British dev wants to make a game you can ignore

Lecturer working on nontraditional project that takes real-life actions and translates them into RPG actions.

by

NEWPORT, Wales--Immersive games that eat up all your free time might become a thing of the past, and games that are "easy to ignore" might be the next big thing. Mark Eyles, speaking at this week's Women in Games 2007 event, which he founded in 2004, introduced just such a project.

Eyles, a lecturer in computer games at the University of Portsmouth in the UK and former industry veteran, has developed a game titled Ambient Quest, which will soon be available to play for free online.

In Ambient Quest, players wear a pedometer attached to their belt or pocket, which counts the number of steps that they take. For every 300 steps, players get one move in the PC role-playing game. Each move opens up more squares on the map, as well as opportunities to find food, treasure, or fight monsters to gain experience. Eyles commented, "Players' real actions in the real world affect an avatar in a virtual world. You can either change your actions in the real world to help your avatar. Or not."

Eyles said that he got the idea for the project--which is part of his PhD research--while he was listening to Brian Eno's album Music for Airports. He said, "I was thinking, if that album was a role-playing game, what would it play like? And on the cover it says 'as ignorable as it is interesting.'"

These kinds of pervasive games could be used in a number of ways, Eyles believes. "Imagine a job which involves fairly repetitive actions--for example shelf stacking--that is not so interesting in itself, but [by 'keeping score' of such actions] the game actually makes it interesting," he said.

The idea of a player's real-world actions or environment affecting the game is not entirely new. Other games that have attempted to integrate real-life actions into their gameplay include Boktai: The Sun Is in Your Hand, where a specially designed Game Boy Advance cartridge measured the amount of sunshine in your real-life environment to gauge how much power the vampire-slaying hero would had in the game.

Discussion

235 comments
theKSMM
theKSMM

Most jobs that measure routine, repetitive actions do it so they can say "You're not performing action C fast enough. You're fired." Being given achievement points or something might make it worthwhile to work such menial jobs.

gc619
gc619

It's a creative & original idea that will be a hit with true gamers, as in people who actually want to follow how a game should be played, and not by cheating. People who are calling it "lame" and "boring" have no imagination & can't imagine a game that has non-direct interaction.

Azeran
Azeran

Interesting... I have a feeling I'll be sticking to EQ2 and Vanguard though. =P

Treesong
Treesong

I expect rampant cheating with this game. :)

Pharoah6
Pharoah6

Great Idea, however what would stop someone from shaking the pedometer? I'd give something like this a try.

GaussGoat
GaussGoat

Awesome idea that shows how far games have evolved. When designers are rewarding real world actions with virtual points, you things are getting interesting. For someone who is physically active and enjoys gaming, it sounds like an amazing idea.

kappareign
kappareign

zomg a treasure chest! *runs around the block* alright, new armor! better equip it to my avatar *walks to school* wtf?

joeamis
joeamis

This is the future of gaming, but only baby steps toward that future. As his idea sounds now, it doesn't sound like it would be any fun.

Lord_Bafford
Lord_Bafford

at first sight i thought it read "game you can't ignore". lol but seriously weird idea...

Ko_man8
Ko_man8

Wow. That sounds like the stupidest idea ever. How hard is it to just shake the thing?

arc_salvo
arc_salvo

Y'know, I had an idea like this. It involved a pedometer that you could link to you computer to measure how many steps you'd taken and stuff like that, but it wouldn't be a "game", it'd be kind of like an interactive fitness chart. Basically, everytime you met a goal, you'd get X-box 360esque "achievement point" kinds of things and titles and awards and stuff to make you feel rewarded for working out. People will do all sorts of crap to get virtual rewards, even when they don't mean anything in real life or you can't trade them in for anything substantial, so I figured... if people like getting titles and awards and points so much, why not use that motivation to make 'em exercise? And I also though... why not give out mmo-style rewards at the office to make people grind away at the keyboard to get a +3 Elite Golden Fountain Pen of stylishness or other "loot" or maybe titles and other such arbitrary rewards to make people actually give a damn about their jobs? Seriously, MMO's make you PAY to do work (and HOURS of boring, unfun work) for those phony rewards (like levels, titles, badges, loot, etc.) why not give such rewards for real work to make employees want to work? In this crazy and upside down world, it'd be the next logical step, imho.

mariomusicmaker
mariomusicmaker

D-U-M-B Desasterous idea Utterly stupid Make fun of this "" game "" Butt ...... yea stupid.

comthitnuong
comthitnuong

That is perhaps the strangest gaming mechanic ever....I would have thought that this was a joke if it were not on GS.

Talgrath
Talgrath

....what the hell? That's quite possibly the stupidest idea for a game that I've ever heard.

anarchicgoth
anarchicgoth

ridiculous- first the Wii and now this! j/k love the wii but seriously bloodychimp great idea just stick it in a rock tumbler! Boosting!

astrozen
astrozen

Ahhhhh! The lines are blurring, people! I want a virtual dude who wastes hours of HIS day making ME stronger, faster and smarter! When THAT game comes out - let me know. Until then, Women In Games 2007 started by a man?! Ouch.

fugori
fugori

Interesting idea for a diversion. Could add an additional element to daily exercise. It would depend on the quality of the actual game, though. If it's just some boring old dungeon-crawler, then there really isn't any reason to even passively participate. I'd rather spend my gaming time on something more worthwhile and interesting.

bloodychimp
bloodychimp

Stick the pedometer in a rock tumbler and call it a day ;)

aldrenar47
aldrenar47

Ever played Progress Quest? Thats what this sounds like (even has a similar name)

minos30
minos30

its like those counters that come in fitness low fat cereals.... you just shake the device and it keeps counting.... if they can avoid cheating. this game should come in low fat cereal boxes

BigDaveyDogz
BigDaveyDogz

I'll strap this to my dog and set him loose in the park as my farm-bot!

illisium
illisium

It's only a matter of time before someone figures out a way to cheat at it.

