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)
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Games, the Body and Costume

General Info, Inspiration

After working on Mary Mack 5000 and adding the rocker vests with the sensors, I think I understand more not only how technology can enhance the game experience, but also how costumes can. Sure, I could have kept the sensors on bandana straps, but the vest was more stable — kept the sensors together in a neat pack so it was easier to put on and take off. But more importantly it also added to the immersive game experience. I think there is a lot of room for incorporating various technology beyond the contact sensor system, when it comes to bodies/costumes that I need to explore more, such as IR, 3D projection, computer vision and the hacked Kinect. This idea really excites me and clicks with me, as a large part of my career has been in fashion design (and a little in costumes too).

I <3 kits.


Yesterday in a meeting we were talking about kits, and I got shivers down my spine. I love kits. Kits, kits, kits.  And I was attempting to explain in the meeting why I love kits so much and I think I narrowed it down to the Unboxing of the Kit. Nothing is more exciting when you open the kit and lay out all the things that came with it. Whatever that visual uniformity is that screams the pieces belong together in a kit or perhaps it is the comfort in the idea that the kit is complete — it’s all you will ever need! Some kits that I love:

First Aid Kits, Sewing Kits, Stationary Kits, Craft Kits, Robot Kits.

My favorite thing last year was when I sent a friend a felt strawberry shortcake keychain kit, and I had to translate the instructions cause they were written in Japanese. The “Items Included” on the instructions included the instructions!

I <3 kits.

Physically Interactive Playground Games/Play


Here is an on going list of physically interactive games I played growing up:

Red Rose Garden This was best played on someone completely oblivious to what this is. The initiator basically goes through the whole planting process: tilling the soil, planting the seeds, water, thunderstorms, until finally the victim’s arm is so red, it looks literally like a red rose garden.
Me Chinese, Me Play Joke, Me Put Pee Pee in Your Coke Terribly racist, but who knew at the time? The initiator guides the victim through a series of steps to drink an imaginary coke bottle taken from an imaginary fridge made from hands clasped together. At the end after the victim drinks the coke and returns it to the fridge, the initiator exclaims, “Me chinese me play joke me put pee pee in your coke,” and everyone laughs. The end.
Miss Mary Mack One of those rhymes you sing while clapping hands with a partner you face. Here are the lyrics.
Miss Lucy Had a Steamboat The lyrics to this one were the best, because the bad words were hidden!
When Billy Boy Was One Another clapping song, but with cross-downs!
Down by the Banks of the Hanky Panky Another clapping one with more complex combos, with clapping, grabbing and snapping.
Eany Meany Bopsa Beany? Another hand clapping one with complex claps. I think is the one where you’d clap with the back of your hands at one point.
My Name is L-I L-I Chickali Chikali, Pom Pom Beauty… Another clapping one… I think this is the one that ends with “Chinese, Japanese, Indian chief…” staring contest.
Hand Slapping Game When the players are facing each other and one player holds out his hands with palms up, and the other player places her hands palms down on top of his. Then the one on the bottom tries to slap the top’s hands before she moves them.
Push Off Balance Game Players standing facing each other, holds palms against each other, and tries to push each other off balance without losing balance.
London Bridge is Falling Down Who knew this was about the plague?
Duck, Duck, Goose A classic!
Tag Of course.

These are games I played on the black top, in the playground, during recess, on camping trips, and on the bus.