Arduino, Games, Unity
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BloodBank and DarkLight –  Physically distributed ambient storytelling

Created by the students of Media Design Master at HEAD Genève and exhibited at the Salone internazionale del Mobile di Milano, BloodBank and DarkLight are two games that explore the notion of physically distributed ambient storytelling and coerce users into playful and shared forms of interaction.

“Everyone plays. Electronic. Analog. Social. Play is a form of connection. Social platforms feign connecting us, but in the end they just leave us in limbo. Inversely, play is superficial by design, while secretly inviting us into a deeper understanding of each other and of our own limits”

The exhibition, organised by the school staff, featured a total of twelve projects conceived as ludic antidotes to a world filled with screens. Projects range in scope and scale from robotic mixologists and domestic hi-fi to infinite rooms where space itself becomes the play station. Here we highlight two games presented, BloodBank, where the only form of interaction is using a lit match and DarkLight, a pixel art adventure story distributed across several picture frames on the wall.

BloodBank

In BloodBank, you must direct a character towards exit using only a lit match. The character moves according to the position of the flame, if it goes out, there is no more light in the screen and great dangers will appear (and you lose the game). You will have to find the exit before the fire has consumed the match completely.

The game uses a modified Wiimote controller and Arduino to export just the infrared light sensor and everything else removed. It’s plugged in via USB to the computer and allowed for incredibly small, cheap and robust solution, using the internal blob detection of the Wiimote. The team designed the intermediary circuit themselves, and the setup provides a more raw blob detection, using the star wrap-around algorithm, more or less the same as the one in OpenCV but without the overhead of OpenCV. Then all is connected to Unity pretending to be a joystick.

Sébastien Beureux | Marianna CzwojdrakLaurent Monnet | Vincent de Vevey

DarkLight

DarkLight is a pixel art runner adventure story distributed across several picture frames. In the central tableau, players control Lugh as he traverses the dangerous forest of monsters to save his grandmother witch Maralla from the evil Dracula89.

The story of the game is told across several screens which are synchronized but only one is interactive. There are three types of frames : small, medium, large. The small tableaus are about the size of a modern smartphone and contain the portraits. The medium-sized tableaus tell the story in a loop, but moving from one tableau to the next: the grandmother is first on her computer, chatting with her boyfriend Dracula89 then leaves the tableau and enters into the next tableau, and then the next, and so on, until she’s trapped in his castle in the final tableau. Finally, in the larger central tableau you play her son via a joystick.

The team describes the game as “a sort of physically distributed ambient storytelling” – where the entire wall, including the wallpaper, contains the entire story, but it has been broken down into pieces and distributed across the wall. And when the visitors want to play the game, they just push the button and start moving the joystick. The wall itself becomes the play station.

Sarah Bourquin | Jessica Friedling | Valérie Pierrehumbert | Eun-Sun Lee


For more projects exhibited at the Salone, including A hybrid cocktail apparatus, inspired by the world of alchemy, a card game that teaches the laws of the universe at the smallest of scales and a game exploring the trials and tribulations of a graphic designer, see the links below.

Salone by HEAD Genève | HEAD Genève

Developed with the support from Nicolas NovaGordan Savičić (Department Direction, Master Media Design) and project direction by Douglas Edric Stanley. Other credits include Laura Couto Rosado (Project Assistant), Étienne Mineur (Interaction Design Direction), Laurent Bolli (Industrial Design Direction), Anette Lenz (Visual Design Direction), Pierre Rossel (Technical Development Direction), Pascal Berger (Scenography Direction)