Buzz, Buzz: Augmented Reality Mosquitoes All Around Your iPhone

Vincent Verwey is happy to report that his new augmented reality game  has just been approved on the app store. It’s called Mosquitoes.

It lets you kill pesky mosquitoes flying around you in virtual space.
Watch through the camera and you see tens of mosquitoes around you. On the
ceiling, hovering above the floor, on your left and to your right.

The game uses the compass and accelerometer (works on 3GS only) for a realistic augmented reality effect. The animated mosquitoes are projected in the real world,
which you see through the camera lens.

There are two modes:

1) Shoot Out. Kill as many mosquitoes as you can in just two minutes.

2) Precision. You get only 10 bullets and 10 mosquitoes. Don’t waste your ammunition and don’t waste time.

Here is more info about Mosquitoes from Makayama Software.

Or for just 99 cents you can get it yourself on the app store.

I did.
I can’t get enough augmented reality games on my iPhone.

Mosquitoes is based on a similar game mechanic as we have seen with Arcade Reality: alien space ships (or here mosquitoes) appear randomly around you, seemingly registered in 3D space (but not truly aligned with real life objects). It’s pretty addictive and sure makes you move (as well as behave like a deranged monkey ;)

Arcade Reality is very low brow, reminiscent of early arcade B games (and parents tend to ban it from their kids for safety issues), however it’s radar view makes the game a tad more interesting than Mosquitoes. Plus I’d rather listen to an 8 bit sound track than to mosquitoes buzzing nervously around me…

AR history buffs among you would remember that Mosquitoes is not the first AR game to use, um…mosquitoes.

Mozzies (also known as Mosquito Hunt) was developed for the Siemens SX1 launch in 2003. The mosquitoes were superimposed on the live video feed from the camera. Mozzies was awarded the title of best mobile game in 2003.

Your Favorite Augmented Reality Games Of All Time

Our inaugural post from early 2008: “Top 10 AR demos that will…” sparked huge interest. Since then, we have witnessed loads of AR games swarming the market.

Well, that may be an exaggeration – but the industry has certainly transitioned from delivering mere demos to actual games; from proof of concepts to commercial products; from “Yay” to “W00t!”

We have covered these AR games before, but Today is your chance to choose.

Vote for your all time favorite augmented reality games!

Our only rules for nomination:

1) It’s a fun game

2) It registers computer graphics on reality

3) It runs on commercial off the shelf hardware.

Here are the 18 nominees in chronological order (when first surfaced on the web):


1. The Invisible Train

2004 – Graz University (PDA, Gizmondo)

2. Catapult

March 2006 – Gizmondo (Gizmondo)

3. Eye of Judgment

May 2006 – Sony (Sony EyeToy)

4. AR Tennis

June 2006 – Fanta/HIT Lab NZ (Nokia)

5. WizQubes

March 2007 – MXR

6. Level Head

October 2007 – Julian Oliver (webcam)

7. ARis

July 2008 – Geisha Entertainment (Webcam)

8. Kweekies

October 2008 – Int13 (Nokia, iPhone)

9. Ghostwire

October 2008 – A Different Game (Nintendo DSi, Nokia)

10. Tower of Defense

December 2008 – Sergey Ten

11. Topps

March 2009 – Total Immersion (Webcam)

12. Scope

March 2009 – Frantz Lasorne (Goggles)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

13. Do the Dip

April 2009 – MacDonald’s (webcam)

14. ARhrrrr!

May 2009 – GA Tech and SCAD-Atlanta (Nvidia Tegra)

15. Candy Wars

May 2009 – GA Tech and SCAD-Atlanta (Gizmondo)

16. Art of Defense

May 2009 – GA Tech (Nokia)

17. RubberDuckzilla

May 2009 – Oasis (webcam)

18. InVizimals

June 2009 – Sony (PSP)


Which are your favorites?

Share with your friends and find out their favorites!
(share button at top right of page)

The winners will receive the lucrative –

“Games Alfresco Hall of Fame Award”

IGC East: What I Learned About The Game Industry in Boston

On a train from New York to IGC East (Independent Game Conference) in Boston.
The forests along the tracks are blooming yet foggy – I wonder what’s in store at the first ever IGC on the east coast.

