Surreal Becomes Real With Toys And AR

Kid = Never ending Demand For NEW Toys! This equation holds true in all homes, however designer Frantz Lasorne has an excellent project for us that gives a second lease of life to the existing toy collection. Called Augmented Reality, the project combines the joys of virtual reality, imagination and tangible toys.  Using Augmented Reality Tangible User Interface (AR TUI) via head-mounted glasses, loads of imagination and old toys, a new environment is created that allows a child to live his fantasies.

In this surreal situation, a child gets to use his old toys as weapons or tools in a fantasy virtual world where his is the superhero and superpower. The AR TUI allows for the concept to push forth the virtual parameters commonly used in video games like power, life, magic, experience, attack, weapons etc. The objective of this project is to create an imaginative and engrossing environment while still creating value for old discarded toys. Its kinda like tabletop war-game and a strategy video game coming together.

Frantz describes the game play as follows:

– Each player is equipped with a toy standing on a base and Augmented Reality glasses (Head mounted display).
– Before the game begins, players can equip their respective toy with different capacities (health, shield, camouflage, weapons) on a limited number.
– Then, players can prepare together the battlefield (game space) with real objects.
– Both players start on both sides of the battlefield and the party can now begin.
– The game is turn-based, players play successively in a limited time.
– They can alternately move, attack, heal, use stealth, protect themselves with shields, switch weapons etc.
– Each weapon has a specific range of distance and a special power.
– Real obstacles can obstruct the field of vision allowing players to hide themselves.
– The goal is to kill his opponent by strategically using all possibilities of game.

Designer: Frantz Lasorne


  • confucius says:

    This is absolutely awesome! Man how cool is it going to be a kid in the future if concepts like this get developed. Kudos Frantz this is a real winner.

  • dr.Lojz says:

    10 points for concept, but please, NO more war games!
    What about for virtual discovering nature, take care of animals? #second virtual medicine, “war” against virusis, etc?

    • ?? says:

      What? “virtual discovering nature”? How about go outside?

      • MadCow says:

        just like virtual pets but without all the mess lol…

        seriously tho, we already stay in our living rooms long enough… why don’t we just make virtual wars with AR tech guns, armor and bullets, it will at least give us some exercise.

  • watchface says:

    War.. Huh.. Yeah… What is it good for? Profiteering and educating kids to be super soldiers obviously…

  • MadCow says:

    this is pretty cool, incorporating current/future technology into everyday activities.

    as for the game itself, i don’t mind the war aspect cause its pretty much bordering on pokemon, digimon, monster hunter… style (which is war with fictional creatures)… but if you want it to appeal to more mature audience look into board games like settlers, carcassone, peurto rico… i can see right away how those could benefit from AR tech.

  • nice stuff, for next iteration of the project, we have to think about other kind of applications, not necessarily based on warhammer culture, but may be on massive destruction weapons (hehe… it’s just a joke… 😉

  • Chung Dha says:

    It seem to be too much things these days to replace the fantasy of a child they replace it with virtual reality and in the future we would see less creative people cause of all this.

  • manuel ruiz says:

    nice, but without using the ghost recon advanced warfighter HUD (heads up display)

  • Apparently, my project is very controversial. That is why I have to answer, and make things clearer about my project and its aims.

    The aim of this project is to make the frontier between video game and toy gaming progressively disappear by offering a new type of gaming experience linking both sides.

    Following the researches of Trond Nielsen in Augmented Reality gaming, I listed some important points which directly guided me to my final concept:

    War gaming has two essential elements that are missing in computer war games:
    • “First, computer war gaming lacks support for the social aspect of traditional table top war gaming. […]”

    • “Second, war gaming is both a hobby of gaming and a hobby of modeling. Some players gain a great deal of satisfaction out of painstakingly assembling and painting an army. […]”

    “With augmented reality, designers can build games that draw elements from traditional real world games and modern computer games. This is particularly clear in strategy games, where the strengths and limitations of both platforms are complementary.”

    Nilsen, T., Linton, S., & Looser, J. (2004, June 26-29). Motivations for augmented reality gaming. In Proc. of the New Zealand Game Developers Conference (pp. 86-93).

    After having studied theses aspects I decided to follow the direction of tabletop game and imagine how we could merge strategy video games and toys.

    Therefore, I defined some important objectives to be reached with my concept game.

