At the heart of our approach to humane technology is prioritizing bodily and multisensory experience in our relationship with computing environments. Scott and Kyoung Swearingen’s tackles this head-on through meaningful integration of digital and physical experiences in game play. They are especially interested in collaborative play that is human facing and contributes to everyday wellbeing. They seek to create experiences that makes people more connected through face to face interactions and not exclusively face to screen game play. Scott explains, "the humane tech collaboration has helped me and Kyoung realize how important physicality is to our work, not just materials but our bodies and meaningful social engagement through play. I think we always valued this but now we have a clearer mission, vision and language for what we are doing and a bunch of great collaborators!"
As a creative team, they got involved in first year of Humane Technologies project in research sandboxes and through their work with other collaborators were drawn to the notion of physical/digital play. From that collaborative exchange they invented the piece Wall Mounted Level, which is an engaging (and award winning) game but also Stephen Turk, a member of the Humane Tech team from the Knowlton School of Architecture noted that this approach has enormous potential for the future of architectural models and presentation. If you can create physical models and move digital characters through them then you have a much more dynamic representation of the architectural vision and research.
On their website the Swearingen's describe Wall Mounted Level as "a collaborative, multiplayer game that is projected onto a hand drawn cityscape that was laser-cut and assembled into a relief sculpture. Using projection-mapping and other compositing techniques, players move their characters into, out of, and across the fractured environment that doubles as a metaphor for conflict in their internal landscapes. Our motivation for creating ‘Wall-Mounted Level’ was to embrace tangible surfaces as mediums for games to exist in, and for the interactions between players to occur in person. The verbal communication and physical touch that takes place between the players is especially important to us in terms of human-facing interactions as it extends the games narrative of ‘reconciliation’." Scott Swearingen explains "'Wall-Mounted Level' meets two goals of Wizaga head-on, we are using real, physical surfaces for our environment to enhance a sense of presence and promote empathy and these human-facing interactions promote 'meaningful choice'." Check out a video of the gameplay here.
Their Physical Scroller game that they created in Pop-Up 2017: Livable Futures was a collaboration with ACCAD alumni Ben Schroeder and J. Eisenmann who we invited back to work with us for the week. Together they put together a depth sensor with a top-mounted projector to create a cooperative multiplayer game that not only invites but requires physical and verbal coordination to successfully navigate hazards in a life-size vertical scroller. Scott shares that "the goal of the game is simple: players navigate the red ball through a field of vertically scrolling hazards until reaching the end of the level. A depth sensor tracks the median position of all player ‘blobs’ and places the red ball there. There are options however! Because the depth sensor only registers at a specific altitude around shoulder-height, players can duck beneath it, effectively removing themselves from play. The result is a ‘pass’ to the other players. Additionally, spreading your arms out and making yourself a ‘larger blob’ increases your area of influence and biases the red ball in your direction - this helps tremendously when finessing the red ball around obstacles. It is simple but fun!" Here's a video.
Overall these game designers are seeking to include the body more in digital gaming and creating real time interactions which led yet another series of collaborative works, this time with artist Rosalie Yu or was a guest artist for Humane Tech in 2016, Currently, they are prototyping a pop-up book that combines tactile physical interactions and augmented digital characters which move around the space through the phone. The project has an experiential, discoverable quality and users can walk around the book to gain new views of the landscape. The phone becomes a window to see the story come to life. The team is passionate about using augmented reality (AR) because it can be a gateway between two generations since AR is so intuitive and can effortlessly combine the tactile experiences with the technology in what many expect our future to become, an ever more mixed space of digital and physical realities enterwining.
At this year’s Wellbeing Pop Up 2018, Scott and Kyoung met Susan Thrane from the College of Nursing and they have started another collaborative project entitled Circle. This game designed for children with cognitive and physical disabilities and individuals in palliative care. Stay tuned for more info!
Scott and Kyoung are committed to collaborative play and are collaborative makers who consistently, through Humane Technologies events and in the larger field, create exciting experiences to enhance the players experience and create more livable futures.