Simmer Down Sprinter

June 2006

Download a Quicktime version of the video.

Simmer Down Sprinter is a two player, sit-down, arcade style video game I designed and programmed in which players compete to move runners around a track. The game is controlled by player’s bio-feedback. The more relaxed the player becomes, the faster the runner moves around the track. Essentially it is a game of competitive relaxation.

The game is controlled by player’s bio-feedback. The more relaxed the player becomes, the faster the runner moves around the track. Essentially it is a game of competitive relaxation.

I take the role of the runners in the video game, complete with track outfits in red and blue team-colors. Players rest hands on “team-colored” arm rests. The metal contacts detect changes in body temperature and galvanic skin resistance – similar to what is used for a polygraph test. When the player is more relaxed, the video of me running the track speeds up. If the player tenses up, the video slows down.

The game accepts 25 cent coins to start, so the player will be “invested” in winning. The video includes arcade style graphics that show the place (1st or 2nd) your runner is in, track position, speed, and a stress meter. Each player gets a team color, red or blue, and is shown that video on their screen. The “red screen” and ‘blue screen” are separate and individual, but start in sync with each other. Players are first shown a video of their runner stretching and warming up to an exciting soundtrack of Atari-style synthesized game music. The race is then run. At the end, the winner is shown a their winner screen and the loser, a “try-again” screen. The runner in the video celebrates or laments accordingly.

Steve Lambert Simmer Down Sprinter photo

Because they were so helpful in getting this huge project done I have to mention that the graphics were designed in collaboration with old friend, Richard Miller, the music by Adam Marks, camera by Jeff Pitcher, and the sensors with a team of electrical engineering students (James Rudee, Raymond Ng, Michael Rush, Daniel Gurman, and Daniel Lin). Also, without help from friends in building and painting the cabinet, I would never have finished.

For those that are interested, the internals of the game are made up of two 27 inch televisions, an Apple G4 dual 1ghz tower with 3 video cards, a Teleo module, a modified 4.1 surround sound speaker set, vintage arcade game parts and coin accepter, and lots of wood and wires. The graphics are printed on adhesive vinyl with an adhesive laminate and the game is programmed in Max/MSP/Jitter. If you want to know more, I set up a seperate page –> Geek out! See how Simmer Down Sprinter was made.

Here’s a sample of the intro music by Adam Marks:

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Download movie for iPod Video


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