25 Nov Meet the Bakers: Gee!Design
The game industry has various disciplines such as drawing, animating, modeling, programming and designing. But one of the somewhat less highlighted nonetheless important disciplines within the industry is hardware. If someone that draws is an artist and a programmer a whizkid, then a hardware maker is a “Mad Scientist”. And we have one in the Game Bakery: Gidi van Liempd with his company Gee!Design.
In addition to hardware, Gee!Design is also involved with robots. At the beginning of October, Gidi and his henchmen demonstrated “Potatobot”, an interactive installation for festivals where people can control a robot that gathers potatoes. It is of course not real, but more of a playful interactive installation. Gidi tries to introduce people to robots in a playful way with the foundation “Robot Ludens”. Is there space for that within the game industry?
“Yes, I think it’s inevitable!” says Gidi. “First of all, in the last fifteen years I have noticed how much easier it has become to use all kinds of different sensors as inputs for computer games.” That is thanks to small, cheap and increasingly powerful microcomputers such as the Arduino, Teensy and ESP-32. At the Game Bakery there are various projects such as “Underwater” from Sfinx Games and very recently “Autogame Deluxe” from Freek Verheijde who have benefited from this. In addition, Gidi also uses his projects for external clients, such as “Liftscapes“. Thanks to these sensors you can create games that would not be possible with just a mouse and keyboard.
“People often ask me: but robots, aren’t they physical things moving in space?” says Gidi. “They are in line with another development, namely that people in games are increasingly a part of computer games”. It started with the Wii, when the Kinect, the Switch, and also Virtual and Augmented Reality games fit into that category. Robots were often only radio-controlled toys like cars or planes, but in terms of computer games the player controlled the robot as a Player Character. Thanks to the connection with the computer and again more powerful microcomputers, robots can now act more and more independently, and even play a role as NPCs! “We are only here at the beginning. I have ideas for a ‘Massively Multiplayer Robot Game’ that I hope to achieve.”