Field Frogger: A Hoppin’ Good Time

Posted December 2, 2011

Field Frogger @ Come Out & Play SF, November 5, 2011
Field Frogger @ Come Out & Play SF, November 5, 2011

ESI’s Game Lab has been experimenting with public event-based gaming over the past two years. Our portfolio has grown to include over a dozen new and unique experiences that experiment with scale, narrative, behavior and technology augmentation.

We decided to bring Field Frogger—our most ambitious game yet—to debut at the Come Out & Play Festival in San Francisco this past month. The arcade game “Frogger” was released thirty years ago and still lives on today—on the Nintendo 3DS, iPhone and Android devices (among other platforms). Our designers were inspired by the original arcade game and spent two months imagining, testing and plotting an authentic real-world reenactment. The result was an amazingly fun and captivating event that has never been done before.

Field Frogger players (“frogs”) move using an oversized inflated bouncing ball in an attempt to get from one end of the game board to the other, landing in available “home” slots. At our peak, six players were all bouncing simultaneously, trying to conquer the challenge. The first portion of the board is an imagined “highway,” with “cars” attempting to run over the bouncing player, while the second portion is a “river,” where players need to use “logs” and “turtles” to avoid being swept away in the current. A group of around 50 participants took on the roles of the cars, logs and turtles to create a thrilling and captivating game board for our bouncing frogs.

One of our recent major experiments in live-action gaming has focused on using players as performers to transform traditional observation into a greater piece of participation. We explored this concept in Live Action Spy Party and took a completely different approach in Field Frogger. The results were fantastic! We enabled the participating cars and river folk with just enough choice that an emergent behavior occurred – the cars were working together to try to squash the frogs, while the river folk were actively trying to help them.

The game was a major success and everyone had a great time. We look forward to bringing out Field Frogger again in the near future, but we also always have a couple of new games in progress – so stay tuned!

Pete Vigeant

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