Shadow Showdown is a playful installation built on interaction between people in the physical realm. The installation challenges participants to fill a projected shape with the silhouettes of their bodies. It is a competitive and collaborative digital game reliant on spontaneous, surprising, awkward and fun whole-body interactions.
Many commercial computer games are a spectacle of realism and complexity (Dormans, J. (2011). Beyond iconic simulation. Simulation & Gaming, 42(5), 610-631). But digital games are capable of considering a range of player expressions and impressions that speak not through simulation but through exploration. Shadow Showdown is an exploration of the body in both digital and physical space. The installation facilitates rather than dictates the playerís experience, yet inherently drives the player to push boundaries and confront the capacity of his/her own body. Media as cultural artifacts challenge the established/default values we as society and individuals conform to, and aspire for contemplation over emulation. In interactive media, the participantís role can be one of discovery.
Shadow Showdown follows a trajectory of games which are based on whole-body interactions, such as Ninja Shadow Warrior by Kaho Abe, Tweetris developed in-part by OCAD University, Perfect Woman by Lea Schoenfelder and Peter Lu, and Mega GIRP by Douglas Wilson, a physical implementation of Bennett Foddy's digital rock climbing simulation. These works challenge the player to understand his/her bodyís relationship to space, to physical and digital objects, and to other players' bodies.
Shadow Showdown utilises whole-body interaction with a natural user interface. Players enter this space and are immediately able to navigate and play the game by using hand and arm gestures as well as body movements in space. The installation gathers the body shapes and displays them on screen as silhouettes. The playerís goal is to fit their silhouettes into the projected shapes within an allocated time slot. Once the timer has finished, the installation displays how well the players performed at completing their goal. Depending on the silhouette shape, and in the short time available per level, the space gets quite crowded and all kinds of planned, spontaneous and awkward interactions between players occur.
The difficulty and playfulness lies within the positions the participants have to put themselves in as an attempt to gain the closest similarity to the target silhouette shape and to achieve the best hiscore. Participants are encouraged to use the aid of other peopleís silhouettes with the likelihood to cooperatively complete their intended goal. There is also the option of competitively battling as teams on different campaigns comprised of selected shapes.
The interpretation of the 2D shadow images allow for personal expression and exploration into completing the objectives. The challenges of the game are unprescribed, and open enough for players to interpret and explore what to do and how to do it. The challenges genuine - there are no perfect or pre-made solutions. The installation locates and situates itself, and its play depends on the respective physical and social circumstances and settings the game is played-in.
The installation is aimed at casual (not hardcore) gamers, willing to play and collaborate with friends and strangers in a (semi-) public space.
Creativity&Cognition (C&C) 2013, Sydney, Australia, Jun 17-20, 2013
IE 2013, Melbourne, Australia, Sep 30-Oct 1, 2013
ISEA 2014, Dubai, UAE, Oct 30-Nov 8, 2014
Jenna Gavin, Matthew Martin, Daniel Cermak-Sassenrath. Shadow Showdown. Installation. Creativity&Cognition (C&C) 2013, Sydney, Australia, Jun 17-20, 2013.
Jenna Gavin, Matthew Martin, Daniel Cermak-Sassenrath. Shadow Showdown. Installation. The 9th Australasian Conference on Interactive Entertainment (IE 2013): Matters of Life and Death, Melbourne, Australia, Sep 30-Oct 1, 2013.
Daniel Cermak-Sassenrath, Jenna Gavin, Matthew Martin. Shadow Showdown. Installation. Shown at Cut&Paste event, 14 March 2014, Auckland, NZ.
Matthew Martin, Jenna Gavin, Daniel Cermak-Sassenrath. Shadow Showdown. Installation. 20th International Symposium on Electronic Art (ISEA) 2014, Dubai, UAE, Oct 30-Nov 8, 2014.