Rival Books of Aster, a game developed by Stitch Media in collaboration with Games Institute researchers Adam Bradley (English) and Jonathan Rodriguez (Computer Science), has been selected to work with one of the earliest prototypes of Project Zanzibar revealed by Microsoft Research Labs (MRL). Rival Books of Aster is a deck-building strategy game with a rich lore in ancient grimoires and hand-painted illustrations. “The unique features of Project Zanzibar connect physical and digital play - ” explains Evan Jones, Producer at Stitch Media - “We were able to simulate the sense of magic inherent in the game arranging cards on the table in front of you and casting spells with hand gestures that appear on screen.”
Project Zanzibar is a flexible, portable mat that can sense and track physical objects, identify what they are, and allow you to interact through multi-touch and hover gestures. Every object in the Project Zanzibar platform has a globally unique identifier (ID), which means data can be stored for each unique object. Collectible cards can gain points and XP, gaining value over time. Toys can learn their own history and tell unique stories. These natural ways of manipulating the world opens up new ways people can play, learn and interact between the physical and digital experiences.
Rival Books of Aster began its life as a GI cross-disciplinary research project co-funded by Stitch Media and Mitacs and is a testament to how private-academic partnership can lead to innovative products. The project was supervised by Dr. Neil Randall (English) and Dr. Chrysanne Di-Marco (Computer Science) and involved research on storytelling, narrative, myth creation and artificial intelligence. The MRL research paper on Project Zanzibar where Rival Books of Aster is featured as a case study has received the Best Paper Award at CHI 2018.