The day is structured into 2 tracks: business-oriented as well as developer talks; the highlight of the day is expected to be the demo session, where east coast indies show off their babies for the first time.
I may attempt to do the same.

In my pursuit of the ultimate augmented reality experience, I review the agenda; I am predictably shocked not to find any augmented reality talks.

I miss the keynote (damn trains…) and join the business track mid way with Aaron Murray’s session about the ins and outs of MMOs.

Law and IP session gets into the nuts and bolts of IP protection and licensing content. Some folks get a kick out of it.

Next I learn from Brett Close,  the secretive CEO of 38Studios, about “How To Build Games, Make Your Company Successful And Still Have a Life” 3 noble causes all stringed into one sentence. I get it – it’s not an oxymoron, if you have the right size pockets, or extra patience.

A panel of branding experts from the game industry – beautifully orchestrated by Jeffrey Anderson from Quick Hit – provide tips and strategies for managing your brand.
I use the opportunity to pick Amy L. Brosius‘ brain about how to evolve your brand with the bite-size apps of the iPhone world. Hint: make it simple, short…or bite size…

The sessions end with an activity. Not just any activity, a social change activity. The participants join an effort to transform the lives of unfortunate members of the community – by designing games!
results will be sent tp the participants. I can’t wait.
Dan Roy represents Games4Change and leads the charge. Don’t miss their Festival this month in NYC.

Now for the cherry on top: demo night.

The room is packed with enthusiastic developers showing off their off springs on laptops. Some pretty creative stuff, but I have no time to dig deeper.

One guy, stands next to a corner table, but on the table there’s nothing but a printed image. The guy is waving a mobile camera phone. You guessed it – it’s yours truly, showing off a prototype of his company’s upcoming  augmented reality game. It will be launched this summer on the iPhone app store.  Attendees are wowed. He enjoyes the positive feedback. Curtains. The end.

GDC 2009 Roundup: a (tiny) spark of augmented reality

The dust over GDC 2009 has settled a while ago and finally I got to reflect on the AR experience at the show.  Guess which headline would summarize it best:

a) augmented reality was the talk of the show

b) the expo floor was swarming with AR demos

c) AR games snatched lucrative game awards

d) none of the above


A friend in San Francisco wearing retro AR goggles

Unfortunately (d) is the right answer.

But – and it’s a big ‘but’ – the ignition spark was there. The seed was planted. The first shot of the revolution was fired.

(OK, maybe the last metaphor went too far.)

Here are 5 triggers I identified that ignited the spark:

1) Blair

The first GDC augmented reality talk – ever: Blair MacIntyre covered the latest and greatest about mobile augmented reality in front of a packed room of game developers. Awesome.

2) Demos

Was it the first time AR demos (and more demos) were presented at a major Game Developer Conference ?

Not sure – but it certainly was my first…

3)  Mentions in talks

Was Blair’s AR talk an isolated case?

Perhaps as a main topic it was. However, for the first time, I heard significant mentions of AR in multiple other talks. Check them out:

A talk about pervasive gaming. I liked the title: “Beyond the Screen: Principles of Pervasive Game” by the folks from Pervasive Games. The played with the concept in which the whole world is the playground.  These games, are founded in the belief that doing things for real is pleasurable. Games that harness reality as a source book have interesting dynamics.  Everything in reality matters to the game, the game play emerges from coincidence, and real and artificial blur.

Jane McGonigal fantastic talk “Learning to Make Your Own Reality: How to Develop Games that Re-invent Life As We Know It” introduced a concept she calls programmable reality. Augmented reality is among the key technologies to enable that idea.

Camera Based Gaming: The Next Generation by Diarmid Campbell attracted the attention of a room packed with game developers. He talked about Sony’s upcoming camera games for the PlayStation 3 such as Eye Pet. Armed with the EyeToy camera, these games will have the power to extract amusing gestures from players. Not quite AR – but sure smells like it.

Stretching Beyond entertainmentAR made a surprise appearance in a high profile panel discussion feturing some of the gods of the gaming industry: (from right) Ed Fries , Lorne Lanning,Bing Gordon,Will Wright, and Peter Molyneux.
The best quote award went to Ed Fries for saying: “We need to take game mechanics and apply them to the real world”.


