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.

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: Why the iPhone Just Changed Everything

Robert Tercek Chairman of GDC Mobile kicks of the Mobile summit with “Welcome to the Next Level! ”

He speaks about the state of the mobile gaming world (looks much better than last year) and even spends a moment on our favorite topic: Virtual layers superimposed on a fictitious reality. He admits it has only been done for advertising so far.

Next is a session I have been looking forward to: “Why the iPhone just changed everything” by
Neil Young founder of Ngmoco :)

When it comes to mobile games, everything before the iPhone was lame. Mostly because of the carriers, the devices, and their usability.
With the iPhone a new Everything was born.

As a game machine it’s so much better than anything before.

4 major Changes:
1) The market – iPhone has more installed based than the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP. 165 new apps per day.
Short term problem: Clutter + pricing pressure.
Long term – awesome opportunity.

2) The games – Graphics are better. The experience is better.
And it’s always connected. new opportunities for social, multi players.

3) Game making – fantastic SDK and a much faster development cycle.

4) and Publishing.
There’s never been a better time to be an independent developer and to create a closer relationship with customers.

Then comes the Ngmoco plug: they help create hits by focusing on largest audience appeal, superior execution, and making sure it’s native to the iPhone
There other job is helping games get in front of as many people as possible.
The Ngmoco platform helps is that endevour: analytics, silent download of levels and episodes, promotions engine.

The session ends in high note: iPhone is current the top dog.

Off to a coffee break.