Augmented reality and the “Barely Game”

I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of play lately. Nothing linear or even cohesive; just ponderings and lots of what-ifery. Yet I took a couple of my thoughts and sent them off to a developer friend of mine, suggesting that we even consider building an augmented reality game for the iPhone platform.

We quickly realized we had neither the time nor the resources such an effort would require, but it created a good thought exercise for me in terms of play via the iPhone. That is, we touch things and take actions through such games—rolling balls, landing planes, etc.—but as adults, we rarely actively pretend. And pretending is crucial to immersive gameplay in any sort of augmented reality situation.

So then. How can AR be used through devices like the iPhone to create situations that require pretending as an active component of gameplay? How must good narratives and solid storytelling be constructed for such games? I have lots of questions in my mind about these things. Of course I have no answers, but I think Russell Davies has some great ideas—notably that of the Barely Game—from his recent talk at Playful.

posted 11/30/09 at 2:30pm to Uncategorized · 1 reply · permalink


Yesterday I was in the middle of editing a longish essay I’d tentatively titled “The Seriousness of Play”, when I had to stop working on it because I suddenly wasn’t in the mood for it any longer.

That’s not unusual – I’m always working on so many different things that I often toss some of them aside when I’m stuck, or just need to step back from something until it’s fresh again, rather than sit still and wait for it to work. Inertia is the writer’s worst enemy, after all. But it was the mood thing that struck me as ironic – here I was writing a piece about play, and had to push away from it simply because I was cranky.

I haven’t laughed a lot lately. And I’m always laughing. I don’t know whether it’s a sign of overwork1, a lack of leisure time and activities2, taking myself too seriously3, or some combination of the three.

In any case, something is feeding on my sense of humor and my playful nature, which is the engine of my creativity. If I don’t figure out what this “succubus of seriousness” is and how to defeat it, it’s going to be a long winter.

  1. Yes, I have been working too hard.
  2. No, I haven’t done anything fun for myself lately.
  3. Yes, I fall into that trap from time to time.
posted 11/25/08 at 12:36pm to Me me me, Writing · 1 reply · permalink