4) Meet ups

Dinners, lunches, business meetups, brainstorming sessions – haven’t had that many meetings with AR enthusiasts since ISMAR 2008…

5) The iPhone

When it comes to bringing AR to the masses – the iPhone is a category on its own . And it doesn’t even know it yet…why the iPhone changed everything


Will we ever get to see answers a, b, or c become a real headline?

Most likely in the next few years, if you ask me.

A (tiny) spark was ignited.

ARiS in Book Format

Geisha Tokyo Entertainment’s ARiS, the augmented reality maid featured in the clip above that Ori covered here, is on her way to become the first virtual AR celebrity. No only does she appear in primetime tv, she now got her own book deal.
The new “official guide book“, is 64 pages of ARiS goodness. It features ARiS’s secret till now biography, tips and tricks, her development process and an interview with her voice actor. Apparently, also included are some markers for ARiS’s living room and shower so after buying the book she will no longer need to live on your desk. You can see a video of her new rooms at the book’s site.

Alas, you can order the book only if you live in Japan. It will be available starting from early June. Via CScout Japan, where you can find some more details and pictures.

GDC 2009: More Augmented Reality Demos at Game Developer Conference

Reporting live from GDC 2009 in San Francisco: it’s just getting better!

From Blair’s team at GA Tech:

Zombie Attack on Nvidia Tegra

From Beyond Reality at the Dutch pavilion:

Pit Strategy

Stay tuned for more…

GDC 2009: I Have Seen The Future Of Games and I Wasn’t Alone

In front of a packed room, Blair skips the typical introduction to augmented reality (he knows his audience) and dives right into demonstrating how fun AR is. What better video to explain it in a game conference than showing Roku’s Reward.
Blair explains the essence of AR play:  tight integration between the real and the virtual. He then shows examples of existing handheld AR games: The invisible Train,  a Gizmondo game, and of course his own baby: ARf running on an iPhone.

He’s excited about the next generation of handhelds (e.g. from Nvidia Tegra, TI OMAP) which are going to make the experience more pervasive and popular.

But why do AR at all?
How can you go beyond just an eye candy?

You have to use the new game mechanics that are made available. And as always create compelling stories and game play.

Now a little bit of technology for the geeky audience:
how do you do tracking?

He quickly goes through various types of techniques: markers, natural feature tracking, and 3D tracking. Daniel Wagner from Graz is mentioned multiple times.

Handling camera and lighting is mentioned as key for a good experience.

And of course graphics. In order to create a more believable and tangible look don’t forget shadows, occlusions, physics, and how about a rotoscoping-like look?

Now for some more examples of games developed by his students:
There’s a whole category of table top games which emphasize interaction between players. It’s fun to see when players get into the game, they point into thin air, refering to the virtual objects.

Blair describes the game Bragfish: using a Gizmondo, multiple players around a game board navigate virtual boats to capture fish in a pond. Interesting social interactions emerge such as pushing and obstructing each other…

Art of defense: a co-op game for 2 players running on Nokia 95.

ARf: a virtual pet toy on the iPhone. where you can interact with a pet that walks on your table. Scratch the table and the cute virtual dog will sniff it.

Joe Warpin: flying in a helicopter and shooting terrorists in a building. Only the building is really a chair covered with markers…

AR Zombies (just finished this Saturday): running on Nvidia Tegra – this time – shooting Zombies. Graphics are nice. Lighting changes to reflect the themes.


Outdoor AR and large area AR will become reality in the near future and will be really cool.
And with that optimistic note, he’s opening the floor for questions.

Question: How can you go and play in a ad hoc site and play with no pre-prep?
Blair: in the future games will be able to recognize with no prep. Example is SLam which maps the environment while playing and then allows to play there.

Question: Are you using other sensors such as infra red?
Blair: I don’t do that stuff – but others do…there are some expensive sensors systems that work well and open up very interesting stuff.

Q: you could solve the problem of outdoor modeling with a captive audience (I am an ARG guy…)
Blair: absolutely. See what Microsoft is doing with Photosynth. Military has done that in submarines to track people in case of emergency.

