1. Orc architectural
5. Food packs
6. Cookpot and
8. Throne with
9. Leg room
All We Can Say Is, WoW
Photograph and Illustration by Cati Vaucelle, Steve Shada, and Marisa Jahn
MIT Media Lab research assistant Cati Vaucelle
knows the pressures of being a hardcore gamer.
Utilizing a servo-controlled hot plate, a Semacode
reader, and Vaucelle’s self-written software, the AFK
creates a dialog between a player’s physical and
digital worlds. Users pick from the Pod’s eight hand-packaged mini-meals (a combo of fast snacks and
instant soup) with game-inspired names like Roast
Raptor and Lynx Steak. Once a meal is chosen, users
scan a Semacode tag that activates the hot plate,
adjusts cooking time and temperature, and triggers
avatar behaviors such as culinary instructions, mealtime announcements, and napping while you dine.
Vaucelle says Wo W players “love” the pod and
cookset, but isolating gamers isn’t her only intent.
“I [want] to look into the cookset as means to
provoke exchange, discussions about the food lives
of players in relation to their habits,” she writes on
her website. “They take care of their avatar — feed
them, give them water, make them do crazy adventures. Now their avatar will take care of them.”
The max-level World of Warcraft (Wo W) player was
co-general manager of her guild before taking a
break last September to focus on Ph.D. exams.
But she never stopped thinking of the game.
With help from artist Marisa Jahn and Steve
Shada, Vaucelle created the Wo W Pod, “a cocoon
that structures a relationship between your physical
body and your avatar,” she says, and provides for
advanced players’ every need.
The closet-sized, hexagonal hut features a cone-shaped roof, Viking horns, and wood walls mimicking
the videogame’s Orc architecture. Inside it’s homier,
with a computer screen and keyboard, digital surround sound, and a wood-stained throne with built-in
toilet — eliminating bothersome bathroom breaks.
The Pod’s centerpiece is its AFK (“Away From
Keyboard”) Cookset, a kitchenette equipped with
fresh spring water, cook pot, and automated stovetop,
inspired by Vaucelle’s overheating MacBook.
Wo W Pod is on display at the MIT Museum
through September 2009. —Laura Kiniry
>> Sedentary Masterpiece: makezine.com/go/wowpod