Nervous Copse is a collaborative drawing tool that explores transient play spaces and the magic circle.
Play is an important part of our social development as children but is usually missing in our adult lives. I wanted to help people regain the sense of joy through play by creating an object that would both allow people to jointly create something, and have an aspect of gameplay. I was initially inspired by the game exquisite corpse and used this as a starting block.
I wanted to make a something that:
1. Four people could play
2. Involved drawing or creating a picture together (even at a basic level)
3. Involved a sense of uncertainty
My idea of habitat was the magic circle. In games and digital media, the magic circle is the space in which the normal rules and reality of the world are suspended and replaced by the artificial reality of a game world. Nervous Corpse is portable (thanks to the Bluetooth sensor) and self-contained, so it can be taken anywhere to be played with. It is a portable game that changes its own surroundings into a play space. It is designed to look like an urn (because of the exquisite corpse idea).
It is a device that uses four ultrasonic distance sensors connected to an Arduino, which converts player input (distance between player and the box) into output (visuals via Processing). The top section of the device is designed to spin around at random points to create a sense of uncertainty. Whilst play testing, this is the point which is usually quite chaotic - but causes the most fun to be had. The project also works well as a stationary object that senses its immediate surroundings without user input (see the second video). The Processing sketch is simplistic, in order to demonstrate the desired user interaction. It uses the data from the sensors (minimum value 0 and maximum value 200). This data is then mapped to either the location of the circle on the Y axis, or the circumference of the circle.
In this case, I have used Processing to create a drawing tool, but Nervous Corpse could easily be used to control visuals/play games created on Processing/openFrameworks. I would also be interested in continuing the project to include music and add LED feedback so the players know if they are standing too close or too far away. A simple light that shows that the sensor value is over/under the max/min would improve usability. I would also like to explore Nervous Corpse in a non-place, as I am interested in seeing how people react to a magic circle within a space that is not typically a play area.