Well, I'm just going to play a video game here on my nintendo-- AHHH! Ghosts!
Well, I'm just going to play a video game here on my nintendo-- AHHH! Ghosts!

There is a powerful presence that surrounds us but often goes unseen. A realm filled with our loved ones who no longer function in this world. Here the occult and the bizarre are common occurrences. I’m speaking, of course, about video games. The Nintendo DSi is one of the most popular handheld gaming devices on the market and in late 2010, it will be filled with augmented reality ghosts. Swedish game designers ADifferentGame have created Ghost Wire, an AR game that will use the camera built into the DSi to let the user hunt for ghosts in their surroundings. With major distributor Majesco (NASDAQ: COOL) recently announcing its involvement in the project, Ghost Wire may be the title that transitions AR video games from novelty to industry standard. Check out the really cool teaser trailer for Ghost Wire after the break.

Augmented Reality uses a camera and computer to integrate live and recorded images in real time, producing the illusion that digital graphics are part of the world around you. We’ve seen AR video games before and the technique is gaining ground in marketing, and mobile phone applications. Unlike virtual reality which aims to create an entirely synthetic experience, AR takes advantage of the users environment. It also allows you to really augment what you are seeing, overlapping digital maps or tour guides on a city as you look at it through your smart phone. AR is already prepped to be the next big innovation in combining real world and digital information.

It’s very exciting to see AR come to Nintendo. ARhrr, the zombie shooting game we reviewed previously is slated to debut on the nVidia phone, a fine platform but not nearly as popular as the DSi. When Ghost Wire arrives next year, millions of gamers worldwide will be able to purchase it and experience AR, likely for the first time. If it succeeds, other developers may pursue the AR format.

Ghost Wire’s chances are pretty good. The Nintendo DSi, with a built in camera, and stylus controls, is not only suited to AR, but comes with a history of quirky games that develop a cult following. Majesco itself is responsible for one of the stranger, but very popular games: Cooking Mama, which has the gamer helping a mother prepare food. It’s more fun than it sounds.

Ghost Wire is similarly kooky. Anyone familiar with television shows Ghost Hunters, or Paranormal State, or the new movie Paranormal Activity will recognize the game’s conceits of messages transmitted in the far ranges of the electromagnetic spectrum and ghosts needing the help of the living to “pass on”. Played something like a dating simulator, Ghost Wire has you explore your world interacting with ghosts and gaining their trusts or helping them with their problems. Ghost appearance depends on the real time of day, level of lighting, and other external phenomenon. It’s a very cool concept and when combined with an eerie musical score, it is certain to immerse users in the feel of the game.

Whether the first AR video game that hits the market features ghosts or zombies isn’t that important. (Though I am happy that this post corresponds so well with Halloween either way). The introduction of AR into the gaming world is going to happen and I’m sure that some AR title is going to be successful. As the technology develops, augmented reality will expand from entertainment and marketing to become a useful tool for digital and real-world applications. At least, that’s what my Ouija board is telling me.

[photo credit: ADifferentGame]