BBC Radio 1xtra Game by Auroch Digital Launches

Tuesday 18th March saw the release of new game by Radio 1xtra ‘Fire in the Booth’, developed by Auroch Digital. Released as part of the 1xtra ‘MC Week’ event and featuring voiceover by Radio 1xtra DJ Charlie Sloth and cameos from several other of the station's DJs. Fire in the Booth’ was announced live on air on Wednesday 19th March and is available to play free at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/1xtra/games/rapbattle/. Huge thanks to Force of Habit and Infinite Playground for their assistance with this project.

Fire in the Booth - Title Screen
Fire in the Booth - Ingame Action!
Fire in the Booth - Player vs Sarah Jane Crawford in a rap battle!

Royal Society invites online gamers to vote for their favourite science inspired game

Online gamers and visitors to the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition are today being invited to vote for their favourite science inspired game. Gamers will be able to play and then vote for one of four games developed at a 12 hour Game Jam hosted by the Royal Society in May. The Game Jam saw scientists taking part in this year’s Summer Science Exhibition team up with experienced games development studios to bring the science behind their exhibits to life.The games can be played online on the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition website or found as free PC downloads via the IndieCity website. They will also be available to play at special games stations throughout the Summer Science Exhibition at the Royal Society.

Players will be encouraged to vote for the game that they think is the most fun, playable and explains the science best. The game with the most votes will receive funding to be developed further - perhaps by adding another level or extra characters or making it available on more devices. Voting closes on Sunday 7th July. The games competing for further funding are:

  • A Pinch of Salt: an ocean set 3D game which sees players pilot an ocean glider and measuring sea salt and trying to cover as much ground as possible in a limited time, developed by Kanko and the University of East Anglia.
  • Cell Invaders: a puzzle-action game exploring the complex life of sugars, developed by Robin Baumgarten, Gorm Lai, Benjamin Donoghue and the University of Manchester.
  • Out Both Ends: a biomedical puzzle game about identifying the source of an outbreak of disease, developed by Opposable Games, Force of Habit and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.
  • Quantum Revolution: an excitement packed space shooter game based on quantum physics, developed by Bossa Studios and Toshiba Research Europe Ltd.

Professor Peter Sadler FRS, chair of the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition selecting committee, said: “We’re delighted that our first ever Summer Science Exhibition Game Jam was such a success. It was great to see the enthusiasm with which scientists and developers alike approached the gruelling 12 hour Game Jam. The games that they were able to develop in such a short time are absolutely fantastic. The Summer Science Exhibition is all about communicating the wonders of science to the public in new and exciting ways. I’ve certainly had a wonderful time trying out all of the games and I look forward to seeing which game triumphs in the public vote!”

Unity Technologies, a games development software company, has supported the Royal Society in designing and running the Game Jam, through Unity, the flexible and high-performance development platform used to make creative and intelligent interactive 3D and 2D experiences. The Royal Society is partnering with indie game distribution portal, IndieCity, to share the games produced at the jam. The vote’s Twitter hashtag is #RSgamejam

Auroch Digital produced the event and also developed a game for one of the exhibitions, Zombeetle & The Fossil Colour Quest.

 Zombeetle and the Fossil Colour Quest

All About the 'Gamify Your PhD' Project

Gamify Your PhD was a project conceived and produced by Auroch Digital for the Wellcome Trust.  In this project the scientists will became the game designers.  To show scientists how one might gamify science we assembled the team of MobilePie, Wired and the Wellcome Trust to create this guide to designing games (complete with mini-games):

Wired wrote a great article about the project:

The Wellcome Trust has launched an initiative -- called Gamify Your PhD -- to bring together researchers with developers in order to create games that explore the latest developments in biomedicine.

Researchers are invited to send their ideas about how their PhD research could be illustrated through a game. In order to inspire them, Mobile Pie (with the advice of Wired.co.uk editor Nate Lanxon) has created an interactive embeddable guide to basic gaming mechanics, featuring 16-bit minigames. These include a Darwin-inspired survival-of-the-fittest pigeon game, a Mendel genetics puzzle game, a game based on Asch's work on conformity and a Newton-targeting apple physics game.

