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August 12, 2013

Augmented reality game for Google Glass

First Glass MMO sees human players become Ants in ‘Swarm!’

By Ben Sullivan

An augmented reality massively multiplayer online (MMO) game for Google Glass has begun development, in which players become members of an ant colony and complete tasks as they go about their daily lives.

Swarm! is being developed by Daniel Estrada, a philosophy professor and Illinois State University, and Jonathan Lawhead of Columbia University. The game begins when players leave their house in the morning wearing Google Glass.

Data collected by GPS is then used to track players as they go about their daily business, with movements mapped out as trails on a map.

The idea behind the game is not to track people as such, but to see how much ground players cover in a day, where they spend most of their time and how these patterns fit around other players.

"Glass has challenged developers to think about social environments in a new way. A big part of that challenge is in helping people imagine how this technology will impact their daily lives in the near future," said Estrada.

"We’re both big believers in using games to facilitate the learning process, but Swarm! is more than just a game. It’s a framework for engaging the crowds as they navigate shared public spaces. Swarm! is a radical experiment in self-organisation.

‘Resource collection rate’ can be boosted by reinforcing trails already laid down by players in the same colony, but crossing trails of rival colonies could result in a loss of resources. Bonuses will be rewarded for spending more time in a certain place or adding photos to trails.

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Players are also encouraged to collectively identify, tag, and document points of interest in public spaces. Each individual can determine their own level of engagement throughout the day and interactions with other ants or in-game objects will be recorded automatically.

Swarm! will be released under an open-source license which can guarantee the reliability and safety of their code, said the developers.

"We’ve both spent the last few years studying complex systems, and that research has informed many aspects of Swarm!’s design. A real ant colony organises thousands of individuals to handle a diverse range of jobs, from cultivating food to building elaborate cities – and they do this all by leaving trails on the ground that record their activity," said Lawhead.

"No ant tells any other ant what to do or where to go, but they still manage to accomplish impressive feats of planning and coordination through highly organised collective action. Swarm! is an ant simulation game designed to help people understand how such a thing is possible

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