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As mobile devices become prevalent (and pervasive) in our society, their role as entertainment devices will only improve. Many people still think the internet is about television and print magazines, pushing glossified content at the audience like so many Photoshopped webpages today. However, this really is an abuse of the technology because it can do so much more.

A mobile device is a little computer with persistant storage (versus a mere calculator). Many mobile devices have the ability the communicate (wirelessly, though GameBoy?""s can play over a wire) with the outside world. Increasingly devices are able to communicate with their local neighbours, PeerToPeer. For example, look at the CybikoWireless? device which is incredibly popular with teenagers. Consequently, mobile games ought to take advantage of this.

Common practice has been to just play head-to-head, as if two people were both playing on the same console. Fighting games for instance. However, this is limited. The game only lasts that one time. You can extend the game by taking advantage of mobile devices' storage by saving games, or building a ladder, or collecting "cards." But even that isn't as powerful as you can get.

One genre of game that just wasn't possible before is a DistributedGame. Each device stores only a local representation of its owner's profile, like her card collection, or his character statistics. When two people with the same game meet, they can make their devices interact, say be exchanging cards, or by fighting, or whatever. But the game isn't this one-time event. It's the summation of all the interactions all over the world, of all the profiles. It's like a simulation of the daily interactions that make up life in the RealWorld, but fantasized into a game world.

This was done with one of the VirtualPet? HandHeld""s that were popular. In that system, kids would raise a pet on their own. But when a person met someone else with the same game, the two could have their pets fight with each other over an infrared connection. If a pet got hurt badly after that encounter, the owner would have to heal the pet before the next fight or risk killing it. So, as you can see, the game wasn't just raising a pet, nor was it just fighting, but it was the total combination of the two.

Compare DoorGame, a centralized version of a DistributedGame, and RealityGame, a much more insiduous cousin of DistributedGame.

Somewhat close to this idea is [Pirates!], although that only works within a closed wireless LAN environment.

Even closer would be [POX], a game device from Hasbro

POX is a fantasy game where players battle each other with wireless game units. The player creates his own POX character (an alien Infector) by using an arsenal of body parts available, each with its own powers and characteristics. The object of the POX game is to create the strongest POX Infector, by defeating all others, similar to "king of the hill" game play.
The most innovative aspect of the game occurs through RF (Radio Frequency) which allows players to battle from one POX unit to another instantly up to 30 feet away.
"The fun is that you can play against other POX units in a stealth-like way, so frequently the other player doesn't even know where the challenge is coming from," said Matt Collins, Director of Marketing for Hasbro Games. "This technology introduces a whole new direction in game play."

CategoryPervasiveComputing | CategoryGame


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