I used to play World of Warcraft, I like to have my digital body engaged in breaking down monsters. This can be translated in defining strategies to destroy unstoppable monsters! I reached level 70, raided a lot afterwards and then entirely stopped. In France, I used to play strategy games with 15 players in the same house, creating teams, ordering Pizza and getting tones of Soda. We started on Friday at the end of the afternoon and we stopped on Sunday night.
These past months I have rarely played any game, but I cherish these addictive gaming moments and decided to design an architectural object that criticizes the process of massive multiplayer gaming, designing a refuge with a survival kit integrated as well as doing something with the laptop that continuously burned my legs while playing! Also reflecting on the intense things that are happening on world of warcraft, such as the multiboxing setup!
Recently, I’ve been awarded a grant by the Council for the Arts at MIT . This grant is to help the design of the AFK cookset and the WOW Pod, projects that will be exhibited from April 2009 until September 2009 at the MIT Museum. I am making these two pieces in collaboration with artist duo Shada/Jahn, with who I always wanted to work with; I recently blogged about one of their work, and presented on this blog many projects by Marisa.
The Pod resembles a mobile structure, however it works as a parasite. Connected to the home, it depends on it, it is stuck to it and uses it for survival. A nice metaphor for the teenager who is oblivious to his addiction and the effect it has on his family house! The AFK cookset benefits from a very annoying feature from the old MacBook Pro, that literally burns your laps while playing. The AFK cookset cooks your diner while raiding, it automatically alerts you and the raiders that you are AFK because your “eggs are ready”!
The AFK cookset
World of Warcraft is a massive online multi-player game that attracts millions of players including a large proportion of teenagers and children as young as 10 years old. A typical scenario for teenagers addicted to the game is to settle down in front of the monitor on Friday night and collapse on Sunday night. Sleep deprivation as well as high saturated fat diet is the pride of these players who barely do not take any break, and when they do they sign the typical “AFK” (“Away from Keyboard”) that pops up of top of their avatar. The average AFK is of two minutes, time to run to the fridge, to open a bag of potato chips, to replenish the glass of milk, or go to the bathroom. We are proposing a design noir aiming at representing the ideal setup for the player to spend more quality time online.
Can you imagine the toll that this extreme behaviour takes on the developing body, not to mention the amount of energy waste produced during such a 48-hour non-stop game? The addiction to World of Warcraft, you see, raises questions about the ecological and physio-morphological consequences of the computer game industry – but WOW players would refuse at any cost to reduce their addiction. Another solution must be considered…
The AFK Cookset harvests the heat produced from an ordinary laptop computer to cook meals. Before beginning a WOW session, the player places a shallow metal box beneath his/her laptop. The player pulls out a metal drawer that contains a tray with subdivisions. In one section, the player implaces powdered milk, powdered eggs, a dash of salt and pepper plus seasoning to taste. This protein-rich herb omelette will be cooked first because of the egg whites’ naturally low cooking temperature. In a second subdivision, the player implaces powdered tomato, water, and basil – a perfect second course tomato bisque to provide Vitamin C-rich soup to ward off scurvy. In the final section, the player implaces a frozen pizza. This pizza will be fully heated about the time the player (warrior) is ready for a third meal.
When each respective recipe is ready, the AFK Cookset WOW Plug-in automatically notifies the player that his/her meal is ready. A graphic, announcing, “Bob’s eggs are ready” is immediately visible to the other players on the “Raid Window.”
The WOW pod
The WOW Pod is an immersive architectural solution for the advanced WOW player that provides and anticipates all life needs. Before entering the WOW Pod for a weekend-full of adventures, the player first stocks the pod: he/she refills the water bag that skins the architectural exterior and pipes liquids directly into the pod via a plastic tube that the player places adjacent his/her mouth. The WOW Pod holds and dispenses up to 3 cannisters of Pringles chips within easy reach of the desktop. The AFK Cookset and backup foodtrays (see description above) provides nutrients to nourish the hungry warrior. Inside, an array of monitors and computers allows the hard-core player to simultaneously control not one – but a whole assembly of players – with ergonomic ease. For instance, normally “multi-box systems” ask the player to use key commands and different mice to switch between players (warrior, magi, etc.). Involving all the latest features of an integrative computing sytem, WOW Pod allows the player to control the magi with his/her elbows, the dwarves with his/her feet pedals, the warrior with his/her hands. The player also has the control to re-program and re-designate the team of warriors according to his/her ergonomic preference.
The exterior of the WOW Pod is a customizable skin that allows the player to publicly demonstrate his/her guild association. Normally, guild affiliations are shown through “tabards”, or wearable insignias. WOW Pod now allows the player to demonstrate to those not online the richness of his/her online identity.
So far we have a lot of fun! I will update soon as we progress in the building of the two pieces. More soon ….