SXSW Puts Bodies in Motion with Gesture-Based Tech
What better way to kick off the inaugural SXSW Gaming Awards in Austin, Texas, than with an interactive game that had the audience at Dell Hall in the Long Center swinging their arms left and right as they directed a Pac-Man-like character through a maze on a large screen onstage—and having a great deal of fun as they did it. The experience celebrated the history of gaming as well as the innovation and creativity that SXSW is known for. Even better—it breathed some fresh air into the classic gaming experience and gave the audience a chance to re-engage with its nostalgia.
Inspired by the games of yore, the experience incorporated elements from retro games that would appeal to the collective memory of gamers. In an homage to Pac-Man, the game asked players to navigate a maze-like structure, gobble up food for points and flee from ghouls. Graphics added a visual complement to this old-school gaming experience and were reminiscent of the 8-bit games from the classic 1980s arcade cabinet. But, in a departure from the standard play experience, Audience Entertainment’s proprietary iD Interactive Dimension technology enabled the entire audience to participate using motion-based controls in a simultaneous group play.
iD Interactive Dimension technology uses a single camera to collect and capture inputs from large crowds. For the SXSW Gaming Awards, the camera was aimed at the 2,400-member audience. By capturing and aggregating the motion from multiple individuals, the system creates a sense of cohesion among audience participants and allows them to control the character on screen. Audience members could direct the character left or right by swinging their arms. It moved up and down via a series of elevators. Thus, the game required strategic movement and planning on the part of the whole audience.
Audience reaction was very positive as attendees saw the potential for interaction this type of technology has to bring to the big screen and large crowds. Many described the chaotic fun of interacting with their fellow audience members as an enthralling new way to engage the screen and break the awkward silence that often precedes events and movies. The only thing missing was the popcorn… and the stack of quarters.