    • Merging the best of tangible toys with the best of video games.
    • Keeping the tangible toy with its emotional value as a base.
    • Giving a new lease of life to toys.
    • Enhancing the toy capabilities thanks to the advantages provided by the Augmented Reality Technology.
    • Introducing a part of imagination in the game essential for the user immersion.
    • Interacting with the game through a Augmented Reality tangible user interface (AR TUI).
    • Assisting players through the game mechanics & rules with a software support to focus on the game content.
    • Transforming drawbacks of AR system into parts of gameplay rules.

    I want to show through this project that children, teenagers, and even older people, could get off the screen and play everywhere, in a children room, even in the backyard (wireless is possible). In the game Army Men, the virtual characters evolve in a virtual environment that looks like a real house. I propose here to go a step further by using the actual environment of the player to make it the world in which the characters of the game evolve.[email protected]/3183068822/

    Children could still use their imagination and creativity to develop strategic skills by setting up the tangible environment and imagine a kind of battlefield like they already do with, e.g., Warhammers. With my project they could play not only on a Warhammer table but everywhere they want and use every object of the real environment as a part of the game, e.g., using a shoebox for a wall, hiding behind a plant to protect the toy, etc.

    Children like to customise their toys, and that is why I kept the emotional value of the toy at the centre of this project. They could also enhance the capabilities the toys through virtual features, bringing them to life, somehow.

    The gameplay of Warhammer is really complex and almost requires reading a book, while strategy video games assist players through rules and game mechanics. This virtual gameplay could be transposed to tangible games and thus virtually enrich the user gaming experience with rewards, goals, downloadable games and by increasing the immersion through virtual sounds and special effects. We could imagine that on the same system they would create stories and levels as in the game Little Big Planet and share it to others on an online community. I am envisioning that players could connect online and share their experiences, objects, advices, tricks, etc and be rated by others, etc.

    I am not trying to make a Bloodwar game here. I am just thinking about how we could merge Gaming with toys and gaming with video game and create a new gaming experience taking advantages of both. For this I am making a prototype which is a crossover between Warhammer and Armymen.

    The use of the Lego minifig in my demo merely is an example and is there is no political view in this. I am actually working with simple figures for technical reasons. I need the 3D virtual model corresponding to the original to make an occlusion between tangible object and virtual things and be able to display virtual objects behind real ones which is completely impossible otherwise.

    For the technical question, I am using Head Mounted Display (It is still a screen, I know…) but soon technology will be almost as natural as wearing sunglasses. Once this is achieved, children should be able to play AR games as if they were playing naturally in the backyard under the sun… Keep in mind that this project is a prospective example of the future of using Augmented Reality for gaming.

    I do not think that transposing weapons on toys like I do with my concept is a big problem here. Action figures carrying weapons as well as strategy wargames have existed for decades and have been played by people who are not necessarily violent. Here, I am just merging the two kinds of games through a new medium. I do not think I am creating something more dangerous than what already exists. We can assume children know how to make the difference between toys and reality. I appreciate this could be debated, and it is true that video games are getting more and more realistic and some day children might not see the difference any longer. This might be the real problem at stake. I am not here to argue this point, but if I had to defend myself, I would say that my project does not transform the player but the toy into a warrior.

    I am happy that my project is in the centre of a lot of discussions. I hope it will give other ideas to game designers to use RA in other ways… and increase gameplay experiences making video games more tangible than virtual…

    This project is still work in progress and will be presented at the international meeting of virtual reality “Laval Virtual” 2009.

    • tiger says:

      the first thing that jumps out at me about the description of this technology is its obvious orientation toward male children. very few Girls are interested in this kind of fantasy/wargame thing. yes, action figures carrying weapons and strategy wargames have existed for decades – but those decades are all in the past. the technology sounds cool, but it’s just being used to perpetuate old, now-outdated and out-of-favor concepts. we’re much more aware as a culture and a species now; we don’t get off on war like we used to, and we don’t want to teach our kids to get off on it. use this technology to bring us NEW experiences based on our greater awareness and our desires to better ourselves. we’ve been high-tech neanderthals long enough. it’s time to evolve beyond that.

  • mf says:

    cool idea.. but no more WAR-GAMES!

