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archive: Belated Pong Mythos Coverage at Leipzig
Posted on Wednesday, September 06 @ 01:24:48 CEST by julian

Exhibitions


When I wrote about Pong Mythos a week ago, I had no intention of going to the GC to see it, but a brief glance at a map proved that I was close enough to make the jaunt.

The GC itself was a whopper of an event, but mostly in the sense of sheer scale - fairly earning it's reputation as the 'European E3' - with the vital ingredients of shameless product pimping, X-Box 360 giveaways hawked by pop-stars (Arrested Development of all people) and blood-splattered sandbags.

From within an hour of being there it was clear there was far too much hype - to the point of being scary - for these train-weary eyes, so we did away with it and ran straight to Pong Mythos, a show put on by the Computer Spiele Museum here in Berlin. Pong Mythos presented an impressive range of interpretations (even remixes) of Pong, both as a concept and as the atomic root of videogaming itself. Read on for more..



Straight to the point, the work that took me the most was one I'd read about before but never seen, Dirck Eijsbouts' TFT Tennis v180 (beware extreme Flash abuse):





That the arena of play was virtually distributed in space was interesting enough in itself, but to have it so actively described by the physical movements of players radically altered the relationship audiences had with the space in which the game was being played, despite not being able to see the digital ball being volleyed most of the time. In this way the invisible arena, for which each TFT was a looking glass of sorts, 'haunted' the room.

I played the Borg 3D while there with a frighteningly eager 12 year old on exile from his mates in the F.E.A.R and Project Entropia booths. This was a truly special experience, the piece is a Pong reconstruction in what the makers capriciously dub 'real 3d'. The pong arena is comprised of a cubic matrix of LED's. The player's paddle is moved with a joystick, and is represented as a square of 8 or so active LED's at each end, while the ball is a blip moving through the matrix centre. There was an ever-present sense that if I was to look directly down on the cube it would produce a perfect representation of the original Pong game. Safe to say this is the closest I have ever come to playing a 'holographic' game.

The photo's do it little justice, as it has to be seen in a very dark place. We're popping that puppy straight into the archives.

Sadly i didn't get to play Brain Pong, where EEG sensors are used to provide a direct brain-->sprite link to the game itself. I would've made a poor candidate for a man-machine battle that day anyway.

It was refreshing to be in the heart of one of the EU's biggest game conventions and see Mixed Reality Pong (perhaps more appropriately called Vegan Pong). Seeing vegetables used as game controllers was certainly a first, though it seemed these controllers were not taken seriously as the instruments of gaming - some manic gamer had bitten the end off a fresh cucumber mid-battle, causing it to secrete onto the arena. Our photo does it no justice (has to be seen in the dark), but there you go.



The illustrious Painstation was there of course, smoking the competition - literally. I saw several stubborn bastards choose injury over sanity in the heat of battle. German sweat seems strangely more serious than the perspiration of other nations. So serious in fact I chose not to partake in a challenge against them, although I've braved the device before.

There were a great many other pieces in the show, including Susigame's Susipong, a massive multiplayer pong played with SMS as the control data and Power Pong which supplants the joystick in favour of bicycles, pictured in the article head. Many more to mention, a good guide can be found on the Pong Mythos site itself.

Congratulations to Andreas Lange of the Games Museum. This was a cleverly and beautifully curated experimental games show, and I've seen a fair number of them.

Here are a few extra snaps of the event, kindly brought to you by the especially lovely La Petite Claudine, my companion on the journey.

 
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