AC – Interactive entertainment

Richard Marks, Sony Computer Entertainment America. Talk title: You are Player One: User Interfaces in Interactive Entertainment.

The interfaces in interactive entertainment are changing–there’s a revolution happening because interface has become one of the limiting factors for how people are interacting with games. Describe a game interface: fun, intuitive, interactive, flexible, enabling, fun!

The games industry is BIG. For the last 2 years, revenue eclipsed total box office from the movie industry. PlayStation R&D: focus is 0-5 years, their job is to improve existing experiences and to enable new experiences. “We don’t make games, we make them better.” They give game developers the tools to use for creation. The R&D group cycle: 2-3 years research. Focuses on 5 year look-ahead. Talked about a push strategy: pushing technology no game developer is asking for. Example is the EyeToy.

Future game interfaces: want to give users more ways to input data. Inertial sensors, touch, video, voice recognition. Video interface: replace/augment the joystick with a camera, enhanced reality mixing video and computer graphics together. Real-time motion capture.

EyeToy was the result of four years of research. So far, they’ve shipped 5M units. EyeToy: Play, very social game, not too serious, easy to jump in and play. Technology motion detection, color segmentation, freeform mouse like input (like in Minority Report), face detection, face tracking are all things they’re working on for the future. Showed a demo of a mouse that allows you to interact with content on a video screen (it’s an input devise). Was exactly like Minority Report. Very cool. Much more effective in interacting with video menus than with a remote.

Just around the corner, more possibilities with mobile systems. PlayStation + camera. Per pixel distance (tracking how far away people are from objects). Allows mixing of live video with computer graphics. Imagine a virtual butterfly sitting in your hand as you move your hand up and down. Or another example, imagine playing virtual handball. You need a way to see the ball coming toward you. Fascinating technology they’re working on.

Concluding remarks: interface is a key element of design, entertainment is a great way to try new technoogy, a revolution is underway. All this type of big computing power will be available in people’s pocket. This was an excellent talk.