Interactive Annual 20:
Beautiful design meets multi-device physical installation.
The seamlessness with which hardware and software, fixed sculpture and mobile device merge, interoperate and extend each other speaks volumes as to where technology is going to take us in the future.
The old adage less is more proved true once again when Google delighted audiences at the 2013 developer conference with Racer, a seemingly simplistic retro-style slot-car game that stole the show. Originally a Chrome Experiment developed for web-based play across multiple mobile devices, Racer was showcased in an interactive installation alongside Roll-It and other games at Google I/O. Design agency HUSH expanded the mobile game experience onto an immersive, multi-player digital canvas that featured 1980s arcade-style crash animations and a custom soundtrack by composer Giorgio Moroder. Game play is simple: Just tap your device to accelerate your car. Release to brake. Five colors of cars. Five players. Five devices. Surrounded by crowds, with a powerful sound system and floor-rumbling bass emanating from inside the table, I/O attendees battled for Racer supremacy while a leader-board ranked players and offered up daily bragging rights. It was an impressive demonstration of web advances in syncing action across multiple displays disguised as mere childs play.
- • Despite the simplicity of the game, HUSH built many track variations with adjustable difficulty to make sure the game stayed challenging.
- • Hot spots indicated where players should place their mobile devices to control the game and prompted players to enter their initials to begin.
- • The mobile game server, built with Node.js, sent game event information to custom software to initiate game modes, provide game data to the head–up and head–down displays and trigger audio/visual effects such as engine sounds and car crashes.
Comments by HUSH:
Working within a fairly limited timeframe forced us to begin development on some custom software that would interface with Chrome. Work on both projects was pushing forward simultaneously, and each time a bug was fixed within either, it had the potential to cause issues with the other.
Millions of viewers saw Racer revealed during the I/O Keynote and were then eager to play the table version of the game and share their photos online. The table remained packed throughout the conference, with close to 2,000 visitors over three days (650+ individual players per day).
Erik Karasyk/David Schwarz, principals
Active Theory, developer
Audio, Video & Controls (AV&C), hardware developer
Plan8, sound designer
Gabe Banner, producer
Showman Fabricators, fabricator
HUSH (Brooklyn, NY), project design and development
Google Creative Lab, client