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VR games pit pets against owners

If you've ever wanted to match wits with your pet hamster, Mice Arena could be the game for you.

As in a traditional video game, players navigate a virtual world in a bid to stay alive. The twist? Computerized movements in Mice Arena are mapped to and from the real world, where an actual predator (your hamster) gives chase to a digital avatar (you) by pursuing a real piece of bait. The avatar's movements in the virtual environment direct the bait around a small tank fitted with actuators that mold and twist an elastic latex floor into the changing terrain of the game map. The hamster's pursuit in the tank is monitored by infra-red sensors that relay its position to the computer screen.

Researchers at Emerging Art and Architecture Research Group, or RASTER, and Singapore's Mixed Reality Lab have so far developed a game engine for Mice Arena, and they're currently syncing it to actuators that manipulate the shape of the arena floor. They are also in the process of building a remote-control bait mechanism for the hamsters to chase. They expect to demonstrate a fully functional prototype by November.

"We want to enable pets to play games in a way very similar to the way human players' play," said RASTER's Vladimir Todoroviæ, a collaborator working on the Metazoa Ludens project. "To play a computer game with your hamster would definitely make us think about where we have come with digital tradition now."

News source: Wired News

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