  • Fernando says:

    Wow, this is superb, I always dreamed of something like this, as a child (I’m 19 now so not so long ago) I spent hours upon hours between playing with toys and playing with games like Starcraft. I see your points, between band practices and the university solo gaming can really hit your social life (at least in my case) and so recently I took to DnD. This project you’re undertaking has the promise of making the transition between the tangible and the virtual almost seamless, I wouldn’t be surprised that computers in twenty/thirty odd years worked with something similar or derived from your screen concept. Regarding the violence, a child’s imaginations is his own to explore, culture from literature to music is filled with different aspects of society that people are just interested in exploring. Shakespeare often wrote about conflict and the Iliad is nothing but war and we find these to be the maxims of western culture, this is why I applaud your work, I see it not as a game of violence but a game of wits and tactics, similar to chess or checkers or that game R2D2 played with Chewbacca, or even warhammer or dnd, risk and warcraft. It is not something that will make children interact any less, in fact they will interact more, (and to this I might add that across the centuries people have always been worried about children, just find an old newspaper, before the video games it was: that they read too much or some other nonsense.So take it easy people and just let kids play)

    Good luck in your project.


  • KaOS says:

    This reminded me of the movie avalon, where players of a game can suffer and feel real pain.

    besides that I still think it’s the parents responsibility to teach their kids how to cope with any kind of game/reality or in this case augmented reality. Really, only if they have experienced, they will be able to distinguish. if you prohibit, they will look for wargames behind your back. Better learn them how to handle them.

    And on the technical side, nice proof of concept. can’t wait to experience this myself


  • pupiberto says:

    The HUD its like the Metroid Prime and Ghost Recon AW series.

  • cra says:

    We do so get off on war. look at all the absolutely pointless wars about the world happening right now. And i think wargaming is a great hobby for kids as it actually exercises the brain a heck of a lot, (don’t ask how, it just does ;)).
    As for “virtual discovering nature, or virtual caring for pets?” -why virtual? those things are kinda easy to experience non-virtually. War on the other hand is very dangerous when not practiced in a virtual manner, and we do get off on it. so…
    Great idea man, i too have always dreamed of a system like this. really cool, i hope you get to follow it through fully.

  • Intrigued says:

    I’m not going to argue about whether we need more violent/War based games or anything about that, just wanted to voice my opinions and ask something of Frantz (should he decide to reply again)

    Personally, I think this is an incredible idea. It makes me feel so happy when I see a concept that I had previously associated with the future begin to take shape in the present, because it means I might actually be alive and well to witness and hopefully use some of this technology.

    I am a long time Miniatures player, especially Warhammer, and I have often mused about having an interface like this to add some animation to the skirmish. TV shows like Yu-Gi-Oh intrigued me a bit as well, not for the anime-ish quality, but because in the show there existed a technology like this wherein the cards would come to life. The Eye of Judgement game for PS3 is similar to this, but on a TV screen..

    I was also wondering of Frantz: Have you ever heard of Shadowrun the Pen and paper RPG? It has something called AR and is used similarly to this, including an FPS played in AR called Miracle Shooter, wherein the actual person takes the role of the caracter, kind of like laser tag…

    • First of all, thank you very much ‘Intrigued’ about this great comment.

      I totally agree with you, and I had this idea when I was doing my project about the miniatures but I decided for my prototype to simplify it with only two toys just to illustrate the main idea that you could play in a tangible way with your miniatures and having a complete gameplay assisted by the computer and not having to read a huge manual with all the rules… And of course then adding cool virtual effects! And I am pretty sure that in a near future something like that will come with warhammers.

      I kind like the concept of The Eye of Judgement but for me it is duplicating the area to look and you are always going back and forward from the tangible board game to the TV… I would prefer to have a direct overlay on the vision allowing the user to focus on the game like I do with my prototype. But, the hardware is not yet ready, goggles are still heavy, wire connected to a computer and you don’t see the reality directly but through a screen… However this is incredibly improving from year to year. For instance Vuzix will launch at the end of this year some semi-transparent goggles (like sunglasses) dedicated to augmented reality.

      So, I am really confident with the evolution of AR in the next 5 coming years. Hope it will be true.

      I don’t know the game you are talking about but it sounds interesting ^^

      • Intrigued says:

        For more information about the game I mentioned. I thought I’d just bring it up, because it has some very similar concepts to your AR game in it. Just something I thought of when I saw your videos…

  • CaptCamping says:

    I play warhammer and other miniature games. I was thinking about something like this, but I am not a programer. In youtube I saw an asian guy with ww2 miniatures interacting on a tabletop like the one Microsoft is doing, but I cannot find the video.

  • Interesting point. I entirely agree. Well said!

  • Interesting point. I entirely agree. Well said!

  • keptinmemory says:

    Great thing!
    But please, no offense, its sad what happens to our imagination.
    This ist the end of creativity.

  • keptinmemory says:

    Great thing!
    But please, no offense, its sad what happens to our imagination.
    This ist the end of creativity.

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