Tina Blaine, Tim Perkis, Hila Dar, …

Jam-O-Drum / CircleMaze

A multi-user interactive musical game


Reaction to and evaluation of the project: In the Jam-O-Drum/CircleMaze installation, one of the most rewarding aspects of this work is the high level of social interaction and engagement among players. Gathering around a shared surface creates a context for bringing people together to play games and create music. Through the design of the aforementioned musical gaming experiences for public spaces, one of the most important elements appears to be the creation of goal-oriented structures that are counterbalanced by opportunities for free form play and improvisation. Regardless of differing objectives towards gaming or music making, the Jam-O-Drum installations have demonstrated that goal-oriented interaction makes it easier to communicate and engage with strangers in a public setting. People who might not ordinarily participate in music making activities approach the Jam-O-Drum because of its game-like attraction and appearance, and also find no musical knowledge is necessary. CircleMaze employs a consistent user interface: the same actions at every level of game play produce the same results. This "unity of design" principle makes for an intuitive and easy-to-learn game. Perhaps not surprisingly, parents often had more difficulty accessing the games than their children did.

Integration of a surround sound system coupled with speakers in the table and a darkened environment created a relaxed club-like atmosphere that inspired physical movement and fostered spontaneous interaction between the visitors.
Time constraints in the development of the Jam-O-Drum restricted the opportunities to more fully realize the musical capabilities of this system. Although the turntable disks proved to be a highly engaging and intuitive interface for the circular graphic projections, the audio mappings integrated with these continuous controllers were not as obvious to visitors and could be improved. Finally, regardless of the focus on music or games, implementing an easy to use, intuitive interface is one of the most important design elements of any interactive experience that invites novices to explore and learn.

We believe this kind of interaction has much wider implications that extend beyond the concept of "playing a game". It is our hope that visitors will sustain a willingness to engage with strangers and a feeling of openness in other social encounters that extend beyond the virtual space to the physical.

(Tine Blaine)

Theory / Research

We view the Jam-O-Drum as a platform for continual research into community-oriented audiovisual experiences. Blaine and a new team of graduate students at Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center have created a musical DJ game inspired by Dance Dance Revolution called “DJSEZ“. Another multiplayer collaborative game is currently under development that also leverages the drumpad inputs and the physical spinning characteristics of the Jam-O-Drum's disks. Perfecting the appropriate levels of collaborative interaction versus the perceived affordance of musical interaction and complementing sound design, is an area ripe for further research with this development platform. Ultimately, we continue to explore interaction designs and input devices that integrate a variety of approaches to combining elements of motion in music and graphics. CircleMaze is one of the most popular experiences developed for the Jam-O-Drum platform to date.
(Tina Blaine)

Exhibitions / Presentations