Moving the Dome Home

Costumes as Game Controllers, Eyebeam, NYU-Poly Game Innovation Lab

In preparation for EyeBeam’s latest Computational Fashion exhibition, Kaho’s custom-built game dome took a trip from the Game Innovation Lab in Brooklyn all the way out to it’s new home at Eyebeam, in Manhattan.  Despite the size of the dome, the process of taking down and then reconstructing the dome is quite simple!  The dome itself is one large piece of fabric (formerly 3 pieces) sewn together by Kaho, a set of tent poles, a lightweight rope, and a dome-shaped mirror to properly size the images coming from the projector.

The dome is held up by standard tent poles organized into “ribs” and “spines.”  The dome has three spines running from top to bottom and six ribs running from side to side.  Tent poles fit into nice little sleeves (or, seams, I guess) along the dome, and they slide in and out of the sleeves just like normal tent poles would on a normal tent.

This process was relatively quick, especially once we got the hang of bending the tent poles. We simply slid tent poles out of their sleeves, one spine by spine and then rib by rib until the dome was a big pile of white fabric.  Because a few poles have been cut to fit the dome, each spine/rib was kept in a separate pile and labeled based on where it was (left, right, center spine and 1st-6th rib).  After removing the poles we simply folded the fabric, put the mirror into a box, and tied the poles into a bunch!  We had 3 people working on the process, and the three of us comfortably transported the entire dome on the subway from Brooklyn to Manhattan. Fun fact: One person can carry all of the dome materials at once!

The Rebuild:
While we took the dome apart starting with the spines, we put it back together starting with the ribs.  This process took slightly longer (maybe 60 minutes compared to the 40 min deconstruction), but went up easily.

Coming Soon:
Full Dome dimensions w/diagrams and photos so you can make your own dome!

Movies as Inspiration for Physical Games & Jean-Claude Van Jam

Eyebeam, Hit Me!, Inspiration, tweeted!

While I do tend to like foreign films and independent films most, I have always had a soft spot for action films, even the gratuitously violent ones. No matter how fantastical or b-class it might be, I find myself jumping in my seat, cringing, cheering for the good guy and on occasion covering my mouth in disbelief. I am a sucker for this stuff, no doubt.

When I designed Hit Me! I was looking for inspiration — anything — with the idea in mind that I wanted to create a game that was intense and exciting — not just to play but also to watch. I went through my mental rolodex of action film memories, and stopped at Jean Claude Van Damme’s Lionheart.

I studied games such as Twister, Sumo and Fencing for inspiration too, but at the end the fight scenes from Lionheart had a big influence on the game. The circle of spectators, the performance, the spectacle of the 2 fighters fighting a bare fisted, no holds barred fight, and the raw, spontaneous setting of the abandoned parking lot where the fights took place — It had it all. These were elements that I wanted to incorporate into the look and feel of Hit Me! Here is an example:

Movies are wonderful inspirations especially for games played in the physical world, because they contain scenarios that connect space, story and characters. Also because it uses a visual language that has been understood by viewers. The latter is actually an useful tool. For example, think of all the nail biting scenarios in all of the action films you have seen over the years — there are certainly patterns we can identify — not just in story but also with the characters and the environment that is involved. These patterns can be used and recreated in the game in order to evoke the same feelings in the player and also the spectators.

So I am so excited by Jean-Claude Van Jam, because it highlights the potential of using films as inspiration for games. I can’t wait to see what parts of the films the jammers will use in their games. I hope there will be physical games too!

Jean-Claude Van Jam — August 17-19, 2012 7PM
Eyebeam Art & Technology Center (540 W 21st Street, NYC)
Sign up at

Hacking Cheap Closet Lights to be Obnoxiously Large Game Buttons

Eyebeam, How-to's & Tutorials, Ninja Shadow Warrior, Physical Computing

I recently needed an obnoxiously large push button for the Ninja Shadow Warrior game cabinet. I have been working on making the cabinet whimsical by adding oversized elements to it.

I found a 5 dollar pack of 2 lights at Home Depot and took them apart. I then opened it and did the following:

  • I replaced the on-off switch inside the light with a momentary snap switch that is normally open and glued it down.
  • I rewired the snap switch with the usual “button circuit” —  a 10k resistor, ground, voltage, and a wire to pin2 on the Arduino.
  • I rewired the light bulb so that the Arduino can control it from pin8, via reed relay.
  • I mounted it on to the game cabinet

I used the digital Button code example and now I have an obnoxiously large push button made cheaply. I separated the light from the switch part so that the game can flash the button light whenever it wants to bring attention to the push button, even if it hasn’t been pushed yet.

Beyond the Joystick: Intro to Alternative Controls Workshop Series at Eyebeam

Eyebeam, Physical Computing, Workshops

I am running this workshop series weekly on Tuesday Evenings for 6 weeks, starting on June 28 to Aug 2 at Eyebeam. It’s basically for artists, designers and hobbyists interested in starting to think about and explore alternative physical interfaces that can be used in games, toys or interactive art projects. We’ll be learning about using the Arduino and some Processing with various sensors and switches to make simple, but effective controllers. This area is a big part of my practice so I am really excited about sharing it!

Hit Me! 2011 Project list

Eyebeam, Face-to-face Games, Github, Hit Me!

On Friday, I figured out the doorbell receiver signals and how arduino can tell which doorbell is being rung. Here is the project list which helps me code but also know exactly what goes where.

