Hybrid Play transforms children’s playgrounds into video game scenarios

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

The Hybrid Play project consists of transferring the video game world into public spaces, thanks to sensors and a mobile application that convert slides, swings and any other playground item into part of a digital adventure. Software and hardware are open source to allow development of new video games.

Hybrid Play is a game device that mixes the real world of playgrounds with digital video games. The project consists of using a public space as an interface, converting different physical elements into video game controllers thanks to a set of sensors. In this way, the system takes advantage of the potential of technologies, while also promoting playing outside, physical activity and socialising.

The project is based on two elements: sensors, inserted into a large clip that can be attached to a slide, a see-saw or swings, and a mobile application for Android or iOS smartphones and tablets. The sensors record the movements of the children playing on the playground equipment and turn them into actions such as jumping, walking, running or turning.

The Hybrid Play hardware and software are both open source developed, with the intention that they can be modified or adapted for other projects. It currently includes two video games designed by its creators: Puzzle City, a game in which players have to find loose parts of a puzzle around the city, and Space Kids, where the park becomes space and players turn into astronauts. Users can also design their own games by using visual programming languages like Gamesonomy, without needing any prior knowledge of programming.

The gaming device has already been tested in workshops organised in several cities worldwide, with a total of about one thousand boys and girls having taken part. The intention is to make Hybrid Play available in spring 2015, and its creators have opened a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to produce the first units.

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