Killing zombie hordes on your kitchen table. Speaking to a ghost in your bedroom. Such is the promise of augmented reality gaming. AR gaming is here, because the current generation of mobile phones feature cameras good enough to properly capture the world as well as processors powerful enough to handle the graphics overlaid onto the camera's feed. There are many projects underway, and even the ones that are just demos still caught our eye and got us excited for the future.
Kitchen Table of the Living Dead
ARhrrr!, developed by the Augmented Environments Lab at the Georgia Institute of Technology, transforms the player's smartphone into a helicopter flying over a zombie-ridden town you have printed out and put on a table. Shoot the zombies and allow civilians time to escape. And don't forget to use Skittles.
Block by Block
Playing with toy cubes has never been so compelling. LevelHead, by Julian Oliver, brings tactile control to a puzzle-platformer. Blocks become rooms that you must hold and tilt to maneuver the character inside. Turn the block as the character enters a door to another room. The goal as a player is to get the character from room to room until he can get to the exit, which lets the character move to the next block, the player physically connecting the two objects.
Location, Location, Location
Kweekies is currently being developed by int13, a French company that has already released several traditional mobile games. It features gameplay reminiscent of Pokemon, as your cute pet fights someone else's cute pet. But this time it is on your own table, bed, treehouse, or wherever you like. Unfortunately, it is doubtful the full game be out this summer, int13's original announced release window.
The winner of Nokia's Mobile Games Innovation Challenge 2008, Ghostwire is also coming to the Nintendo DSi, the recently released update of Nintendo's handheld that features a camera. The trailer below shows an interesting mix of traditional video game tropes (puzzles, items, conversations) with camera-enabled AR gameplay. The title is still in development at Swedish firm A Different Game.
We would be remiss not to recognize the first mainstream AG game, Eye of Judgment, released in October 2007 by Sony. This PlayStation 3 game resembles the classic card game "Magic: The Gathering." As you place the cards below the PlayStation EyeToy camera, the monsters appear on your television screen. They fight it out, and the game keeps track of each player's score. Eye of Judgment provides a good mix of old school (collectible card game) and new tech (camera and augmented reality).