Chôjô is a research project that investigates the possibilities of collaborative, persistent, location-specific experiences that layer 3D virtual worlds over the physical world. This research has led to a Chôjô game in which the USC campus is the playfield. In the game, players use Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) coupled with Global Positioning Systems (GPS) to “see” on the PDA screen where they are in the 3D virtual world. With their GPS equipped PDAs, players walk through the USC campus, leaving behind a trail of virtual flora, represented as colorful, blossoming 3D shapes. These flora are mapped using the GPS coordinates of the player, to the corresponding space in the “virtual” USC campus. The virtual flora are persistent — over time, they continue to grow and take over space in the virtual world.

As players move around on the actual USC campus, their movements and actions are tracked and represented in the 3D virtual USC campus. This is then shown to spectators at a kiosk at the center of campus, and broadcast to other players’ PDAs. By using a 3D model of the USC campus, game player’s locations in both the physical and virtual USC campus can be coordinated. Where you are on the “real” campus is at the same spot as your location on the virtual campus.

As a game, Chôjô creates a collaborative social experience that allows students to investigate and explore possibilities for creative uses of persistent virtual-physical hybrid worlds. Chôjô the game is the first use of our technology platform that is slated to be used for other research-oriented development projects that study the possible uses for persistent, coupled, virtual-physical environments.