Live from GDC: Augmented Reality at the Game Developers Conference – by the Numbers

Reporting live from The Game Developer Conference in San Francisco, with my Augmented Reality filter on – here are the stats:

0 (Zero)

Number of mentions of Augmented Reality during Sid Meier’s keynote – the game design legend behind “Civilization”
Truth be told –  also missing from the keynote were mobile games, social games, casual games, and virtual goods…


Number of mentions of Augmented Reality in 10 Microtalks by 10 of the most revered visionaries in the game industry
Jesse Schell touched on the impact of games on reality (AKA Gamepocalypse) as an epilogue to his mind blowing Dice Talk


Number of mentions by investors on a panel about how to get funded
Brought up as example of games that will help developers differentiate themselves. The advice: build real life RPGs!


Mentions of Augmented Reality  during Facebook’s Social Games Summit Keynote
Gareth Davis touted augmented reality twice as the next generation of mobile social games.


Number of press articles about augmented reality during the GDC week


Number of GDC sessions focused on Augmented Reality
(on a personal rant – my submission for a talk titled “Put a Spell: Post Mortem of the first augmented reality learning game for the iPhone” was shamefully rejected!)


Number of Augmented Reality game demos on the exhibition floor
  • Sony EyePet and Move
  • Vuzix presented a game by Ohan Oda – Columbia University (video below shows a similar game)
  • AR Drone CES sensation by Parrot and Int13;
  • Nestle Cereal box as controller by 3DVia-Dassault Systemes;
(Metaio skipped the show this year and is betting on SxSW with ScavengAR)


Number of AR capable devices showcased at the event
iPhone, Android, DSi, Sony EyeToy. Plus Windows Phone 7, and Xbox Natal – promised to be released before the end of 2010 (NVidia mobile AR demo was MIA – missing In Action)


The least number of back-room meetings focusing on augmented reality which took place at GDC
(or in other words – meetings I was part of…)


Percentage of game developers familiar with the concept of augmented reality
(based on my anecdotal survey)

∞ (infinity)

Amount of inspiration at the event for designing augmented reality games


So how does GDC 2010 compare with last year’s Tiny Spark of Augmented Reality?
In a nut shell: Augmented Reality made progress in mind share – but not yet in real impact on the game industry.
Wanted: Game Designers to build Augmented Reality Games!

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”

Weekly Linkfest

Pizzas, Ghosts and Robots, all making augmented reality news this week:

Quote of the week comes from that WSJ article:

Madison Avenue has high hopes for the gimmick. “It’s the new bright and shiny object that marketers want,” says Tom Bedecarre, chief executive of AKQA, a San Francisco digital marketing firm that created the Postal Service campaign. AKQA is currently pitching several of its clients’ campaigns that include the technology.

Which means we should expect more bad novelty augmented reality ahead.

And to start off the coming week, here’s a nice clip showing projected pong game, made by two students from the IT University of Copenhagen. Here you can find out how they did it, and see some behind the scenes pictures.

Augmented Reality Game Poised to Win Game Award: Vote for Kweekie

Stephan Cocquereaumont, president and lead developer of Int13, a French next-gen games studio for Smartphones, has just shared with me the latest video of his mobile Augmented Reality game – Kweekies:

Kweekies is an Augmented Reality virtual pet game that allows gamers to interact with their pet by using the embedded camera of their Smartphone. 3 selling points – Augmented Reality that just works – Cute Virtual Pets – Online Competition

Kweekies is one of the 6 nominees for International Mobile Gaming Awards (IMGA) in the newly established Real World Games Category.

The competition is taking place this week at the Mobile World Conference in Barcelona.

Here are the nominees:
Kurai: The Dark Monolith
Aikon Ghost Hunter

Is Kweekie the only true Augmented Reality Game in the bunch?

We already had that debate before…

In any case, the winners will be announced soon – and you can make a difference.

Vote for the best!

2008 Wrap Up: Top 10 Milestones in Augmented Reality

2008 was a great year for augmented reality.

This emerging technology is on a 15-plus-year-long journey from the lab and into the mainstream. With too many events to list, 2008 marks an important year in that quest.

