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GPS Adventure Game Out the Window

January 1, 2007  - By

GPS DATA maintains a 3D model that keeps a car correctly positioned while passengers hunt down werewolves.

GPS DATA maintains a 3D model that keeps a car correctly positioned while passengers hunt down werewolves.

Look out the window — is a werewolf hiding behind that tree?

Looking out the window while on a long car trip can be an adventure with a new GPS-based game being developed by The Interactive Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. The Backseat Playground uses GPS to turn passing sights like forests, buildings, and rivers into locations for in-game characters and events, reports New Scientist magazine. Backseat Playground consists of a GPS receiver, a handheld computer, and headphones — all connected to a laptop in the trunk of the car. A database of geographical information is used to match events in the game to suitable locations. Game characters and events are all generated dynamically during the car trip.

The game begins with a radio newsflash, relayed by the handheld computer, which places a passenger at the start of a murder mystery or a werewolf thriller. As the car travels along its route, the player receives further phone calls and messages from in-game characters.

Players interact mostly by listening; minimal graphics are involved, according to the designers. “It’s like a novel,” said John Bichard, who created Backseat Playground with colleagues Liselott Brunnberg and Oskar Juhlin. “We are trying to suggest spaces and places and events and have the user fill in the gaps to build a narrative.”

For now, a prototype now being evaluated only works over an area of 35 square kilometers in Stockholm. Initial feedback has been positive, and the team hopes to add voice recognition to the set-up. “Being able to talk directly to the characters would be great,” Bichard said.

We’ve always wondered what those werewolves had to say.

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