Overview: Atomic Vacation is a narrative game for virtual reality
/ Surreal landscapes explorations / Narrative Game/Poetic Puzzles
Core Gameplay Mechanics Brief
2.Interact with landscape to access story (narrative and database elements)
3.Take snapshots of the journey to share.
4. Complete language related tasks and “puzzles” in each scene.
1. Gone Home
Narrative game with a game mechanics consisting of user exploration of a place and interaction with objects.
2. Don’t Touch The Button
Game for Oculus Rift: you are locked in a room and must use various tools to find information and unlock different experiences e.g. hammer, number codes, screwdriver, color codes, etc.
3. Turing Test: Can Machines Think
Turing’s Imitation Game was never a test as to whether machines can think, it is a test to see what we humans think passes as human. Like Turing’s test, the puzzles in this game involve written language. How does one fail the test? Oppenheimer says that there are acts which although they would not destroy the human race, they would make anyone who remains wonder whether there were anything “human left.” This point will be made overtly in the first scene.
The Elevator Pitch
Atomic Vacation is a compelling, futuristic narrative game for VR. Through exploration and interaction with data objects, the visual representation of a robot girl’s memory banks, the user helps Shizuku, the last sentient survivor of a nuclear apocalypse on Earth, recall her memories of that place and her unusual relationship to the woman scientist charged with teaching her how to be “human.”
Project Description (Brief)
Atomic Vacation is an exploratory landscape narrative game for Oculus Rift that tells the story of Shizuku, a little Japanese robot girl, from a near post-apocalyptic future, the lone inhabitant of a rocket ship on a mission to find inhabitable planets. It offers a significant transmedia component: the online website www.atomicvacation.com that will contain an interactive data visualization of Shizuku’s memory banks, a user-generated archive, and a souvenir shop. Optimally, these will be displayed in an art installation that uses documentation and memorabilia from my own “atomic vacation” through Japan and the American West as well as a video of my interview with Hiroshi Ishiguro’s lifelike androids about various aspects related to how we conceive of someone being “human” (filming planned for early spring 2017).
Atomic Vacation takes its inspiration from Alan Turing’s “Imitation Game” which was not really about whether machines can think, but rather a test of what humans conceive of as “passing” as human. Like the Imitation Game, Atomic Vacation uses written language, in the form of language games, to offer player’s a kind of Turing Test. Atomic Vacation uses both narrative content and game mechanics to challenge players to think about what it means to be human in an increasingly computer mediated and virtual world, and to consider the role of language in limiting or expanding our view and in making sense of things.
What sets this project apart?
Profound and compelling ideas presented in an accessible game setting
Language games are distinctly rare especially in VR
Transmedia: online map, “souvenir” store, possibly art installation
Core Gameplay Mechanics
1. Exploration *** part of all environments
User movement is free, but confined to a domestic interior in Scene 1. In scene 2, it is not constricted, but it is endless, directionless darkness, until one illuminates words, which both creates orientation and a lit passage to the next environment. Scene 3 allows the user to walk down a seemingly endless desert highway shooting things. Scene 4 allows slow movement through a semiabstract decimated landscape or one can move faster in a bird’s eye view but, less detail is seen. Scene 5: movement restricted—on a platform in deep space surrounded by vintage postcards of Earth. >
2. Take a photo ***part of all environments
In each environment, the user is encouraged to take souvenir snapshots. These can be used for orienting the user in the landscape (with the help of the online mind-map) or can be sent to friends and will be archived online with the mind map at atomicvacation.com. In scene 4, the user will see poetry scrolling across the sky with clouds both moving supernaturally fast. The only way to read these words (computer-human hybrid poetry) is by taking a picture.
Scene Specific Mechanics:
4. Interaction with Data Objects: Scene 1 and 5
In scene 1, the user’s primary interaction with the environment is through game objects which the user brings closer, “opens” and accesses via sustained gaze on a target.
In scene 5, the user uses gaze to open up banal Youtube videos of “the real” places e.g. Rehoboth beach.
5. Word Maze: Scene 2
In Scene 2: The user is in the dark, unable to move. Her gaze is like a flashlight, it can illuminate words in the dark. By keeping her gaze a word for a few seconds, she causes it to be illuminated. Using the light from these words or from her flashlight, she can make her way through the maze created by the words to reach the center where the final word “rainbow and teardrop” can be found and collected. A voiceover reads Turing’s Imitation Game paper while the user plays.
6. FPS— destroy boxes with a flamethrower: Scene 3
In Scene 3: the user operates a flame thrower to evaporate rotating cubes printed with major categories of human thought like “Science” and “Sex”. Smoke floats up bringing with it spoken words of poetry related in some way to the topic.
7. Collect fragments of poetry and make a poem :Scene 4
Users collect five fragments of computer-human poetry in a bleak, post apocalyptic black, white and gray landscape. The user will be asked to take a snap and share it.
8. Bonus Scene: Planting Rainbow Teardrops Initiates an Animation:
If the player collects at least 3 of the teardrops, after the last environment, the postcards will crumble, she will be floating in space above the world and can sprinkle her rainbow teardrops on the Earth. This causes a beautiful animation to begin.