Google Glass owners have attracted bemusement — and outright hostility — for showing off the novel wearable computer, which can access the Internet and take photos. But come Thursday, the device might earn more stares thanks to the release of a video game that Glass users can control by weaving and bobbing their heads and shoulders.
“Global Food Fight,” from Menlo Park startup Mind Pirate, marks the first Google Glass game produced by a third-party developer. The product also represents the first time a company will simultaneously release a video game for both Google Glass and Apple’s iPhone and iPad.
Just as gamers flocked to untethered smartphones and tablets in recent years, Mind Pirate is betting that wearable devices like Google Glass represent the next stage in adapting video games for mobile devices.
“We think Google Glass is really an important first device in this whole new category of wearables, where entertainment and utility apps are going to find important new places in consumers’ lifestyles, whether it be on their wrist or on their head or in their pocket,” said Mind Pirate CEO Shawn Hardin.
The wearables market could generate $30 billion to $50 billion in global revenue over the next two or three years, according to investment bank Credit Suisse.
The object of “Global Food Fight,” a 3-D action game with cartoon avatars, is to hit an opponent with bananas, tomatoes, cream pies, doughnuts and other virtual edibles. Players use a slingshot to hurl food toward a friend’s neighborhood, collect coins and avoid orbiting satellites. They score points by penetrating hedges or other defenses designed by opponents.
“You can have the food fight that we’ve all seen so many times in movies and wanted to do, but never really wanted to do because you have to do the cleanup,” Hardin said.
In the Google Glass version, players view the action on a tiny video screen displayed on the lens above their right eye. Players tilt their heads back and forth and from side to side to control the food’s trajectory.
Mind Pirate is using “Food Fight” to showcase Callisto, a platform designed for developers who are creating apps for wearable technology, a hot topic for discussion for next week’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.
So far, smart glasses represent only a sliver of wearable technology. A Google representative said the company has sold about 8,000 of the Glass devices, still in beta testing, since June 2012.
Analytics firm ABI Research said sports, health and fitness-monitoring devices, such as Fitbit, comprise most of the 90 million wearable devices projected to ship this year.
But wider acceptance of smart glasses and smart watches faces “some critical obstacles,” said Joshua Flood, a senior analyst in London for ABI Research. “The next 12 months will be a critical period for the acceptance and adoption of wearable devices,” Flood said in a statement. “Aesthetic design, more compelling use cases, battery life and lower price points are the main inhibitors.”
Hardin said he hopes other manufactures will create smart glasses and other products to ride the buzz of Google Glass.
Until then, he said, a virtual food fight game “is a fun way to engage people to play with the potential of this new device.”