1. Rest Start Button which goes to Intro
Show screenshot of last game
Start button Nothing Background loops
2. Intro Intro background
Show 2 streaming videos
Wait for snapbutton
Timer to 3 mins then returns to Rest
Exit button
Exit button Snapbutton Introduction!
3. Game Game background
Timer runs for 30 sec
Has 2 pics of players
If there has been a previous hit
the snap shot from the prev hit
if game has ended
then go to ScoreMail
2 streamed video off screen
Exit button
Exit button Doorbell signals Hit Me!
Game Loop
4. Hit Takes snapshot from whatever stream
puts it on the screenshot
Who did hit
If judge adds points
then show total points
score from hit
return to game
Exit button
Exit button Judge point input Ding ding ding
5. ScoreMail Final score
Final winner
Archived snapshots
Email data
Exit button
Exit button Ding ding ding

Hit Me! 2.0

Eyebeam, Face-to-face Games, Hit Me!, Physical Computing

I will be showing Hit Me! at the next Eyebeam Mixer. I am really excited about it. I need to do some updating to the game. Here is a list of intended updates:

1. Better wireless pin-hole cameras. For the game, I need 2 cameras that are same but run on different channels. I found some rechargeable ones at Geeks that have a choice of 4 different channels around the 2.4 Ghz frequency. Unfortunately I won’t know how the system would run in a space until I actually try it out. There are always going to be things that run on the 2.4 Ghz range, as well as the 900 Mhz range that my older cameras ran on. In the Chelsea Museum show, the old cameras conflicted with the project that was running right before mine, but it worked fine as soon as the previous project was turned off. So I am looking forward to getting them quick to try out in the space.

2. Better doorbell system. For the game, I need 2 that run on different channels like the cameras, but they can share the same receiver. I found a set on amazon which can run on a range of frequencies it seems, but I am waiting for an email reply from the manufacturer about what frequency it runs on. I don’t want anything that would interfere with the cameras. Also I would like to get ones with lower latency from my previous set. However, latency is not really an important function when it comes to doorbells, so it’s not a function that is highlighted or written about. Basically it’s hard to research that information before purchasing.

3. Rewriting software on Processing.

4. Composite Video to USB adapter. I already have a one that goes to firewire.

X-lab @ Eyebeam

Eyebeam, General Info

I have been obviously neglecting my blog for the last few months, but I assure you there is a good reason — X-lab! X-lab was sort of a work-in-progress exhibition in the main space at Eyebeam. So imagine the gallery usually for finished works, filled up instead with artists working on their projects, engaging with the public during gallery hours. I used to space to set up Ninja Shadow Warrior and to build the physical game, as well as used the generous table space to work on improving Mary Mack 5000. It was wonderful meeting people, watching people try out the game, and getting feedback. This is kind of the most ideal situation for designing and making games, I think.

Anyways, there was a tumblr site set up for X-lab where I would post some entries of how my work had been progressing. Hence the neglect of my blog! I will see if I can transfer some of the content to this blog.

Update: I was able to add the posts from X-lab on earlier posts here.

X-lab Post #3

Eyebeam, Ninja Shadow Warrior

Updated Description of Ninja Shadow Warrior:

Ninja Shadow Warrior will be a stand alone photo booth arcade game using the Kinect camera, computer and eventually a touch screen. As the ninja, the player must use ninja magic to hide, by “becoming” objects. The objects become progressively difficult to “become,” as each level is cleared. The highest score achieved during a game will be posted on and there will also be a leader board incorporated into the game.

The game promotes face-to-face cooperative interaction through strategy, as multiple ninjas can fill out object silhouettes more accurately.

This project is currently a work in progress in X-lab. If I am not working on it, it will be available for testing. Try it out and visit us at!

X-Lab Post #1

Eyebeam, Ninja Shadow Warrior

In X-labs, Kaho Abe will be testing various phases of development of Ninja Shadow Warrior including play-testing game play and interaction.

What is it?
Ninja Shadow Warrior will be a stand alone arcade game built with a screen and webcam. The goal is to fill out the shadow of an object as accurately as possible. The scores based on accuracy are kept on a leader board. The game structure of Ninja Shadow Warrior naturally supports face-to-face interaction, as more details can be filled out when more people are playing at once. This game will experiment with crowd sourcing content for the shadow object database.

How is it played?
The camera must first be calibrated, by taking a snapshot without the player(s) in camera view. Then the player(s) choose an object, or one is chosen for them. Player(s) have a few seconds to pose, until a snap shot is taken. The score is then tallied according to how well the player(s) have hidden themselves in the shadow of the object, and the score is then shown on the leader board if it is high enough. Eventually, players will be able to email the snapshots to friends or social networking sites.

MM5000 Vest

Eyebeam, Face-to-face Games, Mary Mack 5000

Originally the MM5000 shoulder and thigh pads were made from bandanas and D-rings. However, it’s been quite a hassle. They slide off while playing, they take a long time to put on and are equally annoying to take off.

So the solution to this problem is to create a vest interface that is much easier to put on and off. And not only does the vest add to the “rocker” feel of the game, but also it provides a nice surface to mount the sensor pads on to. I found some RJ50, also known as 10P10C cables, which have 10 conductors. They look like ethernet cables and fit into a similar looking jack. These jacks I will place on the vest and the console box. Colin Leipelt constructed the muslin version (center) from paper patterns (right) that I made off of the terribly hideous looking vest (left) I got from a thrift store. I have revised the paper pattern since then to give a more “rocker”, jean-jacket vest type feel silhouette-wise. The vest will be made from black denim and will be appropriately distressed.