Active Arcade Whack A Mole game
Active Arcade offers a range of motion controlled games you can play using your smartphone camera.
I’m in a minority of video game journalists because I still really miss Xbox Kinect. I fell in love with the idea of playing a game by moving my body. Not only because of the freedom that offered for new ways to play, but because of the playful theatre it create for those watching the action.
So I was excited to have the chance of getting an introduction to Active Arcade from its creators. It’s a new motion controlled game platform for smartphone. I was initially skeptical that this would offer the same ambition and accuracy that meant Kinect had so much potential. But within minutes I had that same excitement of a new way to play video games.
Family Plays Whack A Mole
The game is the product of Nex, a motion-based entertainment company. It has apps in use in over 200 countries and hit big with HomeCourt, the free app for basketball to track shots to improve performance. The company is composed of successful entrepreneurs from companies like Apple, Google and Facebook. What’s more it has raised over $40M in funding to date.
“We are creating games that exercise both the player’s body and soul,” said David Lee, CEO and Co-Founder of Nex. “Games that players would feel really good playing and games that make players healthier without them noticing it. And a big plus is that it is also available on billions of camera enabled devices, you don’t need a gaming console or VR headset, meaning you and your friends can easily play together.”
Active Arcade is a free app that offers a range of different motion-based games. You can play it on any standard mobile device. It uses proprietary technology to create interactive-motion games where you control things by moving in front of the camera.
You see yourself on the screen and can interact with the video game element in different ways. The current games include Reaction, Box Attack, Whack-a-Mole, Bunny Hop, Space Pong, SuperHits High Kicks, Cone Knockout, Galaxy Jumpers, Laser Dodge, Pose! and Reaction Flow.
Spending time playing these game with family made for a great evening’s entertainment. And of course, we were raising our heart rate as well as having fun. Space Pong was a favourite, where we could bat a ball back at each other in two player battles. Bunny Hop took things further by allow us to control and on-screen bunny and jump to progress up to the next levels. Whack A Mole was simple exuberant reaction-based fun.
Thinking back to the (sometimes overstated promises) about Kinect, I asked Lee about the potential for Active Arcade game to change the way games are played. “The breakthrough we made is to make advanced motion tracking available on modern camera enabled devices. i.e. most devices that can run Zoom video conferences can run our games. It means we created a new way to play games on mobile devices, Macs, and PCs (using your body as controllers) on a device that is highly approachable to all, thus playing our motion games can easily become a shared experience.”
The fun can be extended by mirroring the small smartphone screen to a big living room television. This not only made it easier to see where to move, but also enabled the rest of the family to watch what was happening and get involved.
What is really exciting is the potential that these simple games demonstrate. There is a real sense of precision here. And (often unlike family experiences with Kinect) we could play in a small space without a lot of calibration.
The headline today is how much fun these free games are for families. But the more exciting story is what these games may develop into. My hope is that we see the sort of ambition in its early years, that didn’t really materialise for Kinect until the end of its like and titles like the astounding motion controlled Fru.
Where will Active Arcade be in a couple of year’s time? My hope is that it isn’t still perfecting experiences similar to Beat Sabre, Wii Sports or Just Dance and has instead invented experiences that use this new technology in unexpected and (literally) game changing ways.