I started thinking about something last night, and I don’t think it’s going to leave my brain until I take some action. This post may ramble, so hold onto something solid, or the topsy-turvy path of my stream of consciousness ride may cause some gastric discomfort.
Last night I downloaded an Star Trek PADD app for our iPad. It’s really cool if you are a fan of the show. Check it out if you are interested, but I’m only including it because it started me down this rabbit hole.
The Star Trek application is really just a database of information related to the show. I thought it would be fun to watch some episodes with my son and be able to access information as we were watching. I realized that this wasn’t a new concept at all, because when I was a teen, every summer I would read The Lord of the Rings and have not one, but two, LOTR reference books nearby so I could look up related characters and events as I read the book. Yes, I am a super nerd. Let’s move on.
This made me think how having this material, electronic or otherwise, enhanced or augmented my enjoyment of the primary entertainment source. It occurred to me that there could be a similar kind of augmented reality that could be implemented for physical board games. Maybe it’s already been done and I just can’t find a reference.
I’m not talking about a situation where a device would replace the physical aspect of a game. I love the game Ascension, but I see no reason to play it in any other form than on my iPhone. That application eliminated the need for the physical game, for me at least. I’m talking about taking an existing board game and augmented the game play experience by providing additional information through a device that takes sensory input from the physical game as it is played.
This input could provide something that applies directly to game play like keeping track of scores or the number of tiles remaining and so on, or it could just give interesting information about some aspect of the game, like the history of the region or that particular battle if it’s a wargame. It could just be entertaining like providing an animation of a battle, but I would rather it be something that actually gives me some kind of useful information, not just entertainment.
I think there should be something like this out there, and I know there are people out there much smarter than I am who could make it happen. I shouldn’t have to download sound effects to my iPhone so that I can generate the sound of a tie fighter when I’m playing the Star Wars X-Wing minis game. I should have something that could look at the playing field and make noises when I move my ship. How about some appropriate background music? I guess that’s just additional entertainment, so maybe I have to take back what I wrote earlier. How about an augmented reality view that would provide a tutorial for a new player that would show them all of the potential moves or options that they have?
What do you think? Has this already happened and I’ve missed out somehow?