MIRROR: The Game That Plays You

  • Exhibited: May 2010
Photo of a monitor on a desk flanked by two lamps with color indicators: blue on left, red on right. There are also two computer mice, one on each side. The screen has similar colored indicators on each side as computer mouse icons.

Yes, the title is a little cheesy, but MIRROR: The Game that Plays You was my 2010 BFA thesis project at the Cleveland Institute of Art.

MIRROR is an exploration of self-referentialism as a mechanism for immersion in games. The idea of mirroring is present not only in the game world and avatar, but in the control devices and installation space (under a tight college student budget, anyways).

My thesis paper is available as a PDF for your perusal.

The screen at the beginning of the game is displayed at all times until you sit down in front of the monitor and your face is recognized. The “fourth wall” shatters and you are hurled into a strange geometric world with an avatar that reacts intuitively to your input from two computer mice that map to its hands. You climb around, flinging yourself around a hazardous (but forgiving) 2D physics environment. Your only directive is to escape… until you are told at the end of the last level that the only way to escape is to get up and leave!

Oops, uh… spoiler alert?

Some day I hope to revisit and build upon this prototype, since it was a very basic concept meant to be completed in just a few minutes.

I have some sketches of potential game mechanics that are more than just movement mechanics that would be fun to try.

MIRROR was designed for an art gallery setting and so is not easy to distribute. It would be nice to figure out how to make it available to anyone with a computer and two mice. The haptic feedback would be missing, though… until haptics are standard in computer mice (future note: they still aren’t).

I shared my installation space with my friend Andrew Kuhar. You can see his area in the second image below on the left side.

The music in this trailer was made using Beep Box by John Nesky at http://beepbox.co.

MIRROR was made with Processing and the Arduino.

These open-source libraries were used to make MIRROR:

Special thanks to Daniel Shiffman for his PBox2D helper library for JBox2D in Processing.

(MIRROR is open source!)