
The "blind" user (it does not matter if they are really blind or not, because they cannot use the sense of sight in this environment) has to learn to move in a quadraphonic sound world and interact with the objects that populate it only through their body movements in space.
Meanwhile, the public can watch the user interaction in the real space and, at the same time, have access to a 3D visualization of the game space and interactions on a screen outside the user's vision.
3.Tecnical explanation: AudioGames is an interactive sound space developed on three different layers:
The first layer is the real world, an empty space that measures approximately 3m x 3m. This is the playground in wich position data is stored through motion tracking techniques and sent to a virtual 3D world.
The virtual world is created using Blender 3D software, which visualizes the position of the user in the game space in real time. In this representation different physical rules govern the object movements according to gameplay and the difficulty of the current level. This visualization, as said above, is not provided to the player but just to the public.
On the third layer, a sound application receiving real-time data from the virtual environment will sonorize the player movements. Each object in the virtual world has an assigned sound to be displayed in the sound space, guiding the user in the real world. It is a 3D sound environment with 4 speakers placed around the room to achieve quadraphonic sound and developed using puredata language.