Movie Screens with Frickin’ Laser Beams
Part of the magic of the movies has always been the act of going to the cinema. Is this just because they have a bigger screen than you have at home, or a better sound system? Of course not. The visceral experience of sharing a film with hundreds of strangers is fundamental to the allure.
Interactive, playful media now dominate the landscape. But while videogames are exploring shared physical experiences, they remain confined to small private groups. Social media offers constant ‘connection’ to large groups, but we still leave home to enjoy the real contact of browsing in a coffee shop with others around us. Why aren’t we serving both these needs at once?
This talk discusses the delicate process of applying interactivity to large group experiences in real spaces. We’ll cover Loren Carpenter’s seminal early work through the esoteric world of interactive fulldome to the latest mass participation experiments. The session will feature a live 100 player game using laser pointers!
I co-founded the crowd game design company wallFour in 2011 with John Sear, setting out on a mission to create playful experiences for live crowds. We are presenting a Film + Interactive convergence session about this whole area, and our feature-length work Renga is also being screened at the film festival.
My early background is in philosophy and machine intelligence, which led me to the videogames industry as an AI specialist with particular interests in improvisational characters. I had a great time working on the original XBox version of "Fable" at Lionhead Studios, and still find myself bumping into ex-Lionhead folks wherever I go! While maintaining an international speaking profile within the games industry, I spent some recent years in teaching. It was my experience on Frank Boyd's NESTA funded “Crossover Labs” media innovation project in 2009 that led me to collaborations beyond the games industry and paved the way towards what would become wallFour.
John started his professional academic career at the University of Manchester where he combined teaching with research. He was a member of the High Performance Computing group studying for a PhD in Computer Vision while also teaching at undergraduate level.
Lured into the games industry by Codemasters, John turned his childhood passion of creating videogames into professional practice. He returned to academia 3 years later when he saw an opportunity to radically alter the games education landscape. He was able to combine both his industrial and academic backgrounds to develop a groundbreaking degree course, specialising in the advanced software engineering required for large scale triple-A game development.
John brings his unique combination of development at the far extremes of videogames. Having been programming for almost 30 years, he has worked as a hobbyist and professional at all levels from large-scale MMOs down to indie iPhone projects. This varied experience gives John an unusual perspective that ensures he is not marvelled by short-term trends. In fact his views often conflict with the Zeitgeist. His highly passionate presentation style led to him receiving Lecturer of the Year.
In the summer of 2011, John left academia to start wallFour with his business partner Adam Russell.