Despite being an author and promoter of “augmented reality” games for more than a decade now, a dedicated enthusiast if you will, I find that what gets shown off most often as augmented reality in the end seems like a boring gimmick. This is disappointing in some ways (not all—experimenting in a medium has its own value). But even though this is what I see peddled around, I don’t think it has to be that way. What most tech enthusiasts and bystanders understand AR to be could become something more alive. And I have some ideas about how to get there.
Update – I added a section at the end clarifying where inspiring work in AR can be found. There’s lots out there but you need to be looking for it.
Recently a colleague was setting up a new research program to do ARIS and other mobile stuff. She wanted to know what iPads (and other stuff) to get. Logistics like these frequently change and it can be tough to keep up.
Here’s my advice, current in February, 2017, for iDevices to get to use ARIS or other mobile software with students, museum patrons, or other similar populations.
- iPad Mini 4, T-mobile cellular, 16GB, refurbished
I haven’t had much chance to make games lately. Lots of leading design jams and student work, but not a project where we make a game and play it. A game we spend some time and energy on, where we try to realize a singular vision. Not in a while. But this last year, in my spare time on weekends and such, I found myself lucky enough to work on a new game. A couple weeks ago, we finished a 1.0 and ran it up the flagpole. It was exhilarating. It felt great to see it come to fruition and put it through its paces. I’d like to tell you a little about this project and where we might start to look for learning and games to come together in ways that can lead far.
My design partner’s name is Alex, he’s 5, and he’s my oldest son. Our game is called Another Awesomenauts.
Terri Nelson, a professor at California State at San Bernardino and long time ARIS user gave a close look at her ARIS game, Paris Occupy for a COERLL (Center for Open Resources for Educational Language Learning) webinar.
I saw her talk about her game at CALICO last May. I and every one else was on the edge of their seat for the whole hour. It’s a rare and special treat to hear someone talk in depth about their design from both the game maker and pedagogical points of view. You can learn a lot about the potentials of AR games, language learning, and also the triangulation of needs that can happen through the design of game-based learning environments.
It’s great talk and I’m really glad they recorded it and put it out there for us. It’s also a pretty deep game. She is one of very few people who have used the weight feature for example.
ARIS is most often used to author content for players to experience. But it also holds functionality for you to send players out to experience the world and share what they find with each other and you. This can be data collection, photo mapping, etc. The Notebook allows players to record geolocated media (video, audio, photo, text) and together to build a collaborative record of their explorations. This functionality has broad potential and combining data collection features with the other affordances of ARIS (making games, telling stories, etc.) is a truly unique thing. Being able to richly establish a context for those who you are sending out to do the collecting is a fantastic opportunity.
Buuuuut, if you’ve actually used the ARIS Notebook, if you really had people go out there and collect some pictures, etc. then you know that clutter is a problem, especially when there is a good deal of non-Notebook content you need players to see. After a bit, the map just looks like a mess.
In ChronoOps, by the 503 Design Collective, notes left by players obscure the map and authored content.
Clutter exists because every note is marked on the game map for all players. This can be useful for viewing notes later, but it can really get in the way too. ARIS will continue to evolve, so this clutter may eventually be less of a problem. But there are some things that you can do right now as an author to clean things up for your players. Continue reading
If you haven’t made a new game in ARIS in a while, you’ll be happy to know that the long nightmare is finally over: you can now set a default location for your game’s locations!
That’s right! No more moving every single trigger from Madison, WI to your location. Depending on what you allow your browser to know about you too, ARIS will default the above “create game” screen to show your current location, making it even more convenient in most cases.
When you set this location, and make new (location) triggers in the editor, they will start out at this default location. It should save countless frustration.
This feature has been in the beta editor for some time, but today I noticed it in the vanilla editor.
Giving an item to the world and to the player in ARIS
World items are items possessed by the game world, not a player. They can be used to define the state of the game world and have it respond to players. This makes ARIS far more capable as a multiplayer engine.
This post is an intro to world items: how they might be useful, how to use them, and the ARISjs you need along the way to get the most out of them. We will do this by looking at the design of a concrete example, The Button, an experimental game Jim Mathews put together for the recent ARIS Global Game Jam.