The newest category recognized by GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS, for the Largest Multiplayer Game on a Single Screen, was awarded to a group of students at the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) at the NYU Tisch School of the Arts.
Phil Groman, Federico Zannier, and Danne Woo, all of whom graduated the program in May 2013, won the distinction for SPLAT, a multiplayer game designed for the 120-foot video wall installed in the lobby of the IAC building on the west side of Manhattan. The game was debuted at a packed showcase event last March, along with the work of other students from an NYU Interactive Telecommunications Program class appropriately called Big Screens. It then received official certification by GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS this fall.
"The assignment was to create a production specifically for the IAC screen to engage a live audience on the show night," said Groman. "As we were developing SPLAT, we realized that if we were able to make it work, it might actually be the largest multiplayer game ever created for a single screen. That’s when we contacted the people at Guinness World Records, which – like ITP – celebrates excellence and innovation for its own sake."
“Leveraging technology as an instrument for creativity and innovation is at the heart of the ITP philosophy,” said Dan O’Sullivan, chair of Tisch ITP. “SPLAT is the perfect example of this, since the democratization of wireless devices coupled with advances in browser-based technology have only just made both the creation of and participation in games such as these possible.”
The GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS did not have a category for live multiplayer gaming, but was willing to create one, assuming SPLAT met certain parameters: 100 or more players needed to play for at least 30 seconds simultaneously, with each player scoring at least one point. To verify the results, the team invited four witnesses from the games industry to observe gameplay and review the server logs. During their first attempt last March, they maxed out the available space on the screen with 117 players, but two players were unable to score a point and two players played for less than 30 seconds. With 113 eligible players, GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS saw fit to make them the first record-holder in the newly formed category.
To play SPLAT, each player controls a bird on a telephone wire that stretches across the screen over a road with many passing vehicles. Each player’s objective is to try to get his or her bird to soil the vehicles. To control the bird, the players use their smartphone's browser to connect to a web interface hosted on the game's server.
The team used a Node.js instance to run the game and communicate with players’ smartphones, and an HTML5 canvas to render gameplay to the big screen. The SPLAT screen consisted of 576 Prysm laser phosphor display panels and supports a whopping resolution of up to 43 million pixels.
"The game had to take up the entire width of the screen without it seeming forced or odd," said Woo, SPLAT's front-end developer. "The entire audience also needed to remain interested the entire time. Birds on a wire and cars below seemed like a great game idea for the screen dimensions."
Delivering detailed stats to each phone after the game and displaying the overall rankings on the screen proved to be a big hit among the players. According to Woo, "the high scorers went on to brag about their ranking for the rest of the evening."
“We believe there are multiple uses for this type of interaction,” said Zannier, the game’s back-end developer. “We are planning to get versions of this technology installed on other big screens in order to generate deeper engagements with live audiences at sports stadiums and on digital advertising billboards.”
ITP is a two-year graduate program within in the NYU Tisch School of the Arts with a mission to explore the imaginative use of communications technologies and how they might augment, improve, and inspire. Established in 1979, ITP graduates have gone on to develop some of the world’s most innovative products, companies and works of art. Alumni include Dennis Crowley (Foursquare), Tom Igoe (Arduino) and LED visual artist Leo Villareal. For more information ITP program at Tisch School of the Arts, visit http://itp.nyu.edu/itp/.
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