News/August 2018

As we continue our look back at 20 years of collaboration with University of Nottingham’s Mixed Reality Lab (MRL), Blast Theory’s Matt Adams re-visits I Like Frank, the world’s first 3G mixed reality game.

Building relationships, swapping information, testing the possibilities of hybrid space… players of I Like Frank had it all. Blast Theory artists Matt, Ju and Nick as well as two members from MRL spent four months in Adelaide, Australia as Thinkers in Residence. During this time, I Like Frank, a game that used one of the world’s first 3G test beds, was developed and premiered.

 

Speaking recently, Matt shares his perspective on just how experimental the whole process was.

At the demo, when we first visited Australia months in advance, our telephony partners said, ‘We’re going to show you Star Wars on a mobile phone’. One of the team literally held up a phone and said, ‘Watch.’ He pressed play and this little video –  the size of two postage stamps – played a 15 second clip of Star Wars. This was enough for them to be selling tens of millions of pound of business because, at that time, it was like magic. But, actually when it came down to it, no one had used that test bed properly. No one had rigged up enough handsets: they had only tested with one handset transmitting to another handset. So when we tried with three handsets: it fell over! It was extremely technically tricky and tortuous; technically, really really problematic.

We collaborated with a whole bunch of Australian artists while making I Like Frank. It was fantastic, good fun. We used postcards where players on the street would go to a pub, ask at the bar and be given a postcard. You would then post it and those postcards would come to us. We would then address them out to other people who had played the game so there was this mail art element to the piece.

Nick did an amazing interface as well, where, instead of a square window, it was a round, almost telescope view into the virtual world with a massive black margin. It was very original and a huge risk as a design but it gave this very powerful sense of entering into the virtual world.

Like Uncle Roy All Around You it was a project testing community and trust on digital platforms so connecting strangers was important. Even though it was super stressful to make, I love that work. ‘

like Frank (2004) is the fourth collaboration made with the Mixed Reality Lab at the University of Nottingham, following Uncle Roy All Around You (2003).

 

Re-discover the project here.

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