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Love is In the Air: Techies at NYU Show Their Love Wearing Video Game Fashions

It’s Valentine’s Day and love is in the air! As entrepreneurs and businesspeople busy schedules can sometime get in the way of love, but not for these folks.

Katherine Isbister research Director of New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering’s Game Innovation Lab and Resident Artist of the Lab, Kaho Abe, have created a video game that doubles as wearable technology. Sounds like nothing new, but the catch here is that you have to hold hands with someone to make the game work. So sweet.

Isbister and Abe will debut the Lightning Bug game today during their talk at IndiCade East, an international games conference and festival in Astoria, Queens, at the Museum of the Moving Image. In the game,  players represent the last remaining lightning bugs in a world consumed by pollution. They must cooperate with each other in order to fight against a virtual enemy of darkness.

Isbister, who is also associate professor in NYU’s School of Engineering’s Computer Science and Engineering Department, said at the Game Innovation Lab, she has found that the combination of an indie game designer and a human computer interaction researcher proves to be a powerful ability to create emotional and social experiences.

“We believe strongly that advances in interface technology, such as wearable game controllers, require partnerships between art and science like ours,” she said. “In our talk we will offer suggestions for how collaborators can help develop and fund games-we’ll also talk about how indie explorations might inform and inspire better technology for everyday life.”

Like much of the game’s research undertaken by Isbister and Abe during their two-year collaboration, this game emphasizes direct human interaction—as opposed to focusing on the screen—while it explores the potential of video games to affect emotions. Certain stances and physical activities are well documented for impacting emotions- the team expects that its wearable game controllers for Lightning Bug will provide an immersive video game experience that generates cooperation.

Abe said he believes I believe the game’s electronic-embedded costumes will help players take on roles with characteristics and behavior that they normally would not possess.

“When we play video games, we often play through characters in a story,” Abe said. “We control the avatars, create a relationship with them, and experience the game through them.”

There’s serious human science and engineering behind the game and wearable technology developed in Brooklyn. If you’re in the Queens area, I’m sure this will be a very interesting event to check out and  since the game requires physical contact it may not be a bad idea to bring your lover along.


By: Ashley Paintsil



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