It's likely you're all familiar with the simple, classic, yet oh-so-addictive game 'Snake' by now. First introduced to arcades in the late 1970s, it was when mobile phone manufacturer Nokia began pre-loading the game onto its old monochrome-display phones when it exploded into the public consciousness, where it has remained ever since. Now, a team of media artists and computational designers – known by the name Mobile Projection Unit (you'll see why) – are taking the classic game one step further, and in a very big way – the side of buildings big.
Equipped with laptop, camera, a projector system, portable battery and a whole lot of know-how in projection-mapping techniques, the Australian-based MPU's “Snake the Planet!” project brings the game to the urban environment in which every window frame, doorway, street light or traffic sign can be incorporated into the game. Under the veil of moonlight, the team project their own unique version of Snake onto some of the least-ideal playing surfaces we've ever seen – grubby alleyways, onto the side of houses - whereby through projection mapping, then scan the immediate environment to turn commonplace, real-world objects into 8-bit in-game obstacles. Shapes and pixels are also seen colliding with the boundaries of such objects just like they would in-game. “I think for us the most fun thing is the guerilla element,” says artist Rene Christen in the group's 'making of' video, “[Of] just being able to rock up anywhere and in a matter of seconds have something out there in public space.”
Never had we wanted to drop the controller to our high-definition console and return to 8-bit gaming more than we do right now. Impressed? You better be.