Meanwhile, teams of three or four game developers are invited to apply to join a game-hack in London in September in order to bring the researchers' ideas to life. Each team must have all the necessary skills to create a prototype game in two days -- design, code, art and audio -- plus their own equipment. The best team will receive funding to develop their idea into a releasable game.

Where they quoted Auroch Digital's Tomas Rawlings:

The initiative is the brainchild of Wellcome Trust's gaming consultant Tomas Rawlings, who said: "Science and games are a natural fit, both are about the participant seeking to understand the rules that govern the world they find themselves within and achieving this by experiments such as trial-and-error. Gamify your PhD is an exciting twist and evolution of these areas."

Here is the official press release:

The Wellcome Trust invites researchers to gamify their PhDs
11 July 2012: An innovative new way of communicating science research launches today with Gamify your PhD, a project from the Wellcome Trust which brings together researchers and games developers to create new games exploring and explaining the latest developments in biomedicine.The Trust is inviting researchers to share ideas for games based on their PhD work in biomedical science or the medical humanities, and small teams of games developers to turn these ideas into addictive, challenging and educational games.  Those selected will partner at a two day hack in which the games will be created.

The best of these will receive funding to develop into a releasable game.To help inspire ideas and give researchers a flavour of what's possible a web-app http://www.wellcome.ac.uk/gamify, developed by Mobile Pie, has been commissioned, offering an interactive and fully embeddable guide to the nuts and bolts of mechanics and motivation that lie behind successful game design.  The web-app also features sample 16bit mini games to illustrate the different elements of gaming, including a Darwin inspired survival of the fittest pigeon game, a Mendel genetics puzzle game, a game based on Asch's work on conformity, and a Newton-targeting apple game.Gamify your PhD is part of a wider commitment by the Wellcome Trust to using games and gaming culture as a means of engaging people with science.  A range of awards schemes is open to developers interested in creating innovative, entertaining and accessible games based around biomedicine and medical history.Daniel Glaser, Head of Special Projects at the Wellcome Trust said: "The engaged researcher has lots to learn from gaming and game design can benefit hugely from the latest scientific advances. That's why the Wellcome Trust is throwing its weight behind this innovative interaction.

Today's brightest researchers understand that science does not take place in a vacuum and the best research can engage with the most popular culture. I'm very curious to find out what these teams will come up with."Tomas Rawlings, the Wellcome Trust's gaming consultant said: "Science and games are a natural fit, both are about the participant seeking to understand the rules that govern the world they find themselves within and achieving this by experiments such as trial-and-error. Gamify your PhD is an exciting twist and evolution of these areas."The deadline for applications from researchers and developers is 12 August, and the games hack will take place between the 3-4 September 2012. The resulting games will be made available online.  All details about the scheme and the web-app guide to gaming can be found at www.wellcome.ac.uk/gamify

The project's twitter hashtag is #gamifyyourphd

So the event got lots of interest via twitter (you can see a sample here). Plus we've been getting some great press coverage pre-the actual jam of it including:

Auroch at Crossover Summit/DocFest

Tomas was curating/sharing a panel discussion at this year's Crossover Summit as part of DocFest for the Wellcome Trust.  Here is the panel information:

Exploiting the Feedback Loop

Tom Rawlings (Chair) / Jon Dovey (DCRC) / Kate Quilton (Channel 4)

Games like Bejeweled, Draw Something or Words with Friends are not one-off media events, but are on-going almost living entities. Being connected to the network they can collect huge amounts of data from players and so feed back to the designers which elements work and which do not. This allows them to respond, changing and improving the project in response. But while this ‘bio-media model’ clearly works for video games, can it work for filmmakers? By seeing video as data, a number of media thinkers are increasingly challenging the view that a film has to be a one off creation.

Plus there are some notes from the discussion online too:

The idea for the session is rooted in biological processes that happen around us (and in us!) everyday. For example, the image (right) is of 6 linked insulin molecules.

Computer-generated image of six insulin molecules assembled in a hexamer. (Source, Wikipedia)

These are part of a number of biological systems we have that together make up our homeostatic systems. This is a series of monitoring and control systems that measure various facets of the body (blood sugar, temperature etc) via feedback loops and trigger the body to respond to external and internal changes. So while the body is striving to keep a form of stasis (being alive!) the chemical composition of the body is in a state of constant flux.

