July 21, 2010

600-Player Pong at FITC San Francisco

on tuesday august 17 at fitc san francisco, i'll be unveiling MegaPong, a realtime, massively multiplayer version of the classic video-game, Pong. the expected audience of 600 will be split into two 300-person teams. players will use their cell phones as game controllers to collectively control their team's Pong paddle.

this will be the first time in history an audience of this size will play Pong collaboratively using cell phones, so we'll try out a few modes and see how it feels.

the next day, on wednesday august 18, the same audience will compete for prizes in a 600-player game of trivia. both MegaPong and trivia are powered by MegaPhone and Union, which i'll be discussing in my presentation at the conference.

to give credit where it's due, as long ago as 1991, at SIGGRAPH loren carpenter also presented massively multiplayer pong to an audience of 5000 using an object-recognition system called cinematrix. the audience used painted wooden sticks as controllers.

beyond the specific example of Pong, what really excites us about the upcoming FITC demo is:

1) MegaPhone, the software that runs MegaPong, is available as an SDK that any Flash developer can use to make crowd games. the SDK uses just a few simple events to send aggregated inputs from thousands of phones to the Flash .swf running on the big screen. the screen can then use that data to generate any custom game or crowd experience.

2) by using a cell phone as a controller, the audience can supply very rich inputs, including accelerometer and custom touch interfaces on smart phones. and, of course, everyone shows up with their controller already in their pocket.

fitc san francisco looks like it's going to be an incredible event. there's something special about the list of old and new flash community talent gathering where it all started a decade ago. if you're thinking of attending, i'd pick up a ticket soon...it's a small venue, so seating is limited to only 600 attendees (use the code 'moock' for an extra 10% off ticket prices).

hope to see you there!

Posted by moock at 03:15 PM