CAVEs

Reading: Two Selections by Brenda Laurel, available from the New Media Reader.

  1. “The Six Elements and the Causal Relations Among Them.” Computers as Theater, 49-65. 2nd ed., 1993.
  2. “Star Raiders: Dramatic Interaction in a Small World,” Ph.D. Thesis, Ohio State University, pp. 81-86, 1986.

I am going to tackle the task of identifying a form of human-computer interaction (HCI) that has some/most/all of Aristotle’s six qualitative elements of drama:

  • Enactment: All that is seen
  • Melody (Pattern): All that is heard
  • Language: Selection/arrangement of words
  • Thought: Inferred processes leading to choice
  • Character: Groups of traits, inferred from agents’ patterns of choice
  • Action: The whole action being represented.

This is a tall order, in part because we must keep in mind that “the whole action must have a beginning, a middle, and an end” for it to be a satisfying plot.  Video games, TV, and movies all have this notion, as sovink77 has written about in her post.

Here’s one technology that, if it becomes less pricey, may bring a new dimension to human-computer entertainment.  The Cave Automatic Virtual Environment (or CAVE) looks like a very boring room – a “box” with white walls.  However, when you add a bunch of of projectors along with head and hand tracking capabilities, the CAVE becomes a 3D interactive world.  In grad school my friends modeled bat flight, wrote 3D dynamic poetry, and developed virtual painting techniques using the CAVE.  Researchers at UC Davis have also pioneered this work in virtual reality, for example with their augmented sandbox:

However, none of these examples of the CAVE follow the notion of a storyline.  If we can interact with a virtual world in this way, we’re getting closer to an interactive video game.

Once we have this environment, then I believe we will have all six elements Laurel described in human-computer activity.  While it is still way too expensive to build your own CAVE in your living room, don’t bother: Microsoft has already filed a patent for it.

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2 thoughts on “CAVEs

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