Academic Research

I’m kicking things off here with some academic research. I found 30 papers that seemed relevant to Project Familiar at first glance. I then filtered through those and picked the most relevant ones.

1: Augmented Reality for Board Games

This paper described a small project where Augmented Reality was applied to the classic board game Monopoly in a fairly basic, but adaptable way. The authors created software that could augment the playing pieces in the game by detecting their location on the board. They were able to recognize the board itself using natural features of the board, and then detected each pawn using their colors, and found this to be a simple but effective way to improve immersion. For Project Familiar, this is a fairly helpful conclusion drawn 

2: Designing an Augmented Reality Board Game with children: The BattleBoard 3D Experience

The authors of this paper designed an augmented reality board game with the goal of determining which features of board games and video games leant themselves best to such a project. Using head-mounted devices, they augment markers made out of Lego with digital Lego characters. Moving two markers next to each other combines the markers, causing the two characters to engage in battle. They found that, with improvement, this could be a feasible type of game. Players were clumsy trying to use the device and the game itself, though part of that may have been due to using 2004-era head-mounted devices, rather than a mobile phone. They also noted that players engaged more with the physical pieces, doing things like pushing pieces they defeat out of the way with their own piece. I think the combined markers is an interesting idea, but not super useful. The findings regarding clumsiness will be good to keep in mind, especially since I’ve noted similar issues with handheld AR, but the physical engagement is a particularly helpful thing to note.

3: Art of Defense: a collaborative handheld augmented reality board game

In 2009, the authors of this article created an AR board game called Art of Defense.Their goal was to explore the impact of AR with handheld devices on social gaming – specifically, collaborative play, which is a big part of most TTRPGs. They noted that the viewing area on their devices was smaller than they would have liked, a problem that can still be relevant today. Most displays are much larger than they were in 2009, but phone displays are still often too small to see everything a user may want to. They designed their game to be a tower defense game, in order to avoid direct micro-interaction with purely-digital components of the game. They ensured the game moved at a moderate pace to avoid rapidly pressing too many buttons, which can be clumsy on handheld devices. They found that people enjoyed the game, particular tangible pieces and the impact of AR on cooperative play. They also found that the AR components were simultaneously liked AND disliked. Players felt it added immersion, but also could be frustrating due to holding the device being clunky and occluding the game. Their findings, I think, are incredibly valuable to Project Familiar. They reinforced the notion that physical pieces and physical interaction are enjoyable, but their findings regarding reinforcing cooperative play are also impactful. Their concerns regarding handheld devices are also valid concerns that I will need to build around and attempt to alleviate.

4: Chores Are Fun: Understanding Social Play in Board Games for Digital Tabletop Game Design

This work discusses a part of tabletop gaming they dubbed “chores” – bookkeeping and decision tasks that often require extra brainpower and slow the game down. Doesn’t that sound… Familiar? These are a subset of the problems I’m aiming to solve, and the authors argue that performing these tasks is vital to maintaining a fun, social environment at the table. They split many tasks in the game into several categories, such as “chores” or “strategy,” and describe what players are doing while performing these tasks. They analyzed several players participating in board and tabletop games and found that, while doing chores, players were constantly interacting. They were cracking jokes, discussing rules, and keeping focus on each themselves and the game. This paper is a good reminder that I need to be careful about what I do and don’t virtualize. Some of the tasks they discuss were things I had never considered digitizing, but I had not considered the impact Project Familiar may have on the micro-social interactions occurring throughout this phase. Could the app be distracting? Could it lead to worse visualization? This paper raises a lot of important questions to keep in mind throughout my work on this project.

5: To Virtualize or Not? The Importance of Physical and Virtual Components in Augmented Reality Board Games

The authors of this paper used Augmented Reality to augment the popular board game Settlers of Catan to examine how that affected players’ enjoyment. Specifically, they tested how players reacted to the impact AR had on non-game actions like setup and sorting cards. These are similar to the aforementioned “chores,” but are less directly involved in the game. To test this, they compared three versions of Settlers: the purely-physical base game, a version of the game that had AR components, and a purely-digital phone version of the game. They had groups play the game and rate their experiences in a followup survey, rating factors such as “Perceived Usability,” “Aesthetics,” and “Empathy” on a 1-5 scale. They found that the tangible AR version of the game performed better than the others across the board – rating higher than the other versions in every category (except one: negative feelings, the only strictly negative category measured). One particularly noteworthy result, for me, was that players rated “Focused Attention” almost .8 points higher on average for the tangible AR version than for the classic version. One of my largest concerns regarding AR for board game had been affecting focus, and this alleviates that to some extent. However, it appears that their AR used a camera and projector rather than a handheld device, which may affect that variable.

Other Works

  • Occlusion based interaction methods for tangible augmented reality environments
  • AR Chinese Checkers
  • Tangible Augmented Reality for Computer Games
  • Tankwar – Tabletop war gaming in augmented reality
  • Case Studies on the Development of Games Using Augmented Reality
  • Multimodal augmented reality tangible gaming
  • A Useful Visualization Technique: A Literature Review for Augmented Reality and its Application, limitation & future direction
  • Using Unity 3D to facilitate mobile augmented reality game development
  • Collaborative learning through augmented reality role playing
  • Augmented Reality Simulations on Handheld Computers
  • Alienation and the Game Dungeons and Dragons
  • Needs Met Through Role-Playing Games: A Fantasy Theme Analysis of Dungeons & Dragons
  • Second Person: Role-Playing and Story in Games and Playable Media
  • TARBoard: Tangible Augmented Reality System for Table-top Game Environment
  • Shape Recognition and Pose Estimation for Mobile Augmented Reality
  • In-Place Sketching for content authoring in Augmented Reality games
  • Augmented Reality: A Balance Act between High Quality and Real-Time Constraints
  • Collaborative Gaming in Augmented Reality
  • A survey of visual, mixed, and augmented reality gaming
  • Compelling experiences in mixed reality interactive storytelling
  • The digital playing desk: a case study for augmented reality
  • Magic Paddle: A Tangible Augmented Reality Interface
  • Bridging multiple user interface dimensions with augmented reality
  • Interaction and presentation techniques for shake menus in tangible augmented reality
  • MagicCup: a tangible interface for virtual objects manipulation in table-top augmented reality

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