January 27, 2014 10:35am
While the Explorer community impatiently waits for the next software update for Google Glass, Google has released something for all of us to kill the time. The MyGlass Glassware area was updated over the weekend with a new bundle pack of Mini Games.
The Mini Games serve a dual purpose. The first is obviously to add more content for Glass Explorers to engage with on the device. But more importantly, each of the five games within the bundle are there to show developers the potential of building apps for Glass. “We hacked together five simple games that experiment with the unique features of Glass and demonstrate some of the possibilities for gaming”, Google states on the new Mini Games page in the Developer Portal. The five games were built to show off some of the unique features of Glass including the use of voice, head movements using the accelerometer and gyroscope as well as hand gesture recognition.
What’s great about all five of the games is their simplicity and this is by design. Google explains that they “intentionally wanted games that are quick to get into when you have a few, free minutes and just as easy to get out of when you want to turn your attention back to reality”. Creating games that only require a few minutes is a very important aspect for Glass especially since the display is in an awkward position on your face and is only one eye. It goes without saying that playing for longer than a few minutes would result in eye exhaustion, something developers will also want to consider when building their own Glassware.
To access the games, Google has now created a main command “Play a Game” in the voice main menu. From there you are shown a sub-menu which displays all the games that you have on your device including all five in the bundle and others like Spellista by GluMobile which was released late last year.
Balance is a game which uses head movements. The game is like the futuristic version of the etiquette school task of balancing books on your head to improve your posture. The goal of this game is to keep an ever-growing pile of shapes from falling off your head before the timer runs out. And as Glass is great at recognizing the nuances of your head movements, its just as hard to balance these virtual shapes as it is that book in real life.
Tennis uses the tap bar on the right of the Glass to serve the ball and then your head movements to position your “racket” to hit the ball back. The game feels less like tennis and more like throwing a ball against a wall, which was just as fun. In fact, I played it while facing a blank wall and it almost felt like the virtual ball was here in the room rather than just a game on the display.
Shape Splitter is like the prototype version of Fruit Ninja. In this game, you use your hand gestures (left and right hands) to swipe at shapes that pop up on Glass to “split” or cut them all while avoid doing the same to a bomb.
Clay Shooter is probably my favourite game of the bunch, although you probably don’t want to play this in public. Unlike the others, this game uses voice to interact. If you are familiar with clay shooting then you’ll get this game right away. The purpose of this game is to launch a pigeon, aim and then shoot it. To launch the pigeon you say “Pull” and to shoot you say “Fire”. Both use your head movements to send the clay puck or bullet in the direction you are looking. The game also features a great nature soundtrack to get you in the mood.
Finally Matcher is a simple memory game which uses both the accelerometer and gyroscope to have you choose cards with your head and then tap on them on the arm of Glass. The goal of this game is to get as many matches before the time runs out.
All of the games remember your high score which is great, but I am hopeful that we will start to see some kind of global leaderboard or social aspect come into play when Glass hits the market. Games like Tennis, for example, would be even better if I was actually playing with another Explorer from around the world. In the meantime, Mini Games does a great job at increasing the value of Glass by showing how even the simplest games can become new and exciting through the device’s unique user experience.