My local coffeeshops are all filled with people, none of them talking to each
other; they're all staring into individual smartphones, tablets or laptop
screens. Screens are items for individuals, not groups.
However, recent industrial design grad Benjamin Sowa has a radically different idea:
For his graduate thesis at the University of Wuppertal, Sowa—who spent seven months (presumably interning) at Nintendo of Europe for two semesters—envisioned a huge, half-meter-square tablet meant to be laid flat on a table surrounded by people. And crucially, his Big Table Top would not have internet connectivity.
Instead of being a web-surfing device, the tablet is meant to take the place of traditional board games played by groups of family members or friends.
Games would be inserted old-school style—via media, in this case SD cards rather than bulky cartridges. "For many people it is important to physically hold and feel what we care about," Sowa writes. "The digital distribution of gaming content…leads to a situation where people don't appreciate it the way [they used to]."
The device's lack of connectivity not only precludes downloadable games, but is also meant to increase human interaction and give parents peace of mind. "This gaming platform is about a social gathering as well as for children. It's about shutting internet devices off and putting phones aside. Further, parents should have a good feeling when they leave their kids playing on this tablet without having to be afraid that they might go online and do something stupid or carry out some in-app purchases or micropayments."
As for the screen itself, it would feature the expected multitouch as well as sensors to detect physical objects—game pieces, for instance—placed atop the tablet. As additional input devices, Sowa has designed individual controllers whose stark simplicity is meant to lower the barrier to entry for the tech-averse older generation.
Here's what the BTT would look like in action, by the way:
Now we get to the sad part: It is just a concept, a thesis project, with no
apparent plans for production (although Sowa has gone to a lot of trouble to
lay out what the technical aspects would be). But there's a chance Sowa might
have something planned for the future: In the section of the device's website
titled "Prospect," it features the line "Content coming
soon." Assuming he could undertake the massive task of finding
manufacturers and game developers, I'm guessing this one would be a successful
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Wow, So much negativity about this! I love board games because they bring people together and making a digital component opens up so many additional possibilities. I think it is a great idea and I don't think "another piece of tech-junk" quite describes what this project is getting at. Games have long been a way to get people together. Unfortunately video games have become fairly isolating which is unfortunate. Bring back the board games and marry the two. Great Idea!
The "family gathering" concept here is just a lousy try to justify another piece of tech-junk. Families today don't need another portal for digital immersion, but rather an escape from digital world. But nevertheless, we need a boost for more imaginative game designers; it looks like they're trapping us in the same dark stories, fast paced and visually arresting, that transforms any game into a competition or if not into a sort of battlefield. The "play" concept is beyond competition, is about having fun and being relaxed...you cannot say that about the poor kid in the clip that shakes like he's having an epileptic stroke. I'm not fooled by that granny smile at the end...she is not saving the product...
This looks pretty great would love to buy this
Hey...I've got an idea..what about just TALKING to each other?