Ced_Quijote
Ced_Quijote

aww, how disappointing. I thought we were going to translate our RL-choises into proper RPG-action. guess that's for the sequels. people with cash... call me.

Hvac0120
Hvac0120

Child: "I don't want to clean up." Parent: "Make a game of it and see who can pick up the most stuff. Keep score!" --> Anybody remember that from when they were younger? This type of gameplay reminds me of that. Taking a non-fun 'chore' and rewarding someone for doing it every day. I think it's a good idea because it could possibly motivate some to get up and exercise. But really, those pedometers can be tricked pretty easy. You could just sit and shake the thing for a few minutes and say that you walked 100 miles.

zintarr
zintarr

players wear a pedometer attached to their belt or pocket, which counts the number of steps that they take. Perhaps the game title should be Get UP Off Your Arses!

Destroyeron13
Destroyeron13

This is one of those ideas that should've been dismissed...

fartys
fartys

thats funnier than the panda microgame on warioware smooth moves!

lithus
lithus

Einstein once said "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the the universe." This idea of making games less appealing is pure stupidity and why I thought of this quote. It's like Non-Alcoholic beer, completely useless and defeats the purpose. It's not just these things though, it's everything. We try and turn all the things we love that's typically "bad" for us and make them as bland as possible. We're turning our world into "Zero Carbs, Ultra Lights, Non-Fat, Lite and No Sugar." Now it's video games....what's next?

Tekirai
Tekirai

... being a girl, I'm making my opinion of this as simple as possible. MOST POINTLESS IDEA EVER. kthxbai.

BranKetra
BranKetra moderator

If this had virtual reality technology a bit more advanced than this, I'd be stoked.

Fisher-Price
Fisher-Price

First of all this sounds like a crappy gimmick rather than a proper, well tought out game and secondly, in response to Proman84's point, you could just shake the pedometer to get the amount of steps you need!!

AngelCage
AngelCage

easy to ignore games? I have played a lot of them in PSOne, PS2, Xbox, GCube, Wii and the like Where are the innovation in that?

Proman84
Proman84

Yes, it's interesting but it also seems like a waste of time. Stil, as long as it gets people off the couch. I also wonder how long it would be before people will find a way to cheat or otherwise exploit this game. "Mark Eyles, speaking at this week's Women In Games 2007 event, which he founded in 2004". Wait, "Women in Games" was founded by a guy? How strangely fitting ;) .

DeadBullet
DeadBullet

haha the new favorite game for a fatty that doesn't want to be a fatty anymore (duh) lol

Warfust
Warfust

Interesting, not sure it will work but innovation is always good.

Jshaw71
Jshaw71

if it's one of those lil lcd games that's ok, i guess, but to use thst idea in pc games, or even gba games? no thanks, we gamers like to stay at home, and do or own thing, don;t try try to change ppl, even if its for the better, but that zombie game with the gsp for the psp, no thanks, i love zombie games, but that one, no thanks...

Sanguis_Malus
Sanguis_Malus

No harm done and its free, I shall stick to violent FPS action myself though !

Kartel101
Kartel101

It'll get ignored all right.

finallyalex
finallyalex moderator

Meh. I'll take Progress Quest over Ambient Quest any day.

Captain_Tom
Captain_Tom

Yep. Some fatty's gonna buy a metronome and strap the pedometer to it.

LeeTheAgent
LeeTheAgent

GFofgaming... you got it wrong... the whole point is that you're using your occupied time, not your free time, to advance in this game... the time you're walking to your bus, walking through your campus, up the steps of your office, even time spent on the treadmill! Thats the whole point of this, to make the daily chores we all do kinda rewarding.

ChitoKiryoku
ChitoKiryoku

It's a good idea, but I don't think they're going about it the right way. A game like this could be really fun though

ShortStuff21
ShortStuff21

"You really want to feel successful in life? Go out and make some money" That sentiment right there is why games aren't fun, pal.

GFofgaming
GFofgaming

This gotta be the worst joke in century. If people can ignore, why make it in the first place and "waste freetime". hah

--Wolf--
--Wolf--

Your either going to love, or hate this game. Obliviously people who want to come home from a hard days work and reward themselves for just doing their job will probably enjoy this. Heck, they might even do more at work, just to advance more in the game. (Which is a good thing) Others are simply going to hate it. Especially with a "Pfft, I have to walk around in real life to move anywhere in this damn game?" attitude. Sounds promising, lets see how it goes.

PlaystationNoAi
PlaystationNoAi

Also, I think this is really just an attempt to exploit peoples' desire for the feeling of accomplishment. We take what we can get so that we feel good about ourselves, like we've done something with our lives. At first it was enough to beat your buddy at pong, then you cleared all the levels on Super Mario World, nowadays you even get achievement points for your games... You really want to feel successful in life? Go out and make some money, don't spend it on games like the one in this article, and support a family or something... or buy a nice car or whatever you're into... just know games arent real life... stop trying to make them that way... thats why games arent fun any more.