A Multiplayer Game Installation That's Controlled By Shouting

<p><i>Peptone</i> is an interactive installation where users control a floating blob by shouting into their cell phones.</p>

Multiplayer gaming is usually reserved for the online world where kids of all ages duke it out with each other in shoot ‘em ups, screaming obscenities into their headsets on platforms like Xbox Live. Other gamers immerse themselves in virtual worlds like MMORPGs or the construction-based Minecraft, which usually means you’re playing with opponents who might not be in the same room, or even the same continent as you.

So it’s something of a different experience when you’re playing a game standing in the same room, watching the action unfold on a big screen. Which is what the interactive installation Peptone by Elie Zananiri, Hugues Bruyère, and Mathieu Léger does; shown at Place des Arts, Montreal as part of the Nuit Blanche festival in February. Built using openFrameworks and MegaPhone, it combines an arcade experience—a noisy, bustling gaming environment—with the raucousness of a spectator sport. Up to 50 players can participate at any one time—you enter the gaming arena by dialing in on your mobile phone, which creates a character that is associated with your connection. The character is then controlled using your voice and the keypad, turning your phone into a gaming console.

From the project’s Vimeo page:

Local design firm Departement, specialists in interactive media, plugs in and powers up Peptone, their digital "ecosystem," on big screens in the halls of Place des Arts. Using your cellphone, you (like several dozen others, concurrently) dial up to create a lumpy little organism and whoop 'n' holler into your phone to keep it alive—but beware, the same noise that sustains the lil' bibitte also attracts toxic bacteria! Special "combo" numbers afford extra life points to keep the creature wiggling and wandering.

OK, so it makes for some noisy gaming and it doesn’t quite have the subtle complexities, or competitiveness, of the online multiplayer world, but it’s interesting to see these sort of installation/game hybrids taking shape, along with incorporating mobile phones as a user interface. And perhaps best of all, it’s a great excuse to scream in public. It’s not the first time we’ve seen interactive real-time games on large screens or multi-user games using a mobile phone as an interface, but maybe the first time the two have been combined.

Images courtesy of Flickr user smallfly