Alex Lee – Body/Space Ideas

I proposed this: “Your body is a landscape, move to influence the topography, ecosystems, and civilizations that live on your surface”.

The basic idea is to use physical motions to manipulate the shape and dimensions of a space. The the type of motions and the nature of the space could be anything. Here are some possibilities:

-Time is spatially mapped on your body – the center of your body represents the present, and the further out you go the further in the past the corresponding event is. Manipulate your outer body and extremities to change your past and create a new present for yourself.

-Your mind/psyche is mapped spatially on your body, contort your body to “activate” certain emotions. One possibility is that you suffer from anxiety and/or depression and must react to new stimuli. Body-based input might give more resonance to a game like this because your mental/emotional processes are linked to your physical state rather than more

-Two armies are fighting on a battlefield, and you want one to win, but you can’t control them directly. Manipulate elevation to give your automated army an advantage (either by adding high grounds, restricting or funneling movement, creating inescapable troughs, etc.).

-Interact with a body of water by manipulating elevation. Create waves, floods, tsunamis, whirlpools, redefine landmasses. You also affect the marine life, geology, and topography of the area, possibly creating or destroying ecosystems.

-Indirectly control the movement and growth of nomadic tribes by manipulating elevation with your body. The composition of the land and its ecosystems change depending on its elevation relative to its surroundings.

-A system whose components can be displaced and rearranged by your body movements. One example is an office in which you can change the arrangement of the desks and cubicles to facilitate interaction between new groups of people and to mix up the “production pipeline”, possibly leading to a more effective or efficient result. Other possibilities include cities, assembly lines, art studios, etc. This game gives organic control over a system normally perceived as quantitative and/or rigid.

-Rearrange a text using your body. You obliterate and/or reorder meaning using physical actions. If it is a longer work, like a novel, you might make more meaningful “edits” by shifting around entire sections.

-Control the topography of the sky, maybe redefining the boundaries between atmospheric layers with your body. Allowing different layers of atmosphere to interact will create strange weather phenomena that affects the land below.

-Body-based input is imperfect, and will have imperfect results. The desire is to give immediate visual feedback to the player, to help “calibrate” their movements as much as possible, but it might be interesting to withhold that information, so that they have to make already imprecise decisions based on limited feedback. One possibility is to describe the results of your actions in sentences rather than visuals. The game Nested (http://orteil.dashnet.org/nested) plays with the idea of presenting a complex concept using procedurally generated keywords rather than visuals. One idea is a game in which you raise and lower levels of unrest in a country (mapped spatially to your body). For every person that dies, you get the sentence “[insert name] has died due to [insert cause]”. Ambiguous feedback like this makes the player question the morality or purpose of their actions. Another possibility is to flood the player with information, like in Nested, so that it becomes difficult to find important feedback amongst the noise (for example, a game about colliding stars in which the player receives a huge amount of scientific jargon describing every chemical reaction occurring in the stars).

I’m concerned about how accurate the “body-mapping” is and what its limitations are. I would be happy use other input systems, like gesture or voice, if the body thing doesn’t work out. I also have no programming or modeling experience in 3D, so I imagine the visuals will be in top-down 2D (possibly using colors to depict elevation).

Many of the above ideas impose non-spatial concepts (time, emotions, etc.) onto spaces, which feels artificial to me, like there’s a dissonance between the input system and the game narrative/theme. I’m not sure whether that’s a problem.

I am currently most interested in the last idea (non-visual or otherwise imperfect feedback).

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