Here is the countdown of the top 10 most important AR milestones of 2008:

10) Otellini’s CES keynote showcases AR technology

The year started with the largest consumer electronics show CES. Total Immersion’s demo had the attention of the entire consumer electronics community during Otellini’s (Intel CEO) 2008 keynote.

9) Video game gurus recognize AR as the future of gaming

My personal idol in the game industry, Will Wright, delivered the best augmented reality quote of the year. When describing AR as the way of the future for games, he explained:

Games could increase our awareness of our immediate environment, rather than distract us from it”.

Futurist Bruce Sterling made controversial statements about games in 2043 in front of a developer only audience in the Austin Game Developer Conference . Here is one statement that stood above all:

“What do the games of 2043 look like? “I think you would call [them]  ‘augmented reality’”

8) ISMAR 2008

The world’s most important augmented reality event, ISMAR 2008, was more significant than ever. It  demonstrated, above all, the level of maturity AR research has reached.

7) High end mobile AR devices hit the market

2008 gave rise to a flood of new AR-worthy mobile devices: iPhone 3G (see below), Android based G1, Itelco’s IDOL, HTC’s Touch HD, Blackberry’s Storm, Nokia N97… It also signaled the dawn of hands free AR with prototype glasses and contact lens (see Top 10 devices.)


6) iPhone and App store

It might not be the best AR device but it certainly has the most buzz. In 2008, the iPhone was highly sought after by game developers and researchers. The App store which amassed 10,000 apps in half a year, offers an instant distribution model for AR games. In 2008, the iPhone was the gadget to beat.

5) Native mobile tracking engines released

AR engines and tools did not stay behind in 2008 and delivered new tracking engines for the hottest platforms du jour. Some notable examples include ARToolkit for iPhone, AR in Flash, and Studierstube ES for mobile phones. See the entire collection of engines and tools.

4) AR apps win acclaim in major competitions

AR made headlines in 2008 with 2 applications that dribbled into top 50 lists: Tonchidot made the Crunch50 and Wikitude made the Android 50 finalists. Total Immersion won another award at NVISION ’08 for Best Application of Visual Computing.


3) AR games win awards

Ghostwire may or may not be the first AR game to win a game award. But, 2008 was certainly the first year were 6 out 0f top 10 games were selected as finalists in game awards such as Nokia’s Mobile Innovation Challenge.

One AR game did not win any awards this year, but was certainly an audience favorite (the most hits): Cyber Figure Alice – the first adult only AR game.

2) Major investments in AR research

Media Power made significant investments in augmented reality research organizations around the world. If the $5M for GA Tech GVU donnation and $2.7M for NZ HIT Lab donnation don’t speak for itself, the results are already showing:

1) Record commercial deals

The AR market picked up steam in 2008 with high visibility deals such as Total Immersion’s with Six Flags (“magically superimpose clown masks on riders” as their waiting for the Dark Night ride) and Metaio (book deals with publishers ArsEdition and Knowledge Media). Metaio also scored a lucrative advertising contract to promote the MINI.

What, in your opinion, was the most significant augmented reality milestone in 2008?

Whatever you do, don’t miss “If the Augmented Reality Industry Got a Report Card”

Subscribe (top right) to get the complete 2008 wrap up series.

Augmented Reality Game Wins Best Mobile Game

We have a winner.

Nokia just announced the winner of its Mobile Game Innovation Challenge. And it’s all…augmented.

I believe the first to break the news was the Earth Times.

In our previous coverage of the competition, we spotted 6 out of the top 10 finalists as augmented reality games. It was a good day.

Kudos to Different Game studio and their creation: Ghostwire, an augmented reality game where players can use the camera on their mobile device to find ghosts.

Just in time for Halloween. How felicitous. Arg…

Different Game is walking away 40,000 EUR richer. Back to Sweden to complete the game and make it a mega success.


Update: Stephan from Int13 unearthed the trailer of Ghostwire, and he claims it isn’t a real augmented reality game because it doesn’t register in 3d.

He’s right. But is the experience breaking away from traditional virtual games and encouraging the player to explore reality?

See for yourself in this clip. Or read an interview with creator Tom Soderlund on PoketGamer