SceneSampler is a collaborative game for two. The game invites people to move through the festival in ways that they wouldn’t otherwise, and captures traces that give a feel for the flavor of the experience of the ‘scene’ over time. Each player gets a tech-enabled prop: one wears a ‘camera’ with an embedded tablet and the other carries a sound ‘sampler’ built using Adafruit components. Players get collection challenges –e.g. find a silent crowd– that require them to collaborate to fill up the sampler with the ambient noise at the scene, and to take a snapshot of the scene itself. Then, they return to home base to share what they found with a human game master. Successful samples are marked on a map of the festival’s space with a sticker for that particular challenge. Over time, the map builds up a layer of stickers, visualizing a meaningful social soundscape of the festival. Images taken are also uploaded onto social media for interested festival goers to see the locations of various social sounds. Players can take on as many challenges as they like, and when they’re done, can pose for a group picture with a placard showing their accomplishments, which also goes into the social media stream. SceneSampler gives players a fun reason to move together through the social space, that also captures interesting traces of the sociospatial scene of the festival.
SceneSampler is one of the designs produced by the Social Emotional Technology Lab at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where students, designers, and researchers create technology that augment, supports, and enrich social interaction. SceneSampler is in particular part of the project Social Wearables, where we design and prototype with wearable technology. Since early in the design process, our team has been using wearable physical prototyping kits, like those provided by Adafruit. This has allowed us to try different positions of our sensing and actuating devices, worn and integrated in clothes, but also on other objects, like in the current prototypes.
SceneSampler pushes the boundaries of local multi-player games. We’ve created our own gadgets –a wearable ‘camera’ and a handheld sound ‘sampler’– that players use collaboratively to capture brief slices of the scene (people hanging out, enjoying games, catching up) as the festival goes on. The core mechanic –seeking out particular kinds of sounds– pushes players to move around together in the social space in a playful way that’s different than they might otherwise. The game leaves traces of the festival in the form of player snapshots shared digitally –these create a secondary kind of play in the social media surrounding the festival. Overall, SceneSampler is meant to enhance the social experience of being at a game festival like IndieCade, making a game of exploring the human landscape and capturing moments for others to enjoy and remember.
Often local multi-player games put players’ attention on the screen, rather than on each other or the world around them. SceneSampler is meant to invite players deeper into the festival scene, giving them a pretext for scouting out different social situations around them. It’s also designed to capture bits and pieces of the social atmosphere of the festival in a different way than roving photographers or photos of friends. The general ethos of our team is finding ways to deepen and augment everyday social connection and pleasure using games and playful technologies. Ideally, SceneSampler gets people deeper into the social experience of a festival –having more fun, encountering people they wouldn’t otherwise, and feeling more a part of things.
Producer and Research Director: Katherine Isbister
Design and Research Lead: Elena Márquez Segura
Lead Game Technologist and Video Production: Jared Pettitt
Game Technologists and Designers: Jared Pettit, James Fey, Edward Melcer, and Samvid Niravbhai Jhaveri
Research, Staging, and Playtesting: Edward Melcer, Elena Márquez Segura, James Fey, Jared Pettitt, and Samvid Niravbhai Jhaveri