Video games have been a purely digital medium for some decades now. They exist in the electronic nether, embedded on discs and projected on screens. Since digital distribution has gained popularity, even the physical manifestation of the game disc is going away, leaving games (especially digitally distributed indie games) more ethereal than ever before. It is unclear whether this slightly unsettling fact was on the minds of the three people who made Receipt Racer, but regardless, it stands as an example of how the principles of interactive media can be taken out of the digital space and onto an old-fashioned thermal printer.
Joshua Noble and two other people collectively known as "undef" made Receipt Racer as part of the Let's Feed The Future Workshop at the OFFF Festival in Barcelona in early June. Players start the game on a laptop with a PS3 controller attached. It generates a random track for the player to race on, and sends that track to a thermal printer like those used for receipts. That printer then starts printing the track on a 50-meter spool of paper. The car the player races is represented by a small laser beam projected onto the paper, which they move left and right with the controller whilst it proceeds forward automatically as the paper prints. When they crash into a wall or obstacle, a large red "BOOM!" is projected on the track with a different laser, followed by the track ending with a large printed "BOOM!" shortly thereafter.
This game certainly has limited commercial appeal; thermal-printer-racing is probably not the next hot genre of games. However, it is a cool proof on concept, and along with the rise of the Kinect and the 3DS's AR features over the last year, it could signal a move in the games world towards reality and analog rather than digital interactivity.
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