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This Is Your Game on Glass

This Is Your Game on Glass

Google gave devs a little taste of what Glass could do for gaming in an effort to encourage some brainstorming in that vein. It put together a bundle of five extremely simple titles -- Balance, Tennis, Clay Shooter, Shape Splitter and Match -- to demonstrate how different Glass features could be used in game play. Its goal may be less about gaming and more about Glass innovation, however.

By Peter Suciu
01/29/14 1:54 PM PT

Google on Monday announced that it had hacked together five simple games that take advantage of the unique features of Glass.

The company presented a brief demo of the five-title mashup as Mini Games Glassware, and it encouraged Glass developers to offer feedback.

Google emphasized that voice commands could minimize the time it would take a gamer to get into the action.

The sensors in Google Glass were used to create a playground for an intuitive user experience, the company said. The five games are the head-tilting Balance and Tennis, the voice-activated Clay Shooter, the hand-motion slicing Shape Splitter, and the memory-based Match.

All the games seemingly utilize the gyroscope and accelerometer functionality, as well as fairly basic development tools such as Min3D library, OpenGL and Box2D, and the AndEngine for physics and rendering.

"They have to set the bar low with tools that are easy to use, as not that many developers will build for it," independent video game analyst Billy Pidgeon told TechNewsWorld."This will open it up to a wider range of developers."

Showcasing New Functionality

These simple games may not exactly draw in hardcore players, or even cause ripples in the electronic entertainment industry as a whole, but rather could be used to show off Glass' potential.

"Google has hinted at developing their game efforts for years, but not much has materialized so far. Generally, gaming applications offer a unique way to introduce audiences to the functionality of new technology and software," Joost van Dreunen, Ph.D., cofounder of Super Data Research, told TechNewsWorld.

"Windows, for instance, had Mine Sweeper to familiarize people with the concept of point-and-click when graphic UI just came out," he recalled.

"Similarly, Angry Birds showed people how to swipe using the iPhone's touch-based interface," added van Dreunen.

"It makes sense for Google to use games to help popularize its glasses -- and considering its available massive cash reserves, I wouldn't be surprised if they'd offer to subsidize or even acquire specific game development," he said.

"However, it still won't likely become a critical component to its business," van Dreunen predicted. "I don't expect a huge investment beyond creating the necessary marketing push, and it certainly won't disrupt the current game market in a meaningful way in 2014."

New Interface

Google Glass could very well provide a very different interface -- one that might require a rethinking of how players interact with the experience.

"Google Glass is basically a head-mounted cellphone with a heads-up display and motion/voice interface. It could play games -- particularly augmented-reality games tied to the camera," said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.

"These would be very different and might require you move around a lot or use physical game pieces the camera can see," he speculated.

"In the current iteration, I'm not sure this will work all that well -- but as they improve the interface, camera and screen, you could do things that could be kind of amazing as you created a layer of imagination over reality," Enderle suggested.

Open Development

Developers aren't likely to flock to the platform without some strong encouragement, however.

"If it is serious about games, Google will have to actually sponsor some game development," said Pidgeon.

"There aren't enough Google Glass units out there, so it doesn't pay to develop for it right now. Until there are a lot of the units out there, Google will have to provide some financial incentives," he remarked.

"This is really about opening it up for other applications all together," Jim McGregor, founder and principal analyst at Tirias Research, told TechNewsWorld.

"Gaming is just a natural place to start when you think of the possibilities with augmented reality," he said. "Also, gaming has a large community of developers to kick-start the effort."

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