Critical Hitted

Critical Hit

Tonight was the final showcase of this year’s Critical Hit here in Montréal. Critical Hit is one of the many excellent things going on around games in this city – a game incubator premised on short-cycle prototyping projects by teams of makers, culminating in a very-slightly-longer prototyping cycle for the showcase. This year’s theme was ‘wearables’ or, more generally, physical interfaces for games/game-like-things.

I was one of the mentors and was fortunate enough to discuss the final projects with three of the teams. That involved giving some thoughts and ‘advice’, but mostly just being impressed and enthused by what they were trying to do in their work.

Funnily enough, I didn’t actually get to play any of the games this evening at the showcase, but I’d had experiences of some of them in different states and can safely say they all have some very interesting qualities. Such as…

(Un)done – particularly interesting for the investment of emotional energy into the act of tying and untying cords between yourself and your partner, the untying feels particularly poignant. (Also the writing is really good, and the aesthetics of the wearables and environment are beautiful.)

We’re fine. We’re going to be fine (I’m concerned I’ve got the title slightly wrong there.) – works hard to make hand-holding an active part of play, and succeeds. One of the best experiences of simply listening to someone else speaking about themselves. Also the physical board object that is the centre of the game is very, very impressive.

W.U.R.M.: Escape From a Dying Star – A game in which a ‘Houston’ character and an astronaut collaborate to… try not to die. I really like the avid focus on making an exciting and confusing experience of playing with diverse physical inputs, like switches, sliders, video communication, audio, connecting electrodes, and more. I really like the abandon with which the many physical elements were all combined to create an experience.

Shoal – The game I have the least experience with, though I did briefly play with it this evening. I think the casualness with which one can enter and exit play is very well done. The game is a projected ‘pool’ in which you can create and interact with ‘fish’ using hand gestures (interpreted by a Kinect). For a tech-heavy piece of work, it manages to feel quite naturalistic.

That’s it. They’re probably coming to a festival near you, I imagine, so look out for them all!


20 August 2015
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