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We Don’t Need AR Pong

We’re still in the early Precambrian stages of augmented reality games.  A few different games are appearing here and there, but no earth shattering “must-have” game has crawled from the oceans yet.  Or as some say, AR needs its version of Pong. 

Below are two different games that were recently released, one professional and one amateur.  Both using AR.

Both are quick little games that don’t require a lot of time invested.  There is a huge market for these kinds of games.  And though these could be classified into the “Pong” type of games, they aren’t going to grab the world’s imagination, though I applaud the developers.

Gamers are much more sophisticated these days and require a greater threshold of entertainment to excite them.  I could be proved wrong, happily, by a Sudoku type game that breaks out the technology, but my guess is it will be more involved. 

Good games like good books have stories and characters that pull you into the action.   Recent games like Fallout 3, Oblivion, Half-Life, World of Warcraft and others, have characters and stories that stay with you even when you’re not at the computer or console.  The benefit the PC or console games have is the screen can take you to another place to tell the story.  For AR, until more sophisticated hardware and peripherals are available, we have to make due with cellphones and the space on desk in front of the computer. 

I think these spaces, while small are still big enough for the right characters and stories.  Build a little house on my desk and let me interact with a family that lives in the house.  Even simple AR markers can do the trick.  Tell me a good story and I’ll forget that they’re pixels.  Let me get to know the family, then give me a good villain to hate, even if its the neighbor next door that makes his dog poop on the family’s lawn. 

This axiom is true for big budget movies and its a lesson AR should carry with it from its infancy.  Special effects don’t tell the story, the characters do.  Compare two big FX movies like the new Potter movie coming out in July and the recent Terminator movie.  I want Harry Potter to overcome Voldemort, but I could care less about John Connor.

So give us a great story and make us care about the characters, even if its in the 10″ by 15″ space in front of our monitors.

3 replies on “We Don’t Need AR Pong”

  1. Hey yeah I absolutely agree. One of your favourite posts was your “steal this idea” Warhammer one. It is a perfect example of what is viable right now. Obviously Warhammer is a trademark so someone in their garage couldn’t make that. Also I think that’s somewhat of a niche market, but AR is PERFECT for any RTS. I would play good money to play Age of Empires (1 or 2, not 3 that sucked!) on my dining room table…

  2. Thanks David. I think a clever designer wouldn’t need to use Warhammer, but its an example people can understand. When I was a kid we used to play Warhammer style games with graph paper and letters to represent the units.

    I was also an RTS fanatic. One of my faves is still AoE2 (and Empire Earth coming in close 2nd). I spent many a weekend at LAN parties playing those games.

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