The Waiting Game

Maybe it’s because I’m in Big Games or maybe I’m just on a gaming bend, but I’ve been working on developing another game as well. For our class in Spatial Media, my friend and I decided to build a spatially aware installation called the Waiting Game to help pass the time for those people stuck in line at some location.

During the design process we considered the different types of places and experiences you might have at those places while waiting in line. My friend Mark Kleback and I were originally inspired by the long lines at the Post Office near NYU, but we quickly decided against designing any interaction for the Post Office simply because the space was so charged as it is that an interactive game might inflame passions rather than provide a fun diversion.

So instead we set our eyes upon the waiting lines at check-in counters at the airport, specifically JFK’s JetBlue check-in terminals. Mind you, we love JetBlue, but we could do with waiting less in line anywhere. So with this in mind we designed a simple interactive piece where little airplanes would take off at the beginning of the line and fly in determined flightpaths through the line and then land in the end while circumventing objects along the path.

Mockup of our waiting line game
This Sketchup mockup made by Mark Kleback details how we envisioned the game to be played by travelers waiting in line at the check-in counter.

Using the Kinect we tracked people as they walked through the line and had the planes divert around the object until they could return to their flight plans. Travelers can interact with the planes by sticking out their hands and feet and gently guiding the planes through the line. The code has a few bugs that we need to fix, but for the most part the code works wonderfully. Unfortunately due to bad projector selection we had to scale down our design as you can see in the video below. With the right equipment however we don’t see any reason why we couldn’t implement this at JFK.

The code was written with OpenFrameworks and OpenCV. You can find the code online on github.