There are similar ideas going on in how we create, consume and develop media. This biomedia approach sees the media form itself and something in flux, connected and responding to feedback loops. It sees media artefacts themselves (games, films, novels etc) as being part of (and evolving within) a complex ecosystem, a media ecology. ...

There is more here.

All About the Filth Fair

Filth Fair is a great little word puzzle game that we've been producing for the Wellcome Trust to tie in with their 

Dirt season

.  It's been developed by 

Toytek

.  The game is for iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch and the Web (as a Flash game).  Here's a screenshot from the game:

The best way to see the game is to play it!

Filth Fair Web Version

There is also a Facebook fan-page here, http://on.fb.me/filthfair. The aim of the game is to find and uncover 331 hidden words from within a huge (and real, not digital) detailed and amazing painting by cult artist Mike Wilks.   Here is a preview trailer for the game:

And some fun blurb written for the game:

Roll Up! Roll Up! The Filth Fair is Coming to Town!

For many months now Wellcome and Toytek have been building an experience that explores the issue of 'Dirt'. Yes, Dirt!  As part of the upcoming season by the Wellcome Trust, a veritable cornucopia of delights especially prepared for your delectation and amusement (and disgust!) is currently under construction.  Once completed in March this year, the Filth Fair game will be unleashed to infect the delicate sensitivities of gentle-folk.  This game takes the form of an “eye Pad”, “eye Phone” or “eye Pod Touch” iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch and alsotelegraphonic web game of hidden words and meanings. Central to this gaming experience is a huge painting by Mike Wilks, a noted and famous artist for his 1886 1986 bestselling book ‘The Ultimate Alphabet’.  This game has over 300 hidden words buried in objects.  The player's task is to find and identify all the words. It can be done via cryptic clues, descriptive clues or word-substitution.  Prizes and awards, not to mention acclaim, awaits those who can identify all of the objects within the Filth Fair.  Entrance to the Filth Fair will be free!  Visitors are advised to bring an active curiosity and a strong stomach.

Also of interest to the many visitors is the display of craftsmanship that has gone into the creation of the Filth Fair.  The central painting is not some digital-virtual hocus-pocus – oh no!  The central painting is a real painting, painted by a real painter!  Oh yes, this marvel has been rendered using non-digital paint on a non-virtual canvas in a real London studio.  Be ready to marvel at the “real made digital” before your very eyes!

Those curious to see the many sights and puzzles of the Filth Fair and those wishing to compose strong disapproving letters to their local newspaper about it's imminent arrival are advised to follow the Wellcome “Twitter” musings http://twitter.com/wellcometrust and/or to sign up to the “Face Book” page;http://on.fb.me/filthfair

Previews We had previews in GamezeboPocket Gamer9cheats.comursegames.comTouchaholics and Metro:

Filth Fair in Metro

Making of Filth Fair Video We also produced a short film about the creative process going from a physical paintning by Mike Wilks to a digital game. This was featured by Pocket GamerDesign Week and on the Wellcome Collection site.  Here is the video:


Post-launch

Once the game came out, a few rejections by Apple over content while getting passed became news about the app (and also here too).  We also got reviews at Gamezebo and on 148apps.  We got a great 9/10 review on the blog NiveOverTen. There is also a big article about the game at the Wellcome blog, looking at how the idea came to be:

We wanted to create game that everyone could explore at their own level, and looked long and hard to find the right people with the right approach. What emerged from this process is a puzzle/trivia word game developed by Guildford-based developers Toytek. They had already received a degree of acclaim for their work on The Ultimate Alphabet app, so we took the core idea for this game and made it, well, dirtier.

The final result is an amazing central image, which comes from a real painting by cult artist Mike Wilks. The richness of the image meant that we could place objects in the image that were also in the exhibition, so linking the two experiences. Mike took ideas and objects from the Wellcome Library (including objects that are in the Dirt exhibition) and worked them into a collage of themes and colours. Being able to make these part of a game is especially nice because much of the content we consume nowadays is created and delivered in the digital realm.

Straight after launch the game went to No.1 in the US iTunes Store for Education and Trivia.  In the UK it was 24 and 13 for the same categories.  It got a great write up in Design Week:

It’s a captivating image that you could pore over for hours, even without the competitive element, and a great way to get people engaged with the exhibition’s theme and objects