Robot runners is a game that you play in the real world while your robot clone traces out your path nearby. It combines electronics, geo-location technology and human interaction to create a truly original fun and engaging game.
Outside on the game field, players come together to complete a number of timed tasks and earn points as a team, receiving instructions, help and feedback via their smartphones. Meanwhile, in a nearby mini-arena, small robots mirror the players’ precise movements on a large map of the playing area.
Each game lasts around 30 minutes and can involve up to 100 players and therefore up to 100 robots! Before a game, each phone is linked to a robot which happily displays their assigned player’s name. Game field tasks are started, timed and judged by the phone app, controlled and synchronised by a central server. The phone app constantly tracks the player’s location and sends that data in realtime to the robot-controlling computer, which updates the position of the corresponding robot.
The tasks will be fun and collaborative; players may be asked to create shapes with team mates or perhaps their phones will flash a particular colour and they’ll have to find all the players that match. Of course their phones will help by telling them if they’re getting ‘hotter’ or ‘colder’. The game field itself will be marked out with pulsing LED light sticks, which will also play a part in the tasks, adding colour and spectacle to the game.
The responsive and dynamic swarm of little wheeled robots, precisely tracking the players’ movements in real time, will be really fun to watch. It’ll be fascinating and entertaining to see how the robots convey the personalities of the people on the game field; whether they’re hesitant or gung-ho, adventurous or sticking to one area, all the characteristics embodied by the players’ motion will be transferred to their robot twins.
After each game, players can see how well they did by watching the robot versions of themselves perform a high speed ‘action replay’ before they get their final score. In the run up to the events, we will run workshops where the public can get involved with the project, learn about electronics, and build one of the robots for themselves.
This Playable City Award idea is brought to you by:
Seb Lee-Delisle, an award-winning digital artist and speaker who likes to make interesting things that engage and inspire people. His work has pushed the boundaries of what is possible in digital, and he won a BAFTA for a BBC project with Plug-in Media, the agency he founded in 2003. In 2012 he was awarded an Arts Council grant for the large scale installation PixelPyros (the official launch of the Brighton Digital Festival), closely followed by a commission for the Dublin Science Gallery GAME exhibition, Lunar Trails, that features a full-size arcade cabinet and a 3m wide drawing machine.