Swarm! is a game concept for google glass designed by Jon Lawhead and Daniel Estrada
Swarm! is a Massively Multiplayer Online Augmented Reality Simulation (MMOARS) game in which you are an ant foraging, fighting, and working tirelessly for your Colony and your life! Designed exclusively for Glass, Swarm! can be played with minimal user input or updates while allowing for an immersive team gaming experience with surprising strategic depth. Swarm! takes full advantage of Glass’ innovative design to provide a glimpse not only of the future of social gaming, but perhaps the future of social organization itself.
And I’m Dan.
We’re the designers of Swarm!, a massively multiplayer simulation we’re developing exclusively for Google Glass.
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. 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-organization.
Swarm! samples GPS data to generate a record of critical aspects of the player’s daily routine. Players’ movement patterns are visualized as colorful trails on a map card, which Swarm! can push on request to your Glass display. These trails are designed so they can not be used to locate or track any individual uniquely. Instead, we’re interested in the broader patterns of behavior: How much ground do you cover on an average day? Where do you spend most of your time? How do those patterns intersect with everyone else’s, and so on.
Swarm gameplay is styled after many popular resource collection games. Traveling along the trail of a sister ant can boost your collection rate, but crossing the trail of a rival colony might cost you a day’s hard work. Spending an extended amount of time in some location or snapping a picture can also trigger bonuses or build in-game structures that further augment the dynamics of the map. Since Swarm! collects data periodically whether or not you engage the app, users can decide their own level of immersion while still contributing meaningfully to the game environment.
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 organizes 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. 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 organized collective action. Swarm! is an ant simulation game designed to help people understand how such a thing is possible.
Swarm encourages players to collectively identify, tag, and document points of interest in public spaces. When Jon and I described the game to Robert Scoble a few weeks ago, he told us that he’d love to see an app that gamified the process of tagging all the electrical outlets at the airport. That’s the system we’re hoping to build with Swarm!
We have partnered with Interdisciplined, a New York based education non-profit. We’ve planned to release Swarm! under an open source license, to ensure that the platform can be used for other distributed organizing projects, and to guarantee the reliability and safety of our code. We also hope that the trails generated by Swarm! players provide a rich source of user content that can inspire future developments of our digital world.
If you’d like to help this project come alive, we’re just getting started. If you are interested in contributing code or art to the project, or if you have ideas or questions about our design, please get in contact with us today! You’ll find links to our profiles and contact details in the information box below. You’ll also find a link to the game bible, where all your questions about Swarm!’s game design will be answered.
We’re also accepting financial contributions through the paypal link below; they will help cover development costs, including the purchase of the Glass unit we won through the #ifihadglass contest. We encourage people interested in tax exempt donations to contact us directly.
Thanks for your interest in Swarm! We hope you get involved, and we can’t wait to keep you updated you on the project!
See you in the future!
Read the whole game concept
please be aware that this app is not yet finished and only exists as a concept in the following paper and will most certainly change over time.
Swarm! needs you!