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The Globe and Mail

Ubisoft Toronto adds a really big game to Nuit Blanche art festival

If you notice giant, amorphous shadows on the side of the TIFF Bell Lightbox building during this weekend's all-night Nuit Blanche art festival in Toronto, don't panic. It isn't your lack of sleep taking hold or some kind of waking nightmare, it's actually Ubisoft's latest video game in action.

Go Poser Go is like a game of digital Pictionary where the "poser" in question illustrates an object – say, the Statue of Liberty or a garden hose – by "painting" a silhouette of it in the air using a combination of Microsoft's Kinect sensor and Sony's PlayStation Move wand.

Dextrous or imaginative players will doubtlessly come up with creative and surprising results, while less adept participants are likely to serve up unidentifiable shapes that more closely resemble Rorschach blots.

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"It's a new artistic medium," says Wylie Robinson, the game's art director. "You will never create shapes like this with a brush. It's like learning a new language."

The silhouettes will be projected onto the Toronto International Film Festival Lightbox building as part of the Saturday event. At 40-feet tall, the images are sure to attract crowds.

Onlookers will be able to take part too by logging onto a website on their smartphones. They'll be able to score points by guessing what shapes the posers are trying to draw.

Developed by Ubisoft Toronto, Go Poser Go is an effort by the studio to show that it isn't just in the business of making traditional blockbuster action games for consoles, such as its debut release, last year's Splinter Cell: Blacklist, and the upcoming Far Cry 4.

The game's producer, Matt Rose, says the studio is constantly toying with prototypes that may or may not become eventual products. The initial idea for Go Poser Go came to him last year after watching a viral video of Attraction, the Hungarian troupe that combines dance, music and silhouettes into a unique shadow theatre hybrid.

"We saw that video and thought, what if one person could replace that 20-person dance crew?" he says. "We made a super quick prototype and it turned out to be a lot of fun."

Go Poser Go was tapped for full development in February after Ubisoft was approached by TIFF. The film organization wanted an interactive installation for this year's Nuit Blanche, and the idea fit.

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Full production then ramped up, with about 10 staff – including visual artists, sound engineers and web developers – fleshing out the prototype.

Ubisoft isn't saying what will happen with the game after its debut this weekend, but it could be deployed at similar events. There are no commercial plans for it just yet, but the company isn't ruling out a home version in the future.

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