May 15, 2006
RFID Snakes and Ladders
The Real World as Board for Online Game
RFID Snakes and Ladders is a giant game of snakes and ladders that shows how RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology can be used beyond the warehouse door. The game has been developed by new media company Blink and is being played at the Media Centre, Huddersfield, until June 2nd. It’s just like any other game of snakes and ladders, except the whole building – which is home to over 120 separate small businesses - becomes part of the game board.
First and foremost, RFID Snakes and Ladders is fun. Players are issued with a counter containing an RFID chip. All they have to do to get into the game is pass it in front of the giant dice and check how far they ‘rolled’ on a connected website. If they land at the bottom of the ladder, they pass their counter in front of the model ladder to climb it. If they hit the head of a snake, it’s a slippery slide unless they get to the model snake in time.
Models are placed at intersections around the Media Centre: in the entrance, the café bar and outside the lifts.
Players take a turn every three hours (unless they throw a six or land on a snake or a ladder, when they have to act quickly). In this way the game becomes part of the normal working day. Players might take a turn when they first arrive, another when they grab a coffee, and another at lunchtime. Playing takes just a few moments each day.
And if they land on a bonus square, they get a secret bonus prize. Players who reach the top square first win prizes from the centre’s Café Ollo menu.
RFID Snakes and Ladders is one of a number of experiments in mixed reality gaming, using the real world as the board for an online game, including Pac-Manhattan in New York and Mogi in Tokyo.
But it’s something more besides. It’s also a way of connecting people who may ostensibly inhabit the same location, but who often feel isolated from each other.
“After the Media Centre we hope to test the game in places where people are in danger of feeling cut off or lonely,” said Andrew Wilson of Blink Media. “For example in sheltered housing or the children’s ward of a hospital, where playing a simple, ongoing game with others might help to bring people together face to face.”
For more information on RFID Snakes and Ladders contact Andrew Wilson at Andrew[at]blinkmedia.org or 07980 224927.
Notes For Editors
Blink are a Huddersfield based company working with film, new media and mobile technology since 1999. Projects include the Guardian newspaper’s interactive SMS event in 2001, which taught the mainstream media how to use text messaging.
The Snakes and Ladders game programming and web design was by C.H.I.P.S. vzw (www.chipsvzw.be), new media specialists based in Antwerp, Belgium. In 2004 they created the SMS project STADSchromosomen for UNESCO’s World Book Capital Antwerp.
RFID hardware was designed and built by Daniel Blackburn of Carbon Based Games, Huddersfield. Daniel was recently awarded a two year Fellowship by the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA).
Illustrations were by Andy Sykes, an award winning illustrator and animator from Leeds. He has been awarded a Pocket Shorts commission to make a film for mobile phones, and the commissioned film won a runner up prize at the Texas DCI Mobile Content Festival and has been screened at festivals in Bristol, Rotterdam and San Francisco, as well as on BBC2's Homegrown Hollywood.
The Snakes and Ladders models were made by Richard Dawson, an experienced TV set designer who works on Casualty and Life on Mars.
Posted by jo at May 15, 2006 05:40 PM