Monday, February 21, 2011

Maria exploring Atmosphir

"Atmosphir runs on imagination. And Unity." (

Atmosphir trailer

For this week’s studio project I chose to explore atmoshpir, a 3D gaming platform where players can design their own game levels and have them publicly available. The objective: just have fun! Conceptually very similar to Little Big Planet, but mechanically different, atmosphir is available to anyone ready for some design adventures! As soon as you get an account, you can have access to all the game levels (mini games) designed by the individuals in the community. Lately, they released atmosphir for desktop, so if you are seeking for direct access to the game designs, that is the fastest way to do it; to download! Atmosphir seems to be more than a game, and more than a design platform; I can combine both playing and creating at the same time. It is my choice whether I want to be just a consumer for this type of media, or an author (designer as well). This is what was mostly interesting to me. It is a unique new media space because it allows players to be authors of their own, and it is especially powerful for this reason. Atmosphir has its own currency, the atmos, and it used for purchasing weapons, masks, and other object for avatar customization.

Once entering the space and registering, I had the opportunity to customize my avatar. This feature is like WoW, only here I didn’t have to join a race, but just create the aesthetic appearance of my avatar. There is a collection of eyes, eyebrows, hair, skin color, clothes and accessories. It felt like playing with virtual LEGOs and at the same time playing as if I was in a Super Mario Bros, or similar game. What I mean with this is that atmosphir provides simple tools, with which one can create rather complex designs. I think this is what I liked the most. Every level has its own rules and goals, determined by the desigers/players. And the gaming experience can be as short as a 5-minute play section, or an experience divided in multiple chapters, depending on the creator’s design choices.
 Atmosphere Design Tutorial

I chose to explore this platform because it is an alternative media tool. It is powerful, in the sense that it provides players/designers that opportunity to create. Just by looking at the several YouTube videos I could find so many creative games. People can expand on their ideas, they give feedback to each other and even collaborate. The community around atmosphir is a fortuitous property of the space. People stretch their imaginative ideas (the result of this is something over 50,000 game levels until now). From the simplest levels, to the most complex ones, people have unique experiences.

Atmosphir levels of the week. (10.31.10)

It is generally a different kind of experience, one that is not conventional and that gives all the space needed for powerful ideas to take flesh and bones. Users create games for users. Expertise is not needed for these designs… I can just fill in the pixels and drag objects around, customize them and give them any properties I wish (moving, etc.). To me, that is a strong example of what it means to be literate in new media. Of course, the tool affords the expression of this kind of literacy, but it is very powerful. Learning is not related to any academic content explicitly, but one’s creativity is enhanced, messages can be communicated and ideas can be expressed.


  1. Maria,
    When you mention that "Expertise is not needed for these designs… I can just fill in the pixels and drag objects around, customize them and give them any properties I wish (moving, etc.). To me, that is a strong example of what it means to be literate in new media...." what do you mean that this is a strong example of being literate in new media? Can you expand on this a bit more? Does being literate in this format/platform transfer to other platforms or formats of new media?

  2. Yeah, I means that it is very easy for a player to start designing on atmosphir. Literacy is not a hard thing to achieve, if somebody is falimiar with gaming spaces. It does not take too much effort, because it is just filling in pixels and manipulating objects. By looking at how the community takes up the designs, it is easy to see that one can become literate (and therefore an active participant) in this space. Literacy is, of course about mastering the tools, and in extent about meaningful participation around such communities, and this is an indicative example of literacy (at least for me!).