Q: You mentioned that AR could be exciting and terrified…what did you mean?
Blair: When you can see an alternative reality it could be really fun (and scary)…that’s what I meant.

Q: Could we use the same indoor markers for outdoors purposes?
Blair: too much work…too many markers are required. They’re ugly. But you could overcome thee challenges with clever design.

The time is up but a long line is stretching in front of the podium – people want to hear more.


After the talk, I had a couple of hall conversation; folks were totally intrigued with the new opportunities.

I have seen the future of games and I wasn’t alone.

Such a shame this is the only AR session at GDC. I am back to my pursuit of more AR vignettes.

Did I just see Ron Azuma (one of the fathers of AR) in the room?

2020 Games Look Mostly Augmented

Gamasutra recently announced a competition for best game ideas. Games of 2020.

The winners are already in and their games are mostly…augmented.

Check out these 4 games:

House Chores by Wesley Wiebe.

It builds on the idea that if you cleverly use game pleasures people would be willing to tolerate almost anything – just to get the built-in reward. The same dopamine system in our brains that handles addictions.

In this case, the game controller is a broom. And your challenge: sweep the floor.

The setup is your “everyday” augmented reality game: your own house is modeled into the game, you wear see thru digital goggles with built in cameras, you interact with the real world (your living room) blended with virtual elements (water splashes)…


Keep reading the next game:

Appliance Gaming By Daniel Cook

The concept in Daniel’s own words:

Cloud connected household appliances combined with simple games and an augmented reality feedback system. Hook up some inexpensive sensors and a wireless connection to assorted dishwashers,vacuums, refrigerators and washing machines. Add a feedback device in the form of a vision aware monocle.

The game device looks awfully like Yanko‘s Monocle (who’s first?):

I also like the punch line:

The resulting consumer boom is widely credited with ending the economic malaise of America’s Lost Decade.

Play Everywhere By: Angie Oikawa

Here is what every Augmented Reality fan dreams about

a diverse collection of casual, social gaming experiences that integrate easily into a persons everyday life. PE! is a mobile “game platform” that allows people to choose virtual “Smart Game Objects”, customize them, and place them into real world locations for friends to find and play with.

What’s this mobile platform like?

…an evolved smart phone with a high resolution holographic display, or glasses that allow a person to superimpose virtual objects into the real world

And a game play example shows an inspiring woman’s touch: leaving sexy clues for your spouse to find on your anniversary:

…she is greeted by a flock of doves who sing to her and drop rose petals across the hall way into the bedroom where you are waiting for her.

Chow Time By Trevor Paradise

The (wacky) concept: eat healthy food in reality, while the game makes you think you eat your favorite junk food.


If you like these – there’s a whole bunch just like these at Gamasutra.

The only remaining question is: why wait for 2020?

Edutainment is Dead: Long Live Learning Games!

Eric Klopfer, Scot Osterweil, and Katie Salen have just published a paper: Moving Learning Games Forward.

With 60 pages strong, it’s more of a mini book than a “paper” – but hey, who’s counting?

I argued before that Learning Games should be the first pin we target in the Augmented Reality bowling alley (taking a page from Crossing the Chasm). I base my arguments largely on Eric and the Learning Games Network team’s work.

In this paper they speak about the role of play in learning and the freedom it entails:

game players regularly exhibit persistence, risk-taking, attention to detail and problem solving skills, all behaviors that ideally would be regularly demonstrated in school.

And they touch on how Augmented reality games could contribute to the goal:

Augmented Reality games that embed students in realistic real world scenarios

Overall it’s a very well crafted case, with the breadth and depth to convince skeptics that games can, and should, change the way kids learn. It’s complemented with a fantastic set of references for related work.

Highly recommended.

Total Immersion Breathe Life Into Baseball Cards With Augmented Reality

New York Times unveils this story about Total Immersion‘s new foray into trading card games.

Total Immersion partnered with Topps to add 3D animation on top of their baseball cards using your web cam.

Rouli and Tobias have already mused about it this morning (Old World folks always wake up earlier…). Here’s the video video…

Judge it yourself:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Kudos to Total Immersion: once again you managed to lead the pack.

But do we really want to be glued to the PC all day; when will you offer this experience on mobile devices?