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BIONIC ROSHAMBO at GAME: THE FUTURE OF PLAY

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Published on Dec 4, 2012

BIONIC ROSHAMBO
Two-player arcade game, 2012
Kieran Nolan [IE]

"He watched the kids stand in front of the machines, their bony arms like umbilical cords joining human and machine. He asked the kids questions about what made a good game. Arawaka realized the most successful games had something that players couldn't articulate. The words used to describe them were usually reserved to describe forms of intimacy between people. It was as if the players and the game itself had somehow merged."

—Page 83, 'Game Over--Nintendo's battle to dominate video games', David Sheff, 1993, Coronet Books

Bionic Roshambo was built in 2002 as the practice based element of Kieran Nolan's MA in Interactive Media thesis. It explored the symbolism of the hand as a link between humans and machines, drawing upon a number of influences, including science fiction notions of human-machine hybridity, and custom arcade cabinet design. Essentially, it's a version of 'Rock, Paper, Scissors' that is controlled by hand gestures, providing the user with the sensation that they are truly interfaced and 'at one' with the machine. The project was initially focused more on technology than usability, but over time developed into the tailoring of an interface solution for a specific task, where the technology ended up enabling the idea, rather than overly influencing it. It uses a prototype arcade cabinet featuring a pair of custom-built glove controllers and runs on a standard PC. The controller interface is a hacked PC keyboard, modified to capture the three iconic hand gestures of 'rock', 'paper' and 'scissors'. The glove controller cords form a symbolic umbilical link between the game players and the arcade cabinet. What was achieved was a two-player arcade experience that takes a culturally transcending game concept, and translates it to the arcade gaming domain. The end result is an original approach to video gaming, and an engaging experience for users.

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