The Cyberpunk, Whack-a-Mole Projection Game.
We would like to create a giant, abstract, cyberpunkesque 'whack-a-mole' video game that turns the walls of Miner's Hall in Durham into a retro-futuristic world that members of the audience can control via a stomp pad on the floor. Whilst being watched by a cheering crowd and spurred on by an MC, two participants will be able to play the projected game for 3 minutes at a time by stomping on large buttons that correspond with windows of the building. Whoever 'whacks' the most 'moles' wins.
This brand new commission will combine funky and stylish projection mapping with competitive but fun audience interaction.
Relevant Previous Work:
The concept of turning real world environments into electronic games through video/projection mapping is based on our two previous projects "Lucy" and "Shelf Life" which you can see below.
Inspired by wireframe/low poly art aesthetics, the glow and colours of cyberpunk worlds and the sounds of Synthwave we will transform the facade of Minor’s Hall into a stylish but fun playground 'inhabited' by abstract luminescent particles (the 'moles') that appear in the windows and need to be 'whacked' by contestants. Each window will feature a different abstract but creature-like visual (the mole) and lead to a different visual effect affecting the projections of the whole building when it gets 'whacked' by a player.
Below is a basic sketch to demonstrate the concept. Please note that the visual aesthetics will be much more complex and less bare than in this video. The visual complexity will also increase with the progression of the game. (Please switch your sound on.)
The Gaming Experience
Two contestants at a time will join the MC on a podium in order to play the game by stomping their feet on a switch array on the floor. (These switch arrays will be purpose build and will in principle resemble pressure sensitive dance mats. See picture on the right.)
Every player has their own floor switch array with 10 stomp buttons which correspond with the 10 windows on each side of the building. The left player will therefore play the left side of the building and the right player will play the right side. A giant projected scoreboard will reveal the player's names and their scores on the central part of the building.
As the 'mole' visuals appear in the windows of the building the participants need to stomp on the correct buttons to 'whack' the moles and collect points. As the game progresses the intervals between 'moles' decrease so that more 'moles' appear more quickly. Therefore the game gets more difficult to play and the pace and complexity of the visuals increases.
Each game will last 3 minutes and whoever 'whacks' the most 'moles' during that fixed time will win the session!
During player changeovers a screensaver animation will keep animating the building.
At the end of the night, the player with the most points is awarded a trophy and the title of being "Whacker Number 1".
Participants vs Audience
Holding all of this together will be an MC who is there to introduce players, commentate on their performance, get the crowd going and award the trophy at the end of the evening. The MC and the two players will be on a podium/stage so that audiences can simultaneously watch the projections and the players playing the game at the same time.
There is a growing and hugely popular trend in E-Sports where enormous international crowds are enthralled by the tension of watching other people play video games against each other. We therefore believe that non-players will enjoy the experience as much as active contestants. In order to get the audience to invested in the players we are happy to work on a simple idea in which the 2 active players always represent two audience teams, such as 'Durham vs. Visitors', 'Mackem vs Tackem', 'Men vs Women', 'People wearing Red vs People wearing Blue' etc.
The format of the project was initially inspired by the World Tetris Championships. Below is an example of some of the most popular E-Sports experiences:
At this stage we are looking at different approaches to recruiting contestants. Options include a live queuing system supervised by front of house staff or a simple advance booking system online or